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Verse 22-1: Bodhicitta while walking

Verse 22-1: Bodhicitta while walking

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

  • Walking with bodhicitta
  • The welfare of sentient beings
  • Goal and method

41 Prayers to cultivate bodhicitta: Verse 22-1 (download)

We’ve been talking about the 41 prayers of bodhisattvas. They’re taken from the Avatamsaka Sutra (The Flower Ornament Sutra). These are short gāthas that we use throughout the day when we’re doing different activities to bring us back to bodhicitta and to training the mind. We’re on Verse 22 today, which says,

“May I walk toward the welfare of all beings.”
This is the practice of the bodhisattva when placing the foot down.

In Buddhist practice we have many different kinds of walking meditation. Different traditions have different ways of doing walking meditations. Some do it very slowly, some do it very quickly. Here in the bodhicitta practice what we’re doing during walking meditation is thinking—at least putting the foot down—”May I walk towards the welfare of sentient beings.” It’s reinforcing in our mind that when we’re going, when we’re speaking, no matter what we’re doing throughout the day, that our main focus is the attainment of enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. When we put our foot down, “I’m walking towards the welfare of all sentient beings,” because that brings up the whole question of what is the welfare of sentient beings.

The welfare of sentient beings, in short, is transforming the mind into virtue and abandoning the afflictions: abandoning the non-virtues, including the ten non-virtues; and in transforming the mind into virtue, especially love, compassion, bodhicitta, and wisdom. Walking towards the welfare of sentient beings involves, again, the three aims: higher rebirth, liberation, enlightenment. This is the method, by making the life meaningful moment by moment, by practicing the thought training teachings. So, when we’re walking, keep the mind focused. When we are putting the foot down we are walking towards the benefit of sentient beings.

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.