Bodhichitta is a core concept of Mahayana Buddhism meaning the compassionate wish to reach enlightenment for the benefit of others. It is referred to as the path of selfless enlightenment. Its trademark is a strong commitment to profound compassion or love for others.
Advanced technology has enabled us to connect with the world at large via the internet, keep up with old friends on Facebook, meet our perfect love match, buy exotic items from the other side of the world, and yet many people feel lonely, unsatisfied and unhappy. There are more people, more technology, more distractions and more entertainment than ever before and yet many people complain of personal suffering and unhappiness.
I believe this is due in part to a *What About Me? mindset. This is a usual way of relating to the world around one. As one moves through life on a daily basis, it is customary to choose food, music, entertainment, spiritual practices, friends, clothing, ideas - all the large and small parts of daily life - from a viewpoint of "how will this affect me?" "does this satisfy me?" "what will this do for me?"
*Watch this you tube video: What About Me by Mipham, Tibetan Buddhist Lama
Arousing your Bodhichitta heart offers an alternative approach to life. It is tremendously powerful, providing complete satisfaction to self, as a result of sincere concern and compassion for others.
Making a daily practice of awakening your own heart and mind of kindness towards others is what ironically brings about your own happiness and ultimately an enlightened mind. It is this contemplation of others every day that arouses Bodhicitta. Holding others in our hearts pushes ourselves off that coveted seat of ME FIRST.
Each of us has Bodhichitta within us. When we see a child cry, or a friend in distress, or hear on the news of strangers who have been victimized by a natural disaster, it tugs at our bodhichitta heart strings. Sometimes we have a sudden desire for someone to do well, or wish good things for them just because we love the person. We all experience moments of love and compassion as a natural expression of the inherent light that resides at the core of our being.
This natural instinct can be cultivated to grow with practice until it becomes the usual response to daily life, and a What About You? mindset becomes the norm. The result is win-win, sending out ripples that touch everything and everyone in a positive way.
You can start by giving yourself a few extra minutes in the morning before leaping out of bed. Think of someone you love and with a strong wish say, "May Sally enjoy happiness" and "May Sally be free from suffering". Depending on how much time you have, generate compassionate energy as a loving wish for each of the dear people in your life. It doesn't need to state a specific wish for "Joe to get the job", just think about the person and wish happiness for them. You will notice a feeling begins to manifest within yourself. It is this compassionate energy that is powerful and will arouse your Bodhichitta heart.
Next is a bit trickier, but important. Apply this loving energy to the neutral people in your life, such as the teller at the bank, or person behind the counter at the post office. And go through the mantra with them in mind. The mantra is your wish or desire for them to be happy.
And the last, is the hardest - your enemies. Don't start with your most dreaded, bitter enemy first. Start with those who merely irritate you, those you just 'don't like', the ones you avoid or look down upon. Then transfer that FEELING of love you had for Sally to this person. And with that feeling in your heart, repeat the mantra of "May my enemy be happy and free from suffering". Gradually, your mind will become strong enough (and courageous enough) to do this with those people you actually consider to be bitter enemies.
Bodhichitta practice can be done while waiting in line at the bank. Or in traffic. Anywhere. For example, glance over and see the other fellow on the freeway, perhaps irritated or late for work and now stuck as you are. And wish him happiness and freedom from suffering.
This practice is a deeply powerful one that builds on itself. Why is this powerful? Because we have divided our world up.
Arousing Bodhichitta makes our minds and lives more even, more peaceful and provides a sense of balance and sharing. It begins to soften our hearts. Those hard edges, which divide you and me, start to disappear and we begin to actually experience how everyone's happiness and freedom from suffering inevitably enhances our personal world.
If my enemy were happy and not suffering, he would not hate me and cause me to suffer. Hate and happiness cannot coexist.
It's a simple practice. There is no need to complicate it. Just think of your loved ones, friends, those people you don't know but come in contact with, as well as your enemies. There is no need to recount your stories about any of these people. Just hold them in your heart and mind and wish them happiness and freedom from suffering.
The stories are what keep us separate. Bodhichitta is what brings us together.
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