Author Topic: Bodhicitta ~ We hear it so very often but What is it?  (Read 8490 times)


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1272
Bodhicitta ~ We hear it so very often but What is it?
« on: July 13, 2012, 02:35:03 AM »
Okay we hear it so often, we kinda know what it is... but do we really know?
To me Bodhicitta is focusing out and not in, priority is others and not us... means you think about others first before yourself always and until it is an effortless natural thing, that means we need to do more until it becomes 2nd nature... so what do u understand it is?

So here goes a little research and this is what Lama Yeshe has to say about it... Love Lama Yeshe, always thought he was a great unusual inspiring Lama x

Bodhicitta is Necessary for Practising Tantra.

As a prerequisite for the successful practice of tantra, the development of bodhicitta is absolutely necessary It has been said by all masters that to be properly qualified to practise tantra, we must possess a very strong bodhicitta motivation. Truly qualified tantric practitioners wish to follow the speediest path to enlightenment, not with the desire to gain quick liberation, but because they have unbearable compassion for others. They realise that the longer it takes them to achieve enlightenment, the longer everyone who needs help will have to wait. The lightning vehicle of tantra is therefore intended for those who wish to help others as much as possible, as quickly as possible.

Although it is true that bodhicitta is the most important prerequisite for tantric practice, in fact, it is more accurate to say that the opposite is true; that the purpose of practising tantra is to enhance the scope of one's bodhicitta.

There are so many tantric deities - Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri, Tara and the rest - into whose practice you can be initiated; there are so many deities you can meditate upon. But what are all these deities for? What is the purpose of all these practices? It is nothing other than developing and expanding the dedicated heart of bodhicitta. There is really no other reason for all these deities. In fact, all tantric meditations without exception are for the sole purpose of developing strong bodhicitta.

Take the practice of thousand-armed Avalokiteshvara, for example. The whole reason for having your consciousness manifest as a divine light-being with one thousand arms is so that you can lend a hand to one thousand suffering beings. What other reason could you have for wanting so many arms? And, if you do not feel comfortable manifesting in this way, you can always relate your meditation to your own culture and manifest your inner being as Jesus, Saint Francis, Kwan Yin or any other holy being.

What we have to understand is that Avalokiteshvara and Jesus, for example, are exactly the same; the essential nature of each is complete selfless devotion in the service of others. Therefore, when we try to be like them, through the practice of tantra, prayer or any other method, it is only to be able to serve others in a similarly selfless way. This selfless dedication to others is the true meaning of bodhicitta and that is why bodhicitta is not only the major prerequisite of tantra, it is also the most important fruit of this practice.

The Need for Inspiration

Before we can board the lightning vehicle of tantra, we have to understand why it is both necessary and possible to abandon our ordinary, limited view of ourselves and generate in its place the enlightened self- identity of a fully evolved being. We have to realise that our low opinion of ourselves, which keeps us trapped in the cycle of perpetual dissatisfaction, only arises because we are ignorant of our basic, essentially pure nature. By generating the prerequisite renunciation, bodhicitta and wisdom, and by delving into the clear nature of the mind, we create the space in which true self-transformation can take place.

Yet it is not enough merely to know why such self-transformation is necessary and possible; we must also generate the strength and confidence that will enable us to follow this radical approach to fulfilment.In other words, we need to be inspired . We have to know that the attainment of enlightenment completion, buddhahood, totality, or whatever we want to call it is not only a theoretical possibility but something that people like us can and do actually achieve. In the buddhist tantric tradition the source of this inspiration is the guru (lama in Tibetan): our teacher and spiritual guide. And the root of the tantric path is unifying oneself with this source of inspiration through the practice of guru-yoga.

At the moment we are temporarily incapable of dealing effectively with the problems created by or egotistical mind. To help solve this problem, Shakyamuni Buddha taught methods for breaking out of our ego prison and identifying ourselves with the enlightened beings of the past, present and future. Such enlightened beings have achieved a state in which there is no separation or distinction between high and low; there is only the complete equality of the enlightened experience. The practice of guru-yoga prepares us to enter this unified experience of complete fulfilment. Through seeing ourselves as one with our spiritual guide we banish the self-pitying thought: 'The buddhas are so exalted and I am nothing in comparison.' Instead, we learn to identify our innermost mind with that of our guru, who is seen as inseparable from everyone who has already achieved complete awakening. It is through the practice of guru-yoga that our limited wisdom grows to completeness. The guru's energy of great compassion, great love, great wisdom and great skill take seed in us so that we ourselves come to embody these limitlessly beneficial qualities. We ourselves become the guru and, as such, can give immeasurable and inexhaustible help to all beings. If we do not generate the qualities of a true guru within us, how can we provide ultimate benefit for anyone else? We cannot even help ourselves properly.

