Arousing Bodhicitta

Green Tara Statue from the Gyantse Kumbum Pagoda, Pelkor Chode Monastery, Gyantse, Tibet

Green Tara (Jetsun Drolma) statue from the Gyantse Kumbum Pagoda, Pelkor Chode Monastery, Gyantse, Tibet.

His Holiness Dorje Chang Buddha III  has told us that our attainment in the Buddha-dharma depends upon our level of bodhicitta. If nobody cared about saving living beings, then Sakyamuni Buddha and Kuan Yin Bodhisattva would not have cared about saving us! If they had such an indifferent attitude, why would they teach us? Yet, they teach us with earnest words and good intentions. This shows that they have holy bodhicitta. If we do not emulate them, how could we ever end the cycle of birth and death? How could we even learn great dharma? His Holiness has also said that the most important thing in the Buddha-dharma is to walk the Bodhisattva Path and practice bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is based upon the four limitless states of mind: limitless loving-kindness, compassion, joy over the well-being of others and equanimity. Bodhicitta has holy meaning and the four limitless states of mind are temporal. Only with bodhicitta can we become holy beings. We want to lead everyone to liberation. We want all living beings in the six realms and the three spheres of existence to become accomplished in the Dharma. We even want demons to attain liberation from samsara.

It is futile to arouse bodhichitta until you stop harming sentient beings. You must truly maintain a Mahayana awakened heart of compassion. How you treat other living beings is the most fundamental factor influencing your ability to attain liberation. Arousing bodhichitta must be closely combined with cultivation. Being kind to all living beings is not unrelated to arousing bodhichitta. Treating living beings kindly is a true manifestation of arousing bodhichitta. Development of the four limitless states of mind is the foundation of bodhichitta. Although both the four limitless states of mind and bodhichitta are concerned with benefiting others, there is a difference: in the first, you hold on to the notion of self, while in the second, you are able to cut off the notion of self. Benefiting sentient beings out of bodhichitta is an unconditional state. When the beneficial acts are done, you let go of them. You are not moved in any way by having benefited others. You act to benefit others simply because you feel that it is what you ought to do and that it is what is natural to do. It is futile to attempt to benefit sentient beings when you do not act out of bodhichitta.

Literally, bodhichitta means mind of enlightenment or an altruistic determination or intention on the part of the practitioner, or vow made by the practitioner, to realize enlightenment. The term arouse bodhichitta has several levels of meaning. For the unenlightened, it is the determination to become enlightened in order to liberate all living beings from samsara. However, in a deeper sense, bodhichitta means the enlightened mind, buddha-nature, non-dual wisdom or primal awareness itself. Read the discourse given by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha “What Is Cultivation?” in the book H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III for a more complete understanding of how to arouse bodhichitta and the essential nature of arousing bodhichitta.