COMPASSION AND BODHICITTA
"All the peace and happiness of the whole
the peace and happiness of societies,
the peace and happiness of family,
the peace and happiness in the individual persons' life,
and the peace and happiness of even the animals and so forth,
all depends on having loving kindness toward each other."
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
COMPASSION IN PERSPECTIVE
One can distinguish the three different scopes of motivation to engage in Buddhist practices:
- With the lowest scope of motivation, one realises the problems one
can encounter in the next life, and one is concerned about working to
achieve a good rebirth. In fact, this is not even a spiritual
goal, as it relates to worldly happiness for oneself alone.
- With the medium scope of motivation, one realises that within cyclic
existence there is no real happiness to be found, and one strives
for personal liberation or Nirvana.
- With the highest scope of motivation, one realises that all sentient
beings are suffering within cyclic existence, and one strives
to free all beings from suffering.
WHAT IS COMPASSION
A praise of compassion by Lama Zopa Rinpoche:
"Live with compassion
Work with compassion
Die with compassion
Meditate with compassion
Enjoy with compassion
When problems come,
Experience them with compassion."
The definition of compassion is:
wanting sentient beings to be free from suffering. So compassion is the definition
of the highest scope of motivation.
It is said that to generate
genuine compassion, one needs to realise that oneself is suffering,
that an end to suffering is possible, and that other beings similarly
want to be free from suffering.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama:
"Nirvana [liberation from the cycle of uncontrolled rebirth] may be the final object of attainment,
but at the moment it is difficult to reach. Thus the practical
and realistic aim is compassion, a warm heart, serving other people,
helping others, respecting others, being less selfish. By practising
these, you can gain benefit and happiness that remain longer.
If you investigate the purpose of life and, with the motivation
that results from this inquiry, develop a good heart - compassion
and love. Using your whole life this way, each day will become
useful and meaningful."
"Every human being has the same potential for
compassion; the only question is whether we really take any care
of that potential, and develop and implement it in our daily life.
My hope is that more and more people will realise the value of
compassion, and so follow the path of altruism. As for myself,
ever since I became a Buddhist monk, that has been my real destiny
- for usually I think of myself as just one simple Buddhist monk,
no more and no less."
Another quote from His Holiness the Dalai Lama,
"Compassion without attachment is possible.
Therefore, we need to clarify the distinctions between compassion
and attachment. True compassion is not just an emotional response
but a firm commitment founded on reason. Because of this firm
foundation, a truly compassionate attitude toward others does
not change even if they behave negatively. Genuine compassion
is based not on our own projections and expectations, but rather
on the needs of the other: irrespective of whether another person
is a close friend or an enemy, as long as that person wishes for
peace and happiness and wishes to overcome suffering, then on
that basis we develop genuine concern for their problem. This
is genuine compassion.
For a Buddhist practitioner, the goal is to develop this genuine
compassion, this genuine wish for the well-being of another, in
fact for every living being throughout the universe."
Find more teachings of H.H. the Dalai Lama in Compassion,
the Supreme Emotion.
Sogyal Rinpoche, from Glimpse of the Day:
"The times when you are suffering can be
those when you are open, and where you are extremely vulnerable
can be where your greatest strength really lies.
Say to yourself: “I am not going to run away from this suffering.
I want to use it in the best and richest way I can, so that I
can become more compassionate and more helpful to others.”
Suffering, after all, can teach us about compassion. If you suffer,
you will know how it is when others suffer. And if you are in
a position to help others, it is through your suffering that you
will find the understanding and compassion to do so."
"Sometimes we think that to develop an open
heart, to be truly loving and compassionate, means that we need
to be passive, to allow others to abuse us, to smile and let anyone
do what they want with us. Yet this is not what is meant by compassion.
