by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
BODHICHITTA is the unfailing method for attaining enlightenment. It has two aspects, relative and absolute. Relative Bodhichitta is practised using ordinary mental processes and is comparatively easy to develop. Nevertheless, the benefits that flow from it are immeasurable, for a mind in which the precious Bodhichitta has been born will never again fall into the lower realms of samsara. Finally, all the qualities of the Mahayana Path, as teeming and vast as the ocean, are distilled and essentialised in Bodhichitta, the mind of enlightenment.
We must prepare ourselves for this practice by following the instructions in the sadhana of Chenrezig, ‘Take refuge in the Three jewels and meditate on Bodhichitta. Consider that all your virtuous acts of body, speech and mind are for the whole multitude of beings, numerous as the sky is vast.’
It is said in the teachings that, ‘Since beings are countless, the benefit of wishing them well is unlimited.’ And how many beings there are! Just imagine, in this very lawn there might be millions and millions of them! If we wish to establish them all in the enlightened state of Buddhahood, it is said that the benefit of such an aspiration is as vast as the number of beings is great. Therefore we should not restrict our Bodhichitta to a limited number of beings. Wherever there is space, beings exist, and all of them live in suffering. Why make distinctions between them, welcoming some as loving friends and excluding others as hostile enemies?
Throughout the stream of our lives, from time without beginning until the present, we have all been wandering in samsara, accumulating evil. When we die, where else is there for us to go to but the lower realms? But if the wish and thought occur to us that we must bring all beings to the enlightened state of Buddhahood, we have generated what is known as Bodhichitta in intention. We should then pray to the teacher and the yidam deities that the practice of the precious Bodhichitta might take root in our hearts. We should recite the seven branch prayer from the Prayer of Perfect Action, and, sitting upright, count our breaths twenty-one times without getting mixed up or missing any, and without being distracted by anything. If we are able to count our breaths concentratedly for a whole mala, discursive thoughts will diminish and the practice of relative Bodhichitta will be much easier. This is how to become a suitable vessel for meditation.
Consider all phenomena as a dream.
If we have enemies, we tend to think of them as permanently hostile. Perhaps we have the feeling that they have been the enemies of our ancestors in the past, that they are against us now and that they will hate our children in the future. Maybe this is what we think, but the reality is actually quite different. In fact, we do not know where or what we were in our previous existences, and so there is no certainty that the aggressive people we now have to contend with were not our parents in former lives! When we die, we have no idea where we will be reborn and so there is no knowing that these enemies of ours might not become our mothers or fathers. At present, we might have every confidence in our parents who are so dear to us, but when they go from this life, who is to say that they will not be reborn among our enemies? Because our past and future lives are unknown to us, we have the impression that the enemies we have now are fixed in their hostility, or that our present friends will always be friendly. This only goes to show that we have never given any real thought to this question.
If we consider this carefully, we might picture a situation where many people are at work on some elaborate project. At one moment, they are all friends together, feeling close, trusting and doing each other good turns. But then something happens and they become enemies, perhaps hurting or even killing one other. Such things do happen, and changes like this can occur several times in the course of a single lifetime-for no other reason than that all composite things or situations are impermanent.
This precious human body, supreme instrument though it is for the attainment of enlightenment, is itself a transient phenomenon. No one knows when, or how, death will come. Bubbles form on the surface of the water, but the next instant they are gone, they do not stay. It is just the same with this precious human body we have managed to find. We take all the time in the world before engaging in the practice, but who knows when this life of ours will simply cease to be? And once our precious human body is lost, our mind stream, continuing its existence, will take birth perhaps among the animals, or in one of the hells or god realms where spiritual development is impossible. Even life in a heavenly state, where all is ease and comfort, is a situation unsuitable for practice, on account of the constant dissipation and distraction that are a feature of the gods’ existence.
