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

So now when we meditate on bodhicitta it is important to again correct our attitude. We should examine, every time when we practice bodhicitta we should think, "Am I practicing bodhicitta for the sake of myself? Am I practicing shunyata for my sake? Am I practicing tantra or mantra for my sake?" And it's easy to forget that. It's easy to forget that. And it's so easy, so easy for us to think, "Ok, I like to practice bodhicitta because bodhicitta is so powerful, it's so precious, so that I can become Buddha soon. And shunyata is very powerful because it cuts the root of samsara, therefore I can become Buddha soon. Tantric path is so powerful. It is direct path to enlightenment, therefore I can become Buddha." So it is important for us to check our motivations. Am I practicing bodhicitta for the sake of myself, or for all sentient beings?

And sometimes we think, we think, "I must not forget, I must not forget cultivating bodhicitta because I want to become Buddha. If I forget that, then I become a Hinayanist. I will go into the long route. It will take too long to become Buddha. I don't want to go to the long route. I want cut, shortcut. I want to become enlightened fast." And then same time forget about all beings. Then is that bodhicitta? Is that Mahayana attitude or not? It is important, it is important for us to cultivate bodhicitta, to analyze, to check on our motivation.

So therefore it is also important for us to learn how to meditate on bodhicitta. So there's two different technique. One technique is called, technique of cultivation bodhicitta is called Seven Mahayana Cause and Effect. And, like as I mentioned the other day, you first consider all beings as a mother. Then you think about the kindness of all beings. And you cultivate mind of repaying the kindness of all beings. Then you cultivate love and compassion, supreme wish and so forth.

Then other method is to practice bodhicitta indirectly, to exchange the attitude of oneself with others. In other words, exchange this feeling, trying to cultivate, exchange the feeling of oneself with others. In other words, try to cultivate, try to cultivate the benefit of others first, instead of me. And cultivate concern, and cultivate compassion for others, and cultivate and think of sufferings of others instead of my own. Instead of always thinking about, "I have this problem, I have that problem. I am sick, I am tired. I feel hurt. I feel abused." Always I, I, I, I. You know? So some people so self-absorbed.

And of course we are human beings. We have I, self-centered mind, naturally. And it is not possible right away get rid of this sense of I, self-grasping. Otherwise easy to become Mahayanist. And same time, I think it is very important to kind of look outwardly, think about others. For example, let's say every day take couple of hours, three hours, think about others. Think about, "What shall I do? How do I do? How do I help others? What can I do help others, or my neighbor? My colleague or friends, or people in this city? There's so much suffering, and there are lots of lonely people, sick and old people. Or what can I do to help people who are suffering, trapped, and being in prison or under the occupation of dictatorship or regime, and they're suffering. And people are suffering from racism and ethnic cleansing, and so on and so forth. What can I do?" Think about, maybe, for at least two hours, a day. Or even one hour a day. Instead of always me, me, me.

You know, we think about me all the time. Then, even when you practice Dharma, as soon as you sit down, ME. "I want to meditate. I like to do some exercise. I like to eat good food. I like to have good sleep. I like to do, feel good." Everything's me all the time. So much self-absorbed, self-concern. And I noticed, like, when some people come for interviews, or when, you know, people talking to each other, I'm talking Dharma people. A lot of people always talking about me, me, me, all the time. You know, "I have this problem. I have this problem." So much problems, dukka, dukka, dukka. It's always dukka, like mantra. "My dukka, my dukka. I'm so sick. I'm so tired. My energy's not right." And all kinds of things, and hardly talking about others. Or, "What can I do?"

Yes, of course, we have to find balance. We have to help ourselves, there's no doubt. We have to purify ourselves, we need to do meditate. We have to be healthy, as I mentioned last night. We have to become a better person, healthy person, happy person, holy person, so on and so on. But same time, also, we can do something for others and for the society. We have to do something. Otherwise, if we're always only talking about ourselves -- my meditation, my meditation all the time -- that's why I think sometimes people are a bit confused, people in this society, you know, in the west. Some people who are not Dharma people, who don't meditate, they think, "How does this meditation help? And Buddhist people, oh, they meditate. Buddhists are meditating. They're meditators. They sit on a cushion, cross their legs. But how does that help others, help society? How do others benefit?" And, like, that's the first reaction. First kind of answer people ask, first question people ask. "How does that help?" It's a good question.

