The disadvantages of not maintaining Bodhicitta

1. The foundation of the great perfection – Bodhicitta

1.3 The disadvantages of not maintaining compassion

Bodhicitta arises through compassion. Without sincere compassion we will not be able to generate Bodhicittta or attain perfect realisation.

Firstly, if we fail to see the sufferings that each sentient being is enduring now, within samsara, and do not seize the opportunity of being compassionate towards them, then we will definitely become attached to the temporary happiness of this life and the next. Attachment is truly the origin of all sufferings in samsara.

Secondly, like the palm and the back of the hand, compassion and emptiness are inseparable. With the foundation of compassion, when we try to understand emptiness we will not be attached to the concept of eternalism or nihilism, nor will we view emptiness incorrectly, either as void or form.

Thirdly, sentient beings are the means through which we experience our differentiating thoughts. Only when our minds are purified of dualistic thinking can we attain Buddhahood through the realisation that our minds are inherently inseparable from other sentient beings.

Fourthly, the habitual tendencies of attachment and discrimination that we have developed since beginningless time can only be eliminated through the process of benefiting sentient beings. It is also through this that we are able to purify our emotional and cognitive obscurations, in order to obtain perfect Buddhahood. We must have compassion for sentient beings and benefiting them must be our most important task. In this way we can attain liberation and become the same as the Buddha.

Without the practice of Bodhicitta we are not practising the Great Perfection. One of Atisha’s students came to ask him, “If we don’t practise Bodhicitta, only emptiness, will we be able to gain perfect realisation?” Atisha answered, “Student, if you don’t have Bodhicitta, even if you spend twenty-four hours of the day in total mental absorption and you don’t even have a single random thought that arises, you will still not be able to attain perfect Buddhahood.”

A real practitioner of Mahayana Buddhism wishes for nothing other than sending all sentient beings to the shore of ultimate liberation, so that they may never suffer within the samsaric ocean of birth and death. They put the welfare of sentient beings first and themselves last. Never for a moment do they forget the hardships of sentient beings and they consider it their responsibility to save them.

This chapter is part of: Introduction Course - Part 2: Bodhichitta