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Verse 28: Joy in the teachings

Verse 28: Joy in the teachings

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

  • Creating merit by rejoicing in others’ happiness
  • An antidote to jealousy
  • Rejoicing especially at others’ taking joy in the Dharma, and wishing them to do so

41 Prayers to cultivate bodhicitta: Verse 28 (download)

Verse 28:

“May all beings take joy in the teachings.”
This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone joyful.

Isn’t that beautiful? Specifically, when we see people happy to rejoice in their own happiness. In the practice of the four immeasurables this is the practice of joy. In other words, when you see somebody having some good qualities, or some good situation, or a wonderful opportunity, then instead of reacting with, “Why did they get it and I don’t? It’s not fair.” Instead of jealousy and envy, to really react with happiness and joy.

This practice takes it a step further, not just rejoicing, “Oh somebody has a nice house, I rejoice that they have a nice house.” That’s nice, to rejoice that they have a nice house, but nice houses aren’t going to bring them ultimate happiness. Or, “Oh, I rejoice that they got the best situation,” in terms of their work situation or whatever. Something good happened in their family. You rejoice, but what you’re rejoicing at also isn’t going to bring them the ultimate happiness that they seek. The rejoicing is a way to protect your mind and to create merit and to share the joy of the other person.

If you really want to benefit, then take it a step further and not only rejoice at their worldly happiness, the worldly good conditions that they have, but, “May all beings take joy in the teachings.” Because when all beings take joy in the teachings, then they’re putting good imprints on their mind. They’re cultivating faith, and they’re able to be receptive to the Buddha’s message and listen and think about it and meditate, use it to change their minds. When you rejoice in people having joy in the teachings, then you really have a view for what is wonderful for them that goes beyond having a nice house, and a nice car, and a good relationship.

When you see somebody joyful, you can rejoice at their worldly things, but really try and think, “May all beings take joy in the teachings.” Not just this one being, “I rejoice that they have nice clothes,” but “May all beings take joy in the teachings.” Just set your mind on that for a minute. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? We saw the inauguration a week ago: “May all those beings standing there in the inauguration, or sitting there, take joy in the Buddha’s teachings.” Wouldn’t that be wonderful? “May all the people in Hamas, take joy in the Buddha’s teachings … or just joy in the principles in their own tradition of love and compassion.” The same in Israel. Really spread that out to all beings.

Speaking of the inauguration, I got a message that Dianne Feinstein’s husband…. He’s a Tibet supporter, and apparently before the inauguration he met Obama (Richard Blum is his name). He happened to have a kata His Holiness had given him and he gave it to Obama and said, “I can bring it over to you later.” But Obama said, “No, I’ll take it now.” And he had it in his pocket during the inauguration. [laughter] So the story goes.

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.