Quite the contrary. Compassion is not at all weak. It is the strength
that arises out of seeing the true nature of suffering in the
world. Compassion allows us to bear witness to that suffering,
whether it is in ourselves or others, without fear; it allows
us to name injustice without hesitation, and to act strongly,
with all the skill at our disposal. To develop this mind state
of compassion...is to learn to live, as the Buddha put it, with
sympathy for all living beings, without exception."
on Kamalashila's 'Stages of Meditation in the Middle Way School
by Kenchen Thrangu Rinpoche:
"...everbody thinks that compassion is
important, and everyone has compassion. True enough, but the Buddha
gave uncommon quintessential instructions when he taught the methods
for cultivating compassion, and the differences are extraordinarily
Generally, everyone feels compassion, but the
compassion is flawed. In what way? We measure it out. For instance,
some feel compassion for human beings but not for animals and
other types of sentient beings. Others feel compassion for animals
and some other types of sentient beings but not for humans. Others,
who feel compassion for human beings, feel compassion for the
human beings of their own country but not for the human beings
of other countries. Then, some feel compassion for their friends
but not for anyone else. Thus, it seems that we draw a line somewhere.
We feel compassion for those on one side of the line but not for
those on the other side of the line. We feel compassion for one
group but not for another. That is where our compassion is flawed.
What did the Buddha say about that? It is not necessary to draw
that line. Nor is it suitable. Everyone wants compassion, and
we can extend our compassion to everyone."
Bodhicitta: Cultivating the Compassionate Mind of Enlightenment
by Ven. Lobsang Gyatso:
"We ordinary individuals share the characteristic
of having our attempts to gain happiness thwarted by our own destructive
self-centeredness. It is unsuitable to keep holding onto the self-centered
attitude while ignoring others.
If two friends find themselves floundering in a muddy swamp they
should not ridicule each other, but combine their energies to
get out. Both ourselves and others are in the same position of
wanting happiness and not wanting suffering, but we are entangled
in a web of ignorance that prevents us from achieving those goals.
Far from regarding it as an "every man for himself"
situation, we should meditate upon the equality of self and others
and the need to be helpful to other beings."
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BODHICITTA (or BODHICHITTA)
'Bodhi' is Sanskrit for Enlightenment and 'Citta'
means Mind. It refers to the wish to attain enlightenment (become
a Buddha) for the benefit of all sentient beings.
is a being (sattva) with the bodhicitta motivation.
A short story:
An enthusiastic student asks his teacher: "Master,
what can I do to help all the suffering beings in this world?"
The teacher answers: "Indeed, what can you do?"
So, even if I am genuinely concerned about the
welfare of others, when I am hopelessly lost in my own problems,
trying to deal with the world, how can I help others? I would be
like jumping into a river where someone is drowning, when I cannot
Therefore, I should first learn to swim, learn to deal with
my problems, learn how overcome my own problems, or
at best, become all-knowing or enlightened. The realisation comes:
"If I really want to change the world, I need to start with myself".
This idea is called Bodhicitta: the wish to become an omniscient
Buddha so I can perfectly help others.
But in order to collect enough positive momentum
(Karma) to become a Buddha, I also need to help others as much as
possible on my path. But I should realise that at this moment my
help is limited, simply because I don't know all the results of
A short real story: one time at Tushita Meditation Center
in Dharamsala, India, people in a meditation course decided
to collect money for the beggars in town after they heard the benefits of generosity.
When looking around town the next day to hand out the money, only one beggar
could be found in the streets. The generous people then decided to give this one beggar
all the money. A couple of days later, the beggar was found dead
in the street: he had drunk himself to death with all the money.....
While helping others, we should not forget
the ideal goal of becoming a Buddha to be of much more help; so ideally,
it is best if we can be mindful of dedicating any positive energy to this
Some reflections by the Indian saint Shantideva:
"Whatever joy there is in this world
All comes from desiring others to be happy,
And whatever suffering there is in this world,
All comes from desiring myself to be happy.
But what need is there to say much more?
The childish work for their own benefit,
The Buddhas work for the benefit of others.
Just look at the difference between them!"
Or, as Shantideva reflected the far-reaching thought
"May I become food and drink in the aeons of
famine for those poverty-stricken sufferers.
May I be a doctor, medicine and nurse for all sick beings in the
world until everyone is cured.
May I become never-ending wish-fulfilling treasures materialising
in front of each of them as all the enjoyments they need.
May I be a guide for those who do not have a guide, a leader for
those who journey, a boat for those who want to cross over, and
all sorts of ships, bridges, beautiful parks for those who desire
them, and light for those who need light.
