Generating Bodhicitta


Teachings of His Holiness Gyalwang Drukgpa

"We tend to have a very selfish, impure motivation. We want to get the teachings for our own sakes and this is not respected in terms of spiritual development. We need to have at least a motivation to help others as a result of the practice or listening to the teachings. Even if that motivation is not there right away, we need to work on th teachings from that time and eventually be able to benefit beings. This must be the true motivation."

"Whatever your practice, this is a path. The path is the mind, the motivation the mental state. The spiritual path actually means one's mental state. So, wherever and whatever your motivation is, that is the path - path is motivation always has to be there continuously. When the motivation stops, the path stops. There is no path other than motivation; there is no motivation other than the path"

Some quotes from The Precious Teachings of His Holiness Gyalwang Drukgpa - Drukpa Kargyud Trust Summer Newsletter

The compassionate wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all others is called Bodhicitta in Sanskrit: bodhi refers to ourenlightened essence, and citta means “heart.” So we could translate it as “the heart of our enlightened mind.” To awaken and develop the heart of the enlightened mind is to ripen steadily the seed of our buddha nature, that seed that, in the end, when our practice of compassion has become perfect and all-embracing, will flower majestically into buddhahood. Bodhicitta, then, is the spring and source and root of the entire spiritual path. This is why in our tradition we pray with such urgency:

Those who haven’t yet given birth to precious Bodhicitta,
May they give birth,
Those who have given birth,
May their Bodhicitta not lessen
but increase further and further.

Each man has inside him a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it , he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated , but it takes courage for a man to listen to his own inner goodness and act on it. Do we dare to be ourselves? This is the question that counts.

Pablo Casals (20th Century)

The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes....
~~Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice

The great Dzogchen master Patrul Rinpoche would explain the entire path of training in bodhicitta with this famous verse:

O sublime, precious bodhicitta,
May it arise in those in whom it has not arisen.
May it never decline where it has arisen,
But go on increasing further and further!


Bodhicitta, the heart of the enlightened mind, is the spirit, source and root of the entire spiritual path. It is, in the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the highest form of altruism and the highest form of courage, the source of all spiritual qualities and the essence of all the teachings of the Buddha. In his 'Guide to the Bodhisattvas' Way of Life', Shantideva wrote:

It is the supreme elixir
That overcomes the sovereignty of death.
It is the inexhaustible treasure
That eliminates poverty in the world.
It is the supreme medicine
That quells the world's disease.
It is the tree that shelters all beings
Wandering and tired on the path of conditioned existence.
It is the universal bridge
That leads to freedom from unhappy states of birth.
It is the dawning moon of the mind
That dispels the torment of disturbing conceptions.
It is the great sun that finally removes
The misty ignorance of the world.

What need is there to say more?
The childish work for their own benefit,
The buddhas work for the benefit of others.
Just look at the difference between them.

If I do not exchange my happiness
For the suffering of others,
I shall not attain the state of buddhahood
And even in samsara I shall have no real joy.


For as long as space exists
And sentient beings endure,
May I too remain,
To dispel the misery of the world.


Whoever wishes to quickly afford protection
To both himself and others
Should practice that holy secret:
The exchanging of self for others.
~~ Shantideva


Ho! Mesmerized by the sheer variety of perceptions, which
are like the illusory reflections of the moon in water,
Beings wander endlessly astray in samsara’s vicious cycle.
In order that they may find comfort and ease in the luminosity
and all-pervading space of the true nature of their minds,
I generate the immeasurable love, compassion, joy and equanimity
of the awakened mind, the heart of Bodhicitta.


It may be surprising for the West to learn how very many incarnations there have been in Tibet, and how the majority have been great masters, scholars, authors, mystics, and saints who made an outstanding contribution both to the teaching of Buddhism and to society. They played a central role in the history of Tibet.

I believe that this process of incarnation is not limited to Tibet but can occur in all countries and at all times. Throughout history there have been people of artistic genius, spiritual strength, and humanitarian vision who have helped the human race to go forward. I think of Gandhi, Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, of Shakespeare, of Saint Francis, of Beethoven and Michelangelo.

When Tibetans hear of such people, they immediately say they are bodhisattvas. And whenever I hear of them, of their work and vision, I am moved by the majesty of the vast evolutionary process of the buddhas and masters that emanate to liberate beings and better the world.

Above Excerpts from 'Glimpse of the Day' by Sogyal Rinpoche

Tonglen Practice

Of all the practices I know, the practice of Tonglen, Tibetan for “giving and receiving,” is one of the most useful and powerful. When you feel yourself locked in upon yourself, Tonglen opens you to the truth of the suffering of others; when your heart is blocked, it destroys those forces that are obstructing it; and when you feel estranged from the person who is in pain before you, or bitter or despairing, it helps you to find within yourself and then to reveal the loving, expansive radiance of your own true nature. No other practice I know is as effective in destroying the self-grasping, self-cherishing, self-absorption of the ego, which is the root of all our suffering and all hard-heartedness.

Put very simply, the Tonglen practice of giving and receiving is to take on the suffering and pain of others and give to them your happiness, well-being, and peace of mind.

One of the greatest masters of Tonglen in Tibet was Geshe Chekhawa, who lived in the eleventh century. He was extremely learned and accomplished in many forms of meditation. One day when he happened to be in his teacher’s room, he came across a book lying open at the following lines:

'Give all profit and gain to others,
Take all loss and defeat on yourself.'

The vast and almost unimaginable compassion of these lines astounded him and he set out to find the master who had written them. One day on his journey he met a leper who told him that this master had died. But Geshe Chekhawa persevered and his long efforts were rewarded when he found the dead master’s principal disciple. Geshe Chekhawa asked this disciple: “Just how important do you think the teachings contained in these two lines are?” The disciple replied: “Whether you like it or not, you will have to practice this teaching if you truly wish to attain buddhahood.”

Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the day, Sept 20th,

The holy secret of the practice of Tonglen is one that the mystic masters and saints of every tradition know; and living it and embodying it, with the abandon and fervor of true wisdom and true compassion, is what fills their lives with joy. One modern figure who has dedicated her life to serving the sick and dying and who radiates this joy of giving and receiving is Mother Teresa. I know of no more inspiring statement of the spiritual essence of Tonglen than these words of hers:

We all long for heaven where God is, but we have it in our power to be in heaven with Him at this very moment. But being happy with Him now means:

Loving as He loves,
Helping as He helps,
Giving as He gives,
Serving as He serves,
Rescuing as He rescues,
Being with Him twenty-four hours,
Touching Him in his distressing disguise.

Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the day, Sept 21st,

I know very well from my own experience how hard it is to imagine taking on the sufferings of others, and especially those of sick and dying people, without first building in yourself a strength and confidence of compassion. It is this strength and this confidence that will give your practice the power to transmute the suffering of others.

This is why I always recommend that you begin the Tonglen practice for others by first practicing it on yourself. Before you can send out love and compassion to others, you must uncover, deepen, create, and strengthen them in yourself, and heal yourself of any reticence or distress or anger or fear that might create an obstacle to practicing Tonglen wholeheartedly.

Above Excerpts from 'Glimpse of the Day' by Sogyal Rinpoche

Generating the Bodhimind
by His Holiness Kyabje Ling Rinpoche

Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, the senior tutor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, was the 97th holder of the Ganden throne and thus head of the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. He was ordained by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, to whom his predecessor had also been tutor. This teaching was given at Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre on November 14, 1979.

Edited by Nicholas Ribush from an oral translation by Lama Gelek Rinpoche.

From Teachings at Tushita, edited by Nicholas Ribush with Glenn H. Mullin, Mahayana Publications, New Delhi, 1981. A new edition of this book is in preparation. Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre is the FPMT centre in New Delhi, India.

