Shantideva’s Dream

Twelve hundred years ago
on the night before 
he was to become king
Shantideva
was visited by Manjushri,
the bodhisattva of wisdom,
in a dream.

Manjushri told him 
to renounce worldly life 
and seek ultimate truth.

So he left his home
in Saurashtra, Gujarat
a peninsula in the Arabian sea
and became a wandering beggar
dedicating his life
to simple
spiritual practice

I wonder if he found
Nalanda University
350 hours away by foot
bit by bit
over months or years
or if it was more direct
on a boat by river.

When he got there,
he was ordained a monk 
and given his name
and although it means 
god of peace
no one liked him.

He never went to classes
and the other monks 
gossiped about him
saying all he does is 
eat,
shit, 
sleep,
and wander about

So, they plotted to 
humiliate him
by asking him 
to give a talk.

When he did,
he gave the entire
Bodhicharyavatara,
The Way of the Bodhisattva,
a guidebook to easing the suffering
of all beings
and living sanely
with an open heart

People have studied
the Bodhicharyavatara 
for 1200 years
and my teacher says
now, is our time
to do the same.

Towards the end of the talk,
he began to levitate 
further and further 
off the ground,
and into the sky,
and, afterward,
he left Nalanda
becoming a wandering yogi 
for the rest of his life.

I love this story
most
because
it makes me think
that even though
my bathroom is filled
with clutter,
I am frequently late,
and love naps,
even though 
not everyone likes me,
I can have something special 
to give the world
in my own way.

It makes me understand,
that even though
people expect one thing of me,
like they expected
Shantideva to become king,
I can go without a home 
and follow my dreams
wandering around,
doing yoga instead
just like him.

The information in this poem is taken from Pema Chodron’s book, No Time to Lose, a Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva.

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