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Verse 21-1: On meeting others

Part of a series of talks on the 41 Prayers to Cultivate Bodhicitta from the Avatamsaka Sutra (the Flower Ornament Sutra).

  • See the buddha potential in anyone you meet

41 Prayers to cultivate bodhicitta: Verse 21-1 (download)

Verse 21 says:

“May all beings meet the Buddha.”
This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when meeting someone.

Isn’t that beautiful? When I first read that, my first impression was of Lama Yeshe and how whenever he saw a baby, he would say “Here’s a baby buddha.” I know that every parent feels that their child is really the enlightened one and there’s never been a child as beautiful, as intelligent, or who can pee in their diapers as well as their own baby, but I don’t think this is quite what Lama was getting at. I think more of what he was talking about was that everybody has the buddha potential, and so when you meet anybody, including babies, so it’s not just limited to babies, to see the buddha potential that they have.

And instead of locking into a vision of them as this inherently existing person that they appear to be to you right now, with all their faults that you proliferate about, then to look deeper and to see what the buddha nature is and to think that you are meeting a future buddha. If when we meet others and interact with others, we see them from this light, I think it transforms a lot of how we feel about other people.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.