Question: I came across this in a Dharma book – ‘Great Bodhisattvas do not think they have anything specific to accomplish. They do not have the idea that they must help sentient beings; rather, they naturally respond to others…’ Does this mean one does not have to think it is a must to help others, especially if they are wayward or uninterested? But when one’s help is rejected, does it mean one is not compassionate enough, that one has failed on the path to Buddhahood?
Answer: Our hands help an injured leg of ours naturally as a response; they do not think ‘we must help this leg’. In this sense, there is helping without thinking there must be helping. This is compassion that becomes natural, highly responsive without attachment even to the idea that one has to help. In the mean time, before we become accomplished Bodhisattvas, we might feel obliged to help at times. This is natural too… as we work towards becoming more natural Bodhisattvas.
When we fail at helping some at times, there is no need to give up totally. We just await until we conceive of, or come across another skilful means which is worth trying as another approach. There is no need to give up on helping anyone. So long as one does not give up, one is still on the Bodhisattva path towards Buddhahood.