Bodhisattvas

I want to be
a bodhisattva.

Bodhisattvas
devote their entire lives
to helping
all beings
achieve their own
blissful
potential,
Buddhahood.

A bodhisattva
is released
from the dungeons
of the spinning
wheels
of samsara,

My samsara
is looking for
other people to tell me
I am okay,
or to talk me down,
and give me peace,
to say how brilliant I am
over and over,
but even if they try,
it’s not enough.

I just keep looking
for more people to say it,
faster and louder,
with more exclamation points,
and more tears
running down their cheeks,
about different things
and over and over again
it’s not enough.

Bodhisattvas
free
all living beings
from samsara
even themselves.
So, I whisper to myself
with my hand on my heart,
the words my therapist taught me.

I am filled with peace
and unconditional self-love.
No one’s actions or inaction
can shake
the undeniable truth
that I am lovable.
No one’s words or silence
can shake
the undeniable truth
that I am worthy.
No one’s approval or disapproval
can shake
the undeniable truth
that I am strong.
I always have been.

And then
I am, somehow, released
and feel vast and warm
like a blanket falling
over a baby mouse
or a warm steaming bath
for the homeless.

And I drive plastic bags
to the store for recycling
thinking of the turtles
in the ocean
who won’t mistake them for jellyfish.
and I don’t say,
It’s just one bag.
I think of the one turtle instead.

This poem is inspired by Pema Chodron’s book, No Time to Lose, a Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva and Shantideva’s The Way of the Bodhisattva.

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