Friday, April 24, 2009

Bodhicitta: part 2

It is often said that we need to renew our refuge vows in every lifetime but there is no need to do so for bodhisattva vows. I have never had a satisfactory answer to this until I read the Lam Rim Chen Mo. Je Tsongkhapa provided a clear answer to this. He said that the basis for taking the bodhisattva vows is to train and enhance our bodhicitta, which is at first only a feeble aspiration. By training and constant habituation, in due time, our bodhicitta will be generated in a natural way, i.e. uncontrived. It does not need any forcing through reading of text/prayers for it to arise. In fact, he recommended we say the bodhicitta prayer six times a day to maintain our bodhisattva vows. By constant habituation, when we take rebirth into our next life, there would be enough imprints in our mind to enable the same uncontrived compassion to arise again whenever we see suffering. And we will continue our Buddhist path even though it is not necessarily that we call ourselves formally as “Buddhist” then. What I mean is, we do not know whether Buddhism as it is today will for sure still exist or not. Already it is in a state of decline. Moreoever, having bodhicitta, does not mean we will not be reborn into the lower realms. It is still possible as Je Tsongkhapa wrote. If you incur enough negative karma, you can still be reborn there. There’s no doubt about that. But he said further, that a person with genuine bodhicitta will not stay long in the lower realms. He will quickly get out of it. And even during the time he is at the lower realm, he will continue to train in the six perfections and may perform the bodhisattva deeds. That’s how sometimes, we read news about animals that rescue humans or other animals.

By bodhicitta prayer, he was referring to the prayer – “Sang Gye Cho Dang…” In this prayer, we reaffirm our commitment to the Three Precious Jewels as well as to the training in the six perfections. So, Lama Tsongkhapa advised that we repeat it six times a day to get it implanted into our mindstream so that whatever bodhicitta we have stays on within us. And there is also mention of constantly avoiding the “four dark practices” and practicing the “four light practices” so that “…the precious bodhicitta may arise and grow, and not diminish but increase more and more.” This will ensure our bodhicitta does not weaken and able to carry on into our future lives.

So, do read the Lam Rim Chen Mo if you have a copy. Due to Lama Tsongkhapa’s kindness, we do not have to guess anymore. All that we need to know is right there in Lam Rim Chen Mo. It’s our guide book (or “bible” if you want to borrow that word from the Christians).

No comments: