You're Ready Enough: A Female Buddha's Path to Spiritual Awakening [Lion's Roar]

Wherever you find yourself, says Pema Khandro, that’s the starting point of the bodhisattva path
All you need to do is take that first step.
By Pema Khandro Rinpoche

"I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard successful, prominent people tell me that they live in fear that others will find out who they “really” are. And students, after gaining some kind of worldly success, will tell me that they’re suffering from the feeling of not deserving it, fearing that they will lose what they’ve worked so hard to gain.

In the West, we tend to dismiss this as an issue of self-worth, low self-esteem, or, more recently, “impostor syndrome”—but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The real problem is believing in the existence of a worthy or unworthy self in the first place. Worthy/unworthy or perfect/imperfect are equally false narratives. From the Buddhist point of view, there is no worthy or unworthy self. Instead, something else is taking place—the pervasive presence of bodhichitta [awakened heart] as our intrinsic goodness, our natural propensity for compassionate action.


What we see in [Yeshe Tsogyal] the female buddha’s life story is that the path to buddhahood is not a perfect linear progression from a totally ignorant, karma-covered being to a fully awakened buddha. One’s identity oscillates along the way. What does not oscillate in Yeshe Tsogyal’s story, what remains constant throughout her training, maturity, and fully blossomed buddhahood, is that at all times she acts unwaveringly with the motivation to benefit others. This clarifies any questions about how an ordinary being can navigate the ambiguity of wisdom and confusion that characterizes our mental states. Our center of gravity and our guiding light is bodhichitta, our own altruistic motivation and enlightened intent.
“May all beings everywhere be free from suffering”—this is not just a pie-in-the-sky wish that this will happen eventually. It is an explicit assumption of universal responsibility, a declaration that we ourselves will actively help make such benefits possible—beginning with taking responsibility for our own spiritual awakening. But who among us feels worthy of helping other beings right now? Of course Buddha could help people—he was enlightened. Of course Yeshe Tsogyal can help infinite beings—she’s gone beyond anger and grasping. But what about us? At what point in our development does the bodhisattva mandate kick in?"

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