Bodhicitta (Sanskrit) byang chub kyi sems, bodhicitta (Tibetan) : An altruistic aspiration to attain full enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, Boddhicitta is cultivated on the basis of certain mental attitudes, principal among them being the development of love and compassion towards all beings equally. A genuine generation of Boddhicitta is attained only when, through the training of the mind, the aspiration to attain full enlightenment becomes spontaneous and no longer requires any deliberate exertion. At that stage an individual becomes a boddhisattva. Literally, bodhi means 'enlightenment' and citta, 'mind'. Mahayana literature speaks of two types of boddhicitta: conventional boddhicitta and ultimate boddhicitta. The former refers to that aspect of boddhicitta defined above, whereas the latter refers to the discriminative awareness (prajna) of directly realising emptiness which is induced by the altruistic motivation of boddhicitta. In a tantric context boddhicitta also refers to the white/male and red/female seminal fluids in the body.

Bodhisattva (Sanskrit) byang chub sems dpa (Tibetan) A spiritual trainee who has generated the altruistic mind of boddhicitta and is on the path to full enlightenment. Bodhisattvas, literally meaning 'heroes of enlightenment', are courageous individuals who dedicate their entire being towards a single goal, ie. to bring about the welfare of all sentient beings. An essential element of this commitment to work for others is the determination purposely to remain within the cycle of existence instead of simply seeking freedom from suffering for oneself.

Positive Change

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1008
Re: Bodhicitta ~ We hear it so very often but What is it?
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2012, 06:44:36 AM »
The one thing lacking in dealing with the whole issue of the Dorje Shugden ban is Bodhicitta. If we were to all operate from Bodhicitta, such conflicts would not arise. Having said that, if we recognise HHDL as an emanation of Chenrezig, surely HHDL operates from Bodhicitta... so how come this is happening? Perhaps it is not HHDL that is the problem but how we view the ban that is the problem?

Below is a wonderfully inspiring teaching by Lama Yeshe and how it exemplifies Bodhicitta and whereby the root of our problems are often our perceptions. I have highlighted in bold some interesting points from the teaching that I find makes a lot of sense personally.

Teaching by Lama Thubten Yeshe at Kopan Monastery, Nepal 1983:

I think it is absolutely essential for us to have loving kindness towards others. There is no doubt about this. Loving kindness is the essence of bodhicitta, the attitude of the bodhisattva. It is the most comfortable path, the most comfortable meditation. There can be no philosophical, scientific or psychological disagreement with this. With bodhicitta, there's no East-West conflict. This path is the most comfortable, most perfect, one hundred percent uncomplicated one, free of any danger of leading people to extremes. Without bodhicitta, nothing works. And most of all, your meditation doesn't work, and realizations don't come.

Why is bodhicitta necessary for success in meditation? Because of selfish grasping. If you have a good meditation but don't have bodhicitta, you will grasp at any little experience of bliss: 'Me, me; I want more, I want more.' Then the good experience disappears completely. Grasping is the greatest distraction to experiencing single-pointed intensive awareness in meditation. And with it, we are always dedicated to our own happiness: 'Me, me I'm miserable, I want to be happy. Therefore I'll meditate.' It doesn't work that way. For some reason good meditation and its results—peacefulness, satisfaction and bliss—just don't come.

Also, without bodhicitta it is very difficult to collect merits. You create them and immediately destroy them; by afternoon, the morning's merits have gone. It's like cleaning a room and an hour later making it dirty again. You make your mind clean, then right away you mess it up - not a very profitable business. If you want to succeed in the business of collecting merits, you must have bodhicitta. With bodhicitta you become so precious—like gold, like diamonds; you become the most perfect object in the world, beyond compare with any material things.

From the Western, materialistic point of view, we'd think it was great if a rich person said,'I want to make charity. I'm going to offer $100 to everybody in the entire world.' Even if that person gave with great sincerity, his or her merit would be nothing compared with just the thought,'I wish to actualize bodhicitta for the sake of sentient beings, and I'll practice the six paramitas as much as I can. That's why I always say, actualization of bodhicitta is the most perfect path you can take.

"The best Dharma practice, the most perfect, most substantial, is without doubt the practice of bodhicitta."

Remember the story of the Kadampa geshe who saw a man circumambulating a stupa? He said, 'What are you doing?' and the man answered, 'Circumambulating.' So the geshe said, 'Wouldn't it be better if you practiced dharma?' Next time the geshe saw the man he was prostrating, and when he again asked what he was doing, the man replied, 'One hundred thousand prostrations.' 'Wouldn't it be better if you practiced dharma?' asked the geshe. Anyway, the story goes on, but the point is that just doing religious-looking actions like circumambulation and prostration isn't necessarily practicing dharma. What we have to do is transform our attachment and self-cherishing, and if we haven't changed our mind in this way, none of the other practices work; doing them is just a joke. Even if you try to practice tantric meditations, unless you've changed within, you won't succeed. dharma means a complete change of attitude - that's what really brings you inner happiness, that is the true Dharma, not the words you say. Bodhicitta is not the culture of ego, not the culture of attachment, not the culture of samsara. It is an unbelievable transformation, the most comfortable path, the most substantial path—definite, not wishy-washy. Sometimes your meditation is not solid; you just space out. Bodhicitta meditation means you really want to change your mind and actions and transform your whole life.

