Bodhichitta: Aspiration for Enlightenment

I would like to share in short, few words on Bodhichitta and its benefits which I have understood from Shantideva’s “The Way of the Bodhisattva”. The Sanskrit term chitta means “mind”, “thought”, “attitude”. Bodhi means “enlightenment,” “awakening,” and is cognate with the term Buddha himself. Therefore, it means “mind of enlightenment,” “awakening mind”, the specific characteristic of buddhahood. The Tibetan term is “byang chub kyi sems”.

Shantideva in his “The Way of the Bodhisattva” considered bodhichitta as one of the root aspirations for buddhahood. It has two aspects – absolute and relative. On the relative level, it is great motivation to attain buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings and practice the path of love, compassion, the six transcendent perfections, etc., for achieving that goal. On the absolute level, it is the direct cognizance of reality, the truth of emptiness.

Benefits of Bodhichitta : Bodhichitta brings temporary and ultimate benefits. Temporary benefit means practice of bodhichitta would bring one to rebirth in higher realms of samsara, in the human or god realm. Ultimate benefit means the attainment of complete buddhahood. It helps to clean the negative karma accumulated from the beginningless time. Bodhichitta is considered to be the superior of all the virtues by Shantideva.

He stresses on difficulty in getting the human birth with eight forms of freedoms and ten riches. So, if one fails to practice dharma with these prerequisites, then it is very difficult to get this opportunity in future.

As it is in cloudy night, the sudden flash helps to see all the dark black clouds, in the same way our mind which is filled with three poisons, aggressions, attachment and delusions is rarely attracted towards the bodhisattva thought. Hence, it is very difficult to arouse bodhichitta. Our mind is concerned mainly with the thought of benefiting ourselves and hardly thinks for the benefit of others. Therefore, in the beginning, arousing bodhichitta on temporary basis is strongly emphasized. Bodhichitta which has great strength to overcome great evil deeds is compared to a small sharp knife which has the capacity to kill lots of people when attacked towards them. None of the buddhas of the three times, however found any method superior to bodhichitta. Bodhichitta is the perfect remedy for all non-virtuous actions, afflictions and sufferings and bring supreme joy.

Bodhichitta benefits all sentient beings. It is the supreme method and we should never abandon it after knowing its benefits, it is considered very important and try to arouse it. Bodhichitta can be aroused by every class of people. When compared the son of a mundane king and the son of a Buddha, it is the latter which is more beneficial to the sentient beings. Bodhichitta is compared to alchemy, a substance which can change one metal into another form of metal. Bodhichitta has the power of converting our impure body into a wisdom body of Buddha. Therefore, one should never give up bodhichitta which holds such importance. The plantain tree dies after bearing the fruit, but the tree of bodhichitta never dies rather it keeps on growing. Anyone who has performed very severe evil deeds will also be saved by giving rise to bodhichitta.

Therefore, bodhichitta is considered most precious because it leads to supreme attainment, buddhahood.

~ Maya Lama from Nepal

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