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by Min Bahadur Shakya The word Bodhicitta is translated in various terms such as awakening mind, enlightened attitude, and thought of enlightenment or simply Bodhi mind. The essence of the formation of an enlightened attitude is the desire for perfect enlightenment in order to be able to work for the benefit of others. The development of Bodhicitta is the framework upon which the Mahayana Path is built, and is the basis and foundation for the great waves of the enlightened career of the Bodhisattva. Now let us give short outlines what a possessor of this Bodhi mind should be? In one of the aspirational prayer of Great Bodhisattva Manjushri, he spoke thus in his previous birth; "As the chain of births is endless from beginning to end, so long shall I live that holy life for the well being of all creatures. Let us produce the thought of enlightenment in the presence of our Leader. I invite the entire world; for I shall deliver it from poverty. No mind of malice and stubbornness, neither envy and grudging, will I cherish from this day as long as I have enlightenment. I will practice continence and avoid criminal lusts and imitate the self-restriant and morality of the Buddhas. Not as one that is hurried do I undertake to gain enlightenment. I will remain until the end of the chain of being for one living being's sake. I will purify a measureless, an unimaginable Buddha's field. I will gain me a name renowned in ten quarters. I will always make pure the works of both act and word. I will purify my mind and work; yea, I will not work a work that shall be bad." Such aspirations and prayers are a common theme to the practitioners of Mahayana Buddhism. In Sanskrit Buddhist literature we can find many texts dealing with the thought of enlightenment or Bodhicitta Pranidhana. In the text Sukhavativyuha Sutra Buddha Amitabha in his previous birth as Bhikshu Dharmakara made forty-eight vows and aspirations, Buddha Bhaishajya (Medicine Buddha) made 12 great vows; and similarly Shakyamuni Buddha made four great vows. Such heroic and bold statements of a bodhisattva do not come to his continuum of mind automatically. But it comes through his force of compassion and mercy for all suffering beings. He perceives this human life as an extremely rare phenomenon. He thinks that it is very difficult to enjoy the blessings of life as a man or woman under fortunate and favourable conditions ( Kshana-Sampad). He realizes that his life and the external world are painful, impermanent and unsubstantial. All creatures begin their journey towards death from the very moment of their conception in the womb. Thus realizing the peril of death and suffering after death a wise man usually resolves to become a bodhisattva is generated through the realization of the misery and folly of the people around him. He sees the worldlings deluded by ignorance. They are attached to sense pleasures and enslaved by egotism, pride, false opinions, lusts, hate, doubt, craving, and evil intentions. They are without refuge and protection. They are traveling through this ocean of samsara. They do not love virtue and duty and are ungrateful to parents and spiritual teachers.
They are addicted to violence, strife, falsehood and deceit. They suffer from many diseases and famines. The true religion is rejected, and false creeds arise and flourish. Such is the terrible situation, in which the world finds itself. In the present day situation Also we are confronted with the same sad news: violence, crime, wars and disasters. Even in these modern times it is clear that one's precious life is not safe. Bodhisattvas of your generated the thought of enlightenment realizing the miserable situation of all creatures. So pity, mercy, love and compassion for sentient beings are the root of generating Bodhi mind. Need of generating Bodhi Mind The two objects of this Bodhi mind are the Bodhi , the enlightenment and the good of the living beings. Regarding the latter every major religion of the world: Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism teach moral precepts, ideal of love, the same goal of benefiting humanity through spiritual practice and the same effects of making their followers into better human beings. All teach the spiritual disciplines and practices for perfecting the functions of body, speech and mind. The common goal of all moral precepts laid down by the great teachers of all religions is unselfishness. The great teachers wanted their followers to desist from evil paths caused by ignorance and introduce them to the path of virtue and goodness. Each religion teaches a path leading to a spiritual state, which is peaceful and wise. The qualities of mind such as pity, mercy, love and compassion for suffering sentient beings are common elements of all religions. It is very important for the unity of followers of all religions to develop these qualities of mind. Bodhi mind essentially helps to achieve basic unity and a spirit of cooperation among the followers of different religions. When Bodhi mind is generated within our continuum of mind our goal is to maintain undiscriminating love and compassion towards all living beings without making any distinction of race, nationality, class, sex, status, friend or enemy. His activity is not centered on his sectarian belief or dogma. He feels a sense of universal responsibility. He feels other people's sufferings as his own. A great concern for other people's happiness arises. He will not be indifferent to the sufferings of the world. Such attitudes are needed for today's global problems. Nowadays we are facing a number of problems. Among them some are natural calamities such as famine, flood disaster and earthquake, which we cannot avoid and have to accept without choice. But most of the problems we make ourselves such as waging wars, ideological conflicts and many others. We are in constant fear due to the threat of nuclear destruction. People wage wars for petty ends forgetting all the ideals of humanity. It is definite that all our problems start from our self-cherishing thought. All religions teach us to be less selfish but on the contrary our actions are wholly centered on selfhappiness and self comfort. All conflicts, exploitations and wars are due to selfish concerns. Men are unaware of the value of cherishing of others. As the First Panchen Lama has declared: " The chronic disease of cherishing ourselves is the cause of our unsought suffering. Seeing this, we seek your blessings to blame begrudge and destroy the monstrous demon of selfishness."