The enlightened attitude, the bodhimind that has love and compassion as its basis, is the essential seed producing the attainment of buddhahood. Therefore it is a subject that should be approached with the pure thought, "May I thus gain enlightenment in order to be of greatest benefit to the world."
However, there are but very small spiritual effects in hearing teachings on the bodhimind if we lack a certain spiritual foundation. Consequently, most teachers insist that disciples cultivate various preliminary practices within themselves before approaching this higher precept. If we wish to go to university, we must first learn to read and write. While merely hearing about meditation on love, compassion and the bodhimind does leave a favorable imprint on our stream of consciousness, for the teaching to produce a definite inner transformation we trainees should first meditate extensively on the preliminaries (such as the preciousness of the human opportunity, death and its significance, the nature of karma and samsara, refuge, and the higher trainings in ethics, meditation and wisdom).
If we wish to attain the state of the full enlightenment of buddhahood as opposed to the lesser enlightenment of arhatship, our innermost practice must be cultivation of the bodhimind. Were we instead to make meditation on emptiness our innermost practice, there would be the possibility of falling into the arhat's nirvana instead of gaining buddhahood. This teaching is given in the saying, "When the father is the bodhimind and the mother is wisdom, the child joins the caste of buddhas." In intercaste marriages in ancient India, children would adopt the caste of the father, regardless of whether the mother was of higher or lower caste. Therefore the bodhimind is like the father: if one cultivates the bodhimind, one enters the caste of buddhas.
Although the bodhimind is the primary force producing buddhahood, bodhimind as the father must unite with wisdom, or meditation on emptiness, as the mother, in order to produce a child able to accomplish buddhahood. One without the other will not bring full enlightenment. The bodhimind is the essential energy that produces buddhahood, yet throughout its stages of development it should be applied to meditation on emptiness. In the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, where Buddha spoke most extensively on emptiness, we are constantly reminded to place our meditations on emptiness within the context of the bodhimind.
What precisely is the bodhimind? It is the mind strongly characterized by the aspiration, "For the sake of all sentient beings I must attain the state of full enlightenment." It is easy to repeat the words of this aspiration to ourselves but the bodhimind is something much deeper than this. It is a quality within the mind systematically cultivated by one of a number of methods, such as those called "Six Causes and One Effect," or "Exchanging Self (Awareness) for (Awareness of) Others."
Merely holding in mind the thought, "I must attain enlightenment for the sake of benefiting others" without first cultivating the prerequisite causes, stages and basic foundations of this thought will not give birth to the bodhimind. For this reason the venerable Atisha (11th century) once asked, "Do you know anyone with bodhimind not born from meditation on love and compassion?" What benefits arise through having generated the bodhimind? If we know what qualities good food has we will attempt to obtain, prepare and eat it. Similarly, when we hear of the efficacy of the bodhimind we shall seek to learn the methods and practices by which it is generated.
The immediate benefit of having given birth to the bodhimind within our mindstream is that we enter the great vehicle leading to buddhahood and gain the title of bodhisattva, a son of the buddhas. It does not matter what we look like, how we dress, how wealthy or powerful we are, whether or not we have clairvoyance or miraculous powers, or how learned we are: if we have generated the bodhimind we are bodhisattvas, and regardless of our other qualities, if we do not have the bodhimind we are not bodhisattvas. A being with the bodhimind who incarnates as an animal is respected by all the buddhas as being a bodhisattva.
The great sages of the lesser vehicle possess innumerably wondrous qualities, yet someone who has developed merely the initial stages of the bodhimind surpasses them in terms of his nature. This is likened to the baby son of a universal monarch who, although only an infant possessing no qualities of knowledge or power, is granted a higher status than any scholar or minister in the empire.
In terms of conventional benefits, all the happiness and goodness that exists is a product of bodhimind. The buddhas are born from bodhisattvas, but the bodhisattvas are born from the bodhimind. As a result of the birth of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, great waves of enlightened energy spread throughout the universe, influencing sentient beings to create positive karma. This positive karma in turn brings them much benefit and happiness. On the one hand, the mighty stream of enlightened and enlightening energy issues from the wisdom body of the buddhas, but as the buddhas are born from bodhisattvas and bodhisattvas from the bodhimind, the ultimate source of the universal reservoir of goodness and happiness is the bodhimind itself.
How can we develop the bodhimind? There are two major methods, as mentioned above. The first of these, the "Six Causes and One Effect," applies six causal meditations—recognizing that all sentient beings were once one's own mother; the kindness of a mother; the wish to repay such kindness; love; compassion; and the extraordinary thought of universal responsibility—to produce one result: the bodhimind. The second technique is a meditation whereby one directly changes self-cherishing into the cherishing of others..
In order to practice either of these methods of developing the bodhimind we must first develop a sense of equanimity toward all living beings. We must transcend seeing some beings as close, some as alien and some as merely unknown strangers. Until we have this equanimity toward all beings, meditation to develop bodhimind will not be effective. For example, if we wish to paint frescoes on a wall we must first remove any cracks or lumps from its surface. Similarly, we cannot draw the image of the bodhimind within ourselves until the mind's view has been made clean from the distortions of seeing others in terms of friend, enemy and stranger.
The way we impute this discrimination upon others is quite automatic, and as a result of it, when we see someone we have labeled as 'friend,' attachment arises within us and we respond with warmth. Why have we labeled him as 'friend'? Only because on some level or other he has benefited or supported us. Alternatively, whenever we encounter someone whom we have labeled as 'enemy, aversion arises within us and we respond with coldness. The reason will be because he has once harmed or threatened us in some way. Again, when encountering a stranger we simply have no feelings toward him.
Yet if we examine this method of discrimination we quickly see that it is an unstable process. Even in this life, people once regarded as friends become enemies and enemies often become friends. And in the countless lives we have taken since beginningless time while spinning on the wheel of life there is not one sentient being who has consistently been either our friend or enemy. Our best friend of this life could easily have been our worst enemy in a previous incarnation, and vice versa. A friend who mistreats us quickly becomes an enemy, and an enemy who helps us soon becomes a new-found friend. Someone who last year was regarded as a friend because he had been kind to us, this year harms us and is seen as an enemy; last year's enemy this year helps us and becomes a friend. So which one is really the friend and which one the enemy? Instead of responding to them on the basis of the ephemeral benefit or harm they have brought us, we should meditate that all have alternately benefited and harmed us in the stream of past lives, and thus abandon superficial discriminations.
A root cause of this discriminating mind is the self-cherishing attitude, the thought that considers oneself to be more important than others. As a result of self-cherishing we develop attachment to those who help us and aversion to those who give us problems. This in turn causes us to create countless negative karmas in trying to overcome the 'harmers' and support the 'helpers.' Such actions bring great suffering upon ourselves and others, both immediately and in future lives, as these karmic seeds ripen into suffering experiences.
There is a teaching that says, "All happiness in this world arises from cherishing others; every suffering arises from self-cherishing." Why is this so? From self-cherishing comes the wish to further oneself even at others' expense. This causes all the killing, stealing, intolerance and so forth that we see around us. As well as destroying happiness in this life, these negative activities plant karmic seeds for a future rebirth in the miserable realms of existence—the hell, hungry ghost and animal realms. Self-cherishing is responsible for every conflict from a family problem to an international war, and for all the negative karma thus created.
What are the results of cherishing others? If we cherish others we shall not harm or kill them. This is conducive to our own long life. When we cherish others we are open and empathetic with them, and live in generosity. This is a karmic cause of our own future prosperity. If we cherish others, even when someone harms or makes problems for us we are able to abide in love and patience, a karmic cause of having a beautiful form in future lives. In short, every auspicious condition arises from the positive karmas generated by cherishing others. These conditions themselves bring joy and happiness, and in addition they act as the causes of and circumstances leading to nirvana and buddhahood.
How? To gain nirvana one must master the three higher trainings: moral discipline, meditation and wisdom. Of these the first is the most important because it is the basis for the development of the other two. The essence of moral discipline is abandoning any action that brings harm to others. Anyone who cherishes others more than he cherishes himself will not find this discipline difficult. His mind will be calm and peaceful, which is conducive to both meditation and wisdom.
