era:others

Imagine adopting a black cat that you found in your backyard. It’s very stubborn and demanding, but you know that’s how cats are and soon you two start to get along very well.

It’s a male and you named him Louis and he often comes to you for cuddles and loves to be petted by you. He follows you everywhere and gets really protective over you so that you start to wonder if you ever heard about a cat behaving like that.

Someday you come home early and Louis is gone. He usually greets you right away, but not this time. You look for him but can’t find him. Sad that he had run off you go into your room to change and shockingly you find a black haired man in your bed, fast asleep.

After throwing a temper tantrum, he explains to you that his name is Loki and disguised himself as a cat to not be found by anyone. He didn’t mean to hurt you, but couldn’t bring himself to leave you.

The Bodhisattva

Bodhisattva is the Sanskrit word for a being who is devoted to awakening and to acting for the benefit of all that lives. The way of the bodhisattva is one of the most radical and powerful of all Buddhist forms of practice. It is radical because it states that the fulfillment of our happiness comes only from serving the welfare of others as well as ourselves. Our highest happiness is connected with the well-being of others.

The bodhisattva’s path is a striking contrast with the common Western modes of therapy that so often reflect the excessive individualism of our culture. Everything can get focused around me: my fears, my neurosis, my happiness, my needs, my boundaries. We can get so caught in our own drama that we stop our own growth. Reflective self-absorption can be valuable for a time, but we don’t want to stop there. Therapists talk about how clients eventually become sick of listening to themselves, which is actually a good sign. It means we are moving beyond the identification with our personal suffering. We are ready to care for a world larger than our own.

Every wisdom tradition tells us that human meaning and happiness cannot be found in isolation but comes about through generosity, love and understanding. The bodhisattva, knowing this, appears in a thousand forms, from a caring grandmother to the global citizen. Meditators often recite the bodhisattva vows when they sit, offering any benefit of their practice for the sake of others: “Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to bring liberation to us all.” Like the ancient Hippocratic oath, the vow to serve the sick taken by every physician, the bodhisattva vows to serve the welfare of all.’

- Jack Kornfield, The Wise Heart, Buddhist Psychology for the West.

Imagine being Loki’s personal maid, and going to clean his room while he’s at a ceremony. As you’re cleaning you notice a book on the table, full of odd spells and symbols. When you were little, you found out you could use magic, but rarely practiced it for fear of being punished for it.

You decide to try a simple levitation spell from the book, since Loki won’t return to his room for a few hours yet. The door opens and your concentration breaks, the book slamming back down onto the table.

You stand there in fear as Loki enters the room, staring at you in amazement. The other maids always spread rumors of how cruel Loki can be, and you start tearing up and uttering apologies, begging him not to punish you.

When you’re done he only observes you, before nodding to the book on the table and asking you to do it again. Once you (hesitantly) show him your magic, he decides to be your mentor and teach you how to control it.