Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Way Of The Bodhisattva 1.15 - 1.16


Bodhichitta, the awakening mind,
In brief is said to have two aspects:
First, aspiring, bodhichitta in intention;
Then, active bodhichitta, practical engagement.


Wishing to depart and setting out upon the road,
This is how the difference is conceived.
The wise and learned thus should understand
This difference, which is ordered and progressive.

Here is the commentary written by Pema Chodron regarding these 2 verses:

Here Shantideva presents the two aspects of relative bodhichitta: aspiration and action. Aspiring, or intentional, bodhichitta is like wishing to take a trip; active bodhichitta is actually setting out on the journey. We first aspire to attain enlightenment and benefit others, then we do whatever it takes to make this a reality.

To give a mundane example: lets say you’re stuck in grasping and craving; you know that you collect and hoard, that you panic when something’s taken from you or you have to let it go. How do you work with unreasonable attachment, for your own sake and the happiness of others?

One way would be to cultivate generosity. At the level of aspiration bodhichitta, you might look around your room for something you love. Then, visualize giving it away: your beautiful red sweater, or that special book, or the chocolate you’re hoarding under your bed. You don’t have to literally give it away, just visualize this. Then expand the offering to include millions of sweaters, books or chocolates. Send these out to particular individuals or into the universe for anyone to receive.

In this way, aspiration bodhichitta accomplishes two things: it fulfills our wish to lessen the pain of self-absorption and our wish to benefit others. Moreover, it we aspire for others to experience not only our gifts but also the joys of an unfettered mind, our intention becomes vaster still.

Intention bodhichitta is a powerful way to work with situations we don’t feel ready to handle. For example, by simply aspiring to give away something we’re attached to, we train our fearful mind to let go. Then active bodhichitta- in this case the ability to literally give- will come about in time.

If we equate ‘giving’ with ‘freedom from craving’ then we become more eager to act, even if it causes some pain.

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