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Bodhisattva Ideal - Questions and Answers Tuscany 1984 Part 6 - Unchecked

DISCLAIMER - This transcript has not been checked by Sangharakshita, and may contain mistakes and mishearings. Checked and reprinted copies of all seminars will be available as part of the Complete Works Project.

by Sangharakshita

Because you mention that each Bodhisattva can make individual vows.
S:
Yes. In my own case, as most of you probably already know, T took various Vajrayana
initiations from different Tibetan lamas when I was in Kalimpong. And of course if one follows the Tri-
yana path corre~tly the tantric initiation must be preceeded by Bodhisattva ordination. In Tibet I'm
afraid they've let that rather lapse - you just get a little verse, no more than that, a couple of lines that
you recite before entering upon the Vajrayana sadhana. And that passes, apparently for your
Bodhisattva ordination. So I felt that I should (as it were) do it properly, and actually take the
Bodhisattva ordination, which I did from Dardo Rinpoche, and took (of course) the fifty- odd precepts
... (break in recording) ...
I didn't think in those terms. But that mustn't be taken as any precedent for the FWBO because
this is all, so to speak, pre-FWBO days. So I do not hold up my own career, or my own life or
experiences as constituting any sort of pattern - because I did not have the benefit of the FWBO, you
might say. Just as I don't recommend everybody to take samanera or bhikksu ordination. But I hope
that in the FWBO, in the dharmacari ordination as we call it now, one has really the essence, or at least
the seed, of all those things.
Mike Shaw: I'll just change this tape.
Vessantara:
It's five past nine. We'll stop.
S:
Is it? How many more questions do we have?
Vessantara:
There are quite a few still.
S:
I think in that case let's have just one more, and then we can finish off the others with an extra
session tomorrow. Maybe you
can pick quite a good one, so to speak, and we'll wind up with that.
So we don't just end too abruptly.
Vessantara:
It's hard to know what's a good one. Perhaps we could have one from Devamitra -he
(tends)? to ask...
S:
Ah! (laughter) Let's just wait for the tape-recorder.
Devamitra: This question arises out of our discussion of anger and hatred, when we begin to (feel)? the
nature of the poisons. Over the last two or three years I think I've heard you refer more than once to the
general lack of sympathy within the movement...
S:
Mmm ... mmm.
Devamitra: ... but I've never heard you speak at length about it. And so T was wondering if you could
define for us what it is that you mean by sympathy - what exactly it is that's lacking.
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And also: how does this lack manifest. And thirdly, what do we need to be on our guard against to
overcome our lack of sympathy? And fourthly, how to set about cultivating it.
S: Well, here's a good question. (laughter). Sympathy. Sympathy is literally "feeling with", but I don't
think the term really expresses what I was trying to get at. I think there's another term which expresses
more adequately what I was trying to get at, and that term is "fellow-feeling". Fellow-feeling. So when
I speak of a lack of fellow-feeling I moan really a lack of consideration for others; which is the result
simply of not feeling for them,' not appreciating how they are feeling, not appreciating the sort of
position that they are in. perhaps even the sort of predicament they are in, and acting accordingly,
responding accordingly. It seems that very often people are so bound up with their own affairs, their
own interests, their own concerns, their own preferences, that they're quite oblivious to the needs of
others and the feelings of others. So one thing I think therefore which is needed in connection with the
culti- vation of this feeling of sympathy, or fellow-feeling, is just awareness of other people. I think the
lack of'fellow-feeling is to a great extent due to the fact that we're not sufficiently aware of others. And
that is also bound up with a sort of lack of imagination, a sort of inability to put ourselves in their
shoes, to project ourselves into their shoes, and realise what it must be like for them to be in that sort of
position. And again act accordingly.
So I think the very least that we can do in this connection
is to try and be more mindful of others, of their needs, of their feelings, and to try to realise 'that we
have to consider others more. I can't think off hand of any specific sort of ex~ercise or method or
practic e that we could undertake. Perhaps it does just depend upon mindfulness. But you know the
sort of thing that I'm talking about. You'll recognise that I haven't given any actual examples.
Devamitra: Is there an example that comes to mind you could...
S: Not offhand, I could probably think of one if I tried. But can any of you think of any?
