It is futile to speak about benefiting others when you do not have great compassion. However, in order to save living beings, you must first seek your own salvation. During this process, you must open up your awareness and give rise to thoughts of compassion. Only then will you be able to carry out your vow to save all sentient beings. Not everyone can receive the mahayana dharma. It is futile to attempt to practice the mahayana dharma if you do not have a heart of great compassion. Furthermore, you might misapply any supernormal powers you might receive if you do not have a heart of great compassion as your foundation. When you have a heart of great compassion, you are able to quickly realize the nature of your mind, understand thoroughly the principles of the dharma and know your original nature. Occasionally performing some acts that benefit and bring happiness to other people as a result of momentary introspection are not the same as acts performed in a very natural manner after penetratingly viewing your original nature. You must be able to distinguish between true and false compassion. True compassion is not necessarily expressed very openly. If you have true compassion you will view all sentient beings as if they were your own children, always putting other living beings first and yourself second. You must develop roots of kindness or goodness. This refers to your natural capacity to realize enlightenment through learning Buddhism. These “roots” can deepen over many lives and eons.
The two sets of Seven-Branch Bodhichitta Dharma gives us the steps to follow to progress from ordinary compassion to holy bodhichitta. Bodhichitta is the root of all cultivation and progress on the path. However, it must be effortless and natural to be true cultivation.