Transforming Negative Actions on the Bodhisattva Path

Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 10/24/2020

Shugen Roshi continues his teachings from  The Thirty Seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva, with verse 13:

“If, in return for not the slightest wrong of mine, Someone were to cut off even my very head, Through the power of compassion to take all their negative actions Upon myself is the practice of a bodhisattva.”

Speaking to embodiment of the 13th verse, Shugen Roshi points to it’s non-dogmatic nature. As in the case with the precepts, this verse is meant to serve us and all beings. In doing so it can not be a rule to bind us, but instead a guide in moments of confusion. Thus the embodiment of the verse and our Bodhisattva path should always be sensitive to the time, place, and circumstance in which we find ourselves. By cultivating mindfulness through our practice, we are able to transform negative actions directed toward us into wisdom and compassion for all beings.

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