We are all involved in human relationships with each other. Why do we sometimes say, 'I love you,' and sometimes, 'I hate you?' Where does this up-and-down mind come from? From the self-cherishing thought—a complete lack of bodhicitta. What we are saying is, 'I hate you because I'm not getting any satisfaction from you. You hurt me; you don't give me pleasure. That's the whole thing: I—my ego, my attachment—am not getting satisfaction from you, therefore I hate you. What a joke! All the difficulties in inter-personal relationships come from not having bodhicitta, from not having changed our minds.

So, you see, just meditating is not enough. If that Kadampa geshe saw you sitting in meditation he'd say, 'What are you doing? Wouldn't it be better if you practiced dharma?' Circumambulating isn't dharma, prostrating isn't dharma, meditating isn't dharma. My goodness, what is dharma, then? This is what happened to the man in the story. He couldn't think of anything else to do. Well, the best dharma practice, the most perfect, most substantial, is without doubt the practice of bodhicitta.

You can prove scientifically that bodhicitta is the best practice to do. Our self-cherishing thought is the root of all human problems. It makes our lives difficult and miserable. The solution to self-cherishing, its antidote, is the mind that is its complete opposite—bodhicitta. The self-cherishing mind is worried about only me, me—the self-existent I. Bodhicitta substitutes others for self.

It creates space in your mind. Then even if your dearest friend forgets to give you a Christmas present, you don't mind. "Ah, well. This year she didn't give me my chocolate. It doesn't matter." Anyway, your human relationships are not for chocolate, not for sensory pleasures. Something much deeper can come from our being together, working together.

"With bodhicitta you become so precious - like gold, like diamonds. You become the most perfect object in the world, beyond compare with any material things."

If you want to be really, really happy, it isn't enough just to space out in meditation. Many people who have spent years alone in meditation have finished up the worse for it. Coming back into society, they have freaked out. They haven't been able to take contact with other people again, because the peaceful environment they created was an artificial condition, still a relative phenomenon without solidity. With bodhicitta, no matter where you go, you will never freak out. The more you are involved with people the more pleasure you get. People become the resource of your pleasure. You are living for people. Even though some still try to take advantage of you, you understand: 'Well, in the past I took advantage of them many times too.' So it doesn't bother you.

Thus bodhicitta is the most perfect way to practice dharma, especially in our twentieth-century Western society. It is very, very worthwhile. With the foundation of bodhicitta you will definitely grow.

If you take a proper look deep into your heart you will see that one of the main causes of your dissatisfaction is the fact that you are not helping others as best you can. When you realize this you'll be able to say to yourself, 'I must develop myself so that I can help others satisfactorily. By improving myself I can definitely help.' Thus you have more strength and energy to meditate, to keep pure morality and do other good things. You have energy, 'Because I want to help others.' That is why Lama Tsongkhapa said that bodhicitta is the foundation of all enlightened realizations.

Also, bodhicitta energy is alchemical. It transforms all your ordinary actions of body, speech and mind—your entire life into positivity and benefit for others, like iron transmuted into gold. I think this is definitely true. You can see, it's not difficult. For example look at other people's faces. Some people, no matter what problems and suffering they are enduring, when they go out they always try to appear happy and show a positive aspect to others. Have you noticed this or not? But other people always go about miserable, and angry. What do you think about that? I honestly think that it indicates a fundamental difference in the way these two kinds of people think. Human beings are actually very simple. Some are a disaster within and it shows on their faces and makes those whom they meet feel sick. Others, even though they are suffering intensely, always put on a brave face because they are considerate of the way others feel.

I believe this is very important. What's the use of putting out a miserable vibration? Just because you feel miserable, why make others unhappy too? It doesn't help. You should try to control your emotions, speak evenly and so forth. Sometimes when people are suffering they close off from others, but you can still feel their miserable vibration. This doesn't help—others with even momentary happiness forget about leading them to enlightenment. To help the people around you, you have to maintain a happy, peaceful vibration. This is very practical, very worthwhile. Sometimes we talk too much about enlightenment and things like that. We have a long way to go to such realizations. Forget about enlightenment, I don't care about buddhahood—just be practical. If you can't help others, at least don't give them any harm, stay neutral.

Anyway, what I'm supposed to be telling you here is that bodhicitta is like atomic energy to transform your mind. This is absolutely, scientifically true, and not something that you have to believe with blind religious faith. Everybody nowadays is afraid of nuclear war, but if we all had bodhicitta, wouldn't we all be completely secure? Of course we would. With bodhicitta you control all desire to defeat or kill others. And, as Lama Je Tsongkhapa said, when you have bodhicitta all the good things in life are magnetically attracted to you and pour down upon you like rain. At present all we attract is misfortune because all we have is the self-cherishing thought. But with bodhicitta we'll attract good friends, good food, good everything.

