A Step by step guided meditation on the profound Mahayana text of Bodhicharyavatara by Patrul Rinpoche called “The Sun of Brilliant Clarity”
I want to get through this important text, the Bodhicharyavatara. This sangha has studied this text over the past 5-6 years with Dzigar Kongtrol teaching it [at Shedra], so many of you are familiar with it. But the Bodhicharyavatara is the heartbeat of the Mahayana. This is the heart essence of the Tibetan teachings. In Tibet, the propagation of this text was particularly done by the 19th century master Za Patrul Rinpoche in later centuries. It is said 2/3rd of the entire explanations of the text go back to Patrul Rinpoche. His most important work is this guided meditation on the Bodhicharyavatara done so people don’t see it as a theory text, but to give a framework for meditation and Post meditation practice. Since we have studied the Bodhicharyavatara, there are also wonderful English translations; so, I thought I would cover this in the Gateway program. Keep your copy also with you if you have one.
Patrul Rinpoche begins with encouraging offering Prostrations to Buddhas and bodhisattvas. This is arousing of intention in all actions of Body, speech and mind to generate strong attitude of benefiting all sentient beings But intention may not be sufficient, must also be a vehicle. Must have a strong foundation. Our own mind, but can’t realistically be a good vehicle. Wishing happiness to all sentient beings is nice, but realistically, how are you doing to bring this to fruition? Actualizing it, your own mind, the basis of where all attitude and conduct arises – the sum totality of your personality. Who you are. It is constant engagement with these others. That is where the possible place of transformation to become basis of goodness. Doing for others can be cause of happiness for others. saying to another is the moment where could be the cause of happiness, free from cause of suffering, where you are interacting, if transformed into virtue, is birth of cause of happiness and can eliminate with mindfulness all causes of suffering to others. That moment realistically is where being a source of happiness to others can take place but will never be cultivated until that is originating from a mind that is mindful. Wherever the buildup of attitude and conduct is, it comes from one’s own intrinsic mind. That is where the source that must be … with.
Patrul Rinpoche said if the mind is kind, everything is kind, if the mind is not kind, then everything is not kind.
Mind must be place of origination of worthy attitudes….how is the mind going to be transformed with our wonderful methods of training we have been fortunate to receive from teachers. Begin by offering Prostrations and homage to all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Generate a strong sense of presence of Buddha and all the teachers of the past 2500 years, all Buddhas and bodhisattvas of 10 directions and 3 times, particularly our own teachers who we have received teachings from. Only from these kindnesses is the mind able to be trained. Gratitude to Buddhas and bodhisattvas, at same time, we should think “why are we venerating them?” It is not only because of their kindness, but particularly, being very acutely mindful of the weight they are carrying.” What is this? “Guru” means “heavy with” – heavy with compassion. Extremely heavy with compassion, fully manifest nothing but genuine compassion. That is why they are worthy of homage. When you offer homage to Buddhas and bodhisattvas, not just about “it’s obligatory to read at beginning and end of talk.” If the relationship to supplications is like that, it is a mechanical, technical relationship. Must instead take skillful mind- recitations, and so forth. The method must invoke the mind to an awakened state. This is NOT an emotional feeling good, spaced out state is an emotion state of coziness. Particularly for those who say “I like to meditate,” this is dangerous, liked digging a hole and sticking your head in the ground. Mistaken ideas will only lead to feeling good temporarily, but won’t lead to transcending, replacing negative qualities, or uprooting suffering. Form oriented practices- recitations, formless- S/V- not the destination, take them as milestones that allow you to be on eh path with more clarity in mind. The Buddha nature needs methods to invoke purer qualities.
Paying Homage – there is tremendous humility- gratitude with all the dharma received, but not complacent. Invokes another question -= why? Why are they worth of veneration? Give you a sense of destination. Feeling grateful is not the destination, it makes you walk further on – there is bodhichitta you have to become. Has to become emulating their example, embody what they embody, it is like them I must become. Give further motivation of what more one must do.
