Bodhisattva – Like a Peacock Thriving on Poisons
Peacock thrive on poison like bodhisattva thrives on negativies. Peacocks live in forest with poisonous plants, they eat the poisonous plants that no other animals can eat, and instead of being poisoned, peacocks transformed the poisons thay eat into beautiful, colorful and vibrant plumage and thrive. Similarly, a Bodhisattva while dwelling amidst the all the negativities and sufferings of samsara, does not get affected at all or being pulled down and drift along the samsaric current, instead, a Bodhisattva dwell in samsara but thrives in it. Not only that he is not being inflicted by the negativities, he can help others who are in samsara to get rid of their negativities. Such is the unusual qualitiy of a Bodhisattva, just like a peacock.
Bodhisattvas can be around any beings and not be affected by them, be it harmless beings or harmful beings. For example, animals are attracted to Nagarjuna and they like to stay near him, including predators. Realized beings like Nagarjuna who are filled with spontaneous love and compassion for all beings are able to affect the beings surrounding them. They will feel the positive energy of loving kindness and become peaceful, just the the animals around Nagarjuna. Another example is when we met realized practitioners like Geshe Wangchen of Drepung Monastery, we can feel his positive energy tremendously and be affected by it.
There are different levels to our mind. When a person see another being who has higher level of mind than himself, whatever that is at the same level and below to himself he will see it as good, but when it comes to levels that are above his, he will only see those as negativities. Qualities such as compassion which are achieved by high level beings are not able to be perceived by people of lower level, therefore they will see those qualities as negative instead.
People who always think they are right and that everyone else is wrong, and see negativities on others and criticise others, they have no refuge, and will not have attainments, because they do not believe that others can have higher mental capacity, therefore it is the same as not believeing in the existence of a Buddha. Since they do not believe in the existence of a Buddha, they do not have refuge. Same for people who are miserly, angersome, lazy, bitter, egoistic. These type of people, as long as the hold on to their negativities and delusions and try to justify them, they will have no attainments, simple because by justifying their types of mind or actions indirectly they also deny the existence of a higher level of mind which is free from all the delusions, which is a Buddha. Since they deny the existence of a Buddha, they do not believe that a mind can be developed and become better until enlightenment, therefore, these type of people also do not take refuge in Buddha.
On the other hand, people who are humble and genuinely believe that there are people better than them, both in worldly and spiritual aspects, they will gain attainments because although they cannot see the Buddha, but by inferential logic, they can come to a conclusion that a being of higher mental capacity for example a Buddha can exists, and that they can become one too. Therefore they geniunely believe in the existence of a Buddha and will take refuge and practise sincerely and eventually they will gain attainments.
Short summary on Dharma Talk given by Tsem Tulku Rinpoche on 23 May 2006, recorded by Loh Seng Piow