Looking at it another way, cherishing others is the proper and noble approach to take. In this life everything that comes to us is directly or indirectly due to the kindness of others. We buy food from others in the market; the clothing we wear and the houses in which we dwell depend upon the assisting participation of others. And for attaining the ultimate goals—nirvana and buddhahood—we are completely dependent upon others: without them we would not be able to meditate upon love, compassion, trust and so forth, and thus would be unable to generate spiritual experience. Also, any meditation teaching we receive has come from the Buddha through the kindness of sentient beings. The Buddha taught only to benefit sentient beings; if there were no sentient beings he would not have taught. Therefore, in his Bodhisattvacaryavatara, Shantideva comments that in terms of kindness, the sentient beings are equal to the buddhas. Sometimes, mistakenly, people have respect and devotion for the buddhas but dislike sentient beings. We should appreciate sentient beings as deeply as we do the buddhas themselves.
If we look at happiness and harmony we will find its cause to be universal caring. The cause of unhappiness and disharmony is the self-cherishing attitude.
At one time the Buddha was an ordinary person like ourselves. Then he gave up self-cherishing for universal caring and entered the path to buddhahood. Because we still hold the self-cherishing mind we are left behind in samsara, having benefited neither ourselves nor others.
The Jataka Tales (Previous Lives of Buddha) relate that in one earlier incarnation, the Buddha had been a huge turtle who took pity on several shipwreck victims and carried them to shore on his back. Once ashore the exhausted turtle fell into a faint but as he slept he was attacked by thousands of ants. Soon the biting of the ants woke the turtle up, but when he saw that if he moved he would kill innumerable creatures, he remained still and offered his body to the insects as food. This is the depth to which the Buddha cherished living beings. Many of Ashvagosha's Jataka Tales are dedicated to relating similar accounts of the Buddha's previous lives, in which the importance of cherishing others is exemplified. The Wish-Fulfilling Tree has 108 such stories.
Essentially, self-cherishing is the cause of every undesirable experience, and universal caring is the cause of every happiness. The experiences of the lower realms of existence, all the suffering of mankind and every interference to spiritual practice are caused by self-cherishing, and every happiness of this and future lives comes from universal caring. The subtle limitations of lesser enlightenment are also caused by self-cherishing.
We should contemplate the benefits of cherishing others and try to develop an open, loving attitude toward all living beings. This should not be an inert emotion but should be characterized by great compassion—the wish to separate others from their suffering. When we meet with a being in sorrow our reaction should be like that of a mother witnessing her only child caught in a fire or fallen into a terrible river: our main thought should be to help others. Toward those in states of suffering we should think, "May I help separate them from their suffering," and for those in states of happiness we should think, "May I help maintain their happiness." This attitude should be directed equally toward all beings. Some people feel great compassion for friends or relatives in trouble but none for unpleasant people or enemies. This is not spiritual compassion, it is merely a form of attachment. True compassion does not discriminate between beings; it regards all with an equal emotion.
Similarly, love is the desire to maintain the happiness of all beings impartially, regardless of whether we like them or not. Spiritual love is of two main types: that merely possessing equanimity and that possessing the active wish to maintain others' happiness. When we meditate repeatedly on how all beings have in previous lives been mother, father and friend to us, we soon come to have equanimity toward them all. Eventually this develops into an overwhelming wish to see all beings possess happiness and the causes of happiness. This is great, undiscriminating love.
By meditating properly on love and compassion we produce what are called the eight great benefits. These condense into two: producing happiness in this and future lives for both ourselves and others, and developing along the path to full and perfect buddhahood. It produces rebirth as a man or god, and fertilizes the seeds of enlightenment.
In brief, we should have the wish to help others maintain their happiness and separate from suffering regardless of whether they have acted as friend or enemy to us. Moreover, we should develop a personal sense of responsibility for their happiness. This is called "the special thought" or "the higher thought" and is marked by a strong sense of responsibility for the welfare of others. It is like taking the responsibility of going to the market to get someone exactly what he needs, instead of just sitting reflecting on how nice it would be if he had what he wanted. We take upon ourselves the responsibility of actually fulfilling others' requirements.
Then we should ask ourselves, "Do I have the ability to benefit all others?" Obviously we do not. Who has such ability? Only an enlightened being, a buddha. Why? Because only those who have attained buddhahood are fully developed and fully separated from limitations: those still in samsara cannot place others in nirvana. Even sravaka arhats or tenth level bodhisattvas are unable to benefit others fully, for they themselves still have limitations, but a buddha spontaneously and automatically benefits all beings with every breath he takes. His state is metaphorically likened to the drum of Brahma, which automatically resounds teachings to the world. Or it is like a cloud, that spontaneously takes cooling shade and life-giving water wherever it goes. To fulfil others' needs we should seek to place them in the total peace and maturity of buddhahood, and to be able to do this we ourselves must first gain buddhahood. The state of buddhahood is an evolutionary product of the bodhimind. The bodhimind is born from the special thought of universal responsibility—the thought to benefit others by oneself. To drink water we must have both the desire to drink and a container for the water. The wish to benefit others by placing them in buddhahood is like the desire to drink, and the wish to attain enlightenment oneself in order to benefit them in this way is like the container. When both are present, we benefit ourselves and others.
If we hear of the meditations that generate the bodhimind and attempt to practice them without first refining our minds with the preliminary meditations, it is very unlikely that we shall make much inner progress. For example, meditating on compassion without first gaining some experience of the meditations on the four noble truths, or at least on the truth of suffering, would lead to a merely superficial understanding. How can we experience mature compassion, the aspiration to free all beings from suffering, when we do not know the deeper meanings and levels of suffering that permeate the human psyche? How can we relate to others' suffering when we do not even know the subtle levels of frustration and tension pervading our own being? The nature of suffering must be known in order to know the workings of our own mind; only then shall we be in a position to empathize with the hearts and minds of others. We must have compassion for ourselves before we can have it for others.
Through meditation on suffering a certain amount of renunciation or spiritual stability will be generated. This stability should be guarded and cultivated by the various methods taught on the initial and intermediate stages of training, which are the two main steps in approaching the meditations on the bodhimind. As we progress in our meditations on the suffering nature of being and on the causes of this suffering, we begin to search for the path leading to transcendence of imperfection. We meditate upon the precious nature and unique opportunities of human existence, which makes us appreciate our situation. Then we meditate upon impermanence and death, which helps us transcend grasping at petty aspects of life and directs our minds to search for spiritual knowledge. Because spiritual knowledge is not gained from books or without a cause, its cause must be cultivated, which means training properly under a fully qualified spiritual master and generating the practices as instructed.
Merely hearing about the bodhimind is very beneficial because it provides a seed for the development of the enlightened spirit. However, to cultivate this seed to fruition requires careful practice. We must progress through the actual inner experiences of the above-mentioned meditations, and for this we require close contact with a meditation teacher able to supervise and guide our evolution. In order for his presence to be of maximum benefit we should learn the correct attitudes and actions for cultivating an effective guru-disciple relationship. Then step-by-step the seeds of the bodhimind he plants within us can grow to full maturity and unfold the lotus of enlightenment within us.
This is but a brief description of the bodhisattva spirit and the methods of developing it. If it inspires some interest within anyone I shall be most happy. The basis of the bodhimind—love and compassion—is a force that brings every benefit to both yourself and others, and if this can be transformed into the bodhimind itself, your every action will become a cause of omniscient buddhahood. Even if you could practice to the point of even slightly weakening the self-cherishing attitude I would be very grateful. Without first generating the bodhimind, buddhahood is completely out of the question. Once the growth of the bodhimind has started, perfect enlightenment is only a matter of time. We should try to meditate regularly on death and impermanence and thus become a spiritual practitioner of initial scope. Then we should develop the meditations on the unsatisfactory nature of samsara and the three higher trainings, which make us practitioners of medium scope. Finally, we should give birth to love, compassion, universal responsibility and the bodhimind, thus entering the path of the practitioner of great scope, the Mahayana, which has full buddhahood as its goal. Relying on the guidance of a master, we should cultivate the seeds of the bodhimind in connection with the wisdom of emptiness and for the sake of all that lives quickly actualize buddhahood. This may not be an easy task, but it has ultimate perfection as its fruit.
The most important step in spiritual growth is the first: we must begin by making a decision to avoid evil and cultivate goodness within our stream of being. On the basis of this fundamental discipline every spiritual quality becomes possible, even the eventual perfection of buddhahood. Each of us has the potential to do this, each of us can become a perfect being. All we have to do is direct our energies at learning and then enthusiastically practicing the teachings. As the bodhimind is the very essence of all the Buddha's teachings we should make every effort to realize it. Source