First verse- be reflecting on why they are worthy of veneration – because of bodhichitta. They embody bodhichitta, awakened heart. They are those who demonstrate manifest awakened heart. Essential for Mahayana practitioners to keep in mind, big assumption that it means just kindness. Loving-kindness, sympathy, empathy are all good words, but for a Mahayanist practitioner, is crucial that these do not get confused with emotions. Emotionally feeling kind, love like love of children, spouses, siblings, and friends- they are not bad. Are they good? Sort of good? (Laughter) Are they excellent? No, they are not excellent. They are the best you can do emotionally, but they are not beyond emotion. Emotion means arrogance, jealousy, desires, anger have possibility of coming in. that love can provoke anger, strong attachment, aggression, jealously, possession. A good emotion has the full potential to become drama. It can become lost in the drama of own patience, generosity. Tainted by self-grasping habitual patterns. Bodhichitta must be understood as a mind untainted by the 5 root poisons. Where there is not contamination of ignorance, attachment, anger, jealousy or arrogance. Where they don’t … is 1) untainted, and 2) fully manifesting the opposite. The opposite of ignorance is mindfulness. The opposite of Anger is patience. If one is able to make it available as needed, that is the opposite of aggression. Without self is truly ‘Self-less.’ What you do is benefit for others that is untainted by attachment. Humor, laughter light-heartedness, should be the opposite of jealousy. Non-competitiveness.
Jealousy is the most complicated emotion to overcome. It requires the most antidotes. The first antidote is joyfulness. What is Buddhist joyfulness? It is an absolute trust in the intrinsic good nature. Joy of knowing ‘what a wonderful potential you have’- that is the basis of the good news. A sense of being happy, defuses the negative quality of jealousy. Humility. As I was just mentioning, certain verses use “May I be like your servant, your slave.” I am not sure those are appropriate. You think humble means losing self-respect, being down-trodden; almost kill yourself to be good, this will be misunderstood. Servitude seen as torture. Humility is not about your not being important, but instead there is no basis to adorn importance. For example, this pair of glasses. If I have a face, they stay on there. If I put them on space – (Rinpoche holds out her glasses in front of here, they fall on her table). , they fall. No place to hang your pride. Where would you stick your pride? When the selfless ness of self – emptiness – can’t posit an identity, start to realize “other than my own thinking, there is no self that existence” If we believe we are there, pride is strong. Through own practice, should find that beyond my own supposition of personal pronouns, just being an assumption, that relaxation there is no adornment of the self, there is more peaceful attitude to self, don’t need to assert yourself. Even standing in line for food. Can assert self “I don’t like this, want this.” Builds up arrogance. Humility is you know reality of what you’re trying to impose is like imposing on space. This is much different than false, deliberate humility. Transcendence of self- assumption of relaxing self a little bit. Changing I to We. So, Shantideva said replacing 5 poisons with the qualities is bodhichitta mind, which is very different than the love/compassion we feel. When we realize the Buddhas and bodhisattvas are weighed down with bodhichitta. 2nd thing, the bodhichitta is not emotionality. What I wish to emulate is, I want to transverse the path to actualize what they did. It comes down to a single bodhichitta. I am a Buddhist meditator for no other reason than generation of bodhichitta in mindstream. I can’t stress this more. Over time, as you journey in, so many fall in love with the milestones, the methods, rather than practice. If mind doesn’t become kindnesses- flexible in conduct, vast in attitude- that the purpose is not there at all. The 1 quality that determines how far you have progressed is how pure the bodhichitta in your mind. This is not a random sporadic burst of loving-kindness; it is living where your mind is untainted by 5 poisons and exercise the 5 virtues. The reason you engage in teaching/practice. Patrul Rinpoche – when a meditator is in the 5 opposing virtues qualities, people think “I should have the 5 virtuous qualities.” to bring to fruition, then practice of bodhichitta must arise as these 5 qualities.