At present, the outer universe-earth, stones, mountains, rocks and cliffs seems to the perception of our senses to be permanent and stable, like the house built of reinforced concrete which we think will last for generations. In fact, there is nothing solid to it at all; it is nothing but a city of dreams.
In the past, when the Buddha was alive surrounded by multitudes of Arhats and when the teachings prospered, what buildings must their benefactors have built for them! It was all impermanent; there is nothing left to see now but an empty plain. In the same way, at the universities of Vikramashila and Nalanda, thousands of panditas spent their time instructing enormous monastic assemblies. All impermanent! Now, not even a single monk or volume of Buddha’s teachings are to be found there.
Take another example from the more recent past. Before the arrival of the Chinese Communists, how many monasteries were there in what used to be called Tibet, the Land of Snow? How many temples and monasteries were there, like those in Lhasa,’ at Samye and Trandruk? How many precious objects were there, representations of the Buddha’s Body, Speech and Mind? Now not even a statue remains. All that is left of Samye is something the size of this tent, hardly bigger than a stupa. Everything was either looted, broken or scattered, and all the great images were destroyed. These things have happened and this demonstrates impermanence.
Think of all the lamas who came and lived in India, such as Gyalwa Karmapa, Lama Kalu Rinpoche and Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche; think of all the teachings they gave, and how they contributed to the preservation of the Buddha’s doctrine. All of them have passed away. We can no longer see them and they remain only as objects of prayer and devotion. All this is because of impermanence. In the same way we should try to think of our fathers, mothers, children and friends… When the Tibetans escaped to India, the physical conditions were too much for many of them and they died. Among my acquaintances alone, there were three or four deaths every day. That is impermanence. There is not one thing in existence that is stable and lasts.
If we have an understanding of impermanence, we will be able to practise the sacred teachings. But if we continue to think that everything will remain as it is, then we will be just like rich people still discussing their business projects on their deathbeds! Such people never talk about the next life, do they? It goes to show that an appreciation of the certainty of death has never touched their hearts. That is their mistake, their delusion.
What is delusion? How shall we define it? It is just as when a madman runs outside on a cold winter’s day and jumps into the water to wash himself, too deranged to realise that his body is being frozen. We think that such a man is insane, but in exactly the same way, when a Bodhisattva, clear-minded and undeceived, looks at us, our activities seem to him as demented as those of the lunatic! We should be quite convinced that we are thoroughly deluded and that when things appear to us the way they do, separate from our minds, they do not possess the slightest degree of reality in themselves.
But what is it that creates this illusion? It is the mind, and it does so when it takes as real that which is illusory and non-existent. Nevertheless, we should clearly understand that such delusion is actually quite distinct from the mind in itself, the Buddha-nature or Sugatagarbha; it is not something, therefore, which it is impossible for us to remove.
But what about the mind, this creator of illusion? Can even the mind itself be said to exist? To understand this, we must
Analyse the unborn nature of awareness.
When anger arises in what we think of as our minds, we become oblivious even to the dangers that might threaten us. Our faces flushed with rage, we seize our weapons and could even kill a lot of people. But this anger is an illusion; it is not at all some great force that comes rushing into us. It achieves one thing only and that is to send us to hell, and yet it is nothing but thought, insubstantial thought. It is only thought, and yet… Take another example, that of a wealthy person. He is rich and happy and is deeply pleased with himself, thinking, ‘I am rich.’ But then if all his property is confiscated by an official or some such person, his happiness evaporates and he falls into depression and misery. That joy is mind. That sadness is mind. And that mind is thought.
What shall we say about these so-called thoughts? At this moment, while I am teaching Dharma, let us consider the mental experience, or thought, which you have, of listening carefully to me. Does this have a form or colour? Is it to be found in the upper or lower part of the body, in the eyes or the ears? What we call the mind is not really there at all. If it is truly something, it must have characteristics, such as colour. It must be white, yellow, etc. Or it must have shape like a pillar or a vase. It must be big or small, old or young, and so on. You can find out whether the mind exists or not by just turning inwards and reflecting carefully. You will see that the mind does not begin, or end, or stay, anywhere; that it has no colour or form and is to be found neither inside nor outside the body. And when you see that it does not exist as any thing, you should stay in that experience without an attempt to label or define it.
