The foundation of a Buddhist life is a simple devotional attitude. This has two aspects. The first is a love of and reverence for the Buddha and all that he represents. To contemplate the image and qualities of the Buddha is an act full of merit. By saying that something is full of merit we mean that it gives rise to a happy heart, a profound happiness deep within our being. The image of the Buddha touches us. The Buddha’s gentle smile receives and blesses us and in this we feel a great contentment. In this gentle smile lies an infinite depth of love, compassion, joy and peace. Further, the Buddha whose image we admire represents millions of other Buddhas scattered through time and space so that this contentment and beatitude is eternally and universally present and available, not only to ourselves, but to all sentient beings. Even the rocks, mountains, rivers and seas receive this blessing. Such is the first aspect of having a simple devotional attitude.
The second aspect is a modesty about ourselves. This is simply an honest realism. We are only fallible, mortal beings. We are vulnerable in many ways. We have our limits and our karma. We live within conditions. We have rash impulses. We forget things. We do not always achieve our projects. We are not always hale or healthy. The gentle smile of Buddha is precisely for beings such as ourselves. It is this that enables us to live our truly singular lives. Each of us is unique and has his or her own path. This is not a matter of pretentious individualism, but rather of simple faith. When we are trying to shine in our own light, we set ourselves up for a fall and perpetually find disappointment in life, but when we make the Dharma our light then we have the courage to live because we know that whatever our standing in relation to impermanent things, we are touched by that supreme blessing that never fails. A simple devotional attitude gives confidence in the deeper meaning of life and lightens our step so that things that might otherwise seem burdensome become ever-changingly the scenery of this remarkable pageant that is our passage here, become, even, blessings and richnesses. In this way we enter upon the path. Namo Amida Bu.
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