Motivation: The Real Meaning of Bodhicitta
Motivation is a Reflection of Yourself
In this teaching, Phakchok Rinpoche challenges us to come to understand the correct motivation. “Motivation is a reflection of yourself”, he teaches. This shows how important it is to examine our own minds. We can use the analogy of holding up a mirror–let’s examine ourselves honestly.
We need to know if we are self-centered, or if we are transforming to be more aware of others. But we can develop more than just concern for others. Going deeper, we can reflect and think about how we can really help. Motivation comes with a “whole package” of skillful means, dignity, no regret, and so forth.
Bodhicitta: Do We Really Have This Motivation?
Sometimes we may think that the Dharma teaches just thinking good thoughts and having positive thinking. Instead, Rinpoche points out that this “positive thinking” can be a kind of excuse not to actually do something. Rinpoche speaks here about how to challenge ourselves.
Do we really have bodhicitta? He asks us to be honest and examine if we feel true bodhicitta. We have to be able to see our own faults and then work with them. However, guilt and regret don’t solve or change our faults. Rinpoche explains that these emotions do not do anything positive.
Of course, we should observe our own character, and see where we can improve. But we shouldn’t beat ourselves up. Think of an athlete or artist practicing a skill repeatedly. Both benefit from seeing prior mistakes, but if they become depressed about their failures, they won’t succeed, right?
Rinpoche reminds us of how we need to examine our motivation. What kind of motivation should we develop? Working with our sangha, with our friends and family, is more challenging and more difficult for us–this is our challenge. We work gradually with our minds so that we can understand and care for every being. Most importantly, we learn to actually be able to feel from the other person’s perspective.
Mother Sentient Beings: The Vast Sangha
Buddhists use the example of “mother sentient beings” because those sentient beings are truly so kind to us. All these beings allow us to practice. We sincerely wish that those kind mothers are all free from suffering. What does this mean? This is how we create the whole sangha, by extending out to all mother sentient beings.
Finally, we remember that our motivation is a reflection of how purified our minds are becoming. And as we practice more, we will become more aware of subtle areas of emotions that we need to address. As the athlete or artist becomes more proficient, he or she can see tiny faults that others may not spot. And then, he or she turns the attention there and continues to perfect his or her practice. As meditators, we follow this same strategy. Again and again, we observe and reflect until the vast motivation springs forth effortlessly.