When you have truly attained the realisation of this emptiness, you will be like the venerable Milarepa or Guru Rinpoche, who were unaffected by the heat of summer or the cold of winter, and who could not be burned by fire or drowned in water. In emptiness there is neither pain nor suffering. We, on the other hand, have not understood the empty nature of the mind and so, when bitten by even a small insect, we think, ‘Ouch! I’ve been bitten. It hurts!’; or when someone says something unkind, we get angry. That is the sign that we have not realised the mind’s empty nature. All the same, even granted that we are convinced that our body and mind are by nature empty, when this very conviction, which is normally called the antidote, arises in our minds, it is said, nevertheless, that:
The antidote will vanish of itself.
People who ask for Dharma teachings do so because they are afraid of what might happen to them after death. They decide that they must take refuge, request the lama for instruction and concentrate unwaveringly on the practice: a hundred thousand prostrations, a hundred thousand mandala offerings, recitations of the refuge formula and so on. These, of course, are positive thoughts, but thoughts, being without substantial nature, do not stay for very long. When the teacher is no longer present and there is no one to show what should and should not be done, then for most practitioners it is as the saying goes: Old yogis getting rich; old teachers getting married. This only goes to show that thoughts are impermanent, and we should therefore bear in mind that any thought or antidote even the thought of emptiness is itself by nature empty without substantial existence.
The nature of the path rests in the alaya.
But how are we to rest in emptiness, free from all mental activity? Let us begin by saying that the state of mind of thinking ‘I’-has no reality whatever. Be that as it may, we do have the feeling of something real and solid which we call ‘I,’ and which is supported by a body with its five sense powers and eight consciousnesses. These are technical terms and are not very easy to understand. But, for example, when the eye apprehends a form, sight occurs by virtue of the eye-consciousness. If the form is something pleasant we think, ‘This is good, I like it.’ If we see something frightening, a ghost, for instance, or someone with a gun ready to shoot us, we think that we are going to be killed and react with horror. The truth is, however, that those outer events apparently happening ‘over there’ are in fact occurring ‘here,’ ‘within;’ they are fabricated by our minds.
As to where our minds are now situated, we may say that they are linked to our bodies and that it is thanks to this combination that we have the faculty of speech. A tent, pulled by ropes from the sides, and with a pole in the middle, becomes a place where we can stay. In the same way, our body, speech and mind are temporarily together. But when we die, and our minds enter the bardo, our bodies will be left behind and our speech will completely cease to exist. Our minds, moreover, will not be accompanied by the wealth we have gathered during our lives, nor by our fathers or mothers, nor by our relatives or friends. We will be alone, saddled with whatever good and evil we have done, and which we cannot shake off any more than we can get rid of our own shadows.
The body left behind at death is called a corpse. Whether it is the body of our parents or the relics of our teacher, it is just a corpse. Now, though corpses have eyes, they cannot see; they cannot hear with theirs ears or speak with their mouths. We may treat them with respect, dressing them in brocade robes and putting them on thrones; or we may treat them roughly, burning them in the fire or throwing them into water. It is all the same to the corpses. They are mindless and like stones, neither happy nor sad.
When the mind is positive, body and speech, the servants of the mind, will of course be positive also. But how are we to make the mind positive? At the moment we cling to the notion that our minds are real entities.
When someone helps us, we think, ‘That person has been so good to me. I must be kind to him in return and make him my friend for lives and lives to come.’ This only goes to show that we do not know about the empty nature of the mind. As for our enemies, we think of how to harm them as much as possible, at best killing them or at least robbing them of all their belongings. We think like that simply because we think our anger is a true and permanent reality-while in fact it is nothing at all. We should therefore rest in the empty nature of the mind beyond all mental elaborations, in that state which is free from clinging, a clarity which is beyond all concepts.
