Temple Chronicle: winter austerities

Kobo Daishi

The morning air is fresh, the severe coldness has receded for a few days.  But it will return. The edifice of the temple reposes as the sun rises. I want to write about my daily life here living in the Shingon temple precinct: devotions and insights, spiritual signs and moving towards emptiness and beyond.

She has gone, thinking she had not woken me, but I felt the duty and devotion rising in our rooms, borrowed rooms like our breath. I heard the sluicing of water, and the whispered chants deep in the shower room. Cold water poured over head and alternate shoulders, a chant for each small bucket full. Kneeling on salt. Shivering and moving without control in a jagged way. Rising. Sitting again. Rising.  Her mind breaking the imaginary ice on the barrel the way the Master actually did.

What is it that wakes you?  She says it is ‘Gohozenshin Sama,’ that she just asks them before she sleeps to wake her.  They are the fierce and brave Guardians of the Law in their towers outside the temple inner sanctum.  The Guardians of the Heavens and the Earth that make it possible for us humans to walk the pathway, to seek the way.

She walks before dawn through the centre of the white 5 story apartment buildings arranged like cakes on a beach. The sky is heavy and ice-clad.  She walks quickly wearing temple shoes, decent, soundless, repeating mantras, and holding her fluorescent orange dustpan and brush both with long handles. She rustles as she walks, the white plastic bag shivering. She is going to brush the temple precincts in preparation for the Buddhas to walk there.

She has told me about her ancestors indicated in meditation training.  They were mountain ascetics living wild in the forests of Wakayama, pacing up and down narrow pathways made by raccoons and red deer, ridding themselves of their ego minds.  They sheltered from nothing and no-one, taking refuge only in their spirits connected to the universal source.  Standing in pouring rain and blazing sun with oblivious stomachs, slowly unlearning, de-culturing, de-conditioning. Solitary, in human terms, in caves, climbing trees to pick seeds and nuts, and confronting gongens, evil emanations,  then driving them away with sheer determination in a stare. No human distraction for 20 or 30 years. But some of them were so lonely they committed suicide.

She industriously brushes the leaves into piles, stuffing them into her bag using a torch in her mouth. It is still dark in front of the main temple gate; the guard-house quiet, young men in suits snoozing and taking 15 minute shifts throughout the night, then changing into their white ablution robes, and chanting at breakneck speed to squeeze the sharp pain of ice out.

Yesterday, Baba, her guiding parent, came for tea.  Talk of the schedule and the spiritual goals this year.  She lives 5 minutes away on the south side of the temple where she carefully watches her charges, advising them on their daily life, on how to wake up to the spiritual aspects of existence. Her eyes see the bald truth and she’s not afraid to relay it even though it may hurt. Fearless, but thought of as insensitive and un-Japanese by many.

She has devoted most of her life to these teachings, the teachings of Nirvana. The wide world is encapsulated inside her temple precincts, so there is no need to go very far outside. Sharp questions are asked about the regularity of visiting the temple whilst on holiday, and how many hundreds of certain mantras were said on certain dates.

Today we will go to the city temple to meditate on the tenth floor on an office block. This period of austerities is softened because the masters did all the severe training. We will ride in a comfortable car and an elevator thanks to them paving the way. Gratitude must fill our very nostrils especially during this 2-week period.

Gassho

 

 

8: Courage is one of the pillars of faith

 

Dove-small

The Cathar Perfecti needed great courage and determination to stand by what they believed in during the medieval crusades to eradicate all heretics. Religious persecution has always existed and probably always will, as it is during periods of great stress or antagonism that we humans appear to make our greatest commitments. Looking at it from a spiritual point of view, this kind of struggle attracts unparalleled merit, which can be accrued to propel us from human existence into other higher realms.

In epochs when faith was a natural condition and the divine walked among us, persecution was not required to test our faith. There were no choices to be made between the secular or the sacred, spiritually aspiring or refusing to aspire, as there are today. But later, when the intellectual mind accelerated out of control and human pride blazed, the power to become a god without divine qualifications was hotly pursued, and it was then that discrimination became commonplace.

secular or sacred

This phenomenon, this switch made in the thinking of humans, lies outside the historical perspective, as the concepts of time and space are man made. Persecution is part of the dualist human personality which brings about the separation of humans from gods. It originates in the struggle between good and evil, between belief and no-belief, the validity of the resurrection of Christ or its denial, the clergy and the laity, between mind (samsara) and no mind (emptiness).

