| teachings & speeches index |

Generating Bodhicitta

Avolikiteshvara, the Bodhisattava of Compassion 

On July 27 His Holiness gave a teaching and performed the ritual for Aspirational Bodhicitta as part of the ceremony for laying the cornerstone of the Chamtse Ling, an international temple for peace and compassion.

The following explanation of this teaching was provided by Rinchen Darlo, His Holiness' official representative in the United States. It is not a summary of His Holiness' profound teaching. If you would like to read the entire text of the teaching, go here.

Among the Buddha's great gifts to humanity were his teachings on love and compassion. The power of practicing these teachings is likened to an alchemical elixir, able to transform our difficulties into opportunities for awakening. All beings share the wish to be happy and avoid suffering. Toward this end we engage in the myriad activities of our lives. Our focus, however, can be quite unbalanced, putting tremendous emphasis on external conditions and neglecting our inner state. Whatever effort we do make towards inner development is also undermined by our habitual self-centeredness. This self-centered mind, if we look closely, is actually the cause of our unhappiness. On the other hand, a kind and unselfish heart is the source of all happiness and joy. We have within ourselves the basis of a kind, compassionate nature, and it can grow limitlessly if cultivated. Conjoining a kind heart with the wisdom realizing emptiness is the ultimate aim of spiritual development. This mind has the unshakable intent to attain enlightenment in order to benefit all beings. In Buddhism, individuals with this level of inner development are called Bodhisattvas. Bodhi means "enlightenment"--a fully realized state free from the limitations of even the most subtle ignorance. Sattva refers to someone with a dedicated and courageous heart, working to overcome narrow selfish interest in order to benefit others. Countless beings through great effort have actualized this ultimate state, and it is equally possible for us. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is an inspirational example of this great mind. He shares his experience through teaching and explanation, as well as by conducting a bodhicitta ceremony. The first step in developing Bodhi-mind is "aspiration"; we must have the wish to develop ourselves in this way. The second step is "application." This is formalized through taking a vow to accomplish, as did all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the past, the activities necessary to achieve enlightenment for others. The ceremony lays the seed to develop bodhicitta within our mindstream. Individuals may participate in this ceremony with the intention of either aspiration or application.

After His Holiness finished his teaching, he requested that all those present who were Buddhists kneel, join their palms, and recite the following verses:

The Seven Branches of Worship:
The Key to Purifying Misdeeds and Accumulating Merit
As Well As Offering the Mandala

To all the Buddhas who traverse the three times,

To the Teaching and the spiritual community

I bow down with emanations of my body

Equal to the number of atoms in a Buddha-field.

Just as Bodhisattvas such as Manjushri
Make offering to the Conquerors,
So I make offering to you, Thus Gone Ones,
You, the Protectors and your offspring.

In this beginningless cyclic existence
In this life or in others
Compelled by the errors of ignorance
I needlessly engaged in misdeeds.

I urged others to commit wrongdoings
And rejoiced in others' bad actions as well.
Having understood my faults
I confess them to the Protectors from my heart.

I rejoice with pleasure in actions helpful to beings
And in the oceans of virtue
Which increase the altruistic aspiration
And bring happiness to all.

I join my palms requesting
The Buddhas of all the directions,
"Please light the lamps of the teaching
For beings who suffer in dark confusion."

I pray with joined palms
To the Buddhas who wish for final Nirvana,
"Please stay for innumerable eons;
Do not leave beings in this blindness."

I have done all these in this way
And accumulated virtue;
My it remove all the miseries
Of all sentient beings.


 Generating the Mind of Enlightenment

(His Holiness requested that we repeat these verses three times)

With the wish to free all beings
I shall always go for Refuge
To the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha
Until the attainment of full enlightenment

Enthused by compassion and wisdom
Today in the Buddha's Presence
I generate the Mind of Enlightenment
For the benefit of all sentient beings

As long as space endures
And as long as sentient beings remain
May I, too, abide
To dispel the miseries of the world.

| teachings & speeches index |