We have been looking at the suffering of those who, because they are unable to understand the nature of emptiness and interdependence, endlessly swim in the ocean of samsaric existence, and we have seen how attachment to the eight worldly concerns perpetuates that. This situation is so normal to us, we don’t even realise we are suffering; we enjoy the little pleasures afforded to us and fail to see how this temporal happiness could be vastly expanded if we truly understood the experience of emptiness and interdependence. However Shantideva tells us even that understanding is not enough.
In this final teaching on the Wisdom chapter, he guides the student back to the Bodhisattva ideal: the ultimate goal is not only to cultivate our understanding of emptiness and interdependence for ourselves. Now we must develop the skilful means of compassionate action. This brings true merit because it goes beyond short-lived acts of kindness alone; it focuses on accomplishing the two accumulations of wisdom and compassion. The ultimate goal of a bodhisattva is to help all beings–regardless of their situation–to recognise that they have the power and means to free themselves from samsaric existence in a truly genuine and lasting way.
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