If we believe in something or someone without reserve or concern for our physical well-being, we are capable of generating the courage to stand up to established heavyweight groups and break away. In my lifetime, I have experienced both directly and vicariously, three striking examples of this degree of courage and breaking away: the Cathars, H.H. Shinjo Ito, and Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

The Cathars were determined to stay fixed to their beliefs despite cruel persecution, which resulted in their eradication. My own present guru, H.H. Shinjo Ito, though ordained and awarded the highest rank of Great Achariya in the Japanese Shingon School of Esoteric Buddhism, refused to commit exclusively to the monastic community. He passionately believed that all sentient beings should have access to the teachings of great salvation, regardless of their spiritual rank. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the leader of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) based in Tibetan Buddhism, whose members are in a 5-10% minority because they refuse to remove the practice of their protector deity Dorje Shugden, outlawed by the Dalai Lama, from their doctrine. His precious life has been threatened as a result of this refusal.

In each case, the immovability of their faith has brought them close to destruction or annihilation. The last remaining Cathars were annihilated, burned at the stake, in the 13th century; Master Shinjo Ito was thrown into prison for 40 days, all his sacred documents and priestly implements confiscated, and his sangha disbanded in 1950; and Geshe-La Kelsang has been forced into retirement in exile, his location kept secret even from his ordained sangha members, in 2013. Religious persecution goes on, complacency often allowing us to be swept along in the rip tide of mediocrity and tradition if we are not sufficiently awake.

The Cathars were determined that their faith was pure, and that the Roman Catholic church was corrupt, referring to it always as the ‘Church of Wolves.’ As mentioned previously, the mainstay of Cathar faith was the simple idea that everything that manifests on the physical plane is the work of the devil. In other words, that gods and spiritual beings would never materialize in base human form. Thus, they did not focus on the birth and familial relationships of Jesus Christ, communion, baptism or confession, his crucifixion or resurrection, as the Church of Rome did. Instead, they believed God was entirely composed of spirit, an angel, and all humans also were angels wearing only a flimsy veil of death for their human incarnation.

Consolamentum

The only sacrament in the Cathar faith was the Consolamentum, which the Perfecti administered to as many humans as possible. They were not at all afraid of death, in some ways longing to return to their spirit home. Their whole approach to life enabled them to live purely with few worldly needs, entirely focused upon liberating as many sentient beings as possible. They were both revered and despised, even though their purity was evident and their practices efficacious and authenticated according to the original teachings of Jesus Christ.

carrying the cross

In fact, the Church of Rome was seemingly made to feel insecure by Cathar determination, as was Pontius Pilate, 5th Roman Prefect of Judaea AD 26-36, when he granted official approval for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ based on tenuous and spurious charges.

Recently, in research into Christianity in 21st century, a question about Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection has been posed. This question threatens to seriously undermine Christianity if the answer points to the idea that he did not actually die on the cross, and, more importantly, he did not rise again after three days. Most schools of Christianity recite the Credo in either spoken or sung form in which they avow that they believe wholly in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and his ascent into heaven. In fact, It is perhaps deemed the most important event in the life of Jesus, representing the taking back by God of his only living son in this sensational and mysterious way. However, the earliest accounts of the crucifixion, which appear in the first recorded gospel of St Mark, state that Christ’s tomb remained empty and makes no mention of the ascension.

Apostles’ Creed


I believe in God, the Father almighty,
 Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary, 
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
 He descended into hell;
 on the third day he arose again from the dead;
 he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. 
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
 and life everlasting. Amen.

Resurrection? Can people only believe in something if it is visible, provable? Will the whole Christian faith fall apart if they discover that history indicates that Jesus may not have died on the cross? If the magic is being dismantled, then what is there left to believe in – the torture, the violence of the crucifixion, the betrayal by Judas, etc? Perhaps such sensationalism and drama acted as a distraction from the practice of pure faith demonstrated by the Cathars?

It is now a possibility that the human pronounced as ‘Jesus Christ, son of God,’ did not die on the cross. That he was brought down and revived by medicinal herbs in a cave, and then escaped, leaving his tomb empty. That he fled to Kashmir in India, or southern France, where his relics have been apparently discovered. It is comforting to me to imagine that the prophet Jesus lived secretly in the mountains of the Pyrenees as I did, and that the Cathars worked closely with him, or his descendants. Or that he travelled to Kashmir, the land of the Buddha, and was embraced into Himalayan wisdom. Marvelous to think that a divine being walked among humans and at the moment of his physical death, like the Buddha, he shifted back to the spiritual source and bequeathed the body of his teachings to all beings for eternity.

Dharmakaya 1

 

In Buddhism, we do not need the drama of a resurrection to keep our faith strong. Perhaps the resurrection is another example of the separation required by the intellect: the physical and the spirit. The Dharmakaya or Dharma body, the ‘body’ of the teachings left by the Buddha at his Parinirvana, is part of each sentient being, whether they proclaim themselves Buddhist or not.

The historical sequence or location of the events leading to the making eternal of such a ministry is of no real import to us, because those are dimensions created by the intellectual mind. And we strive to erase all separations because all sentient beings are Buddhas in the making, not ruled by an omniscient conqueror or King, but only by their own hearts. The figure of the conqueror, the King, the victorious crusader, seems to have been a required image of Rome, and Christianity has clung to it to this day, thus rendering Christians passive slaves to the will of God.

Shinko Ito

Master Shinjo had the courage to step away from mainstream Buddhism to found a new lay order, Shinnyo-en.  In the month of December, 78 years ago, he mysteriously came into possession of a Buddha image in the aspect of Achala, the strict wheel body of the Buddha. This led him to found a new third type of Japanese Esoteric Buddhism based on the final teachings of the Buddha as he lay dying.

Achala

After the Buddha Shyakyamuni’s physical end, his relics were divided amongst eight groups each of which set about disseminating the Buddhist teachings. Of course, there was great grief, but no fear because the Buddha had moved into the Dharmakaya, which consists of many Buddha emanations manifested to guide his disciples in any and every situation. In addition, the Buddha and the teachings could never be destroyed, and in this way, his ministry was perfected for all beings and all time.

ShindoinKyodoin

 

To perfect the Shinnyo teachings, Master Shinjo had to bear the tragic loss of his two sons, aged 18 months and 15 years, as children, and his wife at the age of 55. There was no desire for resurrection of his beloved heirs and wife because they were to provide the spiritual foundation of the Shinnyo teaching. They are eternally working for and with us in the Shinnyo spiritual world alongside the various emanations of the Dharmakaya. They lived in human form, but their spiritual strength was needed to enable Master Shinjo to perfect the doctrine and spiritual wonders of Shinnyo Buddhism.

Geshe-la

 

Finally, Geshe-La Kelsang, had the courage to found the New Kadampa Tradition in order to satisfy the spiritual needs of modern people in the west. He established this new movement in 1991 in England. Nowadays there are 200 centres, 900 study groups in 40 different global locations. It is an entirely independent Buddhist tradition with no political affiliations or ties with Tibet. This bold move to reposition Buddhism outside the complexities of Tibetan politics and to adapt Tibetan Buddhist wisdom for the modern world has brought much criticism, and especially so because the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden has been retained as the authentic protector of the NKT.

This decision means that Ven.Geshe Kelsang is now at the top of a list of monks and scholars who are seen to betray Tibet and H.H. Dalai Lama. Despite placing himself in such a vulnerable position, he is determined that this practice will endure, while in Tibet those who continue to embrace Dorje Shugden are experiencing radical apartheid.

Shinjo Ito and Geshe Kelsang are courageous visionaries. They had the holy courage to stand up for what they believed was appropriate for modern practitioners. While I was without a sangha in the Pyrenees, in the land of the brave Cathars, I practiced NKT doctrine using Geshe-La’s detailed instructions which lead all sentient beings to enlightenment. At that time, I had not yet heard of Japanese Shingon Buddhism or Shinjo Ito, but I believe these dazzling examples of courage in beliefs, were part of my preparatory training for entering the Shinnyo Nirvana mandala.

I first encountered Geshe Kelsang Gyatso at Manjushri Meditation Centre in north-western Britain as he was laying the foundations for NKT. The connection continues as I have a strong friendship with the NKT as it establishes itself here in Osaka, Japan.