As His Holiness the Dalai Lama said recently, if you're going to be selfish, do it on a grand scale; wide selfishness is better than narrow! What did His Holiness mean'! He was saying that, in a way, bodhicitta is like a huge selfish attitude because when you dedicate yourself to others with loving kindness you get a lot more pleasure than you would otherwise. With our present, usual selfish attitude we experience very little pleasure, and what we have is easily lost. With 'great selfishness' you help others and you help yourself; with small it's always 'me, me, me and it is easy to lose everything.

Remember, Atisha had over 150 teachers? He respected them all, but when he heard the name of one—Lama Dharmarakshita—he would come out in goose-bumps. He explained this by saying, 'I received many teachings from many, many great gurus, but for me, Lama Dharmarakshita, who gave me the bodhicitta ordination and teachings on the method and wisdom of bodhicitta and the six paramitas, was the most helpful for my life'. This is very true. Sometimes techniques of deity meditation are extremely difficult, but bodhicitta meditation is so simple, so incredibly profound and real. That's why Atisha would shake when he heard the name of his main teacher of bodhicitta.

The main point, then, is that when you contact Buddhadharma you should conquer the mad elephant of your self-cherishing mind. If the dharma you hear helps you diminish your self-cherishing even a little, it has been worthwhile. But if the teachings you have taken have had no effect on your selfishness, then from the Mahayana point of view, even if you can talk intellectually on the entire lam-rim, they have not been must use at all.

Do you recall the story of Shantideva and how people used to put him down? They used to call him Du-she-sum-pa, which means one who knows how to do only three things: eating, sleeping and excreting. This was a very bad thing to call someone, especially a monk. But that's all that people could see him doing. However, he had bodhicitta, so whatever he did, even ordinary things, was of greatest benefit to others. Lying down, peacefully, he would meditate with great concern for the welfare of all living beings, and many times, out of compassion, he would cry for them. Westerners need that kind of practice. Fundamentally we are lazy. Well, maybe not lazy, but when we finish work we are tired and don't have much energy left. So, when you come home from work, lie down comfortably and meditate on bodhicitta. This is most worthwhile. Much better than rushing in speedily, throwing down a coffee and dropping onto your meditation cushion to try to meditate. It doesn't work that way; your nervous system needs time and space. You can't be rushing through traffic one minute and sitting quietly meditating the next. Everything takes time and space. It is much better to have a quiet, blissful cup of coffee, And don't pressure yourself either; that too is very bad. Don't punish yourself when you are too tired to meditate: 'I should be meditating; I am very bad.' You destroy yourself like this. Be wise. Treat yourself, your mind, sympathetically, with loving kindness. If you are gentle with yourself you will become gentle with others so don't push. Pushing doesn't work for me, that's why I tell others not to force themselves. We are dealing with the mind, not rocks and concrete; it is something organic.

"In a way, bodhicitta is like a huge selfish attitude because when you dedicate yourself to others with loving kindness you get a lot more pleasure than you would otherwise."

The Western environment offers lots of suffering conditions that act as causes for our actualizing bodhicitta, so life there can be very worthwhile. For example, it is much better to subdue an adversary with bodhicitta than with a knife or gun. When attacked, you can practice loving kindness. We could also do this in the monasteries of Tibet, where there were often horrible monks. Don't think that Tibet was full of only holy people—we had unbelievably wild monks there that nobody in authority could subdue! If you would try to control them wrathfully they would get only more aggressive. But arya bodhisattva monks, people who had completely given themselves up for others, would treat them with loving kindness, and the wild monks would calm down completely. They would feel, 'This man loves me; he has great compassion. He has given up everything for others and has nothing to lose.' In that way aggressive people would be subdued, without authority but with bodhicitta. There are many stories about this kind of thing, but I'm not going to tell them now. Perhaps you think they're funny, but it's true—you can conquer your enemies, both internal and external, with loving kindness and bodhicitta. It is most worthwhile and there's no contradiction bodhicitta is the totally comfortable path to liberation and enlightenment.

In his text Lama Choepa, the Panchen Lama says, 'Self-cherishing is the cause of all misery and dissatisfaction, and holding all mother sentient beings dearer than oneself is the foundation of all realizations and knowledge. Therefore bless me to change self-cherishing into concern for all others.' This is not some deep philosophical theory but a very simple statement. You know from your own life's experiences without needing a Tibetan text's explanations that your self-cherishing thought is the cause of all your confusion and frustration. This evolution of suffering is found not only in Tibetan culture but in yours as well.

And the Panchen Lama goes on to say that we should look at what the Buddha did. He gave up his self-attachment and attained all the sublime realizations. But look at us we are obsessed with 'me, me, me' and have realized nothing but unending misery. This is very clear isn't it? Therefore you should know clearly how this works. Get rid of the false concept of self-cherishing and you'll be free of all misery and dissatisfaction. Concern yourself for the welfare of all others and wish for them to attain the highest realizations such as bodhicitta and you'll find all happiness and satisfaction.

"Bodhicitta is the most perfect way to practise dharma, especially in our twentieth century Western society. It is very, very worthwhile. With the foundation of bodhicitta you will definitely grow."

