Beggar or Bodhisattva? You Decide (A Story From Three Steps, One Bow)
The Big Sur Beggar came along at the right time to help me sort out my fantasies of being a Bodhisattva, an “Awakened Being.” My companion, Heng Ch’au and I had been reading the Avatamsaka Sutra, a section where the Bodhisattva tests his ability to give generously by responding to the outrageous requests of suffering living beings. These particular living beings come up in great numbers to him. They are so poor they are starving, emaciated, and at the point of death. They beg the Bodhisattva for a piece of his flesh to eat, and the Bodhisattva of course, unwilling to attach to any material thing or to deny them anything, cuts off a piece of his body to feed them. Furthermore, he does so happily, grateful to them for giving him the chance to practice renunciation.