All I aspire to be is a Bodhisattva.
Is that too much to ask?
And now 95 percent of you are wondering what the hell a Bodhisattva is. Like you needed that large question looming over your head today. One minute you’re making coffee and the next you’re looking up existential Buddhist terms. My apologies.
I use the term loosely. I’m a seeker. I’m a soul in a body, not a body with a soul. In laymen’s terms, that makes me a little weird.
It also means that while I accept my humanity, I strive for the good within it. I try to overcome the bad. And I know the potential for both sit within me. As it does in all of us.
Some days, I’m a rock star at this striving. Other days, not so much.
An acquaintance has been diagnosed with cancer.
I feel for anyone who gets this diagnosis, whether I know them or not. But this woman’s diagnosis made me feel guilty.
Because I’ve not been very Bodhisattva-like about her lately.
I see her only through her social media presence. We’ve not talked in many moons. We weren’t close back when I briefly knew her. To be honest, I thought she was really vapid. A pretty face but not much behind it. And she talked in a really whispery voice, like a little girl, so even when she did speak you were never quite sure what she’d said.
She sent me a Facebook friend request and I accepted. I have no true dislike for her. I just always sensed she was not my cup of tea.
For some reason, her social media updates load into my newsfeed no matter what. She is always there. And her updates usually consist of photos. She smiles vapidly at the camera and is with an assortment of friends, usually at a party.
Which is fine. Really. However, while I love to look at pics of my friends having fun, their kids, etc., I don’t really enjoy a steady diet of pics of just them. There’s never a backdrop. Never any context. Just a close-up of her and her pals or husband.
This girl put a high price on her looks. Did I mention that?
And therein lies the rub. I have little patience for vanity. Little patience for someone whose days consist of workouts and figuring out which party dress to put on. It’s the whole soul in a body thing. We’re here for more than that. And those looks—well, they fade. Then watcha’ got, sister? Hopefully something substantive inside.
Most days, I try to focus on creating and positive energy. I don’t like to sit and gossip. I don’t like to bitch and moan about people behind their backs. I just like to live life, doing my thing and supporting those I love.
I am also a person who calls a spade a spade. I usually see through bullshit with little effort.
These snarky thoughts that pop into my brain when there she is yet AGAIN on my page are not pretty. Usually, I dismiss them.
But, now she has cancer. And a family. And a tough road ahead.
And guilt is seeping into the corners of my mind like water into a leaky boat.
I’ve never wished her ill. In fact, now she’s in my prayers. But if I’m honest with myself, her diagnosis highlights my pettiness. And I don’t like it.
While I was snarkily wondering who in the world posts that many photos of themselves day after day after day, she was getting cancer. And going about her business.
Which makes me, at least temporarily, a schmuck. Schmuckity schmuck schmuck schmuck.
And I think, if you look up the antonym for bodhisattva, it is schmuck.
The literature on being a spiritual warrior tells us many things.
From Shantideva’s Bodhisattvacharyavatara:
In brief, the Awakening Mind
Should be understood to be of two types;
The mind that aspires to awaken
And the mind that ventures to do so.
As is understood by the distinction
Between aspiring to go and (actually) going . . .
Although great fruits occur in cyclic existence
From the mind that aspires to awaken,
An uninterrupted flow of merit does not ensue
As it does with the venturing mind.
I guess I have some work to do to become a venturing mind, rather than an aspiring mind. I want that uninterrupted flow of merit, damn it. That’s my human side.
Or, in laymen’s terms, I want to eliminate the schmuck from my mind. There’s the Bodhisattva in me.
I have to embrace and live with both.
Wish me luck.