Awakening before dawn,
I cover my eyes and think of serving;
giving little services throughout the day.
I think of those who died –
over 150,000 others died during the night.
I bow before the feet of Divine Mother.
I take refuge in Divine Mother;
who reigns over birth and death.
The image above illustrates the image of service. It says it quite beautifully in the visual image and is reflective of the bodhisattva vow.
When, I a student of Dharma,
Look at the real form of the universe,
All is the never-failing manifestation
Of the mysterious Truth of the Tathagata.
The Bodhisattva Vow
To take refuge in the never-failing manifestation is the Way to break through the ignorance of our pervasive self-centeredness. And it is to take refuge everywhere all the time in any event, in any moment and in any place. The reason is clear – None can be other than the marvelous revelation of ITS glorious Light. Nothing is left out. When we know and realize this mysterious truth ,we see the world as One Bright Pearl.
And, we follow the realization of our virtuous ancestors who extended tender care, with a worshipping heart – to all things.
Those services given freely, without an agenda, without strings, and yes, without cash are tender care. There is no merit to get, no fruit to ripen, no result to be cherished. Giving seeks no reward. It is empty of self-grasping. No trace of self-ego. When we take refuge in this never-failing manifestation, we know the merciful incarnation of Buddha.
But I get ahead of myself – let me go to what might seem to be a hard digression. So hold on tight as we make a sharp turn to automobiles. Yes, automobiles, especially new ones. But first a definition.
“Unselfishness is God *”
Consider this quote. It is simple and points directly to the nature of the Divine – that Divinity which is never apart from you, right where you are. Unselfishness is the state of being that Divinity, moment by moment by moment. One way to recognize we are not living there – WAIT – let me give an example of how we know we are NOT taking refuge in the Divinity of existence. As promised – in a short vignette on “automobiles.”
The new automobiles are computerized to such a degree that the dashboard tells the driver when the tires need air. Sounds pretty good?
Stop. Be careful.
Whatever looks like a boon always comes with disadvantages; the dashboard alert is no exception. Yes, it tells the driver the tire pressure is low, get air. But this boon is filled with what appear to be many difficulties.
The driver is alerted to check air pressure, but this boon of an alert creates the problem of locating a gas station which has a functioning air pump. Finding a station with an air pump is just the beginning of the what some feel are hardships. Finding a gas station with a working air pump is not easy. It takes time. If we get the boon of finding such a gas station, we discover the air pump contraption is “out-of-service.”
Before we are able to test the air pump for functionality, we have to deal with the weather. The signal on the dash that alerts the driver often occurs when the temperature drops to bitter cold degrees. Gone are the days when air used to be part of the service in a gas station along with filling the tank, cleaning the windows and paying in cash. They were givens. Services such as these are rare if not extinct.
Self-service-with-a-fee is the new normal. It exemplifies our current culture of we must pay for services even when we are the one who does the servicing. As most of us know, we are a culture that charges for just about everything; including AIR; even when we are the attendant.
The boon soon is seen as a curse.
The dashboard alerts require deep breaths, patience and yes, fortitude. If we are lucky enough to find a gas station that has an air pump, we button up our coat, find our gloves and climb out into the chill of winter in hopes of inflating the tires.
But the AIR isn’t free.
And those difficult machines in gas stations take coins. Who amongst us carries coins? And – do we have the right coins? Enough of them? OK. The driver feels unlucky and needs to calm down. When the coins are gotten the air pump looks menacing.
If the coin slot is not broken or frozen or bent out-of-shape we remove our gloves and pay to turn the contraption on and hope that it actually works. All of this is done after we have unwound the frozen air hose and have taken a guess at which tire actually needs air. The boon is surely seen as a curse at this point.
All for the want to shut off the dashboard warning icon. If we are unsuccessful, the icon turns into a compulsion because we are compelled to shut off that now glaring light. Usually this event from beginning to end is seen as demonic and the driver wants to kick the tires and to hell with the air.
What…you ask, does this have to do with seeing unselfishness as DIvine. The first glaring relationship is that we are taking the event personally – I sure hope you can laugh at yourself. It’s not personal. It’s — well, BIGGER than that self-interest. All along it is the mysterious Truth of the Tathagatha. Now – I hope you are smiling.
The person who reacts with annoyance, agitation, irritation to the light on in his dashboard, is apart from the Divine existence of the Buddha Self, to the never-failing of Buddha. He does not see everything as Divine manifestation but rather reacts to things as for him or against him, as good or bad, as right or wrong, as a pain-in-the-neck or as a blessing for him. Selfish interests abound. Ignorance of what to take refuge in continues.
This reactive self is a manifestation of the selfish-ego which is what we mostly take refuge in. We want to fix, repair, correct, and get rid of what we see as a problem…and this reactive delusion thinks there is a right way to do it. I have found that impatience is often the General that leads the army of Mara (any internal demon that blinds us). The driver in the car gets frustrated and impatient to kill the dashboard light – to heed the warning.
Imagine if the driver knows and realizes the dashboard light, like everything, is the merciful incarnation of Buddha; of your Divine nature. The reaction is an illusion that leads to samsara. A henchman of Mara that leads us to split the things of the world according to our self-interest. In the case of the car – the driver splits the world between easy and hard.
As we continue to split the world, which whatever shows up in life, as good or bad or right or wrong we are looking at the world according to our self-interest.
YOU WILL SEE EVERYTHING AS RIGHT OR WRONG UNTIL YOU SEE EVERYTHING AS DIVINE
Those of us who continue to be reactive get a chance to see we are reactive and instead of arguing about it, or covering it over with “well, I am right, there is right and wrong” we get a chance to take refuge in the True Self – by whatever name you know it. This turn requires that we study the self to such a degree we can forget the self. In other words, we practice unselfishness – not putting our self first again and again and again. Not seeking reward or credit. Not wanting praise or blame. Being free.
We respond or react to life according to our knowledge of the True Self. Until we take refuge in THAT, we continue to split the world according to our self-centered views.
May this teaching benefit all beings in every direction.
OM. OM. OM.
Quote Unselfish is God – *Vivekananda.
DEFINITION of UNSELFISH: “not putting yourself first; being generous with what you have; generosity with time, money and effort.”
*I was once dubious about working with a teacher,
but after a lifetime of practice, and working with Ming Zhen
I see the need and recommend to you
that you find a teacher.
Author: FaShi Lao Yue
Image credits: Fly, 2020
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IMAGE CREDIT: Wang zi-won; Meditating Mechanical Machinery