#2 of the famous "37 Practices of the Bodhisattva" by Togme Zangpo reads:
"Attraction to those close to you catches you in its currents;
Aversion to those who oppose you burns inside;
Indifference that ignores what needs to be done is a black hole.
Leave your homeland -- this is the practice of a bodhisattva."
I have no doubt that being on one's own, wandering and finding food where you may, makes the practice of a bodhisattva easier. Not just easier, but that abandonment of personal stake in place and friends is itself at the heart of the practice. (As it happens, I see our modern society in desperate need of more sense of "tribe" and belonging, but that's maybe a subject for another post.) It remains that for the yogi carrying around his gestalt of confusion, cutting ties and refraining from putting others into groups of "attraction, aversion and indifference," the practices of the six perfections, exchanging oneself for others, the four boundless thoughts and the rest are much more readily engaged.
I find myself in the exact opposite situation, having searched for quite a while for the right town to "settle into," buy a house, establish relationships and foster an environment for raising healthy and happy kids.
So is that it, then? Do I just skip that piece of the path, or can I try and apply the deeper intent of it to my life smack in the middle of all of these family/friend ties and business negotiations?
When you're away, I'm restless, lonely, Wretched, bored, dejected; only here's the rub, my darling dear, I feel the same when you're near.
— Samuel Hoffenstein
When I go away on retreat — granted it isn't all that long — I don't have any trouble leaving my kids in the capable hands of their mother. I don't miss her terribly either!
—Don't worry, she feels the same when she escapes! Hopefully most of you understand. We see, uh... a lot of each other. ;) It's good to get away.
Kidding aside, our house is generally full of lots of love and acceptance, but I've been keeping my eye out for how to discern between simply wasted-days samsaric busy-ness and actually applying the vision of my teachers' teachings and working my way towards enlightenment in this situation. I want my kids to know that I'm there for them like no one else. I also want them to know that I am trying to love all beings the way I hope they feel I love them. I guess in some ways it's going about it from the opposite angle of Togme Zangpo: instead of leaving the three relations behind, I'm trying to take the attachment side, and let it grow to include all those that might fall into the aversion or indifference sides. At the same time I am applying my view of empty appearance the best I know how, so that in the end I might be completely "attracted" to the empty appearance of every being, until the distinctions don't really find purchase.
Is the married life at its core a handicap for the bodhisattva-in-training?Which is harder: abandoning one's place in society or transforming it into the path?