And may I become beds for those who need a rest, and a servant
to all who need servants.
May I also become the basic conditions for all sentient beings,
such as earth or even the sky, which is indestructible.
May I always be the living conditions for all sentient beings
until all sentient beings are enlightened."
The realisation of Bodhicitta (that means completely integrating this ideal in our mind and actions) is quite profound,
as it is obviously not easy to (automatically) put the welfare of
others above our own welfare. Someone who lives with this realisation
is called a Bodhisattva: in all respects a genuine saint.
It may be interesting to note that His Holiness
the Dalai Lama considered Mother Theresa a Bodhisattva, and Jesus
as well; so Bodhisattvas are not necessarily Buddhists!
"Bodhicitta or the altruistic aspiration
to attain Enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings
is a state of mind which cannot be cultivated or generated within
one's mental continuum simply by praying for it to come into being
in one's mind. Nor will it come into existence by simply developing
the understanding of what that mind is. One must generate that
mind within one's mind's continuum.
In order to engage in meditation with sustained effort over a
period of time what is crucial is first of all to be convinced
of the positive qualities of that mind, and the benefits and merits
of generating such a state of mind. It is only when one has seen
the qualities, merits and benefits of generating such a state
of mind that one will be able to generate within oneself a genuine
enthusiasm and perseverance in engaging in a meditation which
would enable the individual to generate the mind."
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Making Space with Bodhicitta
By Lama Thubten Yeshe
"Bodhicitta is the essential, universal
This most pure thought is the wish and the will to bring all sentient
beings to the realisation of their highest potential, enlightenment.
The Bodhisattva sees the crystal nature that exists in each of
us, and by recognising the beauty of our human potential, always
For the disrespectful mind, human beings are like grass, something
to be used. "Ah, he means nothing to me. Human beings are
nothing to me."
We all try to take advantage of someone else, to profit only for
ourselves. The entire world is built on attachment. Big countries
overwhelm small countries, big children take candy from small
children, husbands take advantage of their wives. I make friends
with someone because he can benefit me. It is the same with the
rest of the world. Boyfriends, girlfriends. Everybody wants something.
The desire to make friends only for the other person's benefit
is extremely rare; however, it is very worthwhile. Buddha explained
that even one moment's thought of this mind dedicated to enlightenment
for the sake of others can destroy a hundred thousand lifetimes'
We have attachment that makes us tight and uncomfortable. But
even a tiny spark of bodhicitta's heat makes the heart warm and
Bodhicitta is the powerful solution, the atomic energy that destroys
the kingdom of attachment.
Bodhicitta is not emotional love. By understanding the relative
nature of sentient beings and seeing their highest destination,
and by developing the willingness to bring all beings to that
state of enlightenment, the mind is filled with love born from
wisdom, not emotion.
Bodhicitta is not partial. Wherever you go with bodhicitta if
you meet people, rich people or poor people, black or white, you
are comfortable and you can communicate.
We have a fixed idea; life is this way or that. "This is
good. This is bad." We do not understand the different aspects
of the human condition. But, having this incredible universal
thought, our narrow mind vanishes automatically. It is so simple;
you have space and life becomes easier.
For example, someone looks at us, at our home, at our garden and
we freak out. We are so insecure and tight in our hearts. Arrogant.
"Don't look at me." But with bodhicitta there is space.
When someone looks we can say, "Hmm. She's looking. But that's
O.K." Do you understand? Rather than feeling upset you know
it is all right.
Bodhicitta is the intoxicant that numbs us against pain and fills
us with bliss.
Bodhicitta is the alchemy that transforms every action into benefit
Bodhicitta is the cloud that carries the rain of positive energy
to nourish growing things.
Bodhicitta is not doctrine. It is a state of mind. This inner
experience is completely individual. So how can we see who is
a Bodhisattva and who is not? can we see the self-cherishing mind?
If we feel insecure ourselves we will project that negative feeling
onto others. We need the pure innermost thought of bodhicitta;
wherever we go that will take care of us."