You people are young, intelligent and not satisfied with what you have in your own countries. That's why you are seeking further afield. And now you have found that most worthwhile of all things, bodhicitta.

But it is not an easy thing. Easy things bore you quickly. It is quite difficult, but there's no way you'll get bored practicing it. People need to be most intelligent to actualize bodhicitta, some, though, have no room for it. 'Forget about yourself and have a little concern for others?' they'll ask. 'That's not my culture.' It is very difficult to change holding yourself dear into holding others dear instead—the most difficult task you can undertake. But it is the most worthwhile and brings the greatest satisfaction.

After practicing some meditations, such as impermanence and death, for a month you'll say, 'I'm tired of that meditation.' But you'll never get tired of meditating on bodhicitta. It is so deep; a universal meditation. You'll never get tired of bodhicitta.

You have heard of many deities that you can meditate on, many deities to be initiated into - Chenrezig and the rest. What are they all for? I'll tell you—for gaining bodhicitta. As a matter of fact, all tantric meditations are for the development of strong bodhicitta. That is the purpose of your consciousness manifesting as a being with 1000 arms so that vou can lend a hand to a thousand suffering beings. If you don't like to manifest yourself this way you can relate the meditation to your own culture and see yourself as Jesus. Avalokiteshvara and Jesus are the same: completely selfless and completely devoted to serving others.

Remember what happened the first time that Avalokiteshvara took the bodhisattva ordination? He vowed to guide all universal living beings to enlightenment from behind, like a shepherd.'I do not want to realize enlightenment until first I have led all mother sentient beings there first. That will be my satisfaction.' He worked for years and years, leading thousands of beings to enlightenment, but when he checked to see what was happening he found there were still countless more. So again he worked for years and years and again when he checked there were still so many left, and this cycle was repeated until finally he was fed up and thought to himself, 'For aeons and aeons I have struggled to lead all sentient beings to enlightenment but there are still so many left. I think it is impossible to fulfil my vow.' And because of the intensity of his emotion his head split into eleven pieces. Then Amitabha Buddha came and offered to help, and blessed him to be successful.

So I'm sure some of you people can be like Chenrezig. The main thing is to have strong motivation. Even if it comes strongly only once, it is extremely powerful. It is very rare to have this kind of thought. A mere flash is so worthwhile; to have it for a minute for a day...


  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 610
Re: Bodhicitta ~ We hear it so very often but What is it?
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2012, 04:34:27 PM »
I love the analogies and explanations given by Pema Chodron in an article from Shambhala Sun, Bodhichitta: The Excellence of Awakened Heart, they make the whole subject more within my grasps  ;D, below are the excerpts:

Definition of Bodhichitta
Chitta means "mind"and also "heart" or "attitude." Bodhi means "awake," "enlightened," or "completely open." Sometimes the completely open heart and mind of bodhichitta is called the soft spot, a place as vulnerable and tender as an open wound. It is equated, in part, with our ability to love. Even the cruelest people have this soft spot. Even the most vicious animals love their offspring. As Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche put it, "Everybody loves something, even if it's only tortillas."

Bodhichitta = Rawness of a Broken Heart
An analogy for bodhichitta is the rawness of a broken heart. Sometimes this broken heart gives birth to anxiety and panic; sometimes to anger, resentment and blame. But under the hardness of that armor there is the tenderness of genuine sadness. This is our link with all those who have ever loved. This genuine heart of sadness can teach us great compassion. It can humble us when we're arrogant and soften us when we are unkind. It awakens us when we prefer to sleep and pierces through our indifference. This continual ache of the heart is a blessing that when accepted fully can be shared with all.

Bodhichitta = Compassion
Bodhichitta is also equated, in part, with compassion—our ability to feel the pain that we share with others. Without realizing it we continually shield ourselves from this pain because it scares us.

We put up protective walls made of opinions, prejudices and strategies, barriers that are built on a deep fear of being hurt. These walls are further fortified by emotions of all kinds: anger, craving, indifference, jealousy and envy, arrogance and pride. But fortunately for us, the soft spot—our innate ability to love and to care about things—is like a crack in these walls we erect. It's a natural opening in the barriers we create when we're afraid. With practice we can learn to find this opening.

We can learn to seize that vulnerable moment—love, gratitude, loneliness, embarrassment, inadequacy—to awaken bodhichitta.

Bodhichitta = Mind of Enlightenment
The Buddha said that we are never separated from enlightenment. Even at the times we feel most stuck, we are never alienated from the awakened state. This is a revolutionary assertion. Even ordinary people like us with hang-ups and confusion have this mind of enlightenment called bodhichitta.

The openness and warmth of bodhichitta is in fact our true nature and condition. Even when our neurosis feels far more basic than our wisdom, even when we're feeling most confused and hopeless, bodhichitta—like the open sky—is always here, undiminished by the clouds that temporarily cover it.

Two Levels of Bodhichitta
Bodhichitta exists on two levels.