3 pillars

Courage is one of the pillars of building faith. We may think that such courage belongs to other eras and is the responsibility of other people. But there is no doubt that now and here we can each generate the courage to put our faith at the centre of our lives, and so become beacons of perennial light to show the way to countless other people.

sunset-over-tokyo-bay-ordination-complete1.jpg

Dedication: to Matthew Lucas for his constant support and interest in my research, and BBC video documentary ‘Jesus was a Buddhist Monk.’ – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAaW6BYhfNM

For further information about Shinnyo-en go to   shinnyoen.org       and NKT     kadampa.org.

7: Making Bonds with the Universe

 

universe

The Buddha made it clear that we should create and maintain bonds with the universe even though we have been born into human life. The Cathars also were constantly connected to the spiritual or invisible world, regarding death, the ending of human life, as a simple veil that could be easily removed. The halo (a circle of light around the head of a holy being depicted in Christianity) and the aureole (a circle of light around the head and/or body of a deity in Buddhism), were and still are used as reminders of the spiritual origin of all things manifest in the material plane. In both systems of living out the lessons and struggles of human life (Christianity) or samsara (Buddhism), we aspire to make the transition back into the spiritual, formless world, taking all sentient beings with us.

reclining Buddha aureolehaloed beings

 

 

 

 

 

Cathars, who were vegetarians apart from eating fish occasionally, prescribed the endura, a form of ritual suicide, as a practitioner approached death, preceded by the administering of the consolamentum. (see post Consolamentum https://lindenthorp.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/consolamentum/  in this series on the Cathars)  In Buddhism, the diet is always important as it is important to allow the subtle inner winds (vayu– in Sanskrit) to blow naturally through the channels of the body, the body and mind being unable to function at subtle levels without these winds being balanced. So, in both cases, the awareness of what substances from the earth we put inside our bodies is central to the way we use them. These rules about living allow us to connect with mystical knowledge, to be able to be a channel for such energy, to fine tune in order to receive the countless messages and signs from invisible sources.

teachers

The mystical has always drawn me personally since being a young child. I could never accept that worldly achievements were the pinnacle of all existence, always being certain there was much more than that.  Of course, children are usually not yet conditioned as adults are: they are pure and still close to the universe before their intellectual capacities develop. I always dreamed of touching the mystical and my dream came steadily true through the Buddhist pathway and gnostic traditions such as Catharism and Sufism. Indeed, in my present practice, the Nirvana Teachings of Shinnyo-en, it is possible to become a spiritual medium so that through intense training and empowerment, one can channel messages from the Buddha and other deities, which will touch the hearts of those receiving them. I am almost at the end of such a training now, and so looking forward to devoting myself to being that empty pure channel to help guide people to true and lasting happiness in Nirvana.

mandala 1 Mandala 2

In Esoteric Buddhism, the mandala is the traditional way of mapping out the Dharma Lineage passed down through the ages from Buddha Shyakyamuni. It represents the whole universe, and if you are correctly connected to the Dharma Stream, there is nothing and no-one outside you, no ‘us’ and ‘them,’ you are actually in the centre of that universe.

Buddhists strive to release themselves from attachment to objects and people because attachment means separation: attachment requires the attached and the attacher. Once we are truly one with the universe and all sentient beings, then we have realized emptiness and the native silence and stillness of the heart. All cravings are extinguished, and it is said that we have crossed the great Ocean of Nirvana to the other shore.

waterfall training waterfall training

In Japan, there is a strong tradition of mountain asceticism, shugendo in Japanese.  Yamabushi  in Japanese (one who likes mountains) follow a special doctrine, which combines esoteric Buddhism, Taoism and Shinto. They are usually solitary and today mostly lay practitioners. Emphasis is placed on physical feats of endurance in the open air where the aspirants live in the primeval forests of rural Japan, and their goal is to find supernatural powers through such practices.

Shingon Buddhism, which my own practice is connected to, emphasizes enlightenment through isolation, the study and contemplation of oneself and nature, and of mandalas.  Yamabushi can often be seen engaged in waterfall training – standing under waterfalls in freezing winter, ridding themselves of their ego so that they can receive the esoteric. My own masters did this practice regularly, as did many other key teachers in my lineage of Shinnyo Buddhism.