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METHODS TO GENERATE BODHICITTA
The 4-Point Mind Training is based on cultivating
1. Equanimity: One can cultivate the realisation
that all sentient beings are equal in wanting happiness and not
wanting suffering. Beings cannot really be divided into friends,
enemies or strangers because friends may turn into enemies, enemies
may become friends, and strangers may become friends or enemies.
2. Faults of self-cherishing: a consequence of karma is that
self-cherishing is the only cause of my problems.
3. Good qualities of cherishing others: a consequence of
karma is that cherishing others is the cause of all happiness, including my own.
4. Exchanging self & others: being 'intelligently selfish',
we can continually try to put ourselves in the place of others, and
The 7-Point Mind Training is based on cultivation realisations
in 7 steps:
2. Recognizing that all sentient beings have been (or at least could have been) my
mother as I have lived innumerable lives. (See Rebirth.)
3. Remember the kindness of your mother in this life, all she did
for you, the problems she went through to take care of you.
4. Wishing to repay the kindness of her and all previous mothers.
5. Generate great love: may all mother sentient beings have happiness
and the causes for happiness.
6. Generate great compassion: may all mother sentient beings be
free from suffering and the causes for suffering
7. Generate bodhichitta: should give up all self-cherishing and egoism, and work to
bring them happiness and release them from their suffering:
therefore, may I become an omniscient Buddha, as he is the perfect
doctor to cure the suffering of all mother sentient beings.
From: All You Ever Wanted to Know from His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Happiness, Life, Living, and Much More:
The Seven-Point Cause-and-Effect Method (for the development of an altruistic mind):
(1) The first of the seven points is the cultivation of equanimity - that is, a state of mind that tries to equalize the strong attachment to friends, the strong hatred for enemies, and for an indifferent attitude toward neutral people.
(2) The second stage is remembering our own beginningless rebirths so that we can recognize that all sentient beings have been our mothers, friends, and relatives at one time or another.
(3) Third, having recognized them as such, we recollect and reflect on the kindnesses they extended to us. This attitude - the special recollection of kindnesses - does not discriminate between friends and enemies; even enemies are regarded as kind.
(4) The next step is to repay their kindnesses by reflecting how our mother of this lifetime extends her kindness to us and how parents extend their kindness to their children.
(5) Next comes the stage of loving-kindness. This is a state of mind that cherishes all sentient beings. Having developed this loving-kindness for all sentient beings, we wish that all sentient beings be free from suffering. That is compassion.
(6) This is followed by an unusual attitude in which we take upon ourselves the responsibility to free all sentient beings from suffering.
(7) And the final stage is actual Bodhicitta, the altruistic attitude to achieve enlightenment. This is experienced partly by the force of our strong compassion for the suffering of all sentient beings, the feeling of being able to see their suffering, and partly by the understanding that it is possible for the mind of a sentient being to be freed from its delusions. All sentient beings have the potential to achieve the omniscient state. Understanding this, combined with a strong force of compassion, brings about the experience of Bodhicitta.
In the Tibetan tradition, verses like the following are
often recited to direct the mind towards generating Bodhicitta:
With a wish to free all beings
I shall always go for refuge
To the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha,
Until I reach full enlightenment.
Enthused by wisdom and compassion,
today in the Buddhas' presence
I generate the Mind for Full Awakening
For the benefit of all sentient beings.
As long as space remains,
As long as sentient beings remain,
Until then, may I too remain
And dispel the miseries of the world.
HOW TO BE COMPASSIONATE TO
Someone asked the following question to His Holiness
the Dalai Lama:
"How does a person or group of people compassionately
and yet straightforwardly confront another person or group of
people who have committed crimes of genocide against them?"
His Holiness: "When talking about
compassion and compassionately dealing with such situations one
must bear in mind what is meant by compassionately dealing with
such cases. Being compassionate towards such people or such a
person does not mean that you allow the other person to do whatever
the other person or group of people wishes to do, inflicting suffering
upon you and so on. Rather, compassionately dealing with such
a situation has a different meaning.
When a person or group of people deals with such a situation and
tries to prevent such crimes there is generally speaking two ways
in which you could do that, or one could say, two motivations.
One is out of confrontation, out of hatred that confronts such
a situation. There is another case in which, although in action
it may be of the same force and strength, but the motivation would
not be out of hatred and anger but rather out of compassion towards
the perpetrators of these crimes.