As it is said this self-cherishing attitude is like a chronic disease, which is very difficult to root out. It steals our freedom and always creates trouble. So generation of the awakening mind means trying to minimize our selfish concerns and having an attitude cherishing others so that the poor, troubled and developing can get sympathy, solace and cooperation from developed countries without any exploitation. They can breath the air of peace and happiness. In case the top leaders of the world had thought over this awakening mind the present situation will not have occurred. Many political leaders and scientists have appeared in the course of our long human history. Most of them wasted their lives in the game of wars rather than in the upliftment of humanity. I think it is fundamentally wrong in our global education system that the emphasis is laid more on materialism. Although Science and Technology has created immeasurable material comforts it has done little in maintaining our humanitarian ideals and values, which have shaped humanitarian ideals and values, which have shaped our world civilization. Our basic human problems have remained the same. Had Science and Technology and spiritual education gone hand in hand, emphasizing humanitarian ideals, we will not have to face the problems of today. So it is time for all spiritual leaders to consider humanitarian ideals as a basis of formal education in order to solve our global problems and to attain peace. In time, the great nations of and to attain peace. In time, the great nations of world inspired by the Bodhi mind may ceases to manipulate everything in a vain pursuit of power and instead try to create a peaceful world by regulating the mind's activities to accord with the sublime Dharma. Methods of Generating Bodhi Mind So far we have discussed only the value of creating this mind. Now let us discuss the methods of generating this awakening mind as described in the early texts of Indian Buddhist tradition. Although there are many excellent methods described and explained by learned masters of the past the following two are the most popular: a) Seven Instructions cause and Effect b) Exchanging oneself with Others Both the methods originate from Buddha Shakyamuni. Buddha Shakyamuni transmitted the first method to Bodhisattva Maitreya and from him to Acharya Asanga and through many masters to Atisha. The second method was passed from Bodhisattva Manjushri to Acharya Nagarjuna. Shantideva and also to Atisha. Seven Instructions of Cause and Effect a) Equanimity b) Awareness of Mother sentient beings c) Recollecting their kindness d) Repaying their kindness
e) Immaculate love f) The extraordinary attitude g) Precious Bodhicitta Now let us discuss some of the salient features of the above mentioned technique: a) Equanimity In the present situation, some sentient beings appear to us as friends, some enemies and some indifferent. We develop attachment for friends, hatred for enemies and indifference to those who are neutral. This attitude of ours is entirely unnatural, biased and unreasonable. Friends and enemies are so changeable that a friend after a few unpleasant words can turn into the deadliest enemy and similarly a few words of praise and polite behaviour to an enemy may turn him into a friend. This is again true for strangers also. So in order to work for the benefit of all sentient beings it is essential to make all sentient beings equally dear to our thoughts. b) Awareness of Mother sentient beings According to Buddhist Psychology, we have taken immeasurable births each having one mother except in few conditions of birth. Over all these times there is not a single sentient being who has not been our mother. As a mother each sentient being has shown us kindness in rearing, protecting and sheltering us. This fact may seem strange to nonbelievers of the Rebirth Doctrine. Here in our tradition we can give evidences for many instances of rebirth. Because of that there cannot be a speck of doubt in rebirth. Since our births are countless and the number of bodies we have taken is limitless. And we have a mother in each birth, it logically follows that all sentient beings have been our mothers. By scriptural authority also it is established that all beings have been our mothers because Lord Buddha once said: " I do not see any beings wandering throughout cyclic existence who have not previously been born in this place, who have not taken bodies like this, and who have not been each other's parents, siblings and relatives." I do not know all sentient beings in their transmigration through birth and death just as I do not recognize parents of this life after they die. We will not recognize them even if they are reborn in the same family. So all of them must have been our mothers. C) Recollecting their kindness Even if we could remember all beings as our mothers, it is not enough. We should also remember their kindness. It is evident that a mother takes incalculable suffering in rearing, protecting and sheltering us. She sacrifices her own personal comforts, and rears her child as a precious gem. She is extremely kind. She has been kind not only in this present life but in many previous lives also. She treated me with kindness in the same way. So just as my mother of this life has been kind to me, so all sentient beings of the other five realms had been equally kind to me. If we investigate honestly how kind they had been, we realize the importance of these sentient beings. D) Repaying their kindness
