‘In the old days there were sixteen Bodhisattvas. When it was time to wash, they entered the bath together. They suddenly realized the cause of water and said, ‘This subtle touch reveals the brightness. We have become the sons and daughters of the Buddha.’
~ Blue Cliff Record, Case 78
We are all in the bath together, but that warm bath is not always beautiful with floating blossoms and sweet perfume. At times, the water has bullets, blood, and broken bodies floating in it. But those things, those painful things, neither dim the brightness of the water nor negate our birthright as the sons and daughters of the enlightened one.
We Bodhisattvas are a strange lot: we have chosen to remain in the world of imperfection in the hopes of helping others. Buddhas, of course, do not need to do that: they recognize that from the very beginning, even in Paris, the world is in deep play, with not one thing out of place.
As Bodhisattvas, our wanting to help brings with it some cost ~ we feel the pain of the world, we know our own helplessness in the face of grave wrong-doing, and with limited resources we sometimes choose who gains and who does not.
Yet even dimly, we can see the brightness that shines in the vast bath that brings us together. We can feel the subtle touch of our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the enlightened one. And we can know that the bath is indeed a place of fragrance and blossoms, of sweet water and dear friends.
As a note: I took the above picture of the Bodhisatta of Compassion a few years ago in a Paris cathedral not so many blocks from the recent shootings.