Forget all the expensive meditation practices, says His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the real heart of Buddhism is total dedication to others. In this commentary on The Way of the Bodhisattva, he describes the
awakened heart of the Buddha, which is his vow to obtain knowledge for the sake of all sentient beings. In his famed text The Method of the Bodhisattva, Shantideva mentions that all happiness and happiness are the effects of cherishing the wellness of other sentient beings, while all problems, catastrophes and catastrophes are the effects of self-cherishing mindsets. What more requirement exists, he asks, to talk about this when we can see the qualities of the Buddha, who values the well-being of other sentient beings, and the fate of ourselves, who are in this current state? We can quickly be encouraged of this by comparing the shortcomings of normal sentient beings with the enlightened qualities and knowledge of the buddhas. On the basis of this comparison, we have the ability to see the benefits and benefits of the goal to cherish the welfare of other sentient beings and the faults and downsides of a self-cherishing and self-indulgent attitude.
Shantideva mentions that because self and others are equivalent in having the innate desire to be happy and to overcome suffering, why do we seek our own self-interest at the expense of others– even to the extent of being completely oblivious to them? I think this points to something very real. Like oneself, all other sentient beings are equivalent in having this desire to be pleased and to overcome suffering. Each people separately is not pleased with any level of pleasure and joy, and this holds true of all sentient beings. Simply as I, as an individual, have the natural right to meet this basic aspiration, so do all other sentient beings. It is essential to recognize this fundamental equality.
What then is the distinction in between self and others? No matter how essential and precious each person is, we are only discussing the wellness of a single person. No matter how acute their suffering might be, we are still concerned here with the interest of one bachelor. On the other hand, when we speak about the wellness of other sentient beings, this word other refers to limitless, countless sentient beings. In the case of this other, even if we are dealing with minor degrees of suffering, when aggregated, we are talking about the sufferings of an unlimited number of beings. Therefore, from the perspective of quantity, the welfare of other sentient beings ends up being even more essential than that of oneself.
Even from the viewpoint of our own self-interest, if others are happy and satisfied, then we ourselves can likewise more than happy. On the other hand, if others are in a continuous state of suffering, then we too will suffer from the exact same fate. The interest of others is intimately related to our own self-interest; this is really real. Furthermore, based on our own individual experience, we can observe that the more we hold on to a strong sense of self– treasuring our own self-interest– the higher our own psychological and mental problems.
Obviously the pursuit of our own self-interest is really crucial. Nevertheless, we require a more practical technique, that is, not to take self-interest too seriously however spend more time considering the wellness of other sentient beings. Being more altruistic and taking into account the sensations and wellness of other sentient beings is, in actual truth, a far more healthy technique in pursuing our own interests. If we do that, we will see a significant modification, a sensation of relaxation. We will no longer be quickly provoked by petty situations, thinking that whatever is at stake, and acting as if our entire image, identity and existence is being threatened. On the other hand, if we continuously think about our own self-interest– absolutely oblivious to the wellness of other sentient beings– then even the tiniest scenarios can provoke deep feelings of hurt and disruption. The reality of this is something we can evaluate from our own experience.