The Cathars also had a strong reverence for and involvement with nature. The sacred caves of Sabarthes in Languedoc are known as the ‘doors to Catharism.’ Part of initiation as a Parfait was to climb a steep path leading up to these caves (a practice common in shungendo) to the cave of Bethlehem. There were four important elements inside the caves involved in this initiation before receiving the consolamentum, or making the final vow: first, a square niche in the wall which could have conceivably contained a mandala or manual of some kind; second, a rough granite altar; third, a pentagram carved into the wall, possibly symbolizing the 5 elements of the universe (a common symbol in Esoteric Buddhism); and finally, the telluric currents emitted from the rock walls and cave floor. The atmosphere in these caves fills one with awe. I was particularly sensitive while inside, and after visiting had a series of Cathar dreams which have recurred since that time.

The Sacred Caves of Sabarthes.

The Sacred Caves of Sabarthes.

Buddhists work to achieve emptiness and liberation from all attachments. If you step out of the enclosure of your mind, the view of the world you construct with your intellect, then you step into the Buddhafield or mandala where you are protected and qualified to receive by oral transmission the wisdom of the Dharma stream. At this moment, you become unified with the universe, and this is reality. You can take refuge in this powerful mandala whilst struggling in samsara to liberate all sentient beings and bring them to enlightenment with you.

Buddhafield

It could be said that the notion of making ‘bonds with the universe’ began with the young Prince Siddartha’s first experience of meditation. He was 7 years of age and already showing promise in his training to succeed his father and become King of the Shyakya clan. One day, he accompanied his father and entourage to an agricultural festival dedicated to the earth deity. While there, the young prince noticed a small bird pecking at a worm that had been turned up by a plough. He felt such compassion for the worm that he was inspired to sit in a nearby grove under a jambu (roseapple) tree and soon entered into an advanced meditative state. The sun was high in the sky, but the shade provided by the surrounding trees stood still, keeping the young child cool and sheltered from the hot sun. This first meditation inspired by nature demonstrated the highest respect and reverence for the treasures of the universe.

In my own meditations, I often use the image that everything inside me, beneath the thin membrane of my skin, can amalgamate with everything outside. That my heart can beat in unison with all the hearts in the universe, that I can breathe as one with all in the universe. It is easy to transcend the thin membrane of skin and realize deeply that this is all that makes me a physical individual being, acting in the world, fulfilling my own unique mission.

The Universe is the Spiritual Source. The Moon and Sun are our protectors. We climb the mountains, flow into the oceans down wide rivers, swing from stars and planets. It is only the mundane mind that sequesters us in its synthetic reality, away from the glory of the great Universe.

deep meditation

Bodhisattva

the moon

As you may be able to imagine, following on from the last article on Bodhi and the aspiration for enlightenment, a Bodhisattva is someone who is working towards enlightenment, or oriented towards it. He or she is the spiritual embodiment of someone who puts the Buddhist precepts (the moral codes) and practice (working to purify and cleanse Buddha nature in order to summon Bodhi and the paramitas) in the centre of their lives, and models themselves on the Buddha’s life before he became enlightened. Enlightenment? The extinguishing of all cravings and worldly anxieties.

So the first thing a Bodhisattva does is to generate the aspiration to become enlightened for the sake of all beings, making a strong vow. These words are rare in modern English – ‘aspiration,’ ‘vow,’ etc – an indication of how secular our lives in developed countries have become. But once, when there were divine beings living amongst us, to ‘aspire’ and to ‘vow’ were commonplace expressions. In the last days of the Dharma or Law however, mentioned in the first cycle of articles on Dharma, the possibility of encountering the divine in human life, is quite remote, and yet all beings have the potential to become Bodhisattvas. Some of you may already be Bodhisattvas but not realize it.

The Buddhist precepts are the basic laws of moral discipline. At first you may think they bear some resemblance to the Christian or Muslim Commandments, laid down by a divine authority. But the precepts are rational principles of sheer goodness, intended to promote human well-being. They are flexible according to the period of history, the society in which precept-abiders live in, etc. They are not laws, but a kind of warning or guidance. Remember, there is no omnipotent ‘God’ in Buddhism who exercises compassion or wrath on his flock depending on whether thy sin or not. We followers of the Buddha are each potential Buddhas, equipped with all we need to realize that potential. There is no intervention from on high! Of course, as we saw in the Dharma article cycle, we do have Dharma Protectors who vary in the nature of their support, some are strict, some compassionate, etc.

