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Books > Buddhist > Activating Bodhichitta and A Meditation on Compassion by His Holiness The XIV Dalai Lama
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Activating Bodhichitta and A Meditation on Compassion by His Holiness The XIV Dalai Lama
Activating Bodhichitta and A Meditation on Compassion by His Holiness The XIV Dalai Lama
Description
Introduction

The precious awakening mind of bodhicitta, which cherishes other sentient beings instead of oneself, is the trunk of the Bodhisattva’s practice-the path of the Great Vehicle. It is the base and foundation of all the activities of an Awakening Wrrior, a Bodhisattva-activities which are, for ordinary beings, even difficult to rejoice in. This awakening mind transforms all one’s wholesome actions into a catalyst for the attainment of Buddhahood. This is an ultimate state of mind that 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 essential practice.

Although this mind is something which is difficult to activate, it is absolutely necessary for us to make an effort to generate it within ourselves. At this time we are very fortunate, not just to have a human birth, but to have come in contact with the Mahayana Dharma-the teachings of the Great Vehicle’s path. We have the opportunity to emulate the practices of the great beings of the past. Even to hear one word about bodhicitta is most fortunate and this is absolutely true because there is no more virtuous mind than bodhicitta. There is no more powerful mind than bodhicitta. There is no more joyous mind than bodhicitta. For the accomplishment of one’s own ultimate purpose, the awakening mind is supreme, and to accomplish the purpose of all other living beings there is nothing superior to bodhicitta. The awakening mind is the unsurpassable way to collect merit. To purify obstacles bodhicitta is supreme. For protection from interferences bodhicitta is supreme. It is the unique, all-encompassing method. Every kind of ordinary and supra-mundane power can be accomplished through bodhicitta. Thus, it is absolutely precious.

Even though we personally may find difficulty in immediate and thorough generation of such a mind, we should at least direct our thoughts towards it. To train our mind in such an ultimately altruistic manner from the very beginning of our practice of Dharma is vitally important. From the very initial stages of spiritual practice when we meditate on turning away from clinging to this lifetime, and also clinging to this lifetime, and also clinging to the next, we should already be acquainting ourselves with the awakening mind. Even if we practice one session of meditation on the path in common with the being of smallest aptitude (such as contemplations on impermanence, death, renunciation and so forth), to begin this with the altruistic aspiration to attain complete realization for the benefit of all, will already make a difference in our practice, helping to shorten the path. At least we should believe in it, for not only does it help to shorten the path, it also channels one’s practice along the right path without letting it go astray into lesser aspirations.

No matter what spiritual practice we do as Mahayana Buddhists, they all begin with going for refuge in the Three Rare and Supreme Jewels and the activation of the awakening mind. This means not merely repeating the words but integrating their meaning into our mind. Thinking deeply about the implication behind the prayers is what brings the best result. This is very important. Now, although our bodhicitta is at the level of wishing and praying, this is not enough. We must train our mind in it for a long time and then enhance it within ourselves. In order to do this, we should first know the teachings which contain the instructions on how to activate it. These can be found briefly in the great work of Nagarjuna entitled The Precious Garland, which explains both the vast practices of the Bodhisattva and the profound view of emptiness.

From this text, the methods of obtaining a high rebirth status and the definite goodness of the state beyond sorrow, or nirvana, have the profound view of emptiness as well as details of practices relating to the observance of the law of cause and effect. This second chapter explaining the interrelationship of high status and definite goodness has so far covered some teaching in connection with the attainment of high status. Now Nagarjuna devotes one and a half stanzas to the essence of the Mahayana path-all-encompassing compassion and the altruistic motivation of the awakening mind. He states (174 b & 175).

If you and the world wish to attain
unsurpassable full awakening,
the root is the awakening mind
that should be as stable as Meru, king of the mountains:
(comprised of) compassion extending to all quarters, and discriminating wisdom which does not rely on duality.