The Graduated Path to Liberation
by Geshe Rabten Rinpoche

Yana [11] is not the carrier or what is carried—it is the carrying. Thus Hinayana means "carrying the smaller load," and Mahayana, "carrying the great load."

Hinayana practitioners are those who find samsara unbearable and want to escape from it into the state of nirvana. They help others enormously by renouncing the world and striving to obtain freedom, but their main thought is personal liberation from samsara. An arhat—one who has completed this path of personal liberation—has many spiritual powers, and can give spiritual teaching and aid to many beings, but still has to remove jneyavarana. The attainment of nirvana will prove not to be sufficient and the arhat will then have to enter the bodhisattva path and progress through the ten levels to the final, complete buddhahood.

Those who practise Mahayana also renounce samsara and want to escape from it. But because they identify with all other beings in samsara, Mahayanists do not want merely personal liberation. Through their great concern for others, Mahayanists' all-motivating wish is to give complete happiness to all beings. They understand first that all beings in samsara—insects, devas and the rest—are equal in that they all want happiness and do not want suffering. They also perceive that none of these beings has the satisfaction of complete happiness. For this reason, they develop the great wish to take all beings out of suffering. This wish, which is also a kind of caitta, is called mahakarunika, "the great compassionate one." Mahayana practitioners realize that all beings in samsara, though they may have transitory happiness, do not have true, lasting, happiness.

The next wish, that of giving all beings the ultimate happiness of buddhahood is called mahamaitreya, "the great wish of active love." These wishes are stronger than the dissatisfaction of the Hinayana follower. Before this stage of aspiration is reached, there are many other practices that have to be developed so that Mahayanists can fully realize the suffering of beings.

At first they want to bring all beings to enlightenment without any help. This is called adicinta, "the first thought." Then, when they examine themselves to see if they have enough power to do so alone, they find that the same defilements that other beings have exist within themselves as well. Thus they try to find who does have the power to help others in this way. Through this they find that only a buddha can do so, and develop the wish to reach the buddha stage quickly. This is bodhicitta 12, "the mind dedicated to enlightenment."

When one has practised this a great deal, mahakarunika, mahamaitreya, adicinta and bodhicitta become part of the person's very nature. At this point the practitioner becomes a bodhisattva, though not yet an arya-bodhisattva—a very advanced bodhisattva, who has seen emptiness clearly. When the practitioner reaches the high state of a bodhisattva, all the devas pay respect. Once bodhicitta has arisen, the seed of Dharma will continue to grow whether the person is awake or asleep, and even very harmful karma can be prevented from ripening.

Usually, people can remove mental defilements only by meditation on emptiness. Bodhicitta makes meditation on emptiness much more powerful. When a soldier is fighting an enemy he needs to use his weapon, but he also needs to have good food; bodhicitta is like this food.

To reach the final goal we need two instruments: prajna (wisdom), and upaya (right means), which contains both compassion and compassionate activity. 13 Mahakarunika, mahamaitreya, adicinta and bodhicitta are all included in upaya. Prajna is seeing things as they really are. A bodhisattva must have both of these. Arhats, who have completed the Hinayana path, are out of samsara and have attained the lowest level of nirvana, are strong in prajna—in the realization of emptiness—but weak in upaya. They have compassion (karuna), but not the great compassion of mahakarunika. They have active love (maitri), but not mahamaitreya. The main difference between their path and that of the Mahayana is on the side of upaya. Eventually, arhats will have to develop it.

Pandit Shantideva, in his Bodhicaryavatara, mentioned all the different virtues of bodhicitta, for those interested in knowing more about the mind dedicated to enlightenment.



Simply put bodhicitta - is the alturistic mind-stream that wants helps others - our inherent goodness. We need to seek things with a pure intention - for example - 'May I attain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings'


There are two kinds of Bodhicitta: the Bodhicitta of Aspiration and the Bodhicitta of Application.

The Bodhicitta of Aspiration has five main points:

1. We should never exclude even one sentient being from our thoughts.
2. We should always remember the relative and absolute benefit ensuing from the Enlightened Attitude. Twenty-two similes illustrate the value of developing the Enlightened Attitude.
3. We should accumulate merit and wisdom. In this way the Enlightened Attitude is strengthened and developed.
4. We should practice the source, essence, and conduct of the Enlightened Attitude. The source is the Four Immeasurables, the essence is the wish for the development of the Enlightened Attitude and for enlightenment itself. The conduct is the dedication of all positive things towards the benefit of all sentient beings.
5. We should renounce the Four Black Dharmas and practice the Four White Dharmas.

We decide not to:

Deceive the teacher; instead, we practice its opposite - telling the truth, even at the risk of one's life. Make someone regret that which they should not regret; instead we rejoice in their positive actions. Criticize the Three Jewels or the Three Roots, or to regard one's own person too highly; instead we appreciate the Three Jewels and the Three Roots and speak positively about them.
Cheat other beings for the sake of one's own profit; instead we work selflessly for others.

The Bodhicitta of Application is the practice of the Bodhisattvas - the practice of the Ten Paramitas.

The Eight Verses on Transforming the Mind
by Geshe Langri Tangpa Dorjey Sengey

With a determination to accomplish
The highest welfare for all sentient beings,
Who surpass even a wish-granting jewel
I will learn to hold them supremely dear.

Whenever I associate with others I will learn,
To think of myself as the lowest among all,
And respectfully hold others to be supreme,
From the very depths of my heart.

In all actions I will learn to search into my mind
And as soon as an afflictive emotion arises
Endangering myself and others,
Will firmly face and avert it.

I will learn to cherish all beings of bad nature
And those oppressed by strong sins and sufferings,
As if I had found a precious
Treasury very difficult to find.

When others out of jealousy treat me badly
With abuse, slander, and so on,
I will learn to take all loss
And offer the victory to them.

When one whom I have benefited with great hope
Unreasonably hurts me very badly,
I will learn to view that person
As an excellent spiritual guide.

In short, I will learn to offer to everyone without exception,
All help and happiness directly and indirectly,
And respectfully take upon myself,
All harm and suffering of my mothers.

I will learn to keep these practices,
Undefiled by the stains of the eight worldly conceptions,
And by understanding all phenomena as like illusion,
Be released from the bondage of attachment.

The Eight Verses on Transforming the Mind
by Geshe Langri Tangpa Dorjey Sengey

VIDEO AVAILABLE - DALAI LAMA - Lojong: Transforming the Mind (4 tapes) VHS -ID# 76446 Time: 5.5 hrs.

The Eight Verses of Thought Transformation
His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama

From the Second Dharma Celebration, November 5-8 1982, New Delhi, India.

Translated by Alex Berzin, clarified by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, edited by Nicholas Ribush.
First published by Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre, New Delhi, 1982

The text The Eight Verses of Thought Transformation, by Langri Tangpa, explains the Paramitayana practice of method and wisdom: the first seven verses deal with method—loving kindness, bodhicitta—and the eighth deals with wisdom.10

1. Determined to accomplish all success, I shall always practise holding dear all sentient beings, who are more precious than wish-fulfilling gems.
We ourselves and all other beings want to be happy and completely free from suffering. In this we are all exactly equal. However, each of us is only one while other beings are infinite in number. Now, there are two attitudes to consider: that of selfishly cherishing ourselves and that of cherishing others. The self-cherishing attitude makes us very uptight; we think we are extremely important, and our basic desire is for ourselves to be happy and for things to go well for us. Yet we don't know how to bring this about. In fact, acting out of self-cherishing can never make us happy.
Those who have the attitude of cherishing others regard all other beings as much more important than themselves and value helping others above all else. And, acting in this way, incidentally they themselves become very happy. Even politicians, for example, who are genuinely concerned with helping or serving other people are recorded in history with respect, while those who are constantly exploiting and doing bad things to others go down in history as examples of bad people.
Leaving aside, for the moment, religion, the next life and nirvana, even within this life selfish people bring negative repercussions down upon themselves by their self-centered actions. On the other hand, people like Mother Teresa, who sincerely devote their whole lives and all their energy to selflessly serving the poor, the needy and the helpless, are always remembered for their noble work with respect; others never have anything negative to say about them. This, then, is the result of cherishing others: whether you want it or not, even those who are not your relatives always like you, feel happy with you, have a warm feeling towards you. If you are the sort of person who always speaks nicely in front of others but behind their backs says nasty things about them, of course nobody will like you. Thus even in this life, if we try to help others as much as we can and have as few selfish thoughts as possible we shall experience much happiness. Our life is not very long: 100 years at the most. If throughout its duration we try to be kind, warm-hearted and concerned for the welfare of others, and less selfish and angry, that will be wonderful, excellent; that is really the cause of happiness. If you are selfish, if you always put yourself first and others second, the actual result will be that you yourself will finish up last. If mentally you put yourself last and others first, you will come out ahead.
So don't worry about the next life or nirvana: these things will come gradually. If within this life you remain a good, warm-hearted, unselfish person you will be a good citizen of the world. Whether you are a Buddhist, a Christian or a communist is irrelevant; the important thing is that as long as you are a human being you should be a good human being. That is the teaching of Buddhism; that is the message carried by all the world's religions. However, the teachings of Buddhism contain every technique for eradicating selfishness and actualizing the attitude of cherishing others. Shantideva's marvelous text, the Bodhicaryavatara, for example, is very helpful for this; I myself practice according to that book; it is extremely useful. Our mind is very cunning, very difficult to control, but if we make constant efforts, work tirelessly with logical reasoning and careful analysis, we shall be able to control it and change it for the better.
Some Western psychologists say that we should not repress our anger but express it—that we should practice anger! However, we must make an important distinction here between mental problems that should be expressed and those that should not. Sometimes you may be truly wronged and it is right for you to express your grievance instead of letting it fester inside you. But you should not express it with anger. If you foster disturbing negative minds such as anger they will become a part of your personality; each time you express anger it becomes easier to express it again. You do it more and more until you are simply a furious person completely out of control. Thus in terms of our mental problems there are certainly some that are properly expressed but others that are not. At first when you try to control disturbing negative minds it is difficult. The first day, the first week, the first month you cannot control them well. But if you make constant efforts, gradually your negativities will decrease. Progress in mental development does not come about through taking medicines or other chemical substances; it depends on controlling the mind.
Thus we can see that if we want to fulfill our wishes, be they temporal or ultimate, we should rely on other sentient beings much more than on wish-granting gems, and always cherish them above all else.