In the long run, producing a great heart will benefit both ourselves and others. On the other hand, enabling our minds to stay enslaved by self-centeredness will just perpetuate our sensations of frustration, aggravation and misery, both in short-lived terms and in the long term as well. We will lose this wonderful opportunity we have now– of being born as a human, of being geared up with this terrific human faculty of intelligence, which can be utilized for higher functions. So it is necessary to be able to weigh these long-term and short-term consequences. What much better way to make our human existence meaningful than by meditating on bodhichitta– the selfless goal to obtain knowledge for the sake of all sentient beings.SIGN UP FOR LION’S
ROAR NEWSLETTERS Get back at more Buddhist wisdom delivered straight to your inbox! Register for Lion’s Holler free e-mail newsletters. Generating Bodhichitta On my part, I can not claim
to have realized bodhichitta. Nevertheless, I have a deep appreciation for bodhichitta. I feel that the admiration I have for bodhichitta is my wealth and a source of my nerve. This is likewise the basis of my joy; it is what allows me to make others pleased, and it is the aspect that makes me feel pleased and content. I am completely committed and dedicated to this altruistic suitable. Whether sick or well, aging, and even at the point of death, I will stay committed to this ideal. I am convinced that I will constantly preserve my deep affection for this suitable of producing the selfless mind of bodhichitta. On your part too, my pals, I want to appeal to you to attempt to become as familiar as possible with bodhichitta. Make every effort, if you can, to produce such an altruistic and compassionate state of mind. Real awareness of bodhichitta needs years of meditative
practice. Sometimes, it might take eons to have this awareness. It is not sufficient merely to have an intellectual understanding of what bodhichitta is. Nor is it enough to have an user-friendly feeling like,”May all sentient beings achieve the totally informed state. “These are not realizations of bodhichitta. Nevertheless, I think it is worth it, for what more profound practice of dharma is there? As Shantideva states: For like the supreme compound of the alchemists, It takes the impure type of human flesh And makes from it the valuable body of a buddha.Such is bodhichitta: we ought to grasp it firmly! When we think about bodhichitta ostensibly, it may seem quite basic; it may not even appear all that engaging. On the other hand, the tantric meditations on mandalas and divine beings might seem strange, and we may find them more attractive. Nevertheless, when we in fact engage in the practice, bodhichitta is endless. There is likewise no risk of becoming disillusioned or disheartened as an outcome of practicing bodhichitta, whereas in meditations on deity yoga, reciting mantras and so on, there is a threat of ending up being disillusioned, because we frequently participate in such practices with too expensive an expectation. After several years, we might think,”Although I have done deity yoga meditation and recited all these mantras, there is no obvious change; I haven’t had any magical experiences.”This type of disillusionment is not the case with the practice of bodhichitta. Since the realization of bodhichitta requires an extended period of practice, as soon as you have slight experience, it is crucial that you verify your cultivation of bodhichitta through aspirational prayers. This can be carried out in the existence of a master or
in the existence of a representation of a buddha. Such a practice can further enhance your capacity for generating bodhichitta. By taking the bodhisattva vow in a special ceremony, you affirm your generation of bodhichitta in the existence of a teacher. The first part of this type of event is the generation of aspirational bodhichitta. What is included here is that by creating this altruistic goal to attain buddhahood for the benefit of all beings,
you promise that you will not offer it up or let it degenerate, not just in this lifetime, however likewise in future lives. As a commitment, there are particular precepts to be observed. The second part is the ceremony for taking the bodhisattva pledges. This ought to be done by somebody who has currently prepared themselves by going through the very first stage. Having actually established enthusiasm for engaging in the bodhisattva’s deeds, you then take the bodhisattva swears. When you have actually taken bodhisattva pledges, whether you like it or not, whether it is pleasurable or not, what is required is a commitment to keep the promises as
valuable as your own life. To make that pledge, you should have determination as strong as a mountain; you are making a pledge that from now on you will follow the precepts of the bodhisattva and lead your life according to the bodhisattva training. Obviously some readers are not practicing Buddhists, and even among practicing Buddhists, some might not feel committed to taking the bodhisattva swears, particularly the 2nd part. If you feel reluctant about being able to observe the bodhisattva promises, then it is finest not to make the promise; you can still
create an altruistic mind and wish that all sentient beings may be happy and pray that you may be able to obtain complete enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. This should be sufficient; you will gain the merit of generating bodhichitta, but you do not need to follow the precepts. Likewise, there is less danger of breaking the vows. So if you do not take any promises, you just develop aspirational bodhichitta. You can be your own judge. With the dream to free all beings I shall constantly go for sanctuary To the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, Up until I reach complete knowledge. Enthused by knowledge and compassion Today in the Buddha’s presence I create the mind for full awakening For the advantage of all sentient beings. As long as area remains, As long as sentient beings stay, Till then, might I too stay and resolve
the anguishes of the world. From
Practicing Wisdom: The Perfection of Shantideva’s Bodhisattva Way,
by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Translated and edited by Thupten Jinpa. © 2004 Tenzin Gyatso. Reprinted with permission of Wisdom Publications. Can you help us at a vital time? COVID-19 has actually
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