- Should be manifested in attitude and conduct of unconditional love, genuinely love everyone, from this moment. Some of you have determined that loving all sentient beings is for when you retire. : ) when you are ready. You aren’t going to be ready. All conducive qualities won’t happen. When you have a lot of time, may never happen. A lot of people have been saying “when they have time” for 20, 25 years. You should not be coming up with excuses and ideas, that is can be developed later. Why not now? Isn’t’ a better situation than here, now. Here there is Dharma, here there is sangha, here there is food, and here there is bedding. Just show up and do it! (laughter) For generating the bodhichitta, the essence of what we are practicing…
- Moist with compassion. Like any earth that dries up can’t generate harvest, a mind that isn’t moist with compassion won’t grow for self and other. Moisture comes from constant reminders, reflection, mindfulness that evokes compassion.
- For generation of bodhichitta, must have courage to overcome non-conducive factors that obstruct abilities to benefit other’s habits. Weaknesses. Traditionally, this is said to be the 5 root poisons. But all goes to single factor: the assertion of the self before you say or do anything. Where the self immediately say “what do I gain/lose from this” where am I going to praised? Gain? The 8 worldly dharmas. Happiness/suffering. Gain/loss. Hope and fear. Back and forth, measuring what the self can do, how can I be happy, how is it profitable to me, how can I avoid trouble? All these apprehensions – hope and fear- dictated by a self-cherishing attitude. To generate bodhichitta- need courage built on insights of the teachings. The prajna of hearing, brought into reflection, which gives birth to wisdom of reflection, then examined. Where examined, is born out of own investigation. Then, only 2 choices either have seen if the teachings are true or not. Is it is true, you either do it or ignore. Only 2 options after the reflection and examination, a sense of personal insight, is a personal investigation. Wisdom of your own experience. Seeing truth of teachings is basis where courage should arise. The wisdom of no escape, as our teachers say often. Find no way to escape other than overcome what the teachings and your examination have shown. Where is hope? Where is fear? We don’t have an answer. Don’t know where hope is? Look outside? Is it in the trees? (laughter) Look 5-10 minutes outside. So, go inside. Where is that hope/fear? That investiagetion leads to us seeing assumptions. Assume there is basis of hope/fear. This assumptions leads to dramatize. Let’s supposed someone barges in the door, and knocks people over saying there is a lion here! How many of you mental health folks would pounce on him saying there is no lion. But what is difference between our own indulgence? Don’t care how it affects others, as long as our own hope and fear. Assumption of certain things- examination shows self can’t be found, hope, fear- are imaginations run wild. Where that is led. If it was harmless, is ok. But we take that hope/fear into every area we relate to others. The taking the” I” am superimposed on all activities is how we engage others. For a person understanding bodhichitta, 1st thing is to overcome this non-conducive factor. Think about others before yourself. Whatever makes others happy, gives them a moment to happiness. The greater good of others that gains victory over vie of self. Obstructs ability to benefit other. Don’t think “in 2015, I will start.” At this moment, here- there is the mind that is accustomed to likes and dislikes. The assertion of a self is forgone conclusion. Only work with like or dislike, like or dislike, almost your heart rhythm. Taming that. To say you are a Mahayanist, to actually sit in meditation, need to overcome self to benefiting others, otherwise, what did you think what bodhichitta? Some say sit and be kind. Can be a selfish ego trip itself. Truly being able to sit Shamatha and generate kindness would be able to benefit others. Not enough to think you have mind moist with compassion. For bodhichitta to be manifest has to be apparent to others. Others should see unconditional love in you. You are making tremendous promises to sentient beings. Through your aspirations. You have a promise to keep. In meditation or Post meditation practice, must be expressions of unconditional love, others see your mind moist with compassion. Clear in your conduct – trying to overcome self-cherishing.
