Bodhicitta: Only Gateway To The Mahayana Path
by Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kyabje Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo mentioned that the only gateway to enter the Mahayana path, the Great Vehicle path, is having bodhicitta. Whether you are Mahayanist or not, whether you have generated bodhicitta or not, all depends on bodhicitta. Lama Tsong Khapa mentioned: it is not enough that the Dharma is Mahayana teaching. The person himself has to enter into the Mahayana teaching. To become Mahayanist totally depends on having bodhicitta. If bodhicitta is only talk, only words, then your being Mahayanist is not real. It just becomes words.
It is said, if you don’t have bodhicitta in your mental continuum, leave aside ultimate tantra, the ultimate king of tantra, Guhyasamaja, even if you practise the generation and completion stages, leave aside achieving enlightenment, you have not entered even the Mahayana Path of Merit. There is the Mahayana Path of Merit, Mahayana Path of Preparation, Mahayana Path of Right Seeing, Mahayana Path of Meditation, and the Mahayana Path of No More Learning. You are unable to enter even the first one, the Mahayana Path of Merit. If you have no bodhicitta, what you are practising doesn’t become Mahayana practice.
If you have bodhicitta, even if you recite OM MANI PADME HUM one time it becomes Mahayana Dharma. If you have bodhicitta, it becomes the cause for enlightenment — ‘dzogpäi sangye’ — full enlightenment, Buddhahood. If you have bodhicitta, if you recite Om Mani Padme Hum one time, it becomes the cause of enlightenment and that is the cause of not only your enlightenment, but the cause for ALL the numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, in the ocean, all that you can’t see with the eye but through the machine [microscope]. It becomes the cause of happiness of numberless animals that live in the ocean. Even if you don’t see them, even if you are not seeing directly, your reciting OM MANI PADME HUM one time becomes the cause of happiness for numberless animals that live in the ocean, numberless animals that live in the ground, in the trees or the sky. It brings happiness to NUMBERLESS hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, to human beings in numberless universes, the cause for every single dog on numberless universes. The cause of happiness for every single dog, every single goat, sheep, cats, chickens, those in the trucks, the chickens packed to be killed, especially in hot countries, SO hot, so many in the truck that are carried to be killed. Then for every sura, every asura, can’t imagine, can’t imagine, wow, wow, wow, wow. It becomes the cause of happiness for everyone, the cause of happiness for every sentient being.
In your room, even if you recite one mala of mantra, whatever prayer you recite with bodhicitta, even with no realisation but with effort for bodhicitta, even some short prayer that you did for sentient beings, and then you come out. You see dogs, you see cats, or you see birds, you see insects or ants or things in the road, you see people. So you have done that one mala of mantra for everybody, every sentient being, for their happiness, for their enlightenment. When you come out, you have done that one mala of OM MANI PADME HUM or short prayer or whatever, for every being in the sky, trees, shops, people, on the road. Even one OM MANI PADME HUM recited one time is for everyone’s happiness, especially for enlightenment. So you should remember, you have already prayed for them, when you see dogs, birds, you have already done prayers for them in your room. Remember that. So amazing!
I think bodhicitta is most, amazing, amazing, amazing. Not only just prayers but anything that you do is not just for yourself but for the most precious sentient beings, most kind, most precious, most dear, most dear, your wish-fulfilling sentient beings. These ants crawling around are fulfilling your wishes, all of them. This ant crawling, or worm going like this, Buddha came from that. Whom you take refuge in, reciting ‘sangye chodang tsokyi’ so many times a day, if you take refuge, whom you take refuge is Buddha, to not be reborn in lower realms, to receive higher rebirths.
To be free from samsara, to get to higher rebirths, to be freed from lower nirvana, to achieve the peerless cessation, ‘sangye’, total cessation of the obscurations and completion of all the realisations — you pray to Buddha. To help sentient beings, you pray to Buddha, you take refuge in Buddha. Buddha who has limitless qualities of holy body, holy speech, holy mind, who has omniscience, great compassion for all sentient beings, embraces every sentient being, doesn’t give them up whether they criticise Buddha, whether they don’t criticise Buddha, whether they praise Buddha. But from Buddha’s side, there is great compassion, embracing every sentient being, has perfect power. Buddha came from this insect, crawling like this. Numberless buddhas, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, numberless buddhas came from this, whom you take refuge in. Then no question, numberless Dharma, which came from Buddha, came from this. Numberless Sangha, which came from Dharma, came from this sentient being. All the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha whom you take refuge in. So every sentient being is your most dear, most kind, most precious wish-fulfilling one who fulfils your wishes.
In terms of qualities, Buddha is precious. But the kindness of sentient beings, wow, wow, wow, wow, is so, so, precious, most precious. All your past, present and future happiness including enlightenment, the happiness of future lives, from liberation until enlightenment, you received by the kindness of every human being, every hungry ghost, every animal, every human, every sura being, every asura being, every intermediate state being. You received from every sentient being.
All this happiness, your past, present and future happiness came from your good karma. Your good karma is the holy action of Buddha. Buddha has two holy actions: one is their own mind and the other is, us sentient beings. So your good karma, that which is Buddha’s holy action, came from Buddha. Buddha came from bodhisattva. Bodhisattva came from bodhicitta. Bodhicitta came from great compassion. Great compassion came from obscured suffering sentient beings, every single one. Not just this sentient being but not other sentient beings — not hell beings, not animals, hungry ghosts, only the human beings or devas — not like that. Great compassion came from the kindness of every single obscured suffering sentient being. That is why all the past, present, and future happiness including enlightenment, every single daytime, night time, and even dreams, ALL came from sentient beings, the kindness of sentient beings.
Whether it is an animal or a person to whom you are making charity or helping, whether it is a dog you are giving food to or a beggar you are giving money to, or whoever it is, is most precious, most kind, dear, wish fulfilling. From beginningless rebirths, all your past, present and future happiness including enlightenment, all the qualities of the bodhisattvas, the Hinayana Lesser Vehicle paths, the hearers, all the qualities of all the arhats. All the bodhisattvas’ qualities, the five Mahayana paths, especially the bhumis [grounds], the 8th, 9th and 10th bhumi bodhisattvas who can manifest as all kinds, as mountains, rivers, bridges, even before enlightenment. Unbelievable, unbelievable, it doesn’t fit our mind. All their pores can manifest many realms, many fields, unbelievable. Those bodhisattvas’ qualities you can’t imagine, even before enlightenment. Then Buddha, the numberless qualities of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha: there is no precedence for the holy body, holy speech and holy mind. The holy body can do the actions of holy mind and speech, and the holy mind can do the actions of the holy body. All this is great, but it came from sentient beings. It came from this beggar, this hungry animal, this hungry dying animal, this animal that pulls a heavy carriage that they hit and beat, all came from this. It came from all these chickens that get killed, all these fish that get killed, from all these sentient beings. The incredible qualities of bodhisattvas came from these fish that people eat, these chickens. These precious sentient beings, the suffering sentient beings are unbelievably precious and kind, most unbelievable. Limitless.