To bring this description of absolute Bodhichitta to a conclusion, the root text says:
In post-meditation, consider phenomena as illusory.
It is said that when one arises from meditation, all phenomena, oneself and others, the universe and its inhabitants, appear in the manner of an illusion. This however should be properly understood.
When great Bodhisattvas come into the world to accomplish the benefit of beings by establishing them on the path to liberation, it is not through the power of their karma or defiled emotions that they do so. As we read in the stories of his previous lives, Lord Buddha, while still a Bodhisattva, took birth among the birds and deer and so forth, in order to teach and set them on the path of virtue. He was born too as a universal ruler who practised great generosity, and later in his quest for the Dharma, for the sake of hearing only a few lines of teaching, he would burn his body, or jump into fire or water, unconcerned for his life. Because he had realised emptiness, he experienced no suffering at all. Until we achieve the same degree of realisation, however, and for as long as we hold onto the idea that everything is permanent and stable, that will not be the case for us. This is something we should bear in mind as we go about our daily lives.
We will consider the practice of relative Bodhichitta first as meditation, then in terms of day to day living.
With regard to meditation, it is said in the root verses that we should
Train to give and take alternately;
This refers to an extremely important practice. As the great master Shantideva said,
Whoever wishes quickly to become
A refuge for himself and others,
Should undertake this sacred mystery:
To take place of others, giving them his own.
We attach great importance to what we conceive of as I, myself, and therefore to such thoughts as my body, my mind, my father, my mother, my brother, my sister, my friend. But the concept of others we neglect and ignore. We may indeed be generous to beggars and give food to those who need it, but it is a fact that we do not care for them as much as we care for ourselves. This however is precisely what we should do; and conversely, just as we are now able to ignore others, we should be able to ignore ourselves. This is how Bodhichitta begins to grow; this is the extraordinary secret pith instruction of the Bodhisattvas. At the moment, this Bodhichitta has not yet awakened in myself and so it is extremely fortunate for me that I can explain it on the basis of this text.
If through listening to this explanation of the Seven Point Mind Training we come to recognise how important Bodhichitta is, this will be an infallible cause of our enlightenment. Of all the eighty four thousand different sections of the doctrine, the precious Bodhichitta is the very essence. By hearing the words of such a teaching, it is impossible even for demons, whose nature it is to kill and to do harm, not to have positive thoughts! Kham, a region in East Tibet, was haunted in the past by many ghosts and evil spirits, and this was one of the reasons why Patrul Rinpoche used to explain the Bodhicharyavatara continually to his disciples. Before long, there were no more ghosts-or at least, no one came to any more harm. Such is the hidden power of Bodhichitta!
If I do not give away
My happiness for others’ pain,
Buddhahood will never be attained
And even in samsara joy will fly from me.
Enlightenment will be ours when we are able to care for others as much as we now care for ourselves, and ignore ourselves to the same extent that we now ignore others. Even if we had to remain in samsara, we should be free from sorrow. For as I have said, when the great Bodhisattvas gave away their heads and limbs, they felt no sadness at the loss of them.
Once, in one of his previous lifetimes, the Buddha was a universal monarch whose custom it was to give away his wealth without regret. He refused nothing to those who came to beg from him and his fame spread far and wide. One day, a wicked Brahmin” beggar came before the king and addressed him saying,’Great king, I am ugly to look upon, while you are very handsome; please give me your head.’ And the king agreed. Now his queens and ministers had been afraid that he might do this, and making hundreds of heads out of gold, silver and precious stones, they offered them to the beggar.
‘Take these heads,’ they pleaded, ‘do not ask the king for his.’
‘Heads made of jewels are of no use to me,’ the beggar replied, ‘I want a human head.’ And he refused to take them.
