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The Practice of producing Bodhichitta

Here we come to purify the mind-stream from the three preparatory practices that are in accordance with everything in the general system of Sutras and Tantras. In relation to the first of these preparatory practices, this section of the Declaration concerning the generation of the thought of others states: This resolute purpose, which one is constantly striving to relieve suffering from others and liberate it from Samsara by helping, to achieve the enlightenment of a Buddha, is called Bodhichitta. It represents the foundation of the spiritual path, the generation of compassion for the sufferings of others. According to the Sutra system, this is the powerful seed from which the great tree of Buddhahood grows.


Although most people naturally have feelings of compassion and empathy for other living beings, especially when they see others suffering, even though they consider themselves religious and «spiritual», this is not always the case. Therefore, it is necessary to make some efforts to cultivate feelings of compassion in order to develop the intention called the Bodhichitta or the thought of enlightenment. There are a number of stages to this process:


1. First of all, you should remember that all sentient beings have already, at some point in time, in one life or another, been your own mother,


2. And you should remember the kindness the mother showed her child at this time.


3. Therefore, you should sincerely wish to repay and make amends for those kindnesses shown to us one after another.


4. You come to generate the natural feeling of loving-kindness and kindness towards these other beings and


5. You develop empathy and compassion for the suffering they experience in this present life.


6. Consequently, you think that all these suffering beings may be liberated and develop the hope that, in order to accomplish this, you will realize Buddhahood.


7. This endeavor evolves into a concrete intention in terms of the actions to benefit other living beings and is known as Bodhichitta.


There are three phases in this practice of Bodhichitta creation:


1. Visualization of the Tree of Refuge,
2. cultivating the feelings of compassion, both by thinking that all sentient beings were once our loving parents, and by sharing yourself with others, and
3. the reciting the verses for the generation of the Bodhichitta.


You still take five-fold meditation posture and perform the nine breaths for cleansing. Then you visualize the tree of the gathering or the field for the accumulation of merit in heaven in front of yourself. This visualization is also known as the source of refuge and is briefly described in the text: In the field of visualization of these sources of refuge, these become to be created in the heavens before ourselves as described above. Further description of this visualization can be found in the following section of the Refuge.


Here is a brief meditation suggested in the text, bearing in mind that all sentient beings in one or the other past lifetime were your own loving parents. Considering your current suffering in Samsara, you feel sad and scared about it. Reflecting in this way, you produce an unaffected and spontaneous longing to help and develop intense compassion for them.



How do we develop and produce the Bodhichitta?

We should think that all other sentient beings once, in one or another past life, were our very own loving mother. In the infinite series of our past lives, since beginningless time, all other beings, at one time or another, have been our own parents.


For example, if you put some black peas in a vase filled with rice grains and shake that vase, these peas will eventually touch all the other rice grains many times. It's the same with all beings in Samsara. As we travel through Samsara, we come in direct contact with all other living beings in all possible combinations and relationships. In every life we have different parents and our past lives were infinite in number. It is possible that we were connected to them long ago in another world. At that time, they were nice to us, showing us love and affection as our parents. Even the fierce lioness is a good mother to her children. It's the same way with all the other beings. These once provided for us, as a loving mother cares for her only child. She loved us and did not complain. She was so friendly and patient with us. Just think about this.


For example, if you do something good for another person and she does not recognize that kindness, but ignores you or, worse, abuses you ꟷ how do you feel then? So we have to remember the great kindness of our mother. What can we do now to repay the kindness of our parents? At the present time our mothers, all these other beings, are suffering and are lost in the delusions of Samsara. What can we do? We want to free them from this misery, but how can we do this? In the present we can do nothing. We are equally powerless in our delusions and sufferings. But if we recognize the wisdom and power of Buddha, because only Buddha can remove the suffering of our mothers, this thought will motivate us to practice the teachings, so that we eventually come to realize Buddhahood. With us as Buddha, we will then have the wisdom and ability to guide others out of the suffering experienced in Samsara. This is our motive for the practice of the spiritual path.


Make the Promise and Commitment: «I, too, will seek to attain the enlightened state of a Buddha». In terms of spiritual behavior, you can practice the Bodhichitta like a shepherd, that is, a shepherd cares and watches over his flock of sheep, their protection from wolves and other dangers. Or you can practice the Bodhichitta like a guide, that is, the guide finds the right path and guides others safely along this path. Or you can practice the practice of the Bodhichitta like a boatswain who brings others safe in his boat to the other side shore. How to update Bodhichitta in its behavior towards others depends on its own level of performance, but the intent remains the same in each case.


To create Bodhichitta, recite the following verse, known as «the representation of the words for the generation of the thought of enlightenment»:




Just like all the victorious and exalted who belong to the three times,
Due to the abundant powers of their merits,
This was done to bring all sentient beings to the realization of Buddhahood,
So, too, I too will create the thoughts of the highest enlightenment!