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Verse 8: The seat of enlightenment

Verse 8: The seat of enlightenment

Part of a series of talks on the 41 Prayers to Cultivate Bodhicitta from the Avatamsaka Sutra (the Flower Ornament Sutra).

  • Literal and symbolic meaning of “Bodh Gaya”
  • Sitting and reaffirming bodhicitta
  • Seat of enlightenment in tantric context
  • Having an intention when sitting down

41 Prayers to cultivate bodhicitta: Verse 8 (download)

Verse 8 says:

“May all beings reach the seat of enlightenment.”
This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when sitting down.

“The seat of enlightenment.” In Tibetan it’s Dorje Den. That is the Tibetan word for Bodh Gaya. Bodh Gaya is the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment, so it’s called the seat of enlightenment. “Dorje” means “vajra,” or “indestructible.” “Den” means “seat.” So the seat of indestructibility. So Bodh Gaya could be the external place where we attain enlightenment, but of course the real bodh gaya is inside here [our heart], isn’t it? The real bodh gaya, where we attain enlightenment, is inside our own heart.

Every time we sit down if we think, “May all beings reach the seat of enlightenment,” then we’re really (again) reaffirming our bodhicitta again and again. “May all beings come to that place in their own hearts that is the seat of their own enlightenment. It’s not like everybody has to go to Bodh Gaya and overload the infrastructure there and bottle up the buses and the roads and everything, but “may all beings reach the seat of enlightenment.”

It seems to me, from the tantric tradition, it would probably refer to the indestructible drop where the extremely subtle mind and wind reside. Because it’s that extremely subtle mind and wind that is what is going to become enlightenment, what is the actual buddha nature from the tantric tradition.

Every time we sit down instead of just plopping ourselves on the chair and like, “What do I gotta do now,” you know? To really sit down mindfully: “May all beings reach the seat of enlightenment. That they all come to that place within themselves where they can actualize enlightenment.”

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.