So, given that framework of moral discipline, if we follow the guidance, we can be sure we are in the right condition to become enlightened. If we break the precepts, perhaps by accident, then as there is no punishing agent, we can easily repent and vow never to make that mistake again. If we remain awake and mindful, the Dharma Protectors will make sure we are on the right course. Then, given that strong foundation of moral discipline, we simply practice.

On the Buddha’s pathway to enlightenment, as was the way in ancient India, ascetic practices were undertaken by those seeking enlightenment. Such things still go on in India today, but eventually after almost dying, the Buddha realized that his pathway should be the middle way, balanced and within human endurance. There are more subtle ways to rid ourselves of the deluded ego than acute pain or deliberate attrition. So, the core of our practice is the 6 paramitas  – which are: giving; moral discipline; patience; courage or exertion; meditation; and wisdom. These are compatible with living a normal life in society. In fact, they can be joyfully executed amongst people around us. I find I can usually generate unlimited Bodhi for all the people I encounter in my daily life.

In Japan, as we also saw in the Dharma articles, we can, through ancestor veneration, generate Bodhi for beings in the past. Especially our maternal and paternal lineages, going back through the ages. We want to take their spirits to enlightenment with us too, and they are often with us as we practice. Through my own bodhicitta generating and meditation I made contact with an ancestor of mine who belonged to a religion pre-dating Buddhism and Christianity, who led an ascetic life high in the mountains. He was a healer who people and creatures flocked to, and he handed on his gift to me. It’s true that I am qualified as an Alexander Technique (a method of body-reeducation) teacher and do use healing powers on my pupils. I feel this ancestor is very close to me, working with me towards enlightenment.

So, how can we become a Bodhisattva? You may have a feeling that you are not of this time, that the suffering both psychological, social and physical is so acute, and at times too much to bear. Remember that it is highly likely that your ancestors were Bodhisattvas, and that they exist in all faiths – Mother Theresa in Christianity, Ghandi in Hinduism, Kukai in Shingon Buddhism, and numerous other Buddhist Saints too numerous to list here. etc. Those traces of the divine are in our DNA somewhere and surface at some point. So, the spiritual path can choose us, as it did me, so that we can continue on from where our ancestors left off.

Finally, I am certain my mother and father were both Bodhisattvas, and of course after their decease I could appreciate that even more than when they were alive because of my great arrogance as a younger person. My mother became ill and died about 10 years ago and I and my two siblings were amazingly able to be with her alone when she shifted her spiritual being out of her physical body, despite the long queue of loved ones waiting outside her hospital room to say goodbye. The three of us were talking closely holding her hands, touching her tenderly, when suddenly her heart jumped in her chest and she passed away. It was a breathtaking moment for each of us as a part of her body, but it was peaceful and deliberate. My mother chose to die when only the three of us were there. Tearfully, we made a pact to carry on her bright light into the world, perpetuating the legacy.

Later after the funeral as so many family members and friends filed out to say thank you to us, some of them were visibly shocked when they shook my hand because they thought I actually was my mother! I had always had a strong physical resemblance to her and a similar energetic character, but as they remarked I truly felt I was my mother.  The DNA, the spirit, all amalgamating into one! Bodhisattvas begetting Bodhisattvas, continuing on the goodness of enlightenment and the Bodhi mind. She certainly loved everyone equally and did everything she could to make them smile, their dreams and pain being singularly her own. She was not a practicing Buddhist herself, but before she died I did talk to her about general Buddhist ideas and she accepted them.  I am certain this made her passage into the spiritual world smooth.

two water pots

A story:

There were two water pots: a watertight one and a leaky one. The water carrier would carry the two pots filled with fresh water on a yoke across his shoulders every day to the king. By the time they arrived, the leaky pot was half empty. This pot was very unhappy feeling guilty that he couldn’t do the job expected of him; was failing in his life’s mission. But the kind water carrier advised him not to worry, and instead to notice the beautiful flowers along the pathway on his side. The water pot noticed them, but still felt uneasy that he was a failure in some way. He told the water carrier about his dissatisfaction, but the carrier asked him if he noticed how healthy and abundant the flowers he passed were, and how everyday they could be picked and taken to adorn the king’s palace. Perhaps the leaky pot didn’t realize his real mission in life, which was to water the flowers rather than supply a full pot of water to the king.

Every Bodhisattva has a unique mission which Buddhist practice to attain a Bodhi mind will reveal.