Monthly Archives: September 2017

37 practices: overview of action bodhicitta, verses 11-30

According to Dilgo Khyentse (pages 98 and 106), in practice 10 we cultivate aspiration bodhicitta, the wish for all beings to be happy and to be liberated from the confusion of samsara, which marks the beginning of the Mahayana path to full awakening (rather than the foundational but partial awakening for ourselves alone of verses 8 and 9). In practice 11 we set out on the path of action bodhicitta (aka application bodhicitta, aka engaged bodhicitta) by training in how to begin to bring this aspiration to realization through the practice of tong len, taking and sending meditation. Yes, meditation falls under the heading of action bodhicitta!

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37 practices: verse 11, part 1 of 3

11. To exchange my happiness for others’ suffering 

The source of every single suf-fer-ing / Is wishing for my happiness alone,

While focusing on others’ benefit / Gives rise to buddhahood, awakening.

Because of this to genuinely trade / My happiness for others’ suf-fer-ing:

This is the way a bodhisattva trains.

Verse 11 audio above.

For an overview of action bodhicitta, verses 11-30, visit here.

Meanwhile, you are here: Now that we have generated aspiration bodhicitta (verse 10), the wish to bring all beings to happiness and liberation, Togme Zangpo directs us to the specific practices of the Mahayana path, beginning in verse 11 with training in the basic underlying transaction that informs all the activities of body, speech, and mind of a bodhisattva: exchanging our happiness for others’ suffering through the practice of tong len, taking and sending. This will be the main tool in our bodhisattva toolbox, applicable to everything that arises in our experience from now on, and we need to hone it daily on the cushion (or chair) so it will be handy and sharp when we need it. (More on that in verses 12-19.)

We will spend two weeks on this verse.

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37 Practices: Verse 10

10. To liberate all beings

My mothers, each and every sentient being, / Since time without beginning cared for me.

How can I be happy while they’re suf-fering? / I must get to work and set them free.

To cultivate the mind of full awake-ning: / This is the way a bodhisattva trains.

Verse 10 audio above. Audio for verses 8-10 is here.

With verse 10, we expand our two basic motivations for dharma practice — to gain freedom from suffering by refraining from harm to others, and to attain complete liberation because even the apparent happiness and pleasures of samsara don’t last and are suffering in disguise — to include all beings. This is the final and highest level of motivation for practice, the Mahayana or universal motivation, and the one from which the rest of the path unfolds.

Who are all these beings I am resolving to liberate? According to the traditional formula for arousing bodhicitta that we recite at the beginning of each teaching, they are “all sentient beings, whose numbers fill the extent of space.” How big is space? It is said to be infinite. This is a vast scope of intention!

Meditation: Let your attention come to rest, naturally or by following a few rounds of breathing, and then, as you breathe out, let your awareness relax to fill all of limitless, empty space. Rest like that for as long as you wish, and then:

Contemplation / Meditation: Imagine this vast, limitless space completely filled with sentient beings, each of whom has been like a loving mother to you in a previous lifetime. Envelop them all in your heartfelt love, wishing happiness for each and every one. Rest in that feeling of love pervading space for as long as you wish.

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