Realising that if you allow the other person, the perpetrator
of the crime, to indulge his or her own negative habits then in
the long run the other person or group is going to suffer the
consequences of that negative action. Therefore, out of the consideration
of the potential suffering for the perpetrator of such crimes,
then you confront the situation and apply equally forceful and
I think this is quite relevant and important in modern society,
especially in a competitive society. When someone genuinely practices
compassion, forgiveness and humility then sometimes some people
will take advantage of such a situation. Sometimes it is necessary
to take a countermeasure, then with that kind of reasoning and
compassion, the countermeasure is taken with reasoning and compassion
rather than out of negative emotion. That is actually more effective
and appropriate. This is important. For example my own case with
Tibet in a national struggle against injustice we take action
without using negative emotion. It sometimes seems more effective."
From His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Healing
Anger: The Power of Patience from a Buddhist Perspective:
"One of the reasons there is a need to
adopt a strong countermeasure against someone who harms you is
that, if you let it pass, there is a danger of that person becoming
habituated to extremely negative actions, which in the long run
will cause that person's own downfall and is very destructive
for the individual himself or herself. Therefore a strong countermeasure,
taken out of compassion or a sense of concern for the other, is
necessary. When you are motivated by that realization, then there
is a sense of concern as part of your motive for taking that strong
...One of the reasons why there is some ground to feel compassionate
toward a perpetrator of crime or an aggressor is that the aggressor,
because he or she is perpetrating a crime, is at the causal stage,
accumulating the causes and conditions that later lead to undesirable
consequences. So, from that point of view, there is enough ground
to feel compassionate toward the aggressor."
TAKING AND GIVING - TONG LEN
This practice is possibly the ultimate practice
in altruism. It is definitely not easy to get ourselves to genuinely do this, but if done well, it quickly undermines
our selfishness. Shantideva expressed the value of this
practice as follows:
"If I do not actually exchange my happiness
For the sufferings of others,
I shall not attain the state of Buddhahood
And even in cyclic existence I shall have no joy."
Look here for a detailed description of the
meditation of taking and giving.
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There are two levels in the development of bodhicitta;
aspiring and engaging bodhicitta.
A person with the aspiring intention
wants to attain enlightenment to help others, but he or she is not yet
prepared to engage in all of the practices and activities necessary
to do so. Such a person may want to take the aspiring bodhicitta vows.
On the other hand, someone who has generated the engaging altruistic intention and is prepared to joyfully undertake the Bodhisattva's
practices of the six perfections, can take the bodhisattva vows.
between aspiring and engaging bodhicitta is similar to the difference
between wanting to go somewhere, and actually travelling there.
These vows are always taken on the basis of having taken refuge
in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) first (including some or all of the five lay
precepts). Details on the precepts of engaging in aspiring bodhicitta
can be found on the Aspiring
THE BODHISATTVA VOWS
One can take the Bodhisattva vows, if one wants
to commit oneself to the path of wanting to help all sentient beings,
and therefore striving for Buddhahood. A Bodhisattva (bodhi = enlightenment,
sattva = being) is a person with the bodhicitta motivation.
is not necessarily a practice for small-minded or fearful people,
as Lama Anagorika Govinda writes in A Living Buddhism for the
"Fearlessness is the most prominent characteristic
of all bodhisattvas and all who tread the bodhisattva path. For
them, life has lost its terrors and suffering its sting. Instead
of scorning earthly existence, or condemning its 'imperfection',
they fill it with a new meaning."
Merely going through the ritual of taking the vows does
not really 'give' the vows. It is said that you only really receive
them if you genuinely experience development of bodhicitta, which
is a profound realisation. The ceremony is intended to give imprints
on the mind so we can develop this precious altruistic attitude.
The main vow is to always work for the benefit of all sentient beings.
So the Bodhisattva vows go beyond just this life, and are basically
being taken until all sentient beings are enlightened!
The Bodhisattva vows consist of the so-called 18
root (or main) vows and the 46 minor vows, which are given in the
page on Bodhisattva Vows.
