Wisdom and Ultimate Bodhicitta

Ultimate Bodhicitta means Prajna, profound wisdom. The supreme guide, the Buddha, once stated in the Sutra on Initiating the Bodhicitta Vow, “Mahakasyapa, all phenomena are as empty as space, they are intrinsically pure and luminous. This is the arising of Bodhicitta!” Guru Rinpoche said, “Without practising, without being absorbed or distracted, just simply dwell in the awareness of all phenomena. This awareness is original knowing and primordial luminosity. When it arises, it is what is known as Bodhicitta.” The gracious Lama Achuk Rinpoche mentioned in the Guru Yoga That Brings Swift Realisation that, “All sentient beings are primordially Buddha. In order to return to the state of Buddhahood, we generate Bodhichitta.”

Through long-term training in relative Bodhicitta, when causes and conditions gather together, ultimate Bodhicitta, which is free from all fabrication, will eventually arise. Shantideva said, “If a practitioner cannot give up his own happiness for sentient beings and take on their pain, there won’t be any hope for this practitioner to attain enlightenment.”

Our spiritual guide, Shakyamuni Buddha, had once taken birth as a Ksantivadin for 500 lifetimes before he became the Buddha. Among one of these lifetimes, he was a huge turtle. There was a time when 500 merchants were on a treasure-hunting trip at sea but because of damage to the ship, they were all about to die. At this moment, the turtle talked to them in human language, “Please all mount up on my back. I will carry you to the shore.” By the time the turtle arrived at the shore, he was so exhausted that he fell asleep. As he slept, 80,000 mosquitoes were feeding on his blood. Seeing this when he woke up, the turtle thought, “If I go back to the water, or if I roll myself over on the ground, I’m afraid these mosquitoes might all die.” Therefore, he just lay there without moving, and forsook his own body and life. When he later became the Buddha, those 80,000 mosquitoes were able to take birth as celestial beings. They all went to listen to his teaching and realised the nature of the mind.

Once you have realised ultimate Bodhicitta, your compassion towards sentient beings will arise spontaneously and accurately. The more you are aware of the truth that all phenomena are illusory and unreal, the clearer you can see how sentient beings bring suffering upon themselves due to their own ignorance and attachment. As your compassion becomes deeper, this unbearable compassion will prompt you to generate unfailingly the authentic, profound wish of Bodhicitta. When you have assimilated relative Bodhicitta in your mind and it has grown stable, ultimate Bodhicitta will also become increasingly more stable. As your level of realisation grows, your compassion becomes more profound, wider, and more equalised.

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