To remember the benefits of bodhichitta six times a day.
The benefits of bodhichitta explained in the lamrim are as follows: We enter the gateway to the Mahayana, we become a Son or Daughter of the Buddhas, we surpass Hearers and Solitary Realizers, we become worthy to receive offerings and prostrations from humans and gods, we easily accumulate a vast amount of merit, we quickly destroy powerful negativites, we fulfil all our wishes, we are free from harm by spirits and so forth, we accomplish all the spiritual grounds and paths, and we have a state of mind that is the source of peace and happiness for all beings. These are all explained in detail in Joyful Path.
The meaning of this vow is we should always remember the benefits of bodhichitta. Why? We are desire realm beings, which means we have no choice but to work for whatever it is we desire. Right now, we desire the 8 worldly concerns. We remember the benefits of these worldly concerns far more than 6 times a day, more like 60. Because we are completely familiar with the benefits of these things, we spontaneously day and night want them. All of our actions are geared towards securing them. This occurs naturally and spontaneously. If we had the same desire for bodhichitta as we do to get rich or sleep with a certain person, we would already be enlightened. Because we are desire realm beings, if what we desire more than anything else is bodhichitta, we would literally have no choice but to have all of our actions be aimed at pursuing it! Imagine how quickly we would attain enlightenment if this was the case. This is why we must continuously contemplate the benefits of bodhichitta.
The secret to doing this is we need to realize how bodhichitta is the solution to all of our problems. We already have a spontaneous desire to be free from all of our problems. But we are confused about the method or means we need to use to solve them. Because we still grasp at our outer problem as being our problem, we naturally have a desire to secure the external conditions necessary to solve the outer problem. Of course we do need to solve the external problem, but the external problem is not our problem. Our problem is our internal problem of the unpleasant feelings in our mind arising from our deluded reaction to whatever arises. If we are crystal clear as to the nature of our problem, then we will spontaneously want to seek a solution to our inner problem in exactly the same way as we currently seek solutions to our outer problems.
Once we have made this distinction and we clearly see our inner problem, then we simply ask ourselves the question: How is the mind of bodhichitta the solution to my current inner problem? We then receive blessings and contemplate and develop an understanding of how bodhichitta is the solution. We will then want bodhichitta. We will see its benefits. Practicing in this way, our problems then become the fuel for our wanting bodhichitta. Since we have far more than 6 problems a day, we will have no difficulty remembering the benefits of bodhichitta 6 times a day. It is generally best if we take an entire day, or even a week, to focus on this in the meditation break. I find it is usually more beneficial to pick one specific Dharma practice to really focus on all day during the meditation break than it is to try practice a little bit of whatever during the meditation break. When we focus on one practice, we gain some real experience with it, and then we can more easily carry this over into the rest of our life.
To generate bodhichitta six times a day
If we practice in the way I just described, namely every time a problem arises we consider the difference between our outer and inner problem, and then we contemplate how bodhichitta is the solution to our inner problem, then the natural next step is to actually generate bodhichitta. We want it, then we generate it. Very simple. Once again, since we have far more than 6 problems in a given day, we are able to generate bodhichitta easily more than 6 times a day.
What does it mean to generate bodhichitta? While it is beneficial to recite the bodhichitta prayer, reciting this prayer in and of itself is not sufficient for generating bodhichitta. We actually need to generate the mind of bodhichitta. The short-cut for generating bodhichitta is to compare the state of our current mind and abilities with that of a Buddha. We see our ordinary mind is weak and limited, but a Buddha’s mind is not; therefore we naturally want to abandon our ordinary mind and attain a Buddha’s mind.
Sometimes people get confused thinking bodhichitta is a supremely arrogant mind. Who do we think we are to aspire to become the savior of all? It’s like we have some Jesus-complex or something. But actually, pride and bodhichitta are exact opposites. Pride thinks our ordinary mind is somehow special. Bodhichitta fully accepts and acknowledges the limitations of our ordinary mind and sees how a Buddha’s mind is far superior. So humility with respect to our ordinary body and mind are actually prerequisites for generating bodhichitta.