First there is unconditional bodhichitta, an immediate experience that is refreshingly free of concept, opinion, and our usual all caught-up-ness. It's something hugely good that we are not able to pin down even slightly, like knowing at gut level that there's absolutely nothing to lose.

Second there is relative bodhichitta, our ability to keep our hearts and minds open to suffering without shutting down.

Warriors Bodhisattvas Training in Bodhichitta
Those who train wholeheartedly in awakening unconditional and relative bodhichitta are called bodhisattvas or warriors—not warriors who kill and harm but warriors of nonaggression who hear the cries of the world.

These are men and women who are willing to train in the middle of the fire. Training in the middle of the fire can mean that warrior-bodhisattvas enter challenging situations in order to alleviate suffering. It also refers to their willingness to cut through personal reactivity and self-deception, to their dedication to uncovering the basic undistorted energy of bodhichitta.

We have many examples of master warriors—people like Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King—who recognized that the greatest harm comes from our own aggressive minds. They devoted their lives to helping others understand this truth. There are also many ordinary people who spend their lives training in opening their hearts and minds in order to help others do the same. Like them, we could learn to relate to ourselves and our world as warriors. We could train in awakening our courage and love.

Tenzin K

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 835
Re: Bodhicitta ~ We hear it so very often but What is it?
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2012, 05:10:04 PM »
Bodhicitta or bodhichitta is essentially the desire to attain enlightenment in order to help others. According to HH the Dalai Lama, bodhicitta is, “the altruistic intention of one who aspires to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.”

In other words, bodhicitta or bodhichitta is the awakening of the enlightened mind. It arises when a Buddhist practitioner develops profound compassion for all of humankind and wishes to attain enlightenment for the sake of their happiness.

Definition of Bodhicitta
Bodhicitta or bodhichitta (pronounced body-cheetah) consists of two Sanskrit words, ‘bodhi’ meaning ‘wisdom’ or ‘enlightenment’ and chitta or citta meaning ‘heart’ or ‘mind’. Therefore, bodhichitta means the ‘enlightened mind’. Bodhicitta is an important aspect of Mahayana Buddhism. It is described as the path of selfless enlightenment and profound compassion.

Bodhichitta is usually categorized into two types – absolute and relative. Absolute bodhicitta is the insight into the true nature of things while relative bodhicitta is the desire to attain enlightenment for the sake of other sentient beings.

Pema Chodron, in Bodhichitta: The Excellence of Awakened Heart published in the Shambala Sun, writes that bodhichitta exists on two levels – unconditional bodhichitta which is an “immediate experience” free of all thought and concept and then, there is relative bodhichitta which is the ability to experience suffering without “shutting down.”

Realization of Bodhicitta
Mahayana Buddhism has many practices and methods for realization of bodhicitta. These formal and informal methods enable Buddhist practitioners to develop the loving kindness, compassion and courage that is needed to be a bodhisattva with a strong bodhicitta.

HH the Dalai Lama writes in Illuminating the Path to Enlightenment that when practitioners of Mahayana Buddhism develop an “extraordinary sense of responsibility” to free all sentient beings of suffering, it leads to realization of bodhicitta.

Benefits of Bodhicitta
Developing the profound compassion and commitment to rid others of their suffering is in itself a noble thing to do. However, bodhicitta has many benefits. HH the Dalai Lama has described it as “the heart essence of all the teachings of the Buddha.” Some of the benefits of developing bodhicitta, according to HH the Dalai Lama, are an accumulation of merit or good karma, a constant continuity of “enlightened activity” and a sense of contentment and joy.

Pema Chodron writes that bodhichitta has the power to inspire and support practitioners at all times. In other words, bodhicitta is an essential quality that Buddhist practitioners must strive to develop.

Bodhicitta is the quality that makes a bodhisattva distinct from others. The selfless desire to help others attain enlightenment is indeed, a noble desire and the commitment that is needed to fulfill this desire is surely a tough task. However, there have been many examples of both Buddhist and non-Buddhist people leading lives that shone with bodhicitta. Mother Teresa is just one example. Developing this commitment and desire can easily be done in one’s everyday life bringing about greater happiness, peace and contentment.


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 758
Re: Bodhicitta ~ We hear it so very often but What is it?
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2012, 04:43:13 PM »

The mind of enlightenment is always available,in pain as well as in joy. The mind that strives beings towards awakening and compassion with all sentient beings. The intention to achieve Buddahood as fast as possible,so that one may benefit sentient beings.It is the true union of compassion and wisdom.
It also aim to,at one hand bring happiness to all sentient beings and on the other, to relieve them of suffering.
The practice and realization of bodhicitta are independant of sectarian considerations,since they are fundamentally part of human experience.
The present 14th Dalai Lama regards Mother Teresa as one of the greatest modern Bodhisattvas.


  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 461
Re: Bodhicitta ~ We hear it so very often but What is it?
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2012, 05:43:57 PM »
When we see someone in distress and we feel their pain as if it were our own, and strive to eliminate or lessen their pain, then this is bodhicitta. Just as wisdom covers the intellectual or comprehending side of our nature, bodhicitta covers the emotional side.