Eventually they could no longer deter him from seeing the king.
The king said to him, ‘I have sons and daughters, queens and a kingdom, but no attachment do I have for any of them. I will give you my head at the foot of the tsambaka tree in the garden. If I can give you my head today, I shall have completed the Bodhisattva act of giving my head for the thousandth time.’
And so, at the foot of the tree, the king took off his clothes, tied his hair to a branch and cut off his head. At that moment, darkness covered the earth and from the sky came the sound of the gods weeping and lamenting, so loudly that even human beings could hear them. The queens, princes and ministers, all fell speechless to the ground. Then Indra, the lord of the gods, appeared and said, ‘0 king, you are a Bodhisattva and have even given away your head, but here I have the life-restoring ambrosia of the gods. Let me anoint you with it and bring you back to life.’
Now the king was indeed a Bodhisattva and, even though his head had been cut off and sent away, his mind was still present and he replied that he had no need of Indra’s life-restoring ambrosia, for he could replace his head simply by the force of his own prayers.
Indra begged him to do so and the king said: ‘If in all those thousand acts of giving my head away beneath the tsambaka tree there was nothing but the aim of benefiting others, unstained by any trace of self seeking-if I was without resentment or regret, then may my head be once again restored. But if regrets there were, or evil thoughts, or intentions not purely for the sake of others, then may my head remain cut off.’ No sooner had the king said this than there appeared on his shoulders a new head identical to the first, which had been taken by the Brahmin. Then all the queens, princes and ministers rejoiced and administered the kingdom in accordance with the Dharma.
For those who can practise generosity like this, there is no suffering at all. Enlightened teachers, Bodhisattvas, come into the world to accomplish the welfare of beings, and even when they are ignored by people in the grip of desire, anger and ignorance, who stir up obstacles and difficulties, the thought of giving up never occurs to them and they are totally without anger or resentment. As it is said:
To free yourself from harm
And others from their sufferings,
Give away yourself for others,
Guard others as you would protect yourself.
Now, when training in giving away your happiness to others, it is unwise to try to give to all beings right from the start. For beings are countless and your meditation will not be stable, with the result that you will derive no benefit from the practice. Therefore, visualise in front of you a specific person, someone whom you love, your mother for example. Reflect that when you were very little, she suffered while she carried you in her womb; she was unable to work or eat comfortably, unable even to stand up and sit down without difficulty. Yet all the time she loved and cared for you. When you were born from her womb, were it not for the fact that you were actually breathing, you could scarcely have been called a living thing at all. You were not even strong enough to raise your head. Nevertheless your mother took you, this little thing which did not even know her, upon her lap to wash, clean and bring up lovingly. Later she put up with loss and disgrace on account of your misbehaviour, her only preoccupation being how to keep you alive. If your parents were practitioners they introduced you, when you were old enough, to the Dharma and to the lamas from whom you received instruction.
In fact, it is thanks to your mother that your precious human life exists at all. If she had not been there, who knows whether you would have attained it? Therefore you should be very grateful to her. Thinking in terms not only of this but of countless lives, understand that all beings have been your mothers and have cared for you just as your present mother has done. When your mother looks at you, she does not frown, but looks at you with loving eyes. Calling you her dear child, she has brought you up, protecting you from heat and cold and all the rest. In every way she has tried to bring about your happiness. Even if she could give you the kingdom of a universal ruler, she would still not be satisfied and would never think that she had given you enough. Your mother, therefore, is someone to whom you should have an endless gratitude.
If, on growing up, someone abandons his aged and sick parents instead of caring for them, people think of him as shamelessly ungrateful, and rightly so. But even if we are not like that, it is absurd to say that we respect our parents, while caring only for ourselves. On the other hand, if we do look after them, but supply them only with material things: food, clothing, even the wealth of a whole country, they would be benefited only for a time. If, by contrast, we introduce them to the Dharma, so that they come to understand the painful reality of samsara and go on to practise, for example, the meditation on Chenrezig, we will have succeeded in helping them for their future lives as well. Again and again, we must work for the benefit of our parent sentient beings. Wanting happiness for themselves alas, they wander in the different states of samsara. We are wandering in samsara like them and for the same reason. Therefore now, at this very moment, we should make a strong resolution to repay their kindness and work to dispel their suffering.