- Being fearlessly virtuous all the time. To go beyond hope being fulfilled, and fear of being blamed. Of not having happiness, encountering suffering. Fearless in encountering 8 worldly dharmas – so familiar with it- impulse of apprehension and expectation. The moment you get into the self, fear for self, brings in all the neurosis that won’t let the mind be available without conditions to other sentient beings. One who is truly trying to create bodhichitta.
- Desire to achieve enlightenment only for the benefit of other sentient beings. Have to put your own enlightenment out of the picture. Easy to think about, but very difficult to do. Is a sense of “Why should I be left behind?” May get territorial of my teacher, practice, cushion, time to practice, my place here. all these different / subtle + gross” me and mines”…. You are into you encountering wisdom, peace, beautiful qualities, – in my mind like your Christmas trees- very beautiful hand birds, and fairies and lights and so on. You and the Christmas tree are not different. The teachers, lineage, profound things, are like the little hangings that obscure the tree. A lot of meditators do get lost. In the begin, one is engaged in path to benefit all sentient beings, but 20-30 years on, it’s about me and my relationship with Buddha dharma. This 5th quality isn’t’ reflected on, and doesn’t permeate mindstream. The desire, everything you do. You’re reading this so all sentient beings may attain enlightenment. Why do I have to know those? So all sentient beings can attain Enlightenment whatever we do as a practitioners- eat, sleep, study, practice, and so forth. For a single person, through the falling apart of self, the convenience, ease of self will happen. When the fort around the self is demolished, only then can the real bodhichitta arise.
Reflect to bodhichitta constantly, not entangled in self-attachment, but untainted by obscuration, positive qualities, – unconditional love, mind moist with compassion, free, courage to go beyond non-conducive, virtuous action is body, speech and mind – genuinely, truly think of others. Most important, trying to generate bodhichitta not for self-worth, but to bring about the Enlightenment of all sentient beings , which won’t happen until this mind becomes the basis of bodhichitta. Contemplate on bodhichitta. This leads to next question.
How do we start? How should one do this? This development of bodhichitta should arise- even before giving rise. We may ask the question, “Why should we work so hard? No one else is doing it.” Earlier in my life, before maybe 14 or so, half the day we used to go to normal school, and half the day to the monastery. My friends were on summer vacation. We didn’t get that. (Laughter) There were Khenpos that made us work hard. (Laughter) Sometimes I suspect you think ‘I should never have gone for refuge,’ when you encounter the demand that you don’t have the luxury of emotional love indulging in obscurations and being good Buddhist. (Laughter) There is some tension. ‘is my being patient not the best thing to do at this time?” Think giving love not the best thing, patience not the best thing. Is a sense of: “why should I do this when the others will take advantage of you?” Why not? If there is no self, then who can be taken advantage of? Its’ like there is an on and off season self. Even if it feels like someone is completely taken advantage of you. Of course at ultimate level, needs to be wisdom. But it must be watched, it can be ego disguised as wisdom. Practice unconditional love, truly arise as bodhichitta untainted. “Why should we be the ones held with the responsibility?”
1) Ultimate bodhichitta
2) Relative bodhichitta
1. Ultimate Bodhichitta: In Patrul Rinpoche’s commentary on the Bodhicharyavatara, his definition of ultimate bodhichitta is “the direct cognizance of the true statements of self and phenomena.”