And then people, some people are kind of shocked, you know? Like when someone's sitting in a cave, so many years, someone sitting in a temple so many years, doing retreat for three years, then three years retreat again, and then twice, three year retreat three times. And some people when they come out from three year retreat still they really don't know what bodhicitta is. And some people go crazy during three year retreat, because they have no training, no understanding of bodhicitta, paramitas, before they go into retreat. Because some people, they say, "Go, go, go, go! Go into the meditation, do retreat. Good for you! Good! Samsara's no good, just go. Meditate, say mantras, go into retreat. It's all good. You have nothing to lose, except samsara. Except your delusions. Go and meditate, it's good. Good luck! Good karma! You're lucky, fortunate, go." And, but no training. No basic understanding of lam rim, or bodhicitta and compassion, or six perfections. And some people go crazy. They leave the retreat, and they come out very confused. So that's because of no understanding of bodhicitta and no understanding of six perfections.

So I think it's very important for us to cultivate bodhicitta. Because ultimately the Dharma, the teaching of the Buddha is for the benefit of everybody, benefit of all sentient beings, enlightenment for all sentient beings. And the Buddha himself, for example, left, renounced, when he was called Prince Siddhartha, he renounced his home, palace, all the wealth, all the money, power, and positions. Gave up everything. Went searching, looking for the truth, searching the path, enlightenment. Meditated in the forest, fasting. And went through lots of purification. But he didn't sit there meditate all the time, and thinking about me, me all the time. And he, after six years, became enlightened. Then forty-six years traveled teaching, forty-six years teaching. Talk, teaching, give advice to people, counseling, teaching, healing. Gave Hinayana teaching, Mahayana teaching, Tantrayana teaching. Teaching was so important. Teaching Dharma. He taught for forty-six years. It's all because of the bodhicitta.

So anyway, what I'm trying to say tonight here -- we need to balance, like, practice, meditation, do retreat, and then also meditation in action, cultivating bodhicitta, cultivating six paramitas. Then also go back and meditate. Balance. Or some people also don't meditate. That's also unbalanced, you know, some people the opposite. Don't meditate, don't do practice, no samadhi practice, no bodhicitta meditation, I mean, no practice. They don't do any tantric practice, mantras, visualizations, and retreats, and no daily practice, no daily commitments. They have a good heart, lots of good heart, like bodhicitta, lots of bodhicitta, wonderful. Always doing something for the others, for others. But then what happens sometimes, when you don't have, when you don't do formal practice, samadhi, and visualizations, or meditation on shunyata, and then you don't do retreat, and then you become like, you have this bodhicitta, but then you might end up developing kind of what some lamas call "idiot bodhicitta." Idiot compassion, or become kind of like martyr. And not really knowing what is the correct action, what is the correct, right speech, what is right action, right mindfulness, right livelihood, right concentration, right compassion. Doing something, but not clear, not sure. Not even sure that one has some ego and self-interest mixed up with this love of helping others, love of caring others, love of working for justice and peace and so on and so forth. That's all good motivation, but it's not very clear, and a little bit mixed up.

So that's why it's also, it is important to go back, be somewhere alone, and contemplate, meditate, do retreat. "Ok, I've done lots of work, Dharma-related work, working for justice and peace and solving problems of societies and so forth. I've done lots of work, but am I doing the right thing? Do I have right motivation? Do I, can I see clearly?" It is very necessary, very important to do retreat. And be alone, contemplate, do some mantras, visualizations, and pray to Tara, pray to Manjushri, and pray to guru. Say, "Please help me, Tara. You have compassion. You have wisdom, both. I need your inspiration. Please help me, Manjushri. You have the wisdom. You cut all the garbage, defilements, delusions. You cut through. I need your help, your inspiration. I'm here doing retreat for whatever, one month, three weeks, two weeks, one week, whatever. I'm doing this not just for I want to hide and I like to run away -- I want to run away from society and, you know, tired of working and dealing with people. I'm not doing this, but I need to see what I can do in the future, when I've finished my retreat, go back to the world. I want to go back to the world. I want to practice generosity, patience, perseverance, Bodhisattva conduct. I like to make whatever I've been doing, I would like to make it better. Therefore I'm doing this retreat, doing the mantras, or visualization, or lam rim retreat." So we have to balance our practice. 

On Onward to Bodhicitta page 6

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