Beings are tormented by suffering. There is the extreme heat and cold of the hells and hunger and thirst in the realms of famished spirits. Animals suffer from being enslaved, while human beings are tortured by birth, disease, old age and death. The demigods are constantly fighting, and the gods themselves suffer when they must leave their heavenly abodes.
All suffering is the result of evil actions, while virtuous deeds are the cause of happiness and pleasure. The seeds of negativities left in the alaya are like promissory notes made out to a rich person when money is borrowed from him. When this person shows the promissory note, even after many years, there is no way that the debtor can avoid having to repay the loan. It is the same when we accumulate positive and negative actions: the results may not appear immediately, as when we have been cut by a knife; nevertheless, the effects of every one of our actions must be exhausted, either through purifying and confessing them or through the experience of their consequences. They do not simply disappear with the passage of time. This is what is meant by the two Truths of Suffering and the Origin of Suffering. ‘Suffering’ is the harm we actually experience: the heat and cold of the hells, the hunger and thirst of the realms of famished spirits, and so on. ‘Origin’ is the seed of suffering-the promissory note to the banker-which will afflict us in the future, not right away.
We should decide to take upon ourselves the suffering and the causes of suffering of all sentient beings (who have all in previous existences been our mothers), and at the same time to give away to them whatever causes of happiness that we have. And if it happens that, as we meditate upon their sufferings entering our hearts, we begin to suffer ourselves, we should think with joy that this is all for our mothers’ sake. Giving away our own happiness and positive deeds for their benefit, we should ignore our own welfare for their sake, to the extent that we are ready to give up even our lives for them. We must try to provide a situation in which our mother sentient beings might have happiness here and now, and circumstances suitable for them to practise the Dharma. We should pray for them to be enlightened swiftly and take delight in whatever progress they might make.
If we think continually in this way about our own parents, we will eventually be able to care for them more than for ourselves and likewise with regard to our brothers, sisters, friends and lovers. Then we should enlarge our outlook to include everyone in our city, then in the whole country. When we get used to that, we can try to encompass all beings. If we do this gradually, our attitude will increase in scope, our feelings will grow stable and constant, and our love become ever more intense. Starting thus with our mother and father, we should finally focus on all sentient beings, who for countless lives have cared for us just like our present parents. We should feel a deep gratitude towards them. Knowing that all these parent beings endure every kind of suffering in samsara, we should nourish one thought with fierce compassion: ‘If only I could free them from this pain.’
To recapitulate: with an attitude of strong compassion, we imagine that the suffering of all beings dissolves into us, and in return we give our body, wealth and positive actions of the past, present and future. And if we see that beings are happy and their positive actions multiply, we should rejoice again and again.
The thought of exchanging happiness and suffering will come easily to us if we follow the pith instruction in the following root verse:
Mount them both upon your breath.
Visualise in front of you the person you dislike most. As you exhale, all your happiness, positive actions and wealth leave you like mist pushed by the wind. They dissolve into your enemy, who is thereby freed from suffering and filled with joy, becoming as happy as if he had been born in the Pure Land of Dewachen. As you inhale, all his sufferings, negative actions and obscurations sink into you like dust on wind. Imagining that his sufferings actually fall upon you, feel their weight as though you were carrying a load. This will become easier with practice. By meditating in this way for a long time, over months and years, you will grow accustomed to it and your experience will develop as it should.