All sentient beings have been so kind and ignoring their kindness is the most ignoble behaviour of human beings. So I must think of repaying them. My parents ( sentient beings) who are blind are passing by a precipice where they are about to fall into endless pits and it I, the only son of these parents, do not take care of them, what a shameful behaviour it will be on my part! 'These sentient beings ( who were my mothers) are afflicted with lust, hatred and delusion. They are treading the path of the lower realms. They have lost their vision of insight and have no spiritual guides who show them the right path. So I must therefore lead them to this bliss of liberation. By this we would have repaid their kindness. E) Immaculate Love All mother sentient beings desire happiness and shun suffering but they do not know that the cause of happiness is virtue, which they lack. Seeking happiness they are practicing non-virtue, the cause of suffering. So being in the unfortunate realms are always devoid of happiness. Even in the human realm we hear of untold sufferings experienced by human beings. Although the beings in the happy realm perceive their experience as happiness, they lack true happiness. So we must endeavour to release them from their sufferings and establish them in true happiness. We should think how wonderful it would be it all sentient beings possess supreme happiness. F) The Extraordinary Attitude Since all mother sentient beings are suffering and they lack happiness and there are none to guide them, so I must take responsibility of freeing all sentient beings from misery and establish them in perfect happiness i.e. Buddhahood. As al illustration: If an only child of a father happened to drown in a violent river and his father merely wishes " May my child be taken out from the river!" it is extremely ridiculous. A wise man that is capable of swimming does not stay idle but he himself will bring his child back from the river. G) Generation of Bodhicitta As in the above illustration, if his father cannot swim and has no strength he will not be able to rescue his son back to the shore of the river safely. Similarly in the present situation I myself am under the power of the current of the river ( mental afflictions) and will have no ability to rescue all sentient beings from the river of cyclic existence and establish them in supreme happiness. Now who is able to liberate all sentient beings from the ocean of sufferings of samsara? The answer is Buddha alone has this ability. Therefore, I must strive for the attainment of Buddhahood. If I attain that state I will possess all the qualities of a Buddha; then I will be able to work most effectively for each and every sentient being. So we must generate an intense desire to attain the goal of Buddhahood as a perfect means of helping sentient beings. When we desire all the time to attain Buddhahood and help sentient beings simultaneously, then we will have generated Bodhimind.
Exchanging Oneself with Others Practice of Bodhicitta through exchaging oneself with others is stressed in the teachings of Acharya Nagarjuna's Ratnavali. But in Shantideva's Bodhicaryavatara it is explained in detail. According to this text we must contemplate on the following topics: a) The Equality of Oneself And Others b) The Importance of Others c) The Cherishing of Others d) Exchanging Oneself with Others e) Giving and Taking A. Equality of Oneself and Others Practice of Equality of oneself and others is very rare because it is counter to our selfish desires and feelings. In gaining happiness and removing sufferings all beings' desire is the same. But in our usual practice we desire to eliminate our own suffering but question the necessity of removing that of others. From our own experience it is evident that we crave for greater happiness no matter how much we get. This is true for others too. Although there may be some differences in external appearances - some living in luxury while others are destitute - they are basically the same in their wish to be free from suffering and their desire to be happy. Since our condition is identical, to think only of ourselves and neglect others is utterly unreasonable. Regarding this Acharya Shantideva declared in his text Siksha Samuccaya: "When to myself, as to my fellow beings fear and pain are hateful, what distinguishes my own self that I protect it and other not?" Thus we must try to help sentient beings in an equal way in an identical manner. b. Important of Others Before explaining the importance of others it is beneficial to describe the faults of a selfcherishing attitude. There is one verse in the text Bodhicaryavatara: "If I gave this, what shall I have left to enjoy? Such selfish thinking is the way of ghosts; If I enjoy this, what shall I have left to give? Such selfless thinking is a quality of gods." Usually we do not see the importance of others. We always harbour the thoughts like this," If I give up my wealth, possessions, clothing and so forth to others, how shall I ever be happy? What shall I eat? What shall I wear?" This sort of question comes through a self-cherishing mind and is following the terrifying paths of the frightful spirits. People fear spirits because they are afraid they will do them harm. But if we banish our selfcherishing attitude, we would not be afraid even if a whole army of ghosts appeared before us. From exalted kings and head of states down to the beggars, all beings are beset with fear due to their self-cherishing attitude. We can give some more examples of the faults of a self-cherishing thought, which we hold so precious is the source of all problems and miseries. 1) When we meet other people wealthier, better looking, better educated that ourselves, we feel painful in our heart. We feel jealous of them. Instead of