It is uniquely human quality and innate in everyone. It forms the underlying foundation for our success in life, our progress on our spiritual path, and our fulfillment of our ultimate aspiration: the attainment of full enlightenment. Hence, bodhicitta is very important in beginning, middle and end of every dharma aspirant.

It is translated as compassion in English which literally is made up of two words, 'co' meaning 'together' and 'passion' meaning 'a strong feeling'.


  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 341
    • Email
Re: Bodhicitta ~ We hear it so very often but What is it?
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2012, 11:51:46 AM »
There are two aspects of working with bodhicitta, both of equal importance: one is connecting with the flow of bodhicitta we already feel, and the other is being awake to where that flow is blocked. So you can do this practice not only thinking of people you care about, but also visualizing people you don't like. It's important to have an unbiased, compassionate attitude toward whatever is arising.

Think, now, of an area of the world that's in great turmoil—an area where you know people and animals are suffering a lot. When you've chosen the place, think of the men there, and say, "May all the men in that place be free of suffering and the root of suffering; may they enjoy happiness and the root of happiness." Give yourself time. Take a few minutes.

Then think of all the women in that place, and wish that they too could be free of suffering and the root of suffering, and that they could enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.

Then think of all of the children in that place and wish that they be free of suffering and the root of suffering, and that they might enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.

Finally, think of all the animals in that place—the mammals, the birds, the fish, the insects and all the other animals—and wish that they be free of suffering and the root of suffering; that they might enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.

Imagine, then, all the men in the world who are starving to death right now, and wish that they could be free of suffering and the root of suffering; that they could enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.

Then imagine all the women in the world who are starving, and wish that every one of them—starving all over the world at this very moment—could be free of suffering and the root of suffering, and that they could enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.

Imagine all the children who are starving at this very moment all over the earth, and wish that they, too, could be free of suffering and the root of suffering; that they could enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.

Then imagine all the animals in the world who are starving to death right now, and wish that every one of them, all over the planet, could be free of suffering and the root of suffering; that they could enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.

Then bring to mind all the men on this planet—whether you respect them, feel neutral toward them or consider them bad people—and wish that they could be free of suffering and the root of suffering. Wish that they could enjoy happiness and the root of happiness. Because if all of the men on this planet could be free of the root of suffering and could enjoy the root of happiness—if they could be free of all the self-absorption that causes so much pain—we would be at peace.

Do the same with all the women on the earth—whether you like them or dislike them or feel neutral about them—and wish that they too could all be free of suffering. If all the women on the earth could be free of the root of suffering and enjoy the root of happiness, the world would be at peace.

Now do the same with all the children on the earth—whether you like them, dislike them or feel neutral about them. Wish that they could all be free of suffering. Because if all the children on the earth could be free of the root of suffering and could enjoy the root of happiness, the world would be at peace.

Finally, do the same with all the animals on the earth—whether you like them, don’t like them or feel neutral about them—and wish that they too could all be free of suffering. If all the animals on the earth could be free of the root of suffering and enjoy the root of happiness, the world would be at peace.

Sometimes when we do this kind of bodhicitta practice, we touch on people who immediately awaken warm feelings in us. Other times, though, we just feel numb. And then there are the times when we contact the hardness of our heart. Noticing this is very good, because it shows us when we’re open and when we’re closed. We should notice all of these things with compassion and lovingkindness towards ourselves, because the more we're able to feel tenderness towards ourselves, the more easily it flows to others.


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 706
Re: Bodhicitta ~ We hear it so very often but What is it?
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2012, 02:10:29 PM »
Yes, the power of Bodhicitta can be seen in the following words from 'Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand': (p.521)"(W)hatever action you do in conjunction with bodhicitta becomes ...a cause for your buddhahood".

There are two methods in training the mind for Bodhicitta.They are:
(1)Training the mind in the sevenfold cause and effect.
(2)Training the mind in equalizing and exchanging self with others.

Both methods were taught by Buddha Shakyamuni.The first one was passed down through Maitreya to Masters such as Asanga. The second one was passed down through Manjushri to Masters such as Shantideva. It is said that the second method is more powerful than the first method. It involves our transforming our 'self cherishing' to 'other cherishing'.

In the sevenfold cause and effect, the steps are as follows.
(We begin with developing 'equanimity' as a prerequisite and preparation).
1.Recognizing that all sentient beings are our mothers
2.Remembering the kindness of all mother beings
3.Repaying their kindness
4.Developing affectionate love(like that of a mother for her own son)
5.Developing Great Compassion
6.Developing altruism
7.Developing bodhicitta.

In the second method - training the mind in equalizing and exchanging self with others - the steps are as follows:
1.Equalizing self and others
2.Contemplating the disadvantages of self-cherishing
3.Contemplating the advantages of cherishing others
4.Exchanging self with others
5.Taking and giving.

