I recently read an article by Karma Trinlay Rinpoche, called "What We've Been All Along: Cultivating the Spirit of Awakening," in the magazine Tricycle. This article gets down to the nuts and bolts about the term bodhi (awakening) and citta (mind). According to Karma, bodhi is the recognition and actualization of our mind's true reality and citta refers to the state of mind that corresponds to being awakened or that leads the mind to awakening. In essence, bodhicitta is the intention to attain perfect awakening for the sake of ALL beings. How is this done? According to Karma, it is done by the union of great compassion and the realization of wisdom. In order to realize wisdom, there needs to be a level of emptiness or rebirth within our conditioned existence. In brief, there needs to be a release and letting go in order to truly have love and compassion for all beings.
The letting go of our conditioned self, means walking away from the labeling of "I" and "others." It means being able to express true selfless compassion, so that all beings awaken and can step into that space of freedom. This can only happen when we act with intention. When our actions come from a place of mindful intention, that is when we can come to better understand ourselves and others as one. According to Karma, this requires acting with the six perfections (paramitas) that benefit both oneself and others. Those six perfections for intentional living include: benevolent generosity, ethical discipline, forbearing patience, enthusiastic perseverance, meditation, and discerning wisdom. Ask yourself: How can I be more generous to myself and others daily? How can I be more disciplined? How can I provide more patience, and where is patience needed in my life? How can I enjoy persevering more? Do I make time to meditate? In what ways can I meditate? Am I acting or responding to myself and others with discerning wisdom? I suggest spending some time responding to these questions and then act upon them. For the great dharma of compassion requires action.
And it is the act upon compassion that helps us to remove the wall or blanket of the ego, so that we can be universally connected with all sentient beings. In order to be universally connected, we cannot just offer the occasional affection for someone close; rather, we must selflessly strive to provide that for all sentient beings without exception. In my mind, those exceptions include: errors or mistakes from our past, level of income or education, physical abilities or attractiveness, faith, political views, gender, sexual orientation, and race. If we can step away from our ego and awaken more with compassion through our daily, intentional actions then we can reduce problems like hatred, attachment, and fear. Thus, we can reduce suffering. How do we do more of this? We do this by loving.
Love (maitri) should be as benevolent as the generosity that we give. For the love should not be confused with ordinary, sensual love. This love should be a simple appreciation for the other, which leaves us with a feeling of joy. In so doing, or responding with love, we are able to be more connected to all beings. This helps oneself to enter a world of universal connection. A world of universal connection is when we see no distinction of self and others; rather, we recognize that all sentient beings wish for pleasure and a life free of pain and suffering. All actions that beings take, even hateful or harmful ones, are to escape the pain and suffering that we endure. Understanding this, allows us to feel compassion for ourselves and others-even those others who have "done us wrong." Recognizing this universal truth is what unites us in union.
According to Karma, it is the two feelings of love and compassion that are intimately linked. Without love, compassion cannot arise, and compassion always involves having love. Without love one would not have compassion for others' pain; instead you would most likely feel pity, if not total indifference. It is when we truly feel love for self and others that the suffering of others becomes so unbearable that we would endure any pain (as well) to help them. So I encourage you to act upon the six perfections in order to awaken into a world of more love and compassion. May your actions be intentional. May you see yourself in others, and others in you. May you be part of the one universal union of beings.
"If there is one dharma through which all dharmas of the Buddha are found within the plams of our hands, that dharma would be great compassion!"
The full article can be found at:
tricycle.com or in Vol. XXIII No. 4 Summer 2004
I am a new mother who has her hands full! I juggle not just my coaching business, but I am also a full time educator. I also teach yoga in the Bay Area, and I mentor first generation college students.