We next turn to generating bodhichitta. Our motivation determines the power of our practice. The power of our virtue is multiplied by the number of beings upon whose behalf you engage in the virtue. If we do your practice for one being, for example ourself, then it has a power of one. If we do it for our family of say 5 then it has a power of 5. If we do it for all countless living beings, then its power is infinite. It is the karmic equivalent of doing it countless times. Doing it for oneself is like a candle, and doing it for all living beings is like the blazing of the sun.
To generate qualified bodhichitta we we can once again do so from the perspective of having exchanged ourself with others. This is best accomplished by imputing our I onto all living beings. We then consider how each being is like a wave on the ocean of our mind or a cell in the body of all living beings which is ourself is suffering from uncontrolled rebirth into contaminated aggregates. This gives rise to compassion. We then consider that we ourselves need to do something about this. We see that we currently lack the ability to do anything but a Buddha possesses the ability, so we conclude we must become a Buddha for the benefit of all. Again, the observed object of ‘I’ is our very subtle mind, our true self. We need to train in identifying with our very subtle mind and stop identifying with our ordinary body and mind.
On the basis of these recognitions, we then recite the bodhichitta prayer from the sadhana.
Through the virtues I collect by giving and other perfections,
May I become a Buddha for the benefit of all. (3x)
After we have generated bodhichitta, we now invite the Guru to come before us. If we are to communicate with somebody, we first need to connect with them. We can do that by meeting them at a restaurant, dialing their phone number or chatting with them on-line. In exactly the same way, if we are to communicate with the enlightened beings, we need to first connect with them. We do this through inviting the guru into the space before us. In reality, he is already there since the enlightened beings pervade everything. But the problem is due to the obstructions on our mind, we don’t feel their presence. Inviting the guru helps activate the karma where we feel we are in direct communication with the divine.
We recite from the sadhana:
From the heart of the Protector of the hundreds of Deities of the Joyful Land,
To the peak of a cloud which is like a cluster of fresh, white curd,
All-knowing Losang Dragpa, King of the Dharma,
Please come to this place together with your Sons.
Here we visualize from the heart of Maitreya in Tushita Pure Land a plume of clouds comes billowing towards us, and then when it reaches the space in front of us Je Tsongkhapa and his two sons emerge. The most important thing is to have the 100% conviction that you are in the living presence of your spiritual guide in the aspect of Je Tsongkhapa and his two sons. You need conviction and the feeling that they are actually there.
How can we understand the meaning of these words? The Protector refers to Buddha Maitreya who will be the next Buddha after Buddha Shakyamuni’s Dharma has left this world. ‘Joyful Land’ refers to Tushita pure land, which is Je Tsongkhapa’s pure land. For Sutra practitioners, this is the pure land we try take rebirth into. This is where we want to go. If we take rebirth in Tushita Pure Land we can receive teachings directly from Je Tsongkhapa. It is like going to a Summer Festival at Manjushri where we reunite with all of our Kadampa friends and family, we practice cherishing each other and we receive teachings directly from our Spiritual Guide Lama Tsongkhapa. The difference, of course, is we don’t need to worry about our muddy tent or the long lines for the shower!
‘Losang Dragpa’ is Je Tsongkhapa’s ordained name. He is called the King of the Dharma because he is the greatest Dharma practitioner and scholar ever. When we recite ‘come to this place’ it helps us reinforce our recognition that he is right there in front of us. He is in the visualized space in front of us inside our mind. All of this is taking place within your mind. The ‘Sons’ referred to are not his biological sons, but rather his spiritual sons. One is by nature Avalokiteshvara, who is the compassion of all the Buddhas, and the other is by nature Vajrapani, who is the spiritual power of all the Buddhas. Je Tsongkhapa himself is by nature Manjushri, the wisdom of all the Buddhas.
The next verse of the sadhana is technically part of the prayer of the seven limbs, but since its function is to help reinforce our conviction that we are in the living presence of our guru, I will explain it in the context of this post. We recite:
In the space before me on a lion throne, lotus, and moon,
The venerable Gurus smile with delight.
O Supreme Field of Merit for my mind of faith,
Please remain for a hundred aeons to spread the doctrine.
Here the essential point is we are requesting the spiritual guide to remain to teach the Dharma. If we don’t make requests for the Buddha’s to remain in this world, then there won’t be the causes for them to be here.
The words ‘space before me’ means he about one arm’s length slightly above your eye level. But we should not grasp too tightly at dimensions. From one perspective, the field of merit is as vast as the entire universe, but from another perspective it feels as intimate and close as sitting right there at his feet. Imagine what it would be like to have a face to face meeting with him in a close setting, yet at the same time he is as vast as the universe meeting individually with each and every being. It is both at the same time. We imagine that they ‘smile [at us] with delight.’ They are very pleased that we have brought them here, like inviting a close friend over for coffee.
The ‘field of merit’ refers to where we sow our spiritual seeds and reap a harvest of Dharma realizations. The field of merit refers to Je Tsongkhapa and his two sons, the synthesis of all Buddhas, but by nature we recognize him as our spiritual guide. We request them to remain to spread the doctrine. The doctrine does not spread anywhere other than in the minds of living beings. It is very important that this feel like a genuine relationship and meeting. When we go meet with an important person, we establish a relationship with them. In dependence upon this relationship, we can then ask them to help us and we can offer our help to them in accomplishing their objectives. As the relationship grows closer, we begin to collaborate more and more and feel like a team. They know us and we know them, and we are working together on a common objective of spreading the Dharma. Je Tsongkhapa is like our spiritual mentor who guides us in our spiritual life and work. He is our best friend, he is our spiritual father, he is our guide, he is the one we can always count on. What could be more important than cultivating a close personal friendship with a being such as Je Tsongkhapa? He wants nothing more than to do so with us. If we only realized we can actually do so with him, it would become the greatest priority in our life.