1. The Practice of Bestowing Joyfulness to All Living Beings (Giving of Oneself)
The Flower Garland (Avatamsaka) Flower Garland Sutra says:
What is the Bodhisattva Mahasattva’s practice of bestowing joyfulness?
These Bodhisattvas are the great masters of giving who are able to bestow everything with equanimity of mind.
Without stinginess or regret, without expecting any reward, without seeking any praise and without desire for profit,
they only give in order to rescue & safeguard all living beings, accept & embrace all living beings, and abundantly benefit all living beings.
They only give in order to:
- Study and learn the original practice of the Buddhas,
- Keep in mind and deliberate on the original practice of the Buddhas,
- Progress in the original practice of the Buddhas,
- Abide in and embrace the original practice of the Buddhas,
- Reveal the original practice of the Buddhas,
- Demonstrate and teach the original practice of the Buddhas, and
When Bodhisattva Mahasattvas cultivate this practice, they will make all living beings rejoice and have comfort.
In every direction where there is poverty or need, by the spiritual power of their vows they will go and produce great wealth and inexhaustible treasure.
In thought after thought there will be limitless, countless living beings coming up to them and saying:
- “Benevolent one, we are poor and without resources or food.
We are weak, tired and suffering and our lives are near an end. We only pray that you have mercy upon us and give us your flesh to eat so that we may live.”
The Bodhisattvas will give it to them, making them rejoice and be fulfilled. Hundreds of thousands of living beings will come to them begging and seeking their flesh like this.
The Bodhisattvas will not turn and retreat, but rather will only increase the mercy and compassion in their hearts.
Because these living beings come from everywhere begging and seeking their flesh, the Bodhisattvas become more joyful. Upon seeing them, making this thought:
- “I will attain excellent benefits from this, for these living beings are my field of blessings.
They are my good friends - without my asking them, they have come to me and taught me how to enter into enlightenment.
I should cultivate and train like this without denying the wishes of a single living being.”
Further they will make this thought:
- “I pray that all the good spiritual roots that I have made, am making now,
and will make in the future will result in me receiving a enormous body that pervades all the worlds and will be among all the living beings of the future.
With this body of flesh I will be able to fulfill the hunger of all living beings.
- Further, I pray that I will not abandon this life if there is even a tiny single living being that is not yet fulfilled and that the flesh that is cut off my body will be inexhaustible.
possess the spiritual enlightenment of the Buddha’s teachings, broadly do the work of the Buddha, and enter into the Nirvana that is without a trace.
Bodhisattvas will benefit living beings like this, and yet will be without any notions about themselves, society, existence, their livelihood or any other notions such as that of a personality, a Pudgala (personal soul), a Manavaka (divine person), a giver or a receiver.
They only observe the spiritual realm, the realm of living beings, and the spirituality (Dharma) that is boundless, empty, without existence, without aspects, without substance, without place, without conditions, and that is innate and uncreated. When making this observation,
They do not look at their own lives, the things being given, those that receive them, the field of blessings, the karmic cause or retribution, or any other result, great or small.
When the Bodhisattvas observe that all living beings of the past, present and future receive lives that will eventually perish, they make this thought:
- “How extraordinary that living beings are so foolish and without wisdom.
They receive countless lives in the realm of Life & Death that are transient and perishable, and then they quickly return to decay and extinction.
Whether they have already perished, are doing so now, or will in the future, they are not able to seek the solid and sure body with the body that is not solid and sure.
I must exhaustively train in all that the Buddhas have trained in, realize the wisdom of all and understand all things spiritual.
For all living beings I will teach of the equanimity of the past, present and future, which is in accordance with the serenity and stillness that is the indestructible nature of the spirituality that is the Dharma. This will make them attain peace and contentment.
This is called the Bodhisattva Mahasattva’s first practice, that of Bestowing Joyfulness.