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Aspiring bodhicitta

Aspiring bodhicitta

The text turns to training the mind on the stages of the path of advanced level practitioners. Part of a series of teachings on the Gomchen Lamrim by Gomchen Ngawang Drakpa. Visit Gomchen Lamrim Study Guide for a full list of contemplation points for the series.

  • Understanding the functioning of karma from life to life
  • How to think when using something that has already been mentally given to others
  • Two ways to perform the ceremony for generating bodhicitta
  • Eight precepts of aspiring bodhicitta

Gomchen Lamrim 82: Aspiring bodhicitta (download)

Contemplation points

Using the things we’ve given away in our visualizations

When we’ve genuinely done the Taking and Giving Meditation, Venerable says that a natural question arises: Having now given away our body, possessions, and virtue, can we use the things we’ve given away? Consider:

  1. When we’re doing the meditation, we really want to cultivate the feeling that we’ve given these things away; we’ve relinquished our attachment and clinging to them and that they now belong to others. As you’ve been doing the Taking and Giving Meditation over these past weeks, has this thought come up and, if so, have you experienced resistance to thinking in this way? What are the antidotes to the mind that still clings to objects?
  2. Consider the disadvantages of craving and clinging, and the advantages of relating to your body, possessions, and virtue without craving and clinging. Be sure to make this personal.
  3. Of course, we still need to use the objects we’ve given away: our bed, food, our body, etc, but it IS possible to use them in a healthy way, a way that benefits others. Venerable said that having dedicated them for the benefit of others, we should use them in that way. Think about some of the specific things you gave away during the meditation. Then consider how you might use them in a way that is beneficial to others.
  4. How might thinking in this way make you happier? How does it make you more mindful of what you’re doing and why? How does it benefit others?
  5. Resolve to cultivate this thought: that everything you have, even your body, now belongs to others; that you are simply a steward. Come back to it throughout the day, habituating this new practice of utilizing your body, possessions, and virtue for the benefit of others.

Aspiring bodhicitta

Before taking the bodhisattva precepts, we prepare our mind by taking the aspirational code in the presence of our spiritual mentor. Venerable Chodron went through the first seven of the guidelines for keeping our aspiring bodhicitta. Spend some time on each.

How to protect bodhicitta from degenerating in this life:

  1. Remember the advantages of bodhicitta repeatedly.
    • What are the advantages of bodhicitta?
    • How might remembering the advantages protect your bodhicitta from degenerating?
  2. To strengthen bodhicitta, generate the aspiration three times in the morning and three times in the evening.
    • How might reciting the refuge and bodhicitta prayers in the morning and evening help protect your bodhicitta?
    • If you are already doing this, how has it benefitted your mind and practice?
    • How does it protect your bodhicitta from degenerating in this life?
  3. Do not give up working for sentient beings, even when they are harmful.
    • When you’re having a difficult time with others, what thoughts can you generate to counter the desire you have to give up on them?
    • Why is this point so important to the bodhisattva practice?
    • Why does it protect your bodhicitta from degenerating in this life?
  4. To enhance your bodhicitta, accumulate both merit and wisdom continuously.
    • Why does accumulating merit protect bodhicitta from degenerating in this life?
    • Why does accumulating wisdom protect bodhicitta from degenerating in this life?

How to keep from being separated from bodhicitta in future lives:

  1. Abandon deceiving your guru/abbot/holy beings.
    • Why is lying to your teachers and the holy beings a problem?
    • How does being honest with them help you from being separated from bodhicitta in future lives?
  2. Abandon causing others to regret virtuous actions they have done.
    • Think of personal examples in your own life where you’ve caused others to regret their virtue. Why is this harmful to you? To them?
    • Why does abandoning this help you from being separated from bodhicitta in future lives?
  3. Abandon abusing or criticizing bodhisattvas or the Mahayana.
    • What does it mean to criticize the Mahayana? What does it meant to criticize bodhisattvas.
    • Venerable made it a point to say that this doesn’t mean that seeing everyone as a potential bodhisattva, we say and do nothing when we see harm in the world. Consider how to live practically in the world, how to keep this aspiration while still working for change to benefit sentient beings.
    • Why does abandoning this help you from being separated from bodhicitta in future lives?

Conclusion: If you have already taken the bodhisattva vows or aspiring bodhicitta with a spiritual mentor, allow this contemplation to reinforce your virtuous goals and aspirations as you move throughout your day, resolving to continuously cultivate and never abandon bodhicitta. If you have not yet taken aspiring bodhicitta, consider the benefits of doing so. Even if you are not ready at this time, cultivate a feeling of appreciation for those who have, consider the benefits of doing so, and generate a wish to take and follow these guidelines at some time in the future.

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.