The reason we should generate bodhichitta is: 1) knowing it to be ultimate nature, where there is a director understand of what the true nature of self, phenomena is. When you see the true nature beyond our suppositions. What is from? Sound? Most important, thoughts. The true nature of phenomena- sounds we see sounds we hear, thoughts, sensations, emotions. But if we investigate: For example, if two children come in, and they are crying and they point at each other and say “he did it! She did it!” Usually, you spank both. A sensible person will listen to both stories and basis on cognizance. In same way, decisions are not made based on mere appearance instead of the buildup. The sound – no based on quick liking and disliking, but the many factors making up the sound, thoughts, seeing the many factors that go into a single thought. If I say, ‘pam shuffled comes to mind.” Usually I like, I don’t like. Cognition. what makes Pam a complete human being, this is often an ability we don’t exercise. Why? We don’t have time. Who has the time? We look at analogy….the art of generating compassion must be generated simple by the fact that as a Human we can be much more pervasive, but we forgot that, the biggest irony of a human life is we have to relate to a religion to get to a Philosophy that are the simplest, natural ones we have. We shouldn’t need someone sitting under a tree 2500 years ago to say ‘be kind.” We are too busy to think clearly, so we are only thinking gain and loss. Accept /reject, accept/reject – are all so busy. No constructive use in doing so. This habit makes us cloud. Let’s us remain in cloudiness. Often called ‘not knowing your enlightened mind which is intrinsic, but instead dealing in clouded mind.” Knowing your own enlightened nature is not a new nature. But is to remove the cloudiness that doesn’t allow us to recognize the true nature of mind. Process of enlightenment is removal of impurities. It entails slower, vaster perspective to things as they are. Is the important antidote to the speediness. Stemming from chaotic mind reverberating from personal acceptance/rejection. Ultimate bodhichitta – own nature we can see things more clearly. Since it is your own nature, why wouldn’t it be your responsibility to uncover? You are creating a lot of problems for other in your acceptance/rejection through chaos. If you aren’t going to remove the causes of suffering….
Patrul Rinpoche said to be constantly reflecting on bodhichitta, your own mind. Longchenpa, in kindly bent to ease us, refers to non-dual insight. Because of need to generate non-dual insight, being untainted by biases and partialities arises from personal ambition. Where there is not personal ambition which generates biases, there is non-dual insight. Non-conceptual realization. That is direct cognition of ….
Longchenpa said sometimes people think direct knowledge of true nature is emptiness. The self doesn’t exist, phenomena doesn’t exist. Therefore, there is no place of self-indulgence; this must be reason for bodhichitta to arise. But is helpful – that direct cogitations are dependence on transcending of conceptualizations. In simple English, keep the story short. When you see things, see things, that’s it. When you hear things, hear things, that’s it. When you think thoughts, think thoughts, that’s it. The dramatization, forms, sounds, thoughts never the problem. Your relationship is where the storyline increases. That becomes the cause of being removed from one’s own ultimate nature. bias and partiality arises due to our immense attachment to drama of thought, forms, sounds. When one liberates habit of dramatization, there is no need to assert a philosophy of emptiness. Sounds by themselves don’t build a crescendo. Thought don’t build themselves. It is a natural disintegration. Producing of acceptance/rejection is also up to you. Can also choose to let it go. When you let go, things don’t have basis of building up.
Now if every…. seems to resist in you, in with participation, or withdrawing and let them collapse. It is your own responsibility. It is our own inherent quality.
2) Relative bodhichitta “why one should develop it- the aspiration of greater good and freedom from suffering?”
Even while in the …, the fact is everything you and I do, because we want happiness, peace, happiness, freedom from suffering. What do you do in life that is not in pursuit of happiness? Especially spirituality. In order to obtain something good, to avoid unhappiness, these are the motivating factors how we live our lives- relationships, work life. If you want happiness, you need to build causes of happiness. If you don’t want unhappiness, need to demolish the causes of unhappiness. For ex., if you love another person, the other person will love you. You can’t be obnoxious and try to make them love you. If you are compassionate, people will like you. If you frown at the mirror and expect the mirror to smile to you, won’t happen. (Laughter)
From relative happiness, if we want happiness bodhichitta is our responsibility. To ultimate, impediments to happiness are tendencies.
So, relative and ultimate bodhichitta being as they are is why they are the responsibility for you. And now, a 10 minute break.