Q: Is the whole purpose of this practice to improve our minds or actually to do something to help others? What is more important?
A: Both are important. First, you see, if we do not have pure motivation, whatever we do may not be satisfactory. Thus the first thing we should do is cultivate pure motivation. But we do not have to wait until that motivation is fully developed before actually doing something to help others. Of course, to help others in the most effective way possible we have to be fully enlightened buddhas. Even to help others in vast and extensive ways we need to have attained one of the levels of a bodhisattva, that is to have had the experience of a direct, non-conceptual perception of the reality of voidness and to have achieved the powers of extra-sensory perception. Nonetheless, there are many levels of help we can offer others. Even before we have achieved these qualities we can try to act like bodhisattvas, but naturally our actions will be less effective than theirs. Therefore, without waiting until we are fully qualified, we can generate a good motivation and with that try to help others as best we can. This, I think, is a more balanced approach, and better than simply staying somewhere in isolation doing some meditation and recitations. Of course, this depends very much on the individual. If someone is confident that by staying in a remote place he can gain definite realizations within a certain period, that is different. Perhaps it is best to spend half our time in active work and the other half in the practice of meditation.

Q: Tibet was a Buddhist country. If these values you are describing are Buddhist ones, why was there so much imbalance in Tibetan society.
A: Human weakness. Although Tibet was certainly a Buddhist country it had its share of bad, corrupt people. Even some of the religious institutions, the monasteries, became corrupt and turned into centers of exploitation. But all the same, compared with other feudal societies, Tibet was much more peaceful and harmonious and had less problems than they.

2. Wherever I go and whomever I accompany I shall practice seeing myself as the lowest of all and sincerely hold others dear and supreme.
No matter who we are with, we often think things like, "I am stronger than him," "I am more beautiful than her," "I am more intelligent," "I am wealthier," "I am much better qualified" and so forth—we generate much pride. This is not good. Instead we should always remain humble. Even when we are helping others and are engaged in charity work we should not regard ourselves in a very haughty way as great protectors benefiting the weak. This too is pride. Rather we should engage in such activities very humbly and think that we are offering our services up to the people.
When we compare ourselves with animals, for instance, we might think, "I have a human body" or "I'm an ordained person" and feel much higher than them. From one point of view we can say that we have human bodies and are practicing the Buddha's teachings and are thus much better than insects. But from another, we can say that insects are very innocent and free from guile, whereas we often lie and misrepresent ourselves in devious ways in order to achieve our ends or better ourselves. From this point of view we have to say that we are much worse than insects, which just go about their business without pretending to be anything. This is one method of training in humility.

3. In all actions I shall examine my mind, and the moment an unsubdued thought arises, endangering myself and others, I shall face and avert it.
If we investigate our minds at times when we are very selfish and preoccupied with ourselves to the exclusion of others we shall find that the disturbing negative minds are the root of this behavior. Since they greatly disturb our minds, the moment we notice that we are coming under their influence, we should apply some antidote to them. The general opponent to all the disturbing negative minds is meditation on emptiness, but there are also antidotes to specific ones that we, as beginners, can apply. Thus for attachment we meditate on ugliness; for anger, on love; for closed-minded ignorance, on dependent arising; for many disturbing thoughts, on the breath and energy winds.
Q: Which dependent arising?
A: The twelve links of dependent arising, or interdependent origination. They start from ignorance and go through to aging and death.11 On a more subtle level you can use dependent arising as a cause for establishing that things are void of true existence.

Q: Why should we meditate on ugliness to overcome attachment?
A: We develop attachment to things because we see them as very attractive. Trying to view them as unattractive, or ugly, counteracts that. For example, we might develop attachment to another person's body, seeing his or her figure as something very attractive. When you start to analyze this attachment you find that it is based on viewing merely the skin. However, the nature of this body that appears to us as beautiful is that of the flesh, blood, bones, skin and so forth, of which it is composed. Now let's analyze human skin: take your own, for example. If a piece of it comes off and you put it on your shelf for a few days it becomes really ugly. This is the nature of skin. All parts of the body are the same. There is no beauty in a piece of human flesh; when you see blood you might feel afraid, not attached. Even a beautiful face: if it gets scratched there is nothing nice about it; wash off the paint—there is nothing left! Ugliness is the nature of the physical body. Human bones, the skeleton, are also repulsive. A skull-and-crossed-bones have a very negative connotation.
So that is the way to analyze something towards which you feel attachment, or love, using this word in the negative sense of desirous attachment: think more of the object's ugly side; analyze its nature—the person or thing—from that point of view. Even if this does not control your attachment completely, at least it will help subdue it a little. This is the purpose of meditating on or building up the habit of looking at the ugly aspect of things.
The other kind of love, or kindness, is not based on the reasoning that "such and such a person is beautiful therefore I shall show respect and kindness." The basis for pure love is, "This is a living being. It wants happiness; it does not want suffering; it has the right to be happy. Therefore I should feel love and compassion towards it." This kind of love is entirely different from the first, which is based on ignorance and therefore totally unsound. The reasons for this loving kindness are sound. With the love that is simply attachment, the slightest change in the object, such as a tiny change of attitude, immediately causes you to change. This is because your emotion is based on something very superficial. Take, for example, a new marriage. Often after a few weeks, months or years the couple become enemies and finish up getting divorced. They married deeply in love—nobody marries with hatred—but after a short time everything changed. Why? Because of the superficial basis for the relationship; a small change in one person caused a complete change of attitude in the other.
We should think, "The other person is a human being like me. Certainly I want happiness, therefore he must want happiness too. As a sentient being I have the right to happiness; for the same reason he, too, has the right to happiness." This kind of sound reasoning gives rise to pure love and compassion. Then no matter how our view of that person changes—from good to bad to ugly—he is basically the same sentient being. Thus since the main reason for showing loving kindness is always there, our feelings towards the other are perfectly stable.
The antidote to anger is meditation on love because anger is a very rough, coarse mind that needs to be softened with love.
When we enjoy the objects to which we are attached, we do experience a certain pleasure but, as Nagarjuna has said, it is like having an itch and scratching it; it gives us some pleasure but we would be far better off if we did not have the itch in the first place.12 Similarly, when we get the things with which we are obsessed we feel happy, but we'd be far better off if we were free from the attachment that causes us to become obsessed with things.

4. Whenever I see a being of wicked nature, who is overwhelmed by heavy non-virtue and suffering, I shall hold him dear, as if I had discovered a precious treasure, difficult to find.
If we run into someone who is by nature very cruel, rough, nasty and unpleasant our usual reaction is to avoid the person, and in such situations our loving concern for others is liable to decrease. Instead of allowing our love for others to weaken by thinking what an evil person this is, we should see him or her as a special object of love and compassion and cherish that person as though we had come across a
precious treasure, difficult to find.