Taking into consideration the aspirations of oneself and all other living beings, whosoever wishes to attain the ultimate enlightenment of Buddhahood should understand that the root and source of such an attainment is the precious bodhicitta, the mind awakening to its fullest potential for the sake of oneself and others. Therefore, this precious awakening mind must be activated, developed, enhanced and stabilized till it is an steady as the king of mountains, Mount Meru. In order to activate such a mind, we need to have developed great compassion since the wish to alleviate all sentient beings from their miseries is the root of bodhicitta. We should have this from the depths of our heart, as if it were nailed there. Such compassion is not merely concerned with a few sentient beings such as friends and relatives, but extends up to the limits of the cosmos, in all directions and towards all beings throughout space. Moreover, to realize enlightenment we need the discriminating wisdom which does not adhere to the duality of the two extreme viewpoints-the nihilistic belief in non-existence and the materialistic belief in the unchanging inherent identity of all phenomena. This is the discriminating intelligence which perfectly analyses the implication of the “Middle Way”, or madhyamaka.

These three-the awakening mind of bodhicitta, compassion and discriminating wisdom-should be totally integrated. The method (including bodhicitta and compassion) and the wisdom (of the meaning of emptiness) must be combined, integrated and enhanced.

From this stanza in the Precious Garland, Nagarjuna beings the actual path of the Great Vehicle, the preceding sections having dealt with what is in common with the path of the Lesser Vehicle, or Hinayana. From here onwards comes the very precious explanation of the awakening mind and how to activate it. The awakening mind is so worthwhile, precious and wholesome that it is beneficial to develop it even though it may take countless lifetimes and hundreds of aeons. Bodhicitta is a tidal wave on the ocean of practices to Buddhahood. Even temporarily, the power of the awakening mind can easily overcome whatever difficulties and hardships we may face so that we are not overwhelmed and discouraged. So indeed it is the sole, universal panacea.

Activating Bodhichitta

There is no more powerful mind than bodhicitta. There is no more joyous mind than bodhicitta. For the accomplishment of one’s own ultimate purpose, the awakening mind is supreme, and to accomplish the purpose of all other living beings there is nothing superior to bodhicitta. The awakening mind is the unsurpassable way to collect merit. To purify obstacles bodhicitta is supreme. For protection from interferences bodhicitta is supreme. It is the unique, all-encompassing method. Every kind of ordinary and supra-mundane power can be accomplished through bodhicitta. Thus, it is absolutely precious.

Even though we personally may find difficulty in immediate and thorough generation of such a mind, we should at least direct our thoughts towards it. To train our mind in such an ultimately altruistic manner from the very beginning of our practice of Dharma is vitally important.

A Meditation on Compassion

The Inseparability of the Spiritual Master and Avalokiteshvara
A Source of all Powerful Attainments”

All beings wish to be happy and free from misery. Although scientific development, modern weapons and abundant material progress may alleviate the temporary effects of dissatisfaction, such external means can never totally eradicate its fundamental cause. The true solution is to cultivate deep human compassion, love and respect for others. By cultivating such altruistic and beneficial attributes, the cause of suffering, self-cherishing, will gradually diminish. This, in turn, will promote unity and harmony among human beings of all nations.

Although compassion is cultivated in one’s own mind, the embodiment of it is the deity known as Avalokiteshvara (Tib. Chan-ra-zig). The various aspects that are visualized in meditation practices and represented in images and paintings are merely the interpretative forms of Avalokitephvara, whereas the actual definitive form is compassion itself.

“The Inseparability of the Spiritual Master and Avalokiteshvara: a Source of all Powerful Attainments” sadhana was composed by the XIV Dalai Lama when he was nineteen years of age and was first printed in Tibet in the Wood-Horse year (1954).

