Essential Insights into the 3 Principal Aspects- Bodhichitt


BODHICHITTA
‘Bodhi’ means enlightenment and ‘chitta’ means mind. Bodhichitta is a mind that spontaneously wishes to attain enlightenment to benefit each and every living being every day. It is the gateway through which we enter the path to enlightenment, and the supreme good heart of the Sons and Daughters of the Conqueror Buddhas, who are also called ‘Bodhisattvas’. They will all soon become Buddhas, enlightened beings. We should follow their example. The moment we develop bodhichitta we will become a Son or Daughter of the Buddhas and we will soon become a Buddha. How wonderful!

 

HOW TO GENERATE THE PRECIOUS MIND OF BODHICHITTA

 

The root text says:

However, if this renunciation is not maintained

By the compassionate mind of bodhichitta,

It will not be a cause of the unsurpassed happiness, enlightenment;

Therefore, you must apply effort to generate the precious mind of bodhichitta.

 

Through contemplating the meaning of this verse, we make the determination to apply effort to generate the precious mind of bodhichitta based on the following verses:

Swept along by the currents of the four powerful rivers [birth, ageing, sickness and death],

Tightly bound by the chains of karma so hard to release,

Ensnared within the iron net of self-grasping, 
Completely enveloped by the pitch-black darkness of ignorance,

Taking rebirth after rebirth in boundless samsara,

And unceasingly tormented by the three sufferings [painful feelings, changing suffering and pervasive suffering] –

Through contemplating the state of your mothers, all living beings, in conditions such as these,

Generate the supreme mind of bodhichitta.

 

In this practice there are five stages of contemplation and meditation. We first strongly recognize that all living beings are our mothers. In The Condensed Perfection of Wisdom Sutra Buddha said, ‘You should recognize all living beings as your mothers or fathers and always help them with loving kindness and compassion.’ We should keep this advice in our heart. Because of our changing rebirths we do not recognize each other, and because of this we believe that there are many enemies and countless strangers. This is a mistaken belief and ignorance. In truth, all living beings are our mothers. In our countless former lives we took countless rebirths, and in each of these rebirths we had a mother and so we have countless mothers. Where are all these countless mothers now? They are all the living beings that are alive today. Understanding and thinking this, from our heart we strongly recognize that all living beings are our kind mothers and we cherish them, believing: ‘They are more important than myself who am only one single person.’ With this cherishing love for all living beings we engage in the following practice. In the first stage we contemplate and deeply think how countless mother living beings are experiencing the cycle of the sufferings of birth, sickness, ageing and death, continually in life after life without end. We should remember the detailed explanation in the book Modern Buddhism. Then we generate a strong wish to liberate all of them permanently from this suffering. This wish is compassion for all living beings. To fulfil this wish we make the strong determination to attain enlightenment. This determination is the compassionate mind of bodhichitta. We then meditate on this determination continually until we maintain our determination day and night without ever forgetting it. In the second stage we contemplate how all mother living beings are tightly bound by the chains of karma – the non-virtuous actions they have performed out of attachment, anger or ignorance, and that cause them never to be free from suffering and problems. We generate a sincere wish to release all of them from these chains permanently, which is compassion. To fulfil this wish we make the strong determination to attain enlightenment. This determination is bodhichitta. We then meditate on this determination continually until we maintain our determination day and night without ever forgetting it. In the third stage, the root text says that living beings are ensnared within the iron net of self-grasping ignorance. In this context, the definition of self-grasping is a mind that mistakenly believes that ourself or others that we normally see or perceive actually exist. We should contemplate the meaning of this definition again and again until we clearly recognize our self-grasping ignorance, which always abides at our heart and whose function is to destroy our mental peace and happiness. With this recognition we contemplate that because each and every living being is ensnared within the iron net of self-grasping ignorance none of them has any real happiness. This is because their mental peace, the source of happiness, is always being destroyed by their self-grasping ignorance, which always remains in their hearts. Understanding and thinking this we develop a sincere wish to give pure happiness to all living beings who are our mothers. To fulfil this wish we make a strong determination to attain enlightenment. This determination is bodhichitta. We meditate on this determination continually until we maintain our determination day and night without ever forgetting it. In the fourth stage we contemplate that although each and every living being wishes to be happy all the time, and to be permanently free from every kind of problem and suffering, they do not know how to do this. This is because their minds are deeply covered by the thick darkness of ignorance not understanding the real nature of things. Whatever they see or perceive is a mistaken appearance, a hallucination. Understanding and thinking this we develop a sincere wish to liberate all living beings permanently from ignorance, a mind that mistakenly believes that the things we normally see actually exist. To fulfil this wish we make a strong determination to attain enlightenment. This determination is bodhichitta. We meditate on this determination continually until we maintain our determination day and night without ever forgetting it. In the fifth stage we contemplate how each and every living being in life after life is wandering in samsara, the endless cycle of impure life, and is experiencing the sufferings of painful feelings, changing suffering and pervasive suffering, as explained in detail in the books Joyful Path of Good Fortune and Great Treasury of Merit. Through contemplating this again and again we develop a sincere wish to liberate all of them permanently from this suffering. To fulfil this wish we make a strong determination to attain enlightenment. This determination is bodhichitta. We meditate on this determination continually until we maintain our determination day and night without ever forgetting it. The meaning of these explanations of the contemplations and meditations on both renunciation and bodhichitta is very clear. However, our normal problem is that our understanding remains only intellectual and does not touch our hearts, and because of this we achieve nothing. What we really need is to gain deep experience of these contemplations and meditations. Through this we need to change our mind, first into renunciation, then into cherishing love for all living beings, then into compassion for all living beings and then into bodhichitta. This is the advice from Je Tsongkhapa’s heart.