5. When out of jealousy others treat me badly with abuse, insult and the like, I shall practice accepting defeat and offering the victory to others.
If someone insults, abuses and criticizes us, saying that we are incompetent and don't know how to do anything and so forth, we are likely to get very angry and contradict what the person has said. We should not react in this way; instead, with humility and tolerance, we should accept what has been said.
Where it says that we should accept defeat and offer the victory to others, we have to differentiate two kinds of situation. If, on the one hand, we are obsessed with our own welfare and very selfishly motivated, we should accept defeat and offer victory to the other, even if our life is at stake. But if, on the other hand, the situation is such that the welfare of others is at stake, we have to work very hard and fight for the rights of others, and not accept the loss at all.
One of the forty-six secondary vows of a bodhisattva refers to a situation in which someone is doing something very harmful and you have to use forceful methods or whatever else is necessary to stop that person's actions immediately: if you don't you have transgressed that commitment. It might appear that this precept and the fifth stanza, which says that one must accept defeat and give the victory to the other, are contradictory but they are not. The bodhisattva precept deals with a situation in which one's prime concern is the welfare of others: if someone is doing something extremely harmful and dangerous it is wrong not to take strong measures to stop it if necessary. Nowadays, in very competitive societies, strong defensive or similar actions are often required. The motivation for these should not be selfish concern but extensive feelings of kindness and compassion towards others. If we act out of such feelings to save others from creating negative karma this is entirely correct.

Q: It may sometimes be necessary to take strong action when we see something wrong, but whose judgment do we trust for such decisions? Can we rely on our own perception of the world?
A: That's complicated. When you consider taking the loss upon yourself you have to see whether giving the victory to the others is going to benefit them ultimately or only temporarily. You also have to consider the effect that taking the loss upon yourself will have on your power or ability to help others in the future. It is also possible that by doing something that is harmful to others now you create a great deal of merit that will enable you to do things vastly beneficial for others in the long run; this is another factor you have to take into account.
As it says in the Bodhicaryavatara, you have to examine, both superficially and deeply, whether the benefits of doing a prohibited action outweigh the shortcomings. At times when it is difficult to tell you should check your motivation. In the Sikshasamuccaya, Shantideva says that the benefits of an action done with bodhicitta motivation outweigh the negativities of doing it with such motivation. Because it is sometimes very difficult yet very important to see the dividing line between what to do and what not to do, you should study the texts that explain about such things. In lower texts it will say that certain actions are prohibited, while in higher ones it will say that those same actions are allowed. The more you know about all of this the easier it will be to decide what to do in any situation.13

6. When someone I have benefited and in whom I have great hopes gives me terrible harm, I shall practice regarding him or her as my holy guru.
Usually we expect a person whom we have helped a great deal to be very grateful, and if he reacts to us with ingratitude we are likely to get angry. In such situations we should not get angry but, instead, practice patience. Moreover, we should see this person as a teacher testing our patience and therefore treat him with respect. This verse contains all the Bodhicaryavatara teachings on patience.14

7. In short, both directly and indirectly, I offer every benefit and happiness to all my mothers. Secretly, I shall practice taking all their harmful actions and suffering upon myself.

This refers to the practice of taking upon ourselves all the sufferings of others and giving away to them all our happiness, motivated by strong compassion and love. We all want happiness and do not want suffering and can see that all other beings feel the same. We can see, too, that other beings are overwhelmed by suffering but do not know how to get rid of it. Thus we should generate the intention of taking on all their suffering and negative karma and pray for it to ripen upon ourselves immediately. Likewise it is obvious that other beings are devoid of the happiness they seek and do not know how to find it. Thus, without a trace of miserliness, we should offer to others all our happiness—our body, wealth and merits—and pray for it to ripen on them immediately.
Of course, it is most unlikely that we shall actually be able to take on the sufferings of others and give them our happiness. When such transference between beings does occur it is the result of some very strong unbroken karmic connection from the past. However, this meditation is a very powerful means of building up courage in our minds and is therefore a highly beneficial practice.
In the Seven Point Thought Transformation it says that we should alternate the practices of taking and giving and mount them on the breath.15 And here, Langri Tangpa says these should be done secretly. As it is explained in the Bodhicaryavatara, this practice does not suit the minds of beginner bodhisattvas—it is something for the select few practitioners. Therefore it is called secret.

Q: In the eighth chapter of Bodhicaryavatara, Shantideva says:
...if for the sake of others I cause harm to myself
I shall acquire all that is magnificent.
On the other hand, Nagarjuna says that one should not mortify the body. So in what way does Shantideva mean one should harm oneself?
A: This does not mean that you have to hit yourself on the head or something like that. Shantideva is saying that at times when strong, self-cherishing thoughts arise you have to argue very strongly with yourself and use forceful means to subdue them; in other words, you have to harm your self-cherishing mind. You have to distinguish clearly between the I that is completely obsessed with its own welfare and the I that is going to become enlightened: there is a big difference. And you have to see this verse of the Bodhicaryavatara in the context of the verses that precede and follow. There are many different ways the I is discussed: the grasping at a true identity for the I, the self-cherishing I, the I that we join with in looking at things from the viewpoint of others and so forth. You have to see the discussion of the self in these different contexts.
If it really benefits others, if it benefits even one sentient being, it is appropriate for us to take upon ourselves the suffering of the three realms of existence or to go to one of the hells, and we should have the courage to do this. In order to reach enlightenment for the sake of sentient beings we should be happy and willing to spend countless eons in the lowest hell, Avici. This is what taking the harms that afflict others upon ourselves refers to.

Q: What would we have to do to get to the lowest hell?
A: The point is to develop the courage to be willing to go to one of the hells; it doesn't mean you actually have to go there. When the Kadampa geshe Chekawa was dying, he suddenly called in his disciples and asked them to make special offerings, ceremonies and prayers for him because his practice had been unsuccessful. The disciples were very upset because they thought something terrible was about to happen. However, the geshe explained that although all his life he had been praying to be born in the hells for the benefit of others, he was now receiving a pure vision of what was to follow—he was going to be reborn in a pure land instead of the hells. In the same way, if we develop a strong, sincere wish to be reborn in the lower realms for the benefit of others, we accumulate a vast amount of merit that brings about the opposite result.
That's why I always say, if we are going to be selfish we should be wisely selfish. Real, or narrow, selfishness causes us to go down; wise selfishness brings us buddhahood. That's really wise! Unfortunately, what we usually do first is get attached to buddhahood. From the scriptures we understand that to attain buddhahood we need bodhicitta and that without it we can't become enlightened; thus we think, "I want buddhahood, therefore I have to practice bodhicitta." We are not so much concerned about bodhicitta as about buddhahood. This is absolutely wrong. We should do the opposite; forget the selfish motivation and think how really to help others. If we go to hell we can help neither others nor ourselves. How can we help? Not just by giving them something or performing miracles, but by teaching Dharma. However, first we must be qualified to teach. At present we cannot explain the whole path: all the practices and experiences that one person has to go through from the first stage up to the last, enlightenment. Perhaps we can explain some of the early stages through our own experience, but not much more than that. To be able to help others in the most extensive way by leading them along the entire path to enlightenment we must first enlighten ourselves. For this reason we should practice bodhicitta. This is entirely different from our usual way of thinking, where we are compelled to think of others and dedicate our heart to them because of selfish concern for our own enlightenment. This way of going about things is completely false, a sort of lie.

Q: I read in a book that just by practicing Dharma we prevent nine generations of our relatives from rebirth in hell. Is this true?
A: This is a little bit of advertising! In fact it is possible that something like this could happen, but in general it's not so simple. Take, for example, our reciting the mantra Om mani padme hum and dedicating the merit of that to our rapidly attaining enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. We can't say that just by reciting mantras we shall quickly attain enlightenment, but we can say that such practices act as contributory causes for enlightenment. Likewise, while our practicing Dharma will not itself protect our relatives from lower rebirths, it may act as a contributory cause for this. If this were not the case, if our practice could act as the principal cause of a result experienced by others, it would contradict the law of karma, the relationship between cause and effect. Then we could simply sit back and relax and let all the buddhas and bodhisattvas do everything for us; we would not have to take any responsibility for our own welfare. However, the Fully Enlightened One said that all he can do is teach us the Dharma, the path to liberation from suffering; it is up to us to put it into practice—he washed his hands of that responsibility! As Buddhism teaches that there is no creator and that we create everything for ourselves, we are therefore our own masters—within the limits of the law of cause and effect. And this law of karma teaches that if we do good we shall experience good results; if we do bad things we shall experience unhappiness.

