Vows, commitments and modern life: Precepts of aspiring bodhichitta, Bodhichitta 6 times a day

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. 


2 thoughts on “Vows, commitments and modern life: Precepts of aspiring bodhichitta, Bodhichitta 6 times a day

  1. Ryan, I know you were sharing about Precepts for aspiring bodhichitta and what I wrote is kind of engaging bodhichitta. It was written with the intention to help solidify things for me, but I wanted to share since it was inspired by your article.
    To know our mind is not Buddha’s mind and to want that mind is part of generating bodhichitta. The prerequisite to the wish must be the mind of compassion generated by reflecting on beings that are suffering and our wish to help free them. When we have the wish for Buddha’s perfection that arises out of genuine compassion, we have bodhichitta. It is not enough to merely think others suffer; I will like to be a Buddha to help them. It must be that we are experiencing genuine compassion that comes from reflecting upon the suffering beings of samsara. When we have generated this mind we really feel compassion for those who suffer and then we conjoin that to the bodhichitta wish and abide in them (placement meditation), being sure not to lose our compassionate intention or wish for Buddhahood.
    When we think about aspiring for Bodhichitta, Buddhahood is of course the greatest motivation; however without the pre-requisite for the wish, compassion, it is powerless. Not that the wish to become Buddha has no power, but it is seen that way when compared to that wish with its root in genuine compassion. The reason compassion is the most important aspect of bodhichitta is that as we become less “selfish” and more “selfless”( genuine compassion arisen from inner changes in our thoughts and actions), we learn deeper lessons more quickly. As compassion grows, the changes in our self and those around us continually validate our Dharma lessons and inspire us more quickly than someone who lacks it. When we can see our own attainments improving the lives of those we love, we have the inner experiences that push us farther. It is easier for us to slack in our own attainments when we think just of our self. But, if we have a child or loved one, we would do and sacrifice anything for them and as Dharma practitioners we have actual tools to free them from present and potential future suffering by increasing our own efforts. This love of others is what fuels our compassion and drives us to grow more quickly. Since our compassion must never stagnate but always grow, our desire to help others will grow and the desire to do that more powerfully will lead us to ever-increasing purifying actions which leads us ever more quickly toward Buddhahood.

  2. If we were all enlightened, we would all live in a world of peace and harmony, joy, love and endless expressions of good will, there would be no need for Bodhichitta.
    This is the final destination of all beings. And what a beautiful world that is.

    To summarise Kadam Ryan:

    The meaning of this vow is we should always remember the benefits of Bodhichitta. Because we benefit immensely – we change our desire from worldly to spiritual, which is what all Lamrim does.
    So, we should actively rejoice in Bodhichitta and what it can achieve, it brings major joy and eventually makes everyone happy.
    The secret to remembering the benefits of Bodhichitta is to realize how it is the solution to all of our problems
    Not just our problem, but everyone’s problems.
    Distinguish between inner and outer problem. Where is our inside and where is the outside? Where do the problems begin and end?
    With Bodhichitta we take on the problems of others using correct imagination so that their suffering becomes unbearable and our suffering becomes easier to bear. Their suffering IS our suffering.
    We have this beneficial solution. So we manifest the solution. We look inward. Every experience of suffering, we say, this is the suffering of ‘others’

    There are different methods to generating Bodhichitta. Tantric Bodhichitta is supreme and far easier. For me it is a totally experiential and not an intellectual activity because you have a view that all beings are within your mind at your heart, they are pure parts of yourself. To save them is to save self.

    In Tantra, the mind of enlightenment is everywhere and is present all the time, and even in the beginning, when out of compassion we generate a pure world. We ‘wake-up’ to it. We learn to see what these other beings are, we learn to see what the world actually is.
    Spontaneous Bodhichitta is knowing that Bodhichitta is everywhere and is present all the time. When you ‘awaken’ there will be no Bodhichitta. No ‘others’ trying to attain enlightenment. The only others left will be experiencing self-grasping. Bodhichitta is dream-like. It too is like an illusion.

    A good trick to attaining the realization of conventional and, in particular, Ultimate Bodhichitta is to realise it is already in your dream-like mind. Very generally, realizations are when things become clear and in view, part of your real experience. Something hidden becomes unhidden.

    So I’ll say that again….It is already in your mind. You will not find a realization of it anywhere else. It is at present hidden, but it is there! It appears via cause and effect, blessings and believing faith. So we can be immensely confident in training in Bodhichitta.

    Although the realization is hidden to us, the unhidden part (in our mind) abides everywhere in our experience. It is everywhere you can possibly imagine it to be, because mind is everywhere. So generating Bodhichitta from this point of view is quite helpful. We could argue that we do not realize emptiness either so it is not there, but it is there whether we know or not.

    Things that keep the realisation hidden is grasping at the inherently existent ‘I’. We think ‘I can’t generate Bodhichitta it’s so hard, I’ll never become a Buddha for the benefit of all’ or ‘Spontaneuos Bodhichitta, yeah right, if I had all day to meditate, then maybe just maybe!’ But its there already. We don’t have to force it or get discouraged!

    Bodhichitta is a state of mind. You will find Boddhichitta in your memories, in the stories of great masters, at the heart of Buddhist traditions, in the monks, nuns, and lay community. All these things are part of your mind. Bodhichitta is in the heart of all living beings because it is in the mind of all living beings.

    What is the difference between others Bodhichitta and your Bodhichitta?

    Can I tap into the great Bodhichitta of spiritual masters such as my Guru? Yes. This inspires Bodhichitta, that Guru exists in your mind.

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