Teaching by Lama Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
September 1998, Vancouver, BC, Canada

So here I would like to say the benefit of cultivating bodhicitta. Cultivating bodhicitta, cultivating bodhicitta, cultivating the realization of the bodhicitta is the door, or gate, or entering into the Mahayana path. Without cultivation of bodhicitta it is not possible to enter into the Mahayana path. One of the famous Buddhist texts called "Ratna mala ??" Tibetan word "Ratna mala" it says, "If you or others, if you or others wish to become Buddha, if you or others wish to become fully enlightened one for the sake of all sentient beings, then you must cultivate bodhicitta. This is the gate. This is the door."

And not only that, the cultivation of the bodhicitta is also foundation of Vajrayana -- Vajrayana teaching, Vajrayana path. And if you have, if you cultivated bodhicitta, if you cultivated bodhicitta -- if you took Bodhisattva vow, and generate and cultivate bodhicitta -- then after that, if you practice Tantra -- Tantrayana, Mantrayana, and visualization or deity yoga -- that practice becomes very beneficial, very powerful. And without the cultivation, or without having realization of the bodhicitta, when you practice Tantra visualizing yourself as the deity or divine mandala or mansion, it does not have lot of meaning. Then otherwise it's like, when you're visualizing the deity, yourself as the deity, and mandala deities, it becomes like, it is something like walking around in a museum. You walk in a big museum, you see so many beautiful statues, thankas and paintings, sculptures, artifacts, like Egyptian mummies -- so many things, so beautiful. It is beautiful. It is very enjoyable. And you can be truly inspired. And you learn so much.

But, you know, let's say you have a good samadhi, you have a good concentration, and you've done lots of developing concentration, and let's say you can visualize very well the deity, yourself as the deity and the mandala and so forth. But if you don't have the bodhicitta then it's like walking around in the museum. You can enjoy it, you can admire, but what does that practice really do for you in terms of developing spiritual realizations? In other words, how does that benefit you, and how does that benefit all sentient beings? How does that actually purify your mind, mind of self-centered, self-centered mind, or ego, basically ego and attachment and so forth.

See, if you don't have a realization of bodhicitta or renunciation, and shunyata of course, then sometimes visualization of deity and mandala and so forth, may become, it may boost ego. So this is the danger. This is a danger. This is also question. This is a concern. It is genuine concern, some people feel. I'm sitting here, I can say mantras so fast. I can do 100,000 mantras in two weeks, ten days. And I can visualize very well. Because some people have natural talent. They can visualize very well. They have very sharp mind, and they can focus their mind. So they can be very good. But if you still have self-centered mind, ego, then you feel, "I am great. I am great practitioner. I am very good at visualizing. So I'm the best. I'm better." And then it might boost the ego.

This kind of problem will not happen, this kind of problem will not happen. No need to concern, no need to worry if one, as long as if one cultivated bodhicitta, cultivated bodhicitta right from the beginning. And cultivated good motivation. That's why, also, that's why according to tantra it says we should always practice the foundation, see. And the foundation is very important. And that's why every time when we do tantric practice or sadhanas, right from the beginning we take refuge to the Three Jewels. After that we cultivate bodhicitta. And we also cultivate mind of shunyata. And we cultivate this mind of bodhicitta: "I do practice, I would like to practice tantra and mantra for the sake of all sentient beings."

So if you cultivated that mind properly then there is no need to concern about the tantric practice become cause of ego, a boost of ego. There's a story in the Lam Rim text says that there was a great lama called Puchop Lom Chompa (??) and he was a very famous Gelugpa lama. So whenever he gave tantric initiations, high initiations, and whenever he gave tantric teachings, before, at the beginning of the initiations, and every time when he gave the initiations, at the beginning of the initiations, every time when he gave the commentary, at the beginning of the commentary he always explained about the development of bodhicitta, cultivation of the bodhicitta. So long, he explained so long. And he spent much more, far more time explaining the bodhicitta and three principle path, so long. And sometimes people, it says, sometimes people start wondering, "Maybe he doesn't know how to teach tantra and those advanced path teachings, you know, like esoteric teachings. So he's trying to spend so much time on Lam Rim." And people start kind of wondering, you know, why. "Why he talk so much about same Lam Rim, same things, same subject, bodhicitta? Over and over, over and over, again and again." That's because it is so important. We say the bodhicitta is really the juice, like the juice of the tantra. And when we eat fruit, the juice, the juice is the essence of the fruit. 

On Onward to Bodhicitta page 3

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