Q: How do we cultivate patience?
A: There are many methods.16 Knowledge of and faith in the law of karma itself engenders patience. You realize, "This suffering I'm experiencing is entirely my own fault, the result of actions I myself created in the past. Since I can't escape it I have to put up with it. However, if I want to avoid suffering in the future I can do so by cultivating virtues such as patience. Getting irritated or angry with this suffering will only create negative karma, the cause for future misfortune." This is one way of practicing patience.
Another thing you can do is meditate on the suffering nature of the body. "This body and mind are the basis for all kinds of suffering: it is natural and by no means unexpected that suffering should arise from them." This sort of realization is very helpful for the development of patience.
You can also recall what it says in the Bodhicaryavatara:

Why be unhappy about something
If it can be remedied?
And what is the use of being unhappy about something
If it cannot be remedied?
If there is a method or an opportunity of overcoming your suffering you have no need to worry. If there is absolutely nothing you can do about it worrying cannot help you at all. This is both very simple and very clear.
Something else you can do is contemplate the disadvantages of getting angry and the advantages of practising patience. We are human beings—one of our better qualities is our ability to think and judge. If we lose patience and get angry we lose our ability to make proper judgments and thereby lose one of the most powerful instruments we have for tackling problems: our human wisdom. This is something that animals do not have. If we lose patience and get irritated we are damaging this precious instrument. We should remember this; it is far better to have courage and determination and face suffering with patience.
Q: How can we be humble yet at the same time realistic about the good qualities that we possess?
A: You have to differentiate between confidence in your abilities and pride. You should have confidence in whatever good qualities and skills you have and use them courageously, but you shouldn't feel arrogantly proud of them. Being humble doesn't mean feeling totally incompetent and helpless. Humility is cultivated as the opponent of pride, but we should use whatever good qualities we have to the full.
Ideally one should have a great deal of courage and strength but not boast about or make a big show of it. Then, in times of need he should rise to the occasion and fight bravely for what is right. This is perfect. Someone who has none of these good qualities but goes around boasting how great he is and in times of need completely shrinks back is just the opposite. The first person is very courageous but has no pride; the other is very proud but has no courage.

8. With all these (practices) undefiled by the stains of the superstitions of the eight (worldly) dharmas, by perceiving all dharmas as illusory I shall practice, without grasping, to release (all sentient beings) from bondage.
This verse deals with wisdom. All the preceding practices should not be defiled by the stains of the superstitions of the eight worldly dharmas. These eight can be referred to as white, black or mixed.17 I think it should be all right if I explain this verse from the point of view of the practices being done without their being stained by the wrong conception of clinging to true existence—the superstition of the eight dharmas.18 How does one avoid staining one's practice in this way? By recognizing all existence as illusory and not clinging to true existence. Thus one is liberated from the bondage of this type of clinging.
To explain the meaning of "illusory" here: true existence appears in the aspect of various objects, wherever they are manifest, but in fact there is no true existence there. True existence appears, but there is none—it is an illusion. Even though everything that exists appears as truly existent, it is devoid of true existence. To see that objects are empty of true existence that even though true existence appears there is none, it is illusory—one should have definite understanding of the meaning of emptiness: the emptiness of the manifest appearance. First one should be certain that all phenomena are empty of true existence. Then later, when that which has absolute nature19 appears to be truly existent, one refutes the true existence by recalling one's previous ascertainment of the total absence of true existence. When one puts together these two—the appearance of true existence and its emptiness as previously experienced—one discovers the illusoriness of phenomena.
Now there is no need for an explanation of the way things appear as illusory separate from that just given. This text explains up to the meditation on mere emptiness. In tantric teachings such as the Guhyasamaja tantra, what is called illusory is completely separate;20 in this verse what is called illusory does not have to be shown separately. Thus the true existence of that which has absolute nature is the object of refutation and should be refuted. When it has been, the illusory mode of appearance of things arises indirectly: they seem to be truly existent but they are not.21
Q: How can something that is unfindable and that exists merely by imputation function?
A: That's very difficult. If you can realize that subject and action exist by reason of their being dependent arisings, emptiness will appear in dependent arising. This is the most difficult thing to understand.22
If you have realized non-inherent existence well, the experience of existent objects speaks for itself. That they exist by nature is refuted by logic, and you can be convinced by logic that things do not—there is no way that they can—inherently exist. Yet they definitely do exist because we experience them. So how do they exist? Merely by the power of name. This is not saying that they don't exist; it is never said that things do not exist. What is said is that they exist by the power of name. This is a difficult point; something that you can understand slowly, slowly through experience.
First you have to analyze whether things exist truly or not, actually findably or not: you can't find them. But if we say that they don't exist at all, this is a mistake, because we do experience them. We can't prove through logic that things exist findably, but we do know through our experience that they exist. Thus we can make a definite conclusion that things do exist. Now, if things exist there are only two ways in which they can do so; either from their own base or by being under the control of other factors, that is either completely independently or dependently. Since logic disproves that things exist independently, the only way they can exist is dependently.
Upon what do things depend for their existence? They depend upon the base that is labeled and the thought that labels. If they could be found when searched for, they should exist by their own nature, and thus the Madhyamika scriptures, which say that things do not exist by their own nature, would be wrong. However, you can't find things when you search for them. What you do find is something that exists under the control of other factors, that is therefore said to exist merely in name. The word "merely" here indicates that something is being cut off: but that is not that which is not the name but has a meaning and is the object of a valid mind. This is not saying that there is no meaning to things other than their names, or that the meaning that is not the name is not the object of a valid mind. What it cuts off is that it exists by something other than the power of name. Things exist merely by the power of name, but they have meaning, and that meaning is the object of a valid mind. But the nature of things is that they exist simply by the power of name.
There is no other alternative, only the force of name. That does not mean that besides the name there is nothing. There is the thing, there is a meaning, there is a name. What is the meaning? The meaning also exists merely in name.

Q: Is the mind something that really exists or is it too an illusion?
A: It's the same thing. According to the Prasangika Madhyamika, the highest, most precise view, it is the same thing whether it is an external object or the internal consciousness that apprehends it: both exist by the power of name; neither is truly existent. Thought itself exists merely in name; so do voidness, buddha, good, bad and indifferent. Everything exists solely by the power of name.
When we say "name only" there is no way to understand what it means other than that it cuts off meanings that are not name only. If you take a real person and a phantom person, for example, both are the same in that they exist merely by name, but there is a difference between them. Whatever exists or does not exist is merely labeled, but in name, some things exist and others do not.23
According to the Mind-only school, external phenomena appear to inherently exist but are, in fact, empty of external, inherent existence, whereas the mind is truly existent. I think this is enough about Buddhist tenets for now.24

Q: Are "mind" and "consciousness" equivalent terms?
A: There are distinctions made in Tibetan, but it's difficult to say whether the English words carry the same connotations. Where "mind" refers to primary consciousness it would probably be the same as "consciousness." In Tibetan, "awareness" is the most general term and is divided into primary consciousness and (secondary) mental factors, both of which have many further subdivisions. Also, when we speak of awareness there are mental and sensory awareness, and the former has many subdivisions into various degrees of roughness and subtlety. Whether or not the English words correspond to the Tibetan in terms of precision and so forth is difficult to say. Source

Bodhisattva's & Bodhisattva Vow


The most compassionate insight of my tradition and its noblest contribution to the spiritual wisdom of humanity has been its understanding and repeated enactment of the ideal of the bodhisattva, the being who takes on the suffering of all sentient beings, who undertakes the journey to liberation not for his or her own good alone but to help all others, and who eventually, after attaining liberation, does not dissolve into the absolute or flee the agony of samsara, but chooses to return again and again to devote his or her wisdom and compassion to the service of the whole world. Sogyal Rinpoche

What the world needs more than anything is bodhisattvas, active servants of peace, “clothed,” as Longchenpa said, “in the armor of perseverance,” dedicated to their bodhisattva vision and to the spreading of wisdom into all reaches of our experience. We need bodhisattva lawyers, bodhisattva artists and politicians, bodhisattva doctors and economists, bodhisattva teachers and scientists, bodhisattva technicians and engineers, bodhisattvas everywhere, working consciously as channels of compassion and wisdom at every level and in every situation of society; working to transform their minds and actions and those of others, working tirelessly in the certain knowledge of the support of the buddhas and enlightened beings for the preservation of our world and for a more merciful future.