Contents

1 ACTIVATING BODHICITTA: Awakening the Mind
Translators Notevi
Introductionvii
1. The Seven Instructions of Causes and Their Effect1
2. Exchanging Oneself with Others9
IIA MEDITATION ON COMPASSION
Translators Note35
Introduction39
1. Preliminaries41
2. Actual Practice43
Notes65

Activating Bodhichitta and A Meditation on Compassion by His Holiness The XIV Dalai Lama

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Introduction

The precious awakening mind of bodhicitta, which cherishes other sentient beings instead of oneself, is the trunk of the Bodhisattva’s practice-the path of the Great Vehicle. It is the base and foundation of all the activities of an Awakening Wrrior, a Bodhisattva-activities which are, for ordinary beings, even difficult to rejoice in. This awakening mind transforms all one’s wholesome actions into a catalyst for the attainment of Buddhahood. This is an ultimate state of mind that 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 essential practice.

Although this mind is something which is difficult to activate, it is absolutely necessary for us to make an effort to generate it within ourselves. At this time we are very fortunate, not just to have a human birth, but to have come in contact with the Mahayana Dharma-the teachings of the Great Vehicle’s path. We have the opportunity to emulate the practices of the great beings of the past. Even to hear one word about bodhicitta is most fortunate and this is absolutely true because there is no more virtuous mind than bodhicitta. There is no more powerful mind than bodhicitta. There is no more joyous mind than bodhicitta. For the accomplishment of one’s own ultimate purpose, the awakening mind is supreme, and to accomplish the purpose of all other living beings there is nothing superior to bodhicitta. The awakening mind is the unsurpassable way to collect merit. To purify obstacles bodhicitta is supreme. For protection from interferences bodhicitta is supreme. It is the unique, all-encompassing method. Every kind of ordinary and supra-mundane power can be accomplished through bodhicitta. Thus, it is absolutely precious.

Even though we personally may find difficulty in immediate and thorough generation of such a mind, we should at least direct our thoughts towards it. To train our mind in such an ultimately altruistic manner from the very beginning of our practice of Dharma is vitally important. From the very initial stages of spiritual practice when we meditate on turning away from clinging to this lifetime, and also clinging to this lifetime, and also clinging to the next, we should already be acquainting ourselves with the awakening mind. Even if we practice one session of meditation on the path in common with the being of smallest aptitude (such as contemplations on impermanence, death, renunciation and so forth), to begin this with the altruistic aspiration to attain complete realization for the benefit of all, will already make a difference in our practice, helping to shorten the path. At least we should believe in it, for not only does it help to shorten the path, it also channels one’s practice along the right path without letting it go astray into lesser aspirations.

No matter what spiritual practice we do as Mahayana Buddhists, they all begin with going for refuge in the Three Rare and Supreme Jewels and the activation of the awakening mind. This means not merely repeating the words but integrating their meaning into our mind. Thinking deeply about the implication behind the prayers is what brings the best result. This is very important. Now, although our bodhicitta is at the level of wishing and praying, this is not enough. We must train our mind in it for a long time and then enhance it within ourselves. In order to do this, we should first know the teachings which contain the instructions on how to activate it. These can be found briefly in the great work of Nagarjuna entitled The Precious Garland, which explains both the vast practices of the Bodhisattva and the profound view of emptiness.

From this text, the methods of obtaining a high rebirth status and the definite goodness of the state beyond sorrow, or nirvana, have the profound view of emptiness as well as details of practices relating to the observance of the law of cause and effect. This second chapter explaining the interrelationship of high status and definite goodness has so far covered some teaching in connection with the attainment of high status. Now Nagarjuna devotes one and a half stanzas to the essence of the Mahayana path-all-encompassing compassion and the altruistic motivation of the awakening mind. He states (174 b & 175).

If you and the world wish to attain
unsurpassable full awakening,
the root is the awakening mind
that should be as stable as Meru, king of the mountains:
(comprised of) compassion extending to all quarters, and discriminating wisdom which does not rely on duality.