In the past one of Khenchen Tashi Oser’s disciples lived as a hermit in the mountains. When a servant of his family died, he prayed for him, and one night dreamt that the servant had been reborn in one of the hot hells. When he awoke, the hermit went straight to Khenchen Tashi Oser to whom he recounted the dream, requesting him to think of the deceased servant and to pray for him.
Khenchen Tashi Oser replied, ‘I will think of him, but you should also practise the visualisation of sending happiness and taking suffering. If you do it again and again, the person whom you have told me about will be liberated from the hell realms.’
So the ascetic returned to his cave and practised the visualisation persistently. After seven days he found that he was covered with blisters. Thinking it was a sign, he went back to see Khenchen Tashi Oser.
‘You told me to do the practice of giving and taking,’ he said to his Teacher, ‘and now it is as if my body has been burned by fire. I am covered with blisters.’
‘It is just a sign,’ said Khenchen Tashi Oser. ‘Your former servant is now liberated from hell, and it shows also that you are able to give happiness and take suffering.’
If we are to get real benefit from this practice, we should continue until signs like these arise.
When the disciples of Adzom Drugpa practised giving and taking, or tonglen, as it is called in Tibetan, they would do so thinking especially of people who had committed many heavy, negative actions. And it often happened that if they had previously gained some experience in meditation, their understanding would become clouded and they would feel that their obscurations had increased. Should signs like this occur, however, they are not to be taken as indications that future suffering is in store for us. Throughout his life, Geshe Karak Gomchung prayed, ‘May I be reborn in hell in place of those who have accumulated sinful actions.’ He would repeat this prayer day and night. But just before he passed away he said: ‘My prayers have not been fulfilled! For it seems that I am going to Dewachen; wherever I look, I see gardens full of flowers and a rain of blossom. Though I have prayed that all beings might go to Dewachen and that I myself might go to hell instead of them, in fact it seems that I am not going.’ Such are the results of tonglen.
RELATIVE BODHICHITTA IN POST-MEDITATION
Three objects, three poisons and three roots of virtue.
For objects that please us and for people that we love, for example our parents and relatives, we experience attachment. But when confronted by uncomfortable situations, when for example we see enemies or people we dislike, we experience aversion. When we see people who are neither close friends nor enemies, we feel indifferent. In pleasant situations, we feel attachment; in unpleasant situations, anger; in indifferent situations, ignorance.
Many people, like myself, are infected by the three poisons! Therefore we should pray, ‘May the obscurations of all beings, arising through these three poisons, come upon me as a load to bear. May all beings live virtuously, performing positive actions, and be free from the three poisons of attachment, anger and ignorance.’ We will be greatly benefited if we constantly train ourselves in thinking like this.
In all your actions, train yourself with maxims.
An example of these maxims would be: ‘May the evil deeds of others ripen as my suffering; may all my virtuous acts bear fruit as others’ happiness.’ This is what the Kadampa masters always used to recite. It is good to repeat such verses in the post-meditation period. Moreover, praying like this will be even more beneficial before a precious object like the Jowo Rinpochels in Lhasa or in the presence of the Lama. If we do so, Bodhichitta is sure to grow in us and therefore we should devote much time and energy to this practice.
Begin the training sequence with yourself.
We should think like this: ‘May all the torments destined for me in the future, the heat and cold of the hells and the hunger and thirst of the famished spirits, come to me now. And may all the karma, obscuration and defilement causing beings to fall into an infernal destiny sink into my heart so that I myself might go to hell instead of them. May the suffering of others, the fruit, as the teachings say, of their desire and ignorance, come to me.’ We should train ourselves like this again and again until we have such signs as that of Maitriyogin, who was wounded in the place where the stone had hit the dog.
Bodhichitta, the mind of enlightenment, is the heart of all the practices of the Sutra and Mantrayana, and it is easy to implement. If one has it, everything is complete, and nothing is complete without it. At this present time, you are receiving many teachings on mind-training from different teachers. Keep them in your hearts! When they are translated, I hope that you will understand and remember them. For this is indeed the Dharma.