‘Put Enlightenment Second’
“So, what is it that brings all that [Dharma] happiness?” Lama Zopa Rinpoche asks in The Joy of Compassion, a free ebook from Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. “It’s cherishing sentient beings; living your life cherishing sentient beings. Not that I actually do this myself, but intellectually, it’s what I think. Cherish sentient beings first; put enlightenment second.
“Why do I say put enlightenment second? For example, when you go into the kitchen, you’re looking for food, not crockery; your motivation is not to get a plate but delicious food. You go into the kitchen with food on your mind. But although your main motivation is to get food, you do need something to put it on – unless you can carry soup in your hands! Anyway, I’m joking again.
“Of course, enlightenment is extremely important because without it you cannot work perfectly for sentient beings. You cannot be a perfect guide, knowing, seeing directly, every sentient being’s mind, level of karma, intelligence, wishes and characteristics, as well as the various methods that suit their individual dispositions. But what should be in your heart is sentient beings as the reason for your attaining enlightenment. The first priority in your heart should be the happiness of sentient beings; sentient beings in your heart. What should be the first thing in your heart, in your life, the goal of your life? Sentient beings.”
Lama Zopa Rinpoche