Taking into consideration the aspirations of oneself and all other living beings, whosoever wishes to attain the ultimate enlightenment of Buddhahood should understand that the root and source of such an attainment is the precious bodhicitta, the mind awakening to its fullest potential for the sake of oneself and others. Therefore, this precious awakening mind must be activated, developed, enhanced and stabilized till it is an steady as the king of mountains, Mount Meru. In order to activate such a mind, we need to have developed great compassion since the wish to alleviate all sentient beings from their miseries is the root of bodhicitta. We should have this from the depths of our heart, as if it were nailed there. Such compassion is not merely concerned with a few sentient beings such as friends and relatives, but extends up to the limits of the cosmos, in all directions and towards all beings throughout space. Moreover, to realize enlightenment we need the discriminating wisdom which does not adhere to the duality of the two extreme viewpoints-the nihilistic belief in non-existence and the materialistic belief in the unchanging inherent identity of all phenomena. This is the discriminating intelligence which perfectly analyses the implication of the “Middle Way”, or madhyamaka.

These three-the awakening mind of bodhicitta, compassion and discriminating wisdom-should be totally integrated. The method (including bodhicitta and compassion) and the wisdom (of the meaning of emptiness) must be combined, integrated and enhanced.

From this stanza in the Precious Garland, Nagarjuna beings the actual path of the Great Vehicle, the preceding sections having dealt with what is in common with the path of the Lesser Vehicle, or Hinayana. From here onwards comes the very precious explanation of the awakening mind and how to activate it. The awakening mind is so worthwhile, precious and wholesome that it is beneficial to develop it even though it may take countless lifetimes and hundreds of aeons. Bodhicitta is a tidal wave on the ocean of practices to Buddhahood. Even temporarily, the power of the awakening mind can easily overcome whatever difficulties and hardships we may face so that we are not overwhelmed and discouraged. So indeed it is the sole, universal panacea.

Activating Bodhichitta

There is no more powerful mind than bodhicitta. There is no more joyous mind than bodhicitta. For the accomplishment of one’s own ultimate purpose, the awakening mind is supreme, and to accomplish the purpose of all other living beings there is nothing superior to bodhicitta. The awakening mind is the unsurpassable way to collect merit. To purify obstacles bodhicitta is supreme. For protection from interferences bodhicitta is supreme. It is the unique, all-encompassing method. Every kind of ordinary and supra-mundane power can be accomplished through bodhicitta. Thus, it is absolutely precious.

Even though we personally may find difficulty in immediate and thorough generation of such a mind, we should at least direct our thoughts towards it. To train our mind in such an ultimately altruistic manner from the very beginning of our practice of Dharma is vitally important.

A Meditation on Compassion

The Inseparability of the Spiritual Master and Avalokiteshvara
A Source of all Powerful Attainments”

All beings wish to be happy and free from misery. Although scientific development, modern weapons and abundant material progress may alleviate the temporary effects of dissatisfaction, such external means can never totally eradicate its fundamental cause. The true solution is to cultivate deep human compassion, love and respect for others. By cultivating such altruistic and beneficial attributes, the cause of suffering, self-cherishing, will gradually diminish. This, in turn, will promote unity and harmony among human beings of all nations.

Although compassion is cultivated in one’s own mind, the embodiment of it is the deity known as Avalokiteshvara (Tib. Chan-ra-zig). The various aspects that are visualized in meditation practices and represented in images and paintings are merely the interpretative forms of Avalokitephvara, whereas the actual definitive form is compassion itself.

“The Inseparability of the Spiritual Master and Avalokiteshvara: a Source of all Powerful Attainments” sadhana was composed by the XIV Dalai Lama when he was nineteen years of age and was first printed in Tibet in the Wood-Horse year (1954).

Contents

1 ACTIVATING BODHICITTA: Awakening the Mind
Translators Notevi
Introductionvii
1. The Seven Instructions of Causes and Their Effect1
2. Exchanging Oneself with Others9
IIA MEDITATION ON COMPASSION
Translators Note35
Introduction39
1. Preliminaries41
2. Actual Practice43
Notes65
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