Dharma talk “To Live as a Bodhisattva” 2018/10/20 at Tokyo Tao Sangha Centre
The Infinite Life Sutra tells the story of Hozo Bosatsu (Bodhisattva Dharmakara). He said that he would undergo all kinds of suffering if it would help people achieve great peace.
Stories in the Bible tell about how Jesus helped people with their pain and suffering and how he offered them acceptance and salvation at the expense of his own safety and life. And this is your mission as a Bodhisattva: to bring help and salvation to people at your own expense.
According to Tao Sangha, a person who wishes, craves and desires to live life the way Hozo Bosatsu lived is called a Bodhisattva. A deep desire to live life as a Bodhisattva is essential.
Tao Shiatsu cannot be accomplished without it. It cannot!
And without the desire to be a Bodhisattva, Nembutsu as Tao Sangha teaches it cannot be carried out either.
How does a person develop this desire? And, once it is developed, how can it be acted on?
There is a power or force that works against fulfilling this desire. The world is not something only sweet or easy; fear and loss also exist.
During childhood, people don’t calculate everything they do or think about what is safe all the time.
When we read stories about people in the history of our world, what stays in our hearts are the stories of heroes and heroines who did something great without fearing for or being attached to their own safety. These are stories of self-sacrifice.
This is reflected in our fictionalized accounts of heroic acts. For example, Kenji Miyazawa’s story “The Nighthawk Star” tells of the nighthawk’s relentless efforts to find peace by flying farther and farther into the sky, and this seems, in turn, to have influenced the story of Mothra (a character in Godzilla movies).
Also, in Astro Boy, an old animation series, Astro Boy died by jumping into the sun in order to save Earth.
I am talking about this because Tao Shiatsu cannot be done without this mindset. I do not want to say this so bluntly, but if you want to do Tao Shiatsu, your desire to be a Bodhisattva must come first — only then you can become a Tao Shiatsu practitioner.
We practice the way to live as Bodhisattva in Tao Sangha.
Tao Sangha is a community for anyone who feels Bodhicitta (Buddha seed/Buddha nature) and is ready to train as a Bodhisattva.
It is for those who want to awaken and live as Bodhisattva and discover how to live this way and become self-reliant.
I can say this now because the Nembutsu method is almost complete.
The definition of Bodhisattva is “one who has achieved Buddhahood and chooses to remain in merciful attachment to the world for the peace and good of all other people.”
For that reason, one who gives his or her life completely until the end is called a Bodhisattva.
In the Infinite Life Sutra, it says “gun jo wo kabu shi.” This means “to live and take care of all beings as one’s luggadge.”
The wish to take care of all beings is what the Bodhisattva’s desire is.
A Bodhisattva wishes to take on other people’s suffering.
For example, a grandmother who wishes to change the situation when her grandchildren are suffering will take action, even at her own expense.
However, this attitude is not held by those in the brainwashed mainstream society who discourage you from putting others first, saying that it is a loss to you if you do so, and asking why you bother to help others: what do you get from it?
But actually, if you live your life by listening to your heart, being guided by your heart, there is no loss or gain.
What really happens?
Hozo Bosatsu’s 48 vows are in the Infinite Life Sutra. One of the most famous is the 18th vow, which is very poorly interpreted. It’s difficult to understand what it really means, but it is sometimes thought to mean that even if you call his name only ten times, you will enter Pure Land.
There are another one of his vows that is very hard to understand but is interpreted to mean that there is neither beauty nor ugliness in Pure Land, that those things don’t have any meaning there.
For example, in India, many disfigured and ill people (for example, those with leprosy) are begging on the streets and living in dire poverty.
To live like Bodhisattva we take this vow from the bottom of our heart: we don’t just say, “I wish to help them” or “If it’s possible, I will help them” — no, we must live the vow: our lives must become this vow.
How do we practice Nembutsu with the desire to become Bodhisattva?
In the basic form of Nembutsu, we first make a wish to encase or make all attempts to destroy our ego and, while continuing to do this, we visualize a part of the body of Amida Buddha and the field around us, while continuously accepting Amida Buddha and all beings into our heart.
It is not possible to practice without wishing to annihilate the ego. If you don’t encase your ego, you will just be pretending to practice Tao Shiatsu, pretending to chant the Nembutsu, which is inconsistent with wishing to eliminate your ego and accept all others.
In Christianity it is “love thy neighbor”; in Buddhism, it is “emptiness.”
If you don’t undertake to hold your ego, it will leak out and “stain” your efforts.