Vessantara:Very often when somebody comes to your Centre or community you (...unclear)...
introduce them towhere things are ( unclear)
S: Yes, that's true. Assume that he knows, or maybe they don't even introduce him properly. Sometimes
that happens. Or he's sort of left, almost sort of floundering. Yes, you don't sympath- ise, or there's no
fellow-feeling in the sense that you don't stop and think, well, how it must feel to be a new person, a
new arrival, in a Centre, in a community, maybe not feeling quite at ease, maybe not knowing your
way around, maybe not knowing what you should do or not do. Being therefore a little uncertain and
needing perhaps a' bit of assurance, a bit of encouragement. You just don't realise all that, so there's no
sym-~-y: no fellow- feeling, and of course no awareness and imagination.
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Phil Miller: Not answering letters.
S: Yes. Also. Yes, yes. Perhaps not appreciating what the other person may be feeling when he or she
doesn't get an answer to their letter. Well, maybe you've a perfectly reason for not replying, but they
don't know that: they're not thought readers presumably, the- 're not telepathic.
Prasanasiddhi: It seems fairly easy to pick out the (person's answers)? you sort of.... you know... they
should be'doing..; you're incommunication with the other person.. you know, you re sort of aware...
he's not doing this, or something like that. But to actually, you know, there's a bit of a sort of need for
(unclear)...
S: Yes, it's not only a question of feeling with them, but (sort of) feeling for them, (sort of) sharing
their feeling of... appreciating their limitations. And also of course appreciating their good points, their
good qualities. So that you're not always dealing with them, or thinking of them, in terms of what
needs to be amended or corrected or changed.
I've also expressed'this by saying - this lack of
sympathy - by simply maybe even more simply and more basically by saying I've often thought - and
I'm talking about specifically about the FWBO and situations within the FWBO - that people are not
kind enough to one another. I've often been struck by the extent to which people can be quite unkind to
one another, almost without cause eometimes. They're not kind-li, by nature or behaviour, only too
often. I'm afraid that I have noticed this quite a lot, quite generally. Do you understand what I'm getting
at? In other words, one might say still more basic Buddhism, not enough metta, despite the (you know)
the daily dose.
Devamitra: Why do you think that should be? Have you thought...
S: I suppose there are all sorts of reasons. You could blame it all onto mother I suppose (laughter).
Onto the welfare state, or the weather, or to almost anything. But often people don't seem very pleased,
they don't seem very happy, they've no time for other people, they're too self-centred, often. I think the
main reason probably whay there isn't enough kindness around is that people are too preoccupied with
themselves, they're thinking too much about themselves and what they want, and what they would
like, what is due to them, what their rights are, and perhaps... I mean it's our whole sort of modern way
of thinking and ideology that has encouraged this, that's made us really very
selfish little animals (you know) in many cases. Quite spoiled I really notice this, by wa~ of contrast,
when I go to India sometimes. Everyone seems - at least the people I come into contact with - more
kindly.
Pete Dobson: Perhaps people should worry about other peoples' development more.
S: I think it's not even a question about worrying about their development, not to begin with, it's just
worrying about even little creature comforts and conveniences - well I think I've mentioned that in the
lecture. I mean just helping other people. It doesn't mean you've got to perform some great heroic deed
for them. Well you might have to one day but, I mean, it's
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enough just to do little things, because after all, what they like is made up of lots of little things. For
instance if someone burns the rice, and then maybe someone is late pro- ducing lunch, or then someone
borrows your favourite book and forgets to tell you, or someone slammed the door violently as he goes
out, there's dozens and dozens of these little annoyances and forgetfulnesses throughout the day. Well
that can add up to a quite unpleasant and irritating day for you. So people need to be aware of these
sort of things and practise their kindness, and mindfulness, in all these sorts of little ways. Do you see
what I mean?
Prasanasiddhi: Perhaps this has got something to do with people being in so much of a hurry, they've
got so many things to do that they don't take time to look after
S: That may be true, but very they're things for oneself.
Padmavajra: ...

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