The Writing on the Wall (and the Bodhisattva Vow)

January 29th, 2010

I finally found a quotation I’d been looking for since I was in India. There were scriptures on the walls of Birla Mandir in Delhi, but no photography or bags allowed inside, so I couldn’t take a picture of the one that struck me or write it down.

Birla Temple

There the sun does not shine,
nor the moon and the stars;
There lightning does not shine,
of the common fire need we speak!
Him alone, as he shines, do all things reflect;
this whole world radiates with his light.
–Mundaka Upanishad

It’s a little more theistic than Buddhism, but I like it. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of Torei Zenji’s Bodhisattva Vow:

When I look deeply into the real form of the universe,
everything reveals the mysterious truth of the Tathagata.
This truth never fails:
in every moment and in every place
things can’t help but shine with this light.
Realizing this, our ancestors gave reverent care
to animals, birds, and all beings.
Realizing this, we ourselves know
that our daily food, clothing and shelter
are the warm body and beating heart of the Buddha.
How can we be ungrateful to anyone or anything?
Even though someone may be a fool,
we can be compassionate.
If someone turns against us,
speaking ill of us and treating us bitterly,
it’s best to bow down:
this is the Buddha appearing to us,
finding ways to free us from our own attachments–
the very ones that have made us suffer
again and again and again.
Now on each flash of thought
a lotus flower blooms,
and on each flower: a Buddha.
The light of the Tathagata
appears before us,
soaking into our feet.
May we share this mind with all beings
so that we and the world together
may grow in wisdom

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