"We will now speak about the benefits of
the bodhisattva vow. In the sutrayana teachings, there are 230
benefits talked about by the Buddha. We will condense these and
explain them in four points.
The first benefit of having obtained the bodhisattva vow is that
through the practice of bodhicitta, we will learn how to remove
suffering and obtain happiness. We will come to recognize that
the root of all happiness is bodhicitta.
Secondly, having developed bodhicitta, not only do we experience
our own happiness that is free from suffering, but with the bodhisattva
vow, we are able to benefit others by giving happiness and removing
suffering. For example, a long time ago Buddha Shakyamuni turned
the wheel of Dharma in India in a place known as Bodh Gaya. Because
the Buddha turned the wheel of the Dharma and revealed the teachings,
they spread to many other countries where people practiced them
and achieved the complete realization of Buddhahood, the experience
of ultimate happiness free from suffering. How did all those beings
obtain Buddhahood? They did this by following the instruction
of Shakyamuni Buddha. How did Shakyamuni Buddha himself obtain
the level of the ultimate experience of happiness? In the very
beginning he developed what is known as bodhicitta. Through the
development and perfection of bodhicitta, the Buddha was able
to benefit limitless beings. When we begin to develop the altruistic
attitude of bodhicitta, it may seem to be quite limited, as a
very small number of such thoughts arise in our mind, and we think
this really cannot help anybody. However, in the long run, as
bodhicitta develops, we become more familiar with it and realize
that this buddha activity is the source of all happiness, and
the method to remove suffering and benefit uncountable beings.
The third benefit of obtaining the bodhisattva vow and developing
bodhicitta is that since we all have our greatest enemy within
ourselves, the conflicting emotions, through which we experience
endless suffering, it is bodhicitta that gives us the strength
to overcome these conflicting emotions. Bodhicitta is like a sword
that cuts through all suffering .
The fourth benefit of developing pure bodhicitta is that it is
the root of obtaining ultimate happiness for self and others.
If it is not pure, we can not experience happiness, nor can we
teach others to experience happiness. Bodhicitta is like a precious,
Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche
PRACTISING THE 6 PERFECTIONS
On the path of a Bodhisattva, one should practice what are called
the six perfections of: giving, ethics, patience, joyous effort,
concentration and wisdom. The first five are methods, and the last -
wisdom - is necessary for any of them to function.
It is said that mainly the first three are practices for the lay
people, joyous effort and concentration mainly refer to meditation
The famous Tibetan practitioner Milarepa wrote an amazingly 'simple' summary of the six perfections:
For generosity, nothing to do,
Other than stop fixating on self.
For morality, nothing to do,
Other than stop being dishonest.
For patience, nothing to do,
Other than not fear what is ultimately true.
For effort, nothing to do,
Other than practise continuously.
For meditative stability, nothing to do,
Other than rest in presence.
For wisdom, nothing to do,
Other than know directly how things are.
When looking at the things we should not do, it may be obvious that the above words may be simple, but the actual practice is not that easy and simple at all...
Giving one's possessions, virtues, even one's body if needed.
Giving of fearlessness, or protection to others.
Practising mentally giving to others.
Giving of Dharma, the Buddha's teachings.
'Others are my main concern. When I notice something
of mine, I steal it and give it to others.'
In giving we not only find wealth while in cyclic
existence but we achieve the zenith of prosperity in supreme enlightenment.
Therefore we all have to practice giving. A Bodhisattva's giving
is not just overcoming miserliness and being generous to others;
a pure wish to give is cultivated, and through developing more
and more intimacy with it, such giving is enhanced infinitely.
Therefore it is essential to have the firm mind of enlightenment
rooted in great love and compassion and, from the depths of one's
heart, to either give one's body, wealth and virtues literally
to sentient beings as infinite as space, or to dedicate one's
body, wealth and virtues for them while striving in all possible
ways to enhance the wish to give infinitely. As mentioned in Engaging
in Bodhisattva Activities and in The Precious Garland, we should
literally give material help to the poor and needy, give teaching
to others, and give protection to them, even the small insects,
as much as we can. In the case of things which we are not able
to part with, we should cultivate the wish to give them away and
develop more and more intimacy with that wish.