The 2 methods can be combined to give 11 steps, beginning with 'Developing Equanimity' and ending with 'Developing Bodhicitta'.



  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1491
Re: Bodhicitta ~ We hear it so very often but What is it?
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2012, 04:02:16 PM »
Bodhi means enlightenment, the state devoid of all defects and endowed with all good qualities. Sattva refers to someone who has courage and confidence and who strives to attain enlightenment for the sake of all beings. Those who have this spontaneous, sincere wish to attain enlightenment for the ultimate benefit of all beings are called bodhisattvas. Through wisdom, they direct their minds to enlightenment, and through their compassion, they have concern for beings. This wish for perfect enlightenment for the sake of others is what we call bodhichitta, and it is the starting point on the path.


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 624
Re: Bodhicitta ~ We hear it so very often but What is it?
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2012, 03:20:38 PM »
Bodhicitta means "awakened mind" or "mind of enlightenment" or Buddha nature. It also refers to the thought or attitude of a bodhisattva. The definition of bodhicitta is: "the motivation to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings". There are two types of bodhicitta or bodhimind: conventional and ultimate. The former is of two types: aspiring bodhicitta and engaging bodhicitta. Aspiring bodhicitta is that which aspires to highest enlightenment as a means of benefiting the world. Engaging bodhicitta is that which engages the practices leading to enlightenment. Ultimate bodhicitta is the latter of these placed within an understanding of emptiness.


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1055
Re: Bodhicitta ~ We hear it so very often but What is it?
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2012, 02:54:14 PM »
Bodhichitta is the compassionate wish to realize enlightenment for all beings, not just oneself. Through bodhichitta, the desire to attain enlightenment transcends the narrow interests of the individual self.

There are countless beings trapped in the prison of samsara experiencing so much sufferings.  So we should not be content with just seeking our own liberation; we should also need to consider the welfare of other living beings who are suffering.

As each one of us is just one single person, other people are countless in number so the happiness of others is much more important than our own happiness and for this reason, we must practice of the supreme method for benefiting all living beings. We must cultivate  the precious mind called “bodhichitta”.


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1491
Re: Bodhicitta ~ We hear it so very often but What is it?
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2012, 05:41:39 PM »
Boundless joy is the joy you should feel when you see gifted and learned beings who are happy, famous or influential. Instead of feeling uneasy and envious of their good fortune, rejoice sincerely, thinking, "May they continue to be happy and enjoy even more happiness!" Pray too that they may use their wealth and power to help others, to serve the Dharma and the Sangha, making offerings, building monasteries, propagating the teachings and performing other worthwhile deeds. Rejoice and make a wish: "May they never lost all their happiness and privileges. May their happiness increase more and more, and may they use it to benefit others and to further the teachings."

Pray that your mind may be filled with boundless equanimity, loving-kindness, compassion and joy--as boundless as a Bodhisattva's. If you do so, genuine bodhichitta will certainly grow within you.
The reason these four qualities are boundless, or immeasurable, is that their object--the totality of sentient beings--is boundless; their benefit--the welfare of all beings--is boundless; and also their fruit--the qualities of enlightenment--is boundless. They are immeasurable like the sky, and they are the true root of enlightenment.


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1491
Re: Bodhicitta ~ We hear it so very often but What is it?
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2012, 03:35:45 PM »
If we have been reborn time after time, it is evident that we have needed many mothers to give birth to us.... the first cause bringing about bodhicitta is the recognition that all beings have been our mother.
The love and kindness shown us by our mother in this life would be difficult to repay. She endured many sleepless nights to care for us when we were helpless infants. She fed us and would have willingly sacrificed everything, including her own life, to spare ours. As we contemplate her example of devoted love, we should consider that each and every being throughout existence has treated us this way. Each dog, cat, fish, fly, and human being has at some point in the beginningless past been our mother and shown us overwhelming love and kindness. Such a thought should bring about our appreciation.

...if all other sentient beings who have been kind to us since beginningless time are suffering, how can we devote ourselves to pursuing merely our own happiness? To seek our own happiness in spite of the suffering others are experiencing is tragically unfortunate. Therefore, it is clear that we must try to free all sentient beings from suffering.

Dondrup Shugden

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 896
Re: Bodhicitta ~ We hear it so very often but What is it?
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2015, 01:23:32 PM »
Buddhism is about compassion, wisdom and practise of Bodhicitta.  Bodhicitta in common language is Loving Kindness to all sentient beings.

The extensive information on Bodhicitta in this article will help us to practise Bodhicitta.


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 758
Re: Bodhicitta ~ We hear it so very often but What is it?
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2015, 04:04:54 PM »

 Bodhichitta is the compassionate wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. Bodhi means our ‘enlightened essence’ and chitta (Skt. citta) means ‘heart’ or 'mind', hence the translation ‘the heart of enlightened mind’.

Within relative bodhichitta there is also the distinction between ‘bodhichitta in aspiration’ and ‘bodhichitta in action’, which is portrayed by Shantideva as the difference between deciding to go somewhere and actually making the journey.