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Verse 34-1: Unkind to wrong views

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

  • Noticing other people’s kindness
  • How repaying kindness revolves around ourselves

41 Prayers to cultivate bodhicitta: Verse 34-1 (download)

The next one, number thirty-four says,

“May all beings be unkind to wrong views.”
This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone not repaying kindness.

There are a few things to talk about here. How do we feel, what’s our usual reaction when we see people not repaying kindness? Well, first of all sometimes we don’t even notice that they are not repaying kindness because we don’t see the other peoples kindness and so other people don’t repay kindness, we don’t even blink an eye because we aren’t aware of other people kindness too because we focused on ourselves. That’s one way.

Sometimes if we see other people being kind and other people aren’t reciprocating, who are they not reciprocating to? Us. When we’ve been kind to somebody else and they’re not reciprocate our kindness we think, “This just isn’t going to work. We can not let this happen. This is unacceptable. Didn’t your mother and father teach you that you should always repay kindness?” It’s very often revolving around ourselves. That’s the person who we most often notice people don’t reciprocate the kindness of. We don’t notice it so often when they don’t reciprocate the kindness of other people unless it is somebody we’re very attached to. Then, and especially if that person points out to us that the third person isn’t reciprocating their kindness, then we become very aware of it. We get very judgmental and very critical, don’t we? “This person was so kind and they happen to be the most wonderful person in the world and my best friend. You should reciprocate.” We form a little bit of judgment there which doesn’t benefit our mind or the whole situation at all.

Then there is another situation where someone is not reciprocating the kindness of somebody who we don’t like. Then we go [clapping] “Very good. The person I don’t like is suffering. The idiot managed to do something good and nobody noticed it and nobody is reciprocating it and he deserves it for all of the times he did that to me and all of the horrible stuff he did to me too.” We rejoice actually when the people we don’t like and the people who have harmed us, when their kindness isn’t reciprocated. We can’t even see them as being kind to start with. If they were kind it was an accident. And if somebody reciprocates it: “That person’s getting manipulated.” Isn’t that what is happening? If they reciprocate the kindness of someone we don’t like, it’s “they’re falling for the other person’s pretension and they’re getting manipulated.”

Of course when they’re not reciprocating our kindness then they are really very cold and ungrateful and self-centered. It is very interesting how all these categories and judgments evolve, isn’t it? It’s all focused on the center of the universe. Instead of getting into that whole mess with all of our judgments then what we should do, is think, May all beings be unkind to wrong views. Then comes the whole topic of what is a wrong view. We’re going to go on with that for a while because there are quite a few of those hanging around in the stratosphere and we have to know very precisely what we are wishing the kindness of not being reciprocated to.

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.