Wisdom: Commentaries by H.H. the Dalai Lama XIV on the Jatakamala
Keeping one's vows.
Working for sentient beings.
Restraining from negative actions.
Collecting merit (with the motivation of helping others).
Having patience in understanding Dharma and gaining faith.
Being undisturbed by anguish from suffering.
Practise patience before getting angry.
Having patience in accepting problems.
Being undisturbed by inflicted harm.
Joyous effort / perseverance
Collecting merit and helping others
Delighting in virtue and every beneficial action.
Avoiding putting off; craving worldly pleasures and discouragement.
'It is not good to begin many different works, saying 'This looks
good; that looks good', touching this, touching that, and not
succeeding in any of them. If you do not generate great desires
but aim at what is fitting, you can actualise the corresponding
potencies and become an expert in that. With success, the power
or imprint of that practice is generated.'
His Holiness the Dalai Lama from 'Tantra
"Milarepa turned his back to Gampopa and lifted his cotton
cloth, thus revealing his buttocks, which were completely covered
with hard calluses from all his extensive sitting on the stony
grounds of caves. He said, "There is nothing more profound
than meditating on this pith instruction. The qualities in my
mind stream have arisen through my having meditated so persistently
that my buttocks have become like this. You must also give rise
to such heartfelt perseverance and meditate!" This final
instruction remained in the depths of Gampopa's mind forever."
from the heart: Buddhist Pith Instructions'
Developing quiescence; single pointedness, stability & firmness
This brings great progress in any meditation practice and supernatural
Cultivating inner needs: to have few wants and generating contentment,
abandoning demands of the world,
and have pure ethics.
Creating outer needs: conducive place: quiet, easy food &
water, blessed place, not too comfortable
and a helper.
Generating ultimate wisdom (emptiness) to achieve liberation and
Generating relative wisdom in practising the first five perfections
and understanding karma.
Wisdom and compassion are the foundatiuons of Mahayana practice.
(See the Wisdom page.)
Below a quote
I really like from Shen Shi'an:
"The different degrees of compassionate empathy:
||A : [Simply ignores her]
B : Hey! Look at her!
C : Do you think she needs help?
D : Oh! The poor thing! I hope someone will help her!
E : Maybe she hopes you are that someone!
F : Maybe you yourself can be that someone!
G : Maybe we should just try helping her now!
H : Maybe I should try helping first - while the rest of
I : [Does not comment, and just goes forth to offer help]
Who are you?
A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H or I?
Is it time to upgrade? "
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ADVICE FROM HIS HOLINESS THE 14th DALAI LAMA
Recently a group presented to H.H. the Dalai Lama what they believed the five most important questions to be considered
moving into the new millennium.
The five questions were:
1. How do we address the widening gap between rich and
2. How do we protect the earth?
3. How do we educate our children?
4. How do we help Tibet and other oppressed countries and
peoples of the world?
5. How do we bring spirituality (deep caring for one another)
through all disciplines of life?
The Dalai Lama said all five questions fall under the last one.
If we have true compassion in our hearts, our children will be educated
wisely, we will care for the earth, those who "have not" will be
He then shared the following simple practice that will increase loving
and compassion in the world. He asked everyone in the group to share
it with as many people as they can.
1. Spend 5 minutes at the beginning of each
day remembering we all want the same things (to be happy and be
loved) and we are all connected to one another.
2. Spend 5 minutes -- breathing in - cherishing yourself; and,
breathing out - cherishing others. If you think about people you
have difficulty cherishing, extend your cherishing to them anyway.
3. During the day extend that attitude to everyone you meet. Practice
cherishing the simplest person (clerks, attendants, etc., as well
as the "important" people in your life; cherish the people you
love and the people you dislike).
4. Continue this practice no matter what happens or what anyone
does to you.
These thoughts are very simple, inspiring and helpful.
The practice of cherishing can be taken very deep if done wordlessly;
allowing yourself to feel the love and appreciation that already
exists in your heart.
Some additional thoughts of the Dalai Lama, from
"The Meaning of Life" (slightly edited):
"One technique for developing altruism is
called equalising and switching self and other. Here, one should
investigate which side is important, oneself or others. Choose.