You cannot accept others without accepting Amida Buddha.
This is not a technique, it is not a method: it is a way of living. As you live your life, continue working to annihilate your ego. And in your daily life, accept the field inside yourself.
What is the field? It is the world that you recognize.
Ego is a projection of your subconscious. You must accept your own subconscious; if you do not, your ego will be projected and will affect what you are doing, thinking, and saying.
When you accept Amida Buddha, you will face Amida Buddha. If you don’t face your Karma, you cannot face Amida Buddha.
It’s interesting. You might think, “There’s my Karma behind Amida Buddha.” I take this concept from Carl Jung. Facing Amida Buddha is facing your Karma.
Karma will project unless we accept it. This is why so many problems occur in relationships.
Anyway, what will happen when you continue to accept Amida Buddha and the field around you inside yourself during Nembutsu is that you will face your own Karma and pain.
When your trauma and all the world’s pain are connected, you will feel that your pain is exactly the same as the pain of all beings.
Only when your pain is connected with the pain of all beings will there be a connection between Amida Buddha’s Great Love, your pain, and the pain of all beings.
This can be experienced through Tao Shiatsu as well.
When you continuously accept Amida Buddha as you give each pressure to the receiver while practicing Tao Shiatsu, your heart and the receiver‘s heart will be connected deep inside, and a moment will come when the receiver will truly experience Amida Buddha.
If you do not accept Amida Buddha, you cannot give true Tao Shiatsu to the receiver.
The first step is to encase your ego; that way, the receiver can experience the connection to Amida Buddha.
In Nembutsu, your pain and the pain of all beings are connected with Amida’s Great Love. You feel that all pain is your pain — everything is connected.
Awakening is a result of your desire to accept and undertake your mission.
If you say to yourself, “It’s nothing do with me” and ignore it, you will not realize that your pain and the pain of all others are connected.
This also occurs if you do not notice that the Great Love of Amida Buddha exists and takes care of us. And you won’t understand that your pain can be transformed into kindness.
Your negativity can be turned into positivity to help others. It will happen when you accept it.
In Tao Shiatsu, by accepting Amida Buddha, not only the receiver and Amida Buddha will be connected, but you will also be connected.
With a connection deep inside to Amida Buddha, we experience a connection to all beings. At that moment, we have no sense of touch.
When we don’t have the sense of touch, that is “emptiness.”
This can become a natural way to live your everyday life.
Tao Sangha’s Nembutsu method is the entrance, and if you live your everyday life this way, you will come to do it without thinking; it will happen naturally.
It is a method, but it is also a way of life.
You must decide whether you want to live this way or not.
After all, Nembutsu and Tao Shiatsu do not work if you carry them out using only their methods without wishing to live with them as part of your everyday life.
Because if you do them using only their methods, there is an attitude of “dealing”: you are “doing this to get that” or making excuses.
I won’t kick you out of the center because you are “dealing,” but that is not Tao Sangha, Tao Shiatsu, or Nembutsu: that is just “doing things.”
Some people come to the center just to do Nembutsu and do some work, as though there were no Tao Sangha.
Even if you feel attached to Nembutsu and attached to the center, if you don’t take responsibility for the field, for the Sangha, then it is not real.
But when you really enter the Sangha, when you are introduced to it and realize it and since the field around you, the people around you, and Amida Buddha’s love, it becomes Tao Sangha.
So it is a Pandora’s box, in a way.
The Nembutsu method is clear. It can show you exactly what is asked about how to live your life.
So, if you want to do it this way, please do.
If you do it from the bottom of your heart, no matter how many times you do it you will be born again, you will be able to create and be a real part of Tao Sangha through this method.
For the person who just recites the words of the Nembutsu or helps out at the center in order to feel personally rewarded, there is no Tao Sangha.
Only where responsibility is felt for the field where people are and Amida Buddha appears can it be called “Tao Sangha.”
When this Ki exists, I call it Tao Sangha.
Tao Sangha can exist only with this Ki.
The time has come for you to ask yourself what you want to do, how you want to live your life.
There is so much information and manipulation in this world. I do not care about these things! [smile]
After all, if you follow your desire to become a Bodhisattva, it doesn’t matter what happens outside of that, it doesn’t matter what people show or tell you.
With Tao Sangha, there is real healing and, above all, there is love.
The pain that was yours alone will transform into warm kindness toward all beings. And I think that is something to be very grateful for.
When such a place exists, people can come and there will be healing.
These are the steps to take if you wish to live as a Bodhisattva in the Tao Sangha way.