If we look throughout the Sutra and Tantra teachings, we will notice that the explanations always begin with a discussion of the benefits of the given Dharma mind. Sometimes we skip over these parts to get to the actual instructions of how to generate the given Dharma mind. This is a mistake. In reality, the methods for how to generate the various Dharma minds are all very straight-forward. The challenge is not not knowing or understanding the methods, the real challenge is being motivated enough to do what it takes over a long enough period of time to transform our mind in the ways indicated by the instructions.
It is explained in the Lamrim that we are “desire realm beings.” This means we have no choice but to work for whatever we desire. At present, we desire the things of samsara more than we desire the things beyond samsara. Why is this? Because we are deeply familiar with the benefits of our samsaric objects and not familiar at all with the benefits of our Dharma objects. To change this, we need to do two things: first, realize that the so-called benefits of samsaric objects are actually deceptive – they promise us happiness but only make us more miserable. Second, we need to deeply internalize the benefits of the Dharma and where it leads. If we do this, we will start to “change what we desire.” If we change what we desire to be Dharma wisdom, liberation and enlightenment, we will quite naturally start putting effort into securing these things. Kadam Bjorn said our ability to oppose our delusions does not depend so much on our knowing the methods for doing so, rather it is primarily determined by how strong is our desire to overcome them.
The reason for the explanation of all these benefits of bodhichitta is to instill in us a profound desire to gain this precious mind. From this desire will naturally come effort to gain the realization. The main reason why we don’t have bodhichitta is not because we don’t know the methods, but because we don’t want it. This is the main reason. So we need to meditate again and again on the benefits of bodhichitta to develop an insatiable desire for this mind, where day and night we long to have it. From this, everything will come quite quickly and easily since the methods themselves are not difficult.
So how do we generate bodhichitta? Interestingly enough, it primarily comes down to our practice of rejoicing in the good qualities of others and appreciating the value of other’s faults. Enlightenment comes naturally from bodhichitta, bodhichitta comes naturally from great compassion, great compassion comes naturally from cherishing others, cherishing others naturally comes from finding them precious, and finding them precious depends on us appreciating their qualities.
Rejoicing in other’s good qualities means we identify the good qualities and kindness of the other person and we rejoice in them. We simply focus our attention on their good qualities and we think about how great they are. From this, we will naturally think they are precious and so we will naturally cherish them and so forth. This is fairly easy to do.
Appreciating the value of their faults is a bit more difficult. Normally, we find faults to be faulty and it makes us not like the other person. This is samsaric thinking – looking from happiness from external objects. From the perspective of a Dharma practitioner, however, the greatest quality of another person is their faults because these give us the best opportunities to practice – such as patience, compassion and so forth. The example is given, what is more precious a diamond or a bone? Normally, we would all say a diamond. But the answer is it depends upon who you are, a dog or a human. In the same way, what is more precious, the good qualities of others or their faults? It depends upon who you are, an ordinary being or a spiritual being. An ordinary being finds other’s faults to be bothersome, whereas a spiritual being finds them to be an opportunity to train our mind in virtue.
Paradoxically, appreciating others faults as being precious is the best way to help them abandon them. Why is this? The reason is when we appreciate the value of others faults, we accept the other person as they are and we have no selfish desire or need that they change. From our perspective, we think they are perfect (for us) just the way they are because they are so faulty. When we accept them as they are without judgment and we cease trying to change them, we create the space for others to be able to change from their own side. When we try change others, they resist our efforts; when we accept them as they are, they begin to change. If they want to change, we will of course help them, but we feel no need to try change them.
With these two, rejoicing in their good qualities and appreciating their faults, we will naturally come to think they are precious. By considering them precious, we will begin to cherish them. From cherishing easily comes great compassion, and from great compassion easily comes bodhichitta.
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… OM Mani Padme Hung Hri …