There is no other choice - only these two. Who is more important,
you or others? Others are greater in number than you, who is just
one; others are infinite. It is clear that neither wants suffering
and both want happiness, and that both have every right to achieve
happiness and to overcome suffering because both are sentient
Let me describe how this is practised in meditation.
This is my own practice, and I frequently speak about it to others.
Imagine that in front of you on one side is your old, selfish
I and that on the other side is a group of poor, needy people.
And you yourself are in the middle as a neutral person, a third
party. Then, judge which is more important: should you
join this one selfish, self-centred, stupid person or these poor,
needy, helpless people. If you have a human heart, naturally you
will be drawn to the side of the needy beings.
This type of reflective contemplation will help
in developing an altruistic attitude; you gradually will realise
how bad selfish behaviour is. You yourself, up to now, have been
behaving this way, but now you realise how bad you were. Nobody
wants to be a bad person; if someone says, "You are a bad person,"
we feel very angry. Why? The main reason is simply that we do
not want to be bad. If we really do not want to be a bad person,
then the means to avoid it is in our own hands. If we train in
the behaviour of a good person, we will become good. Nobody else
has the right to put a person in the categories of good or bad;
no one has that kind of power."
^Top of Page
by Thich Nhat Hanh
promise me this day,
promise me now,
while the sun is overhead
exactly at the zenith,
Even as they strike you down
with a mountain of hatred and violence;
even as they step on you and crush you like a worm,
even as they dismember and disembowel you,
remember, brother, remember:
man is not your enemy.
The only thing worthy of you is compassion --
invincible, limitless, unconditional.
Hatred will never let you face the beast in man.
One day, when you face this beast alone,
with your courage intact, your eyes kind, untroubled
(even as no one sees them),
out of your smile will bloom a flower.
And those who love you
will behold you
across ten thousands worlds of birth and dying.
I will go on with bent head,
knowing that love has become eternal.
On the long, rough road,
the sun and the moon
will continue to shine.
For months at a time, I can be tremendously active and capable
of helping others. Inevitably, a difficult situation arises, and
I despair of ever making any difference in the world whatsoever.
I realize that good heart is the way to go, but how can I deal
with these periods of burnout?
Ideally, we serve others with pure heart, not expecting gratitude,
payment or recognition. We accept complaints with equanimity and
patiently continue, knowing that people don't always see the purpose
of what we're doing. Though our actions may seem insignificant
or unproductive, if our motivation is pure and we dedicate the
merit expansively, we generate great virtue. Though we may not
accomplish what we set out to do, auspicious conditions and our
ability to benefit others in the future will only increase. No
effort is wasted; when someone witnesses our loving kindness,
he sees a new way of responding to anger or aggression. This becomes
a reference point in his mind that, like a seed, will eventually
flower when conditions ripen. Then when we dedicate the virtue,
our loving kindness will extend to all beings.
We mustn't become discouraged if someone we are trying to help
continues to experience the results of her negative karma and,
in the process, creates the causes of future suffering. Instead,
because she doesn't have enough merit for her suffering to end,
we must redouble our efforts to accumulate merit and dedicate
it to her and others. We're not out to accomplish selfish aims.
We are trying to establish the causes of lasting happiness for
all beings. By purifying our self-interest and mental poisons,
we develop a heroic mind. The process of going beyond suffering
and helping others do the same is the way of the Bodhisattva.
Question (Alexandra): I hate to harp on this,
but how do we ensure our own benefit while we're helping others?
Answer: If we do whatever we can to reach out,
help, and serve others, our own merit will naturally increase
and infalliably produce benefit for ourselves as well - infalliably.""
For more meditations, see the List
of Sample Meditations.
The classic Bodhicaryavatara by the ancient master Shantideva: see a
commentary on this text from His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Another famous teaching in the Tibetan tradition on practising the
Bodhisattva path are the '37
practices of a Bodhisattva'; with a commentary
by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and a commentary the American
nun Thubten Chodron
on the web.
See also the Discourse on
Loving-Kindness - a short Sutra, by Shakyamuni Buddha
A nice chanting video
Always remember you're unique.
Just like everyone else.
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.
That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have
If nobody is perfect, I must be nobody.
updated: May 11, 2015