Beyond that, we are capable of thinking about ultimate happiness; we are talking about buddhahood and nirvana, like salvation. Animals also do think about happiness, but they are only thinking about temporary happiness. When they are hungry, they look for food. When they are thirsty the look for water. If they feel bored, they go out to find a friend. If they are a dog, they like to find a squirrel and chase them away, right? They are looking for just temporary happiness. They can think about tomorrow, or about next year. I had a dog that would always hide her food everywhere, so she was thinking about the future. It’s not like she would hide it and then forget where she hid it. I saw that she would go and dig and bring back the food she hid. So they can think like that. This is not special for human beings, thinking about what to eat tomorrow or what to eat next year. We can think about ultimate happiness. We can think about our next lives, so we are more capable than others.
Why are we comparing ourselves to animals? It is because Buddhism as well as Hinduism believes in the circling of lives. It means that you can be born as a human being, or as an animal, or as a heavenly being. You can be born anywhere. So they are thinking that in that understanding, this time we are a human being, but maybe after a hundred years we could be heavenly beings, or we could be our little friends, I mean our pets, those animals. That means this time is a special time for us. This life is much better than our other lives.
Don’t think when we talk about animals, you don’t have to think about other individuals. Just think, we are not human beings all the time. We used to be fish, animal, or birds, any kind of thing. Or even a heavenly being, or human.
So this means that our life this time is precious and rare and important. We talked about this last time. Even if you are born in heaven, where you have a much better body. They don’t have blood and a body that can be the source of all disease; they have a special body that can live much better than us. They don’t have disease, or even the name of disease there. But, their life is not good for practicing dharma, so we are better than them according to the opportunity to practice dharma.
Remember bodhisattvas always pray to go and help everywhere, but not to two places that much, that is hell and heaven. They don’t go to the hells because there is no opportunity; those are really miserable places. Even if somebody tries to teach there, it doesn’t work. They also don’t go to the heavens, because even if they start to give free teachings on the street, nobody will listen to them. They are really so busy attending concert and parties, always like that. So bodhisattvas don’t go there. When I say go there, I mean be born there. They are born everywhere where they can do something.
Don’t think, “Why they don’t go to the hells to help them?” Hell is not like that. Beings in hell are suffering not because there is no one to help them but because of their karma. If your karma comes back on your head and occurs on you, no one can help you. You have to be responsible at that time. Sometimes we wonder, “I am having this thing and no one can help me. Where are the buddhas and bodhisattvas?” Sometimes we also have to think about what we did and what is our karma. If it is our karma, we have to purify that. We have to accumulate merit. We have to be a nice person. Otherwise, even if they come to help us, they cannot do anything. Even though Avalokitesvara has 1000 arms, he cannot clean your room. Don’t think that way.
~ Demo Rinpoche, Jewel Heart Ann Arbor, February 11. 2019
Posted on Monday, February 25th, 2019