rejoicing, the selfish thought gives rise to a jealous mind causing much pain in the heart. 2) Even if we meet people of the same status, same level of education and same job, the thought of competition arises. The self-cherishing thought, which seeks for us more happiness, those others cause all the pain. We fear to lose the job, fear to lose the reputation, fear to lose to become older. Even though there is no choice for we cannot stop ourselves from getting older, we feel worried and fearful that this would happen. 3) Shakyamuni Buddha left so many profound extensive teachings for us to be liberated from suffering to achieve the Bodhi mind. By his teachings so many beings were liberated during his lifetime and even after him, Great Maha Siddhas, famous Pandits and Yogis such as Saraha, Nagarjuna, Asanga, Shantideva, Naropa, Milarepa, each one of them led so many sentient beings to enlightenment. But we did not come in that group. We are still in samsara having no realization. Our actions are following the path of suffering. This is the mistake of following the self-cherishing mind. But if we think and investigate deeply how our happiness and perfections occur, the answer is that we get happiness by depending on the kindness of other sentient beings. Even if we do not believe in rebirth, do not understand the law of Karma, we can see and cannot reject the kindness of the sentient beings. In our everyday life every comfort and enjoyment that we enjoy, we receive by depending on the kindness of sentient beings. For example, when we are living in comfort in a beautiful apartment, it looks like everything exists by itself. But if you examine deeply, many creatures or people have suffered much to actualize that place. Even our beautiful clothes, which we wear to protect from heat or cold, came from the kindness of many sentient beings. For that many sentient beings were killed to take fur or something like that. Many beings worked for actualizing these, beautiful clothes. In the construction of a big bridge or a dam to get electricity we often see sacrifices of people's lives. We get coal from coalmines after much suffering by many sentient beings. Even our business affairs depend much on the kindness of many sentient beings. Without consumers our production and its utility become care valuing their importance. So, the importance of others is unquestionable even in our everyday business affairs, what more to talk of unspiritual life. Bodhisattva Shantideva said: " The childish work for their own welfare While Buddhas work for the welfare of others Look at this difference. What is the need to say more?" From time immemorial people have been concerned with their own welfare.
What has been the result? They are still in the ocean of sufferings of samsara. On the other hand, the Buddhas have totally sacrificed themselves for the welfare of others whom they cherish and hold most dear. As a result they have gained perfect enlightenment and thus have become the refuge and guide of all other beings. c. Cherishing of Other Once we have understood the importance of others, we should make an attempt to generate a strong thought of holding other sentient beings dear in our heart. The cultivation of the attitude of cherishing others is worthwhile. The supreme qualities of enlightened beings as well as the temporary worldly happiness we enjoy result from our efforts for the welfare of our fellow creatures. This precious human body endowed with opportunity and freedom is the result of our attempts to practice non-violence. Our facilities and possessions are the result of our practice of charity and morality. At all stages of our spiritual practice cherishing others is of supreme importance. When the Buddha turned the wheel of Dharma after his enlightenment it was because of his great compassion for all sentient beings. Cherishing others is very easy for kind people but is especially difficult with those of unpleasant nature. Enemies are the persons who measure our efficiency in the practice of genuine Bodhicitta. d) Exchanging Oneself with Others Exchanging oneself with others doesnot mean that we become others but our change of attitude. It is possible that we experience the suffering when another suffers and similarly in that way experience happiness and joy. A mother feels greater suffering when her child is in pain than if she were actually suffering herself. She also feels happy when her child more precious than herself. Her ability and capacity of exchange is limited to one being but our aim is to extend it to all sentient beings. e) Taking and Giving Based on the fundamental concept of exchanging oneself with others, we should practice Giving and Taking. Since all beings do not want suffering and seek only happiness, we should mentally take all the sufferings those beings have on ourselves and generate a strong wish that all beings are endowed with happiness and that we offer all our merits to them. In reality this practice does it bring happiness to others. But it is essentially a technique of training the mind and developing our practice of Bodhicitta. A great concern for other people's happiness arises. Conclusion Although these practices are very difficult to perform, it is absolutely necessary for us to make an effort to generate them within us. Buddha teaches these practices and techniques for the sole purpose of benefiting sentient beings. To practice this technique, one need not be a Buddhist.
Generating an attitude of benefiting others with the force of compassion and mercy is the common element, which every body irrespective of caste, creed, sex and dogma can practice. Besides, the above practices are neither without reason nor logic. It is due to ourself cherishing attitude that we question that validity of teachings like this. As one verse begins: "If you and the world wish to attain Unsurpassable full awakening, The root is the awakening mind." Although I have not attained Bodhicitta personally, I think this is the one thing to be recovered from my Buddhist heritage today. Ultimate reality is immanent in realizing this precious Bodhicitta. This precious Bodhicitta will enable us to accomplish our own welfare as well as that of all other sentient beings. For these reasons the great beings and saints keep this altruistic mind of bodhicitta as their practice. In these modern times we need it even more than before. In the name of spiritual disciplines and practices, what can be more beneficial leaving aside the attitude of benefiting others?
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