Arousing Bodhicitta: Awakening the heart. Compassion – Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Shambhala

So hello. Today I would like to talk about a very powerful word, in sanskrit we say bodhichitta, and it means an individual who has taken love and compassion into their heart, in a strong way. Where they have in a sense dedicated their life to trying to help others. And bodhichitta, or you can say arousing bodhichitta, bringing that kind of energy, is tremendously powerful. It’s an ancient history, goes back 1000s of years, and is at the core of mahayana buddhism. And in a sense it’s very powerful, very profound, it has many meanings, but I feel this quality of bodhichitta we experience every day. We may see someone who is struggling, a child crying, an animal being hurt. We may see just many, many things, poor individuals, difficult in many, many situations, whether it’s poverty or whether it’s physical illness. But there’s a moment where our mind reacts in a very visceral way, in a very kind of primordial, first thought, immediate way. And we think, “That shouldn’t be going on. I would like to stop that suffering. I will want that pain to go away.” That is compassion. Likewise we can have a moment of just wanting happiness, wanting someone’s life to be better. That is kindness, that is love. We’re not talking about love in the sense of infatuation, but we’re talking about a sense of genuine love, kindness; these emotions that are very strong in all of us, when they come about. And a lot of times we are just sort of haphazardly waiting for them to come about. But in the meditation tradition and particularly in Buddhism, we say we need to arouse this or bring this about. It’s like planting a garden, a seed, or just inspiration; we’re trying to cultivate it or bring it about. And it’s essential that we do this daily, certainly for those of us who live in a world that is very me oriented. It’s very oriented towards the individual. If we can begin to flip that saying, “How do I rouse the mind, how do I raise my energy and confidence, courage?” It takes courage to have that kind of attitude. And this word bodhichitta sometimes is translated and meant as mind of enlightenment. The way I like to think about it is that the mind of the buddha, if we could get inside the mind of the buddha, what would that be like? That buddha mind, that enlightened mind, would be constantly concerned for the kindness of others, constantly concerned with the love of others, constantly concerned about the well being of others. And that’s sort of natural mind and it’s maybe a mind that our parents had for us, someone we love has for us, just their concern. But that needs to be brought about; that needs to be cultivated. And a lot of times we do that in meditation; we do it in terms of practicing meditation. We literally have a meditation called Rousing Bodhichitta. We take an image, we take someone we love and we think about them, we meditate on them. And as we do that we get a sense of feeling; we get a sense of warmth. And as that warmth and love comes about, we begin to familiarize ourselves with it; we begin to become familiar with it; Meditation is simply a word that means familiarity, so we meditate on it, we become familiar and as we become familiar that feeling of concern about others. Of course when we think about someone we care about, we don’t want them to be hurt; we want good things to happen to them. So here arousing it is that it slowly comes about. It’s dormant, it’s in us all the time, and now through this practice of meditation, through this attitude, we are bringing it out. It’s like pulling a flower from the ground; it wants to come out. It’s that energy, the suns shines; the flower comes out. I like to think of it as sort of like pulling at our heartstrings. It begins to come. And then is this a weak emotion? Not at all. It’s a very powerful one, it’s a transformative emotion. Probably the most powerful moments in our life is when we experienced love by another, or we feel it ourselves. But we can now actually generate this, not just for the ones we care about, but for other individuals, even strangers. And ultimately, if we become strong enough, we can actually do it for those who we have a difficult time with. So we begin to, all of a sudden, go out further. And why is this powerful? Because generally speaking we have divided our world up, those we like, those we don’t like. And that causes a lot of stress and grief. So rousing bodhichitta begins to basically make things much more even; our mind is more even,our life is more even. Our life has a sense of peace; there’s a sense of sharing that. So the arousing of compassion, the arousing of loving kindness, is something that we can do at any time. I encourage you to do it, may be in the morning before you go to work, before you go to school, before we enter life. That mind of caring about others, that mind of enlightenment, maybe your mind. Thank you.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *