Bodhicitta and the Boddhisattva Path

How is the Boddhisattva ideal expressed in ritual and in philosophy? The most important concept to express the Boddhisattva ideal is the concept of the Bodhicitta, a word we translate as the “mind of enlightenment” or you might say the mind that seeks enlightenment.

The Mind of Enlightnement

To enter the Boddhisattva path, it’s important to generate this mind of enlightenment. What is it? Simply the aspiration to seek enlightenment for the sake of all other beings. Boddhisattvas who enter the Boddhisattva path start with some kind of gut feeling. “I want to be enlightened in order to bring that enlightenment to others”. This mind of enlightenment is generated and cultivated as the Boddhisattva path proceeds.

A Moral Aspiration

As you see this evolving in Mahayana literature and practice, it becomes a quite complex and subtle concept. You can see at the beginning that is a moral aspiration. “I want to help others, I want to develop myself in a way that is going to be helpful to other people”. You can see also that it involves a perception of yourself as being connected in a relationship of interdependence with all other beings. So, you become aware of yourself in a different way at the same time that you express this moral aspiration.

A Personal Transformation

It also has what might be called an ontological component in the sense that it has to do with the awareness of your own being. In Buddhism, your mind is you. Whatever you are, is the cultivation and evolution of your own mind. When you feel this aspiration to help others, what you feel is an expression of your own Buddha nature arising from within you. This concept has to do with the transformation of your personality and your own being as well as a moral aspiration to help others.

A Simple Yet Subtle Concept

I think that this concept is complex in one further aspect. To arise the mind of enlightenment is a pretty simple thing. We can do it today. In fact, we probably have aspirations similar to that in the flow of our daily lives. It is pretty easy to have this feeling, and yet, it contains implicitly the full enlightenment of the Buddha. It is the starting point of your own Buddhahood.

The Bodhicitta is an important concept in the Mahayana tradition, but we should consider also that the Boddhisattva path is divided into a series of formal stages. One way to divide it is in six perfections: the perfection of generosity, moral conduct, patience, courage, mental concentration and wisdom. A lot of Mahayana texts discuss a passage through six stages to reach the experience of full Buddhahood.

There are other accounts that divide the path into ten stages, but they are not very different than the path that I just outlined for you. They always start with generosity and end with wisdom.

Return from "Bodhicitta and the Boddhisattva Path" to Mahayana Buddhism

Copyright © Buddhism Through Buddhist Eyes
Question or Comment? Do not doubt to contact me.
Template by bloggertheme