"Anyone interested in being of great benefit to the world will need to give his or her heart in its totality. Bodhisattva is a Sanskrit term for individuals who have devoted themselves without reservation to creating positive change in the world. Bodhi is the same word we mentioned earlier in the context of bodhicitta. It means 'open' or 'awake.' Sattva is being or person. It is someone willing to be open continuously. During the Dalai Lama's first visit to the United States, a photo was shot of him holding a Coca-Cola bottle. This photo was run in the local newspaper with the caption, "The Dalai Lama Takes a Break." Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche found that event very funny. The Dalai Lama is the latest reincarnation of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokitesvara. Lifetime after lifetime he has come back to be helpful to others, to give of himself entirely. The idea that he is ever off duty, taking a break, is pretty ludicrous.

"Similarly, if you want to be of benefit to others and follow the Mahayana path, you cannot segregate your life into specific compartments: the time I'm helping others, 'me time,' and the time I'm allowed to be a jerk. That's not really how it works. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche wrote, 'The important point is to realize that you are never off duty. You can never just relax, because the whole world needs help.' This is not to say that you need to run around trying to fix the entire world but that everyone you encounter would benefit from your openhearted presence. There is no need to take time off from offering that.

"If you think of yourself as kind, compassionate, and giving, then you know that when you invoke those qualities you give of all of yourself. When you are talking to a friend who is having a rough time, you're not sitting there thinking about all the things you wish you were doing. You're offering your full attention. You already know how to give all of yourself. You know that when you leave your friend, you feel good about that activity. So why not tread the path of the bodhisattva and do that more?

"The Buddha said, 'Looking after oneself, one looks after others. Looking after others, one looks after oneself.' You can take care of yourself to the point where compassion arises. You are able to offer your full presence because you have looked after yourself. When you do act compassionately toward others, you are also benefiting yourself. You feel good about being of benefit. You are growing as a person and as a bodhisattva in training.

"You are exercising your heart muscle to see how much you can accommodate. Some days you may feel that you can lift just a little bit and are just a little more compassionate and open with other people than normal. At other times you may feel that you are taking on the pain and suffering of your entire family or group of friends and navigating that openly and genuinely. The important aspect here is to give it your all, as much as you can."