It may sound as if you must have devotion in order to have an understanding of the view, that devotion ignites the practice of the Dharma. But as you become more seasoned in practicing the Dharma, especially the Vajrayana, the gap between devotion and the goal of the devotion becomes very small. As you become more skilled in practicing, you will see that devotion is the awareness of impermanence, devotion is the renunciation mind, devotion is the compassion for all sentient beings, devotion is none other than the experience of dependent arising. Most important, the moment there is devotion, you have the view, and there is awareness of shunyata.
Whenever I wish to move,
Or to speak,
First I shall examine my mind,
And firmly act in a suitable way.
Whenever my mind becomes attached,
I shall not act, nor shall I speak.
I shall remain like a piece of wood.
Because we cling to this notion of a self, we continue to aggrandize this self and work for its benefit. By eliminating the illusory notion of a self, directionless working for all sentient beings occurs spontaneously as in the activities of a Buddha.
When we think of containers, we often overlook the ways in which the contents can affect the container itself — warming or cooling it, staining or bleaching it, stretching or strengthening it and even breaking it. The word used in Tibetan for “contents’ in this analogy also literally means “nutrients”, such that we ourselves are like the nourishment for the world that contains us. Indeed, as I have mentioned, the carbon dioxide we exhale nourishes the trees and plants, and our bodies also return to the earth and nourish it after we have died. The natural environment, in turn, nourishes us and provides us with the conditions we need for life. What this signals is that the connections of interdependence between us and the world we live in are far closer and more reciprocal than we normally envision.
Every one of us has been hurt by people we have cared for, and although we may insist we have forgotten all about it, we rarely have. To help ease any lingering pain, visualise them in the place of honour, and as you arouse bodhichitta, wish them everything that is good. If thinking about them continues to be painful, it is a sign that you have not let go of feeling they have wronged you. Try not to focus on it. Instead, admit to yourself that you are still holding on to your pain. Then concentrate on wishing them every happiness and long to take all their sufferings on yourself. And do bear in mind that for those who are really serious about practising the dharma, difficult relationships provide the most fertile ground for practice.
When I began to practice meditation on compassion, I found that my sense of isolation began to diminish, while at the same time my personal sense of empowerment began to grow. Where once I saw only problems, I started to see solutions. Where once I viewed my own happiness as more important than the happiness of others, I began to see the well-being of others as the foundation of my own peace of mind.