It may be surprising for the West to learn how very many incarnations there have been in Tibet, and how the majority have been great masters, scholars, authors, mystics, and saints who made an outstanding contribution both to the teaching of Buddhism and to society. They played a central role in the history of Tibet.

I believe that this process of incarnation is not limited to Tibet but can occur in all countries and at all times. Throughout history there have been people of artistic genius, spiritual strength, and humanitarian vision who have helped the human race to go forward. I think of Gandhi, Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, of Shakespeare, of Saint Francis, of Beethoven and Michelangelo.

When Tibetans hear of such people, they immediately say they are bodhisattvas. And whenever I hear of them, of their work and vision, I am moved by the majesty of the vast evolutionary process of the buddhas and masters that emanate to liberate beings and better the world.

Sogyal Rinpoche


From a teaching called "The wheel of sharp weapons"
by Dharmaraksita,who passed it on to his main disciple
Dipankara Sri Jnana [Atisa 982-1054]

"In the jungle of poisonous plants strut the peacocks,
Though medicine gardens of beauty lie near,
The masss of peacocks do not find gardens pleasant,
But thrive on the essence of poisonous plants,
In similar fashion the brave Bodhisattvas remain
in the jungle of worlds concern,
No matter how joyful this world pleasure garden,
These brave ones are never attracted to pleasures."

Bodhi is desire for liberation

Bodhi Tree - Buddha's Tree of Enlightenment

The Bodhisattva is like the mightiest of warriors; but his enemies are not common foes of flesh and bone. His fight is with the inner delusions, the afflictions of self-

cherishing and ego grasping. Those most terrible of demons that catch living beings in the snare of confusion and cause them forever to wander in pain, frustration and sorrow.

His mission is to harm ignorance and delusion, never living beings. These he looks upon with kindness, patience and empathy. Cherishing them like a mother cherishes her only child, he is the real hero, calmly facing any hardship in order to bring peace, happiness and liberation to the world.
The Thirteenth Dalai Lama
(translated by Glenn Mullen)

The essence of Mahayana Buddhism is the Bodhisattva's way of life. A Bodhisattva's every action is motivated by the wish to attain full enlightenment for the sake of others; to fulfil this wish he or she takes the Bodhisattva vows and keeps them by practising the six perfections - giving, moral discipline, patience, effort, concentration, and wisdom. In this guide to compassionate living, Geshe Kelsang explains in detail how to take and keep the Bodhisattva vows. He gives advice on every aspect of a Bodhisattva's moral discipline, as well as explaining a special practice for purifying our mind

Lozang Dragpa [Je Tsonghapa] gave the above advice to Ngawang Dragpa, an official at Tsako

A bodhisattva is a sentient being who has already achieved enlightenment but chooses to stay in this mundane world to help others to relieve their sufferings. Bohdhi means enlighten -ment or wisdom.

Sattva means being. Maha means great. Thus Mahasattva means great being. "Son of noble lineage" is a polite way of address in Sanskrit.

The bodhisattva vow may be expressed in many ways. The form which has come down in the Zen tradition from Bodhidharma is as follows:

Innumerable are sentient beings: we vow to save them all
Inexhaustible are deluded passions: we vow to extinguish them all
Immeasurable are the Dharma Teachings: we vow to master them all
Infinite is the Buddha's way: we vow to fulfill it completely.


If you do not have the wisdom
That understands the way things exist,
You cannot eradicate the roots of existence,
Despite [your] acquantance with renunciation
And bodhichitta. Thus work hard at the means
To realize the interdependence of things

Je Rinpoche

The "five skandhas" (groups) refer to the physical and mental elements that determine the characteristics of a person.

They are: form (rupa), feeling (vedana), perception (samjna), impulse (samskara), and consciousness (vijnana). The Bodhisattva Chenrigse told Shariputra that the five skandhas are just emptiness.

Emptiness refers to the nature or characteristics of the five skandhas, etc. which exist temporarily and not permanently. "Suffering, cause, cessation, and path" is called the Four Noble Truth.

In Buddhism, it is deemed that sufferings of human beings stem from cravings or desires (cause).

To get rid of sufferings, it is necessary to get rid of cravings or desires (cessation); and to get rid of causes, it is necessary to follow the right path (eight fold path).

"Eyes, ears, nose, body, tongue, and mind" are the "six roots".

"Form, sound, smell, taste, touch and dharma" are the "six contaminations" which are the result of the six roots.

The twelve links are also emptiness; thus, do not exist. The twelve links refer to ignorance, feeling, perception, impulse, conciousness, form, avarice, possessiveness, contamination, birth, six roots ( eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind), old age and death. ("Ignorance" in the twelve links, in the Han language translation sometimes also refers to "admiration of the opposite sex or falling in love. Ignorance here means lack of knowledge.)

Avalokitesvara uttered the mantra of perfect wisdom (Prajna Paramita):

"Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha."

A mantra is the speech of a deity or a magical incantation for creating a certain metaphysical effects.

In the mantra of perfect wisdom, "gate" means "gone"; "para" means "beyond"; "sam" means "altogether"; "bodhi" means "enlightenment"; and "svaha" is an interjection or an exclaimation. Svaha is a term of blessing used traditionally by the Brahmin priests in their rituals. It is an ecstatic shout of joy, expressive of a feeling of complete relief. In the Tantric system the word svaha is reserved for mantras addressed to feminine deities.

Thus, the mantra "Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha." can be translated as: "Gone, gone, gone beyond, together gone beyond. Oh what an enlightenment! All Hail!"

Usually mantras are not translated because of the sound effect of the original pronounciation. The vibrations from the sound create certain beneficial effects for the mind and body. In the above mantra, the word "bodhisvaha" is pronounced as "bodhi so ha". The "V" is pronounced as between a "V" and a "W". The word "Bodhisattva" should be pronounced as "bodi sat tua". Some scholars erroneously think that it was an established practice in the past that names when deciphered into Latin from Sanskrit during translation that the letters "u" were written as "v". Actually the original Sanskrit writing was not "tua" but "tv". The combination of the letters "tv" is pronounced as "twa" in a low tone.

Never will I seek nor receive private, individual
salvation; never will I
enter into final peace alone; but forever and
everywhere will I live and
strive for the redemption of every creature throughout
the world from the
bonds of conditioned existence.


The power of Buddha's Bodhicitta is still felt and prevail until today.
The Dharma is still flourishing because of Sangha's engender Bodhicitta .
We too will nourish the same Bodhicitta for the benefit of all sentient beings.
composed by Rinchen Gyalpo

Bodhicitta is precious.
May those who have not engendered it, engender it.
May those who have engendered it, not destroy it.

May all mother sentient beings, boundless as the space, have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they be liberated from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be separated from the happiness which is free from sorrow.
May they rest in equanimity, free from attachment and aversion.


6 perfections of generosity, moral discipline, patience, effort, and concentration and wisdom

Six Paramitas

The mind, beyond purity and attainment, is the Buddha; Immutable and free of impurities, it is the Dharma; Perfect in all qualities, it is the Sangha.

The 8th Gyalwang Drukpa, Künzig Choenang

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The Power of Bodhisattva by Shangpa Rinpoche

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His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, the most influential Living Master in the whole of Tibetan Buddhism beside His Holiness the Dalai Lama, was born in Eastern Tibet in 1932 and studied with the greatest Teachers of this century, holding lineage and transmissions from the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. H. H. Penor Rinpoche is the eleventh throne-holder of the Palyul Monastery, which has over four hundred branches throughout Tibet. Born in 1932 and recognised as the incarnate of the previous Drubwang Pema Norbu at the age of five, His Holiness spent most of his early years at Palyul, studying and receiving teachings on different aspects of Tibetan Buddhism from numerous masters. At the age of twelve, he was enthroned as the head of Palyul lineage and soon after, he went into a three year retreat with his main root guru Thubten Chokyi Dawa from whom he received in private most of the esoteric empowerments, transmissions and instructions of the Nyingma school.

Personally, His Holiness is considered as a reincarnate of Vajrapani and a living embodiment of Vimalamitra, who brought Dzogchen teachings to Tibet. One of the few prominent masters in Nyingma tradition, His Holiness is renowned as both a scholar and a leading figure in meditation by hundreds of thousands of his followers' worldwide. In the words of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, "Penor Rinpoche is a saint who has transcended the boundaries of ordinary world". Throughout Tibetan communities, His Holiness is renowned for his personal integrity, will power, determination and magnanimity in propagating the teachings of the Buddha in all parts of the world.


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