Save all beings? Whoa. That’s just a bit over the top. The word ‘saving’ makes me squirm, visualizing Jehova’s Witnesses at the door. Superheroes flying down from the sky to scoop up the sick and the downtrodden. There’s a lot ego wrapped up in saviorhood, not to mention martyr complex. Should I go to Africa and found an orphanage for AIDS babies, put out a press release, die on the cross? Have you ever been in a relationship where you tried to ‘save’ someone? Yup. Nope. We can help, we can serve. But is it truly possible to save anyone, or to save anything? Can we ‘save’ the world? If not, then what can we really and realistically do?
My hypothesis is that the way to save all beings is simply to be fully present with them, moment by moment and one by one. I try to remember to accord each being my full attention and respect. When I sell someone in the bike shop an inner tube I glance into their eyes as they hand me their debit card. Maybe I pass a little warmth through the coiled rubber tube into their hand. It is all I can do, and it is enough. I wish them a flat-free ride.
I sit with my back against a cedar tree, rough bark against my spine. If someone comes along and cuts down the tree maybe some of its sap, one sticky seed, will be saved in my sweater. Or maybe one day I will go out to the forest and lie down in front of a bulldozer, to honour that tree. Who knows?
In any case, being fully present seems easier than wearing a cape and underwear on the outside of my tights.
…more on the Bodhisattva Vows later…