In Praise of Bodhicitta

"As when a flash of lightning rends the night, And in its glare shows all the dark black clouds had hid, Likewise rarely, throught the Buddha's power, Virtuous thoughts rise, brief and transient, in the world."

-SHANTIDEVA ("peaceful luminous divine one")

Bodhicitta, the heart of the enlightened mind, is the spirit, source and root of the entire spiritual path. It is, in the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the highest form of altruism and the highest form of courage, the source of all spiritual qualities and the essence of all the teachings of the Buddha.

In his 'Guide to the Bodhisattvas' Way of Life',

Shantideva wrote:

It is the supreme elixir
That overcomes the sovereignty of death.
It is the inexhaustible treasure
That eliminates poverty in the world.
It is the supreme medicine
That quells the world's disease.
It is the tree that shelters all beings
Wandering and tired on the path of conditioned existence.
It is the universal bridge
That leads to freedom from unhappy states of birth.
It is the dawning moon of the mind
That dispels the torment of disturbing conceptions.
It is the great sun that finally removes
The misty ignorance of the world.

What need is there to say more?
The childish work for their own benefit,
The buddhas work for the benefit of others.
Just look at the difference between them.

If I do not exchange my happiness
For the suffering of others,
I shall not attain the state of buddhahood
And even in samsara I shall have no real joy.

For as long as space exists
And sentient beings endure,
May I too remain,
To dispel the misery of the world.

Whoever wishes to quickly afford protection
To both himself and others
Should practice that holy secret:
The exchanging of self for others.


Ho! Mesmerized by the sheer variety of perceptions, which
are like the illusory reflections of the moon in water,
Beings wander endlessly astray in samsara’s vicious cycle.
In order that they may find comfort and ease in the luminosity
and all-pervading space of the true nature of their minds,
I generate the immeasurable love, compassion, joy and equanimity
of the awakened mind, the heart of Bodhicitta. - Jigme Lingpa 18th Century Yogi

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