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The Heart of the Buddha

Thubten Chodron on how to establish bodhichitta, the goal to obtain buddhahood

in order to benefit others. Sometimes like these, when society is polarized and individuals feel insecure mentally and economically, we wish for connection with others– to know that we’re in this together and that we will take care of one another. In spite of this yearning, our self-indulgent mind interferes and keeps us separated.

In order to break down the walls of worry and alienation, we can practice what are called the 7 cause-and-effect instructions to develop bodhichitta, the aspiration to obtain buddhahood in order to benefit others. This meditation practice helps us see we’ve constantly been linked to others and that we can open our hearts with love, compassion, and selflessness.

Before carrying out the first of the seven guidelines, we must create equanimity. That is, we should release ourselves as much as we can from our attachment to dear ones, antipathy toward enemies (individuals we don’t feel comfortable around), and passiveness for strangers.

One way to do this is to see that people alter roles in our lives constantly– no one is a set darling, enemy, or stranger. A second method is to see that we develop these categories and fit individuals into them according to how they associate with “me,” as if that determines their merit.

When we’ve cultivated equanimity, we can practice these seven actions to help us establish our compassion, wisdom, and bodhichitta.


1. Recognize that all living beings have been your moms and dads

Our ability to recognize that all living beings have been our parents at one time or another in beginningless samsara is based upon our accepting renewal and releasing the idea that everybody has constantly been whoever they appear to be now. If these ideas are brand-new to you, for the sake of this meditation put your hesitation to the side.

2. Recollect the generosity you have received

Recall the immense kindness you have actually received from all living beings when they were your moms and dads by using the example of your moms and dads in this life. They provided you this body, safeguarded and fed you when you could not look after yourself, ensured you received an education, taught you good manners and how to get along with others, and motivated your skills. They liked you and took care of you as best they could, provided their own issues and restrictions. Forgive their failings for, just like you, they are living beings under the impact of ignorance, attachment, and anger.

3. Desire to repay their compassion

When you know that you’ve been the recipient of incredible generosity from others, a desire to repay their compassion will naturally occur.

4. Experience heartfelt love

Your dream to repay the compassion of others will cause the experience of heartwarming love. You will see others with love and desire them to have joy and the causes of joy.

5. Let compassion occur

By pondering the suffering of all beings, let compassion develop and long for them to be devoid of all the unsatisfactory scenarios of samsara and its causes. You’ll understand your meditation on empathy has actually been successful when you feel for all beings the exact same method a mom feels for her only kid when they are sick.

6. Cultivate the great resolve

By reinforcing your love and compassion through repeated reflection, generate the intention to free others from suffering and its causes and to bring them happiness. The more powerful our awareness of their compassion and misery is, the simpler it will be to generate this excellent willpower. Believe: “How fantastic it would be if all sentient beings were without suffering and its causes. May they be totally free. I shall cause them to be totally free. May all beings have joy and its causes. I shall bring this about.”

7. Create the selfless intention of bodhichitta

At present we’re restricted and can not free all beings from suffering. It’s just by becoming a buddha that we’ll have the ability to actualize this inmost goal. Therefore, decide to obtain buddhahood in order to benefit beings most successfully. This is the selfless intention of bodhichitta. The very first six steps of the seven cause-and-effect guidelines are usually considered the causes, while this last one– selfless intention– is the result. This intention sets you on the path to satisfy your stunning human capacity and is the reason for joy for all beings.

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