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The other day I was finally getting into a book I got on Audible called Bodhisattva Mind which is a lecture by Pema Chodron on Shantideva's work. She came to a part about the Generosity (Dana) Paramita and it struck me so that I thought I would share it. I've tried to transcribe it but skipped some parts, so forgive me.


How they work with that outer situation. Most people who are in a seemingly outer situation like that become slaves of that situation and their poverty situation is completely in sync with a poverty mentality.
Some people are in that situation and they are free of that situation at the same time. And so we know stories about this, you have nothing, and you still give. And if you have nothing material to give and you give your time and energy.
Usually we are caught in our outer world. It is difficult to say where the mind leaves off and the outer environment comes in and the Buddhist teaching is that they are interrelated.

There is a story that is told in one of the sutras about the Buddha who... In India today there are many beggars and in the Buddha's time it was the same. So the story is about a woman who came to him asking for money and he could see that she was completely enslaved by her identity as being a poverty-stricken victim, that her mind, the poverty mind was so strong. He knew that no matter how much he could give her, no matter how much someone could change her outer circumstances, she would still be caught in that mind. This particular woman.

...

So he saw that with this woman her insatiable hunger could never be satisfied. And that's what he wanted to address. It would be easy for him to address her food or money but he wanted to addres her mind, to try to free her from this whole state that she was in altogether. So he said to her, I will give you and your family food for the rest of your lives. You can come to me as long as I am alive and my monks after I'm dead and we will always give you food, but only on one condition. And that is that when the food is given to you personally, you pause. And you don't just grab it right away, but you say the words:

"No thank you, I don't need this."

And then you pause, two minutes, three minutes, Just pause. And then we will give it to you. And then you can go on. But he wanted her to go through this process of dealing with her grasping, her craving, which he knew was the source of her misery. And the story goes that the woman was not able to do it. She was not able to, in the short run, to make that leap, because the seduction of just wanting the thing was so strong.

Now we all know what that feels like. It may not be around poverty, but it's like I was talking last night about gossiping, or rage, or negative mind, or jealousy, the seduction to go with it is so strong. And for this woman according to the sutra she just wanted the thing so much that she couldn't pause, she couldn't trust him that he would keep his word because the craving was so great. So he gave her food and gave it to her children as well, but she never went again, because out of embarrassment she never went back.

So this is really what Shantideva is saying here... overcoming the mind where there is never enough.
...
This is a really radical way of thinking.



Just the words "No thank you, I don't need this." made me go back and listen a few times.

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( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
ninjacooter
Aug. 8th, 2007 10:25 pm (UTC)
Just the words "No thank you, I don't need this." made me go back and listen a few times.

Me too. Sometimes we feel that the 'reaction' or 'need' is all we have. Moving past that is power beyond imagining.
editgrrl
Aug. 9th, 2007 12:35 am (UTC)
I just started reading a book by Pema Chodron. And now that I've posted that, I'm going to go back and read your transcript.*g*
snidegrrl
Aug. 9th, 2007 01:42 pm (UTC)
I've only ever actually read "Start Where You Are".
(Deleted comment)
snidegrrl
Aug. 9th, 2007 02:04 am (UTC)
I kind of figured some people would see it that way. I still think the lesson is a good one.
(Deleted comment)
snidegrrl
Aug. 9th, 2007 01:04 pm (UTC)
I think what I meant to say was, when I heard the story I had that same reaction, and then I sort of let it go, although I still see that side of it.
vajrasattva
Aug. 9th, 2007 02:51 am (UTC)
Yep yep
In fact I got my two Pemas today:

1. Don't Bite the Hook

1. Getting Unstuck

She talks about "refusing to scratch an itch... just sitting with it can show you a lot about yourself and your cravings and how often you have them" or something to that effect.
salami_salome
Aug. 14th, 2007 05:30 pm (UTC)
Innnteresting. I will reflect on this idea, as I wait for my Pema book in the mail (which I may not need, but would like!)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )