Guru Rinpoche Day Teachings

Taking Hold of Bodhicitta

Dear friends near and far

Here I am once again on this very auspicious day of the Lotus Born connecting with each and every one of you out there and hoping that you’ve been well and happy. Like in my previous messages, I would like to once again take you away for a moment from your samsāric activities and share with you some of Śāntideva’s words of wisdom.

In one of his sermons the Buddha explains:

The sphere of living beings is unbounded,
Likewise the desire to help them all.
And even if you lack the strength for altruistic action,
This is something you should constantly intend.
In those who harbor wishes such as these,
Bodhicitta will indeed be born.

Bodhicitta: The wish to attain complete enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings.

Bodhisattva: A person who carries the motivation of bodhicitta into all of their activities.

In order for one to be inspired with bodhicitta, it is essential to train oneself in the practice of the four immeasurable qualities: loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. These qualities are the root of bodhicitta, and, although they are the intrinsic nature of all beings, it is difficult to cultivate them because our mind is susceptible to negative conditions. Therefore, the main purpose and practice of mind training is to cultivate and stabilize these immeasurable qualities.

Taking Hold of Bodhicitta

Through these actions now performed
And all the virtues I have gained,
May all the pain of every living being
Be wholly scattered and destroyed!

For all those ailing in the world,
Until their every sickness has been healed,
May I myself become for them
The doctor, nurse, the medicine itself.

For sentient beings, poor and destitute,
May I become a treasure ever-plentiful,
And lie before them closely in their reach,
A varied source of all that they might need.

May I be a guard for those who are protector-less,
A guide for those who journey on the road.
For those who wish to cross the water,
May I be a boat, a raft, a bridge.

Thus for everything that lives,
As far as are the limits of the sky,
May I be constantly their source of livelihood
Until they pass beyond all sorrow.

—Śāntideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva

Like the timeless frame of Śāntideva’s immense aspiration, may we too follow in his footsteps: fully dedicating the result of our mind training practice to the welfare of others.

Sarva Mangalam,

Phakchok Rinpoche

Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.