Entering the Conduct of the Bodhisattvas
Text Section 233
As in this example of the fire at the end of an aeon [dus mtha’i me], all the unintentional negativities [ma nges pa’i sdig pa], which are even more than the intentional negativities that we can remember, will be purified in one moment by bodhicitta’s great power. If one practices the meditation of relative bodhicitta [kun rdzob byang chub sems], these unintentional negativities will gradually decrease. If one can practice absolute bodhicitta [don dam byang chub sems], all unintentional negativity will be totally eradicated.
Therefore, one should definitely meditate on bodhicitta. Meditating on bodhicitta is much more powerful than simply meditating on compassion. The power of bodhicitta exceeds the power of compassion hundreds of thousands of times. Ordinary beings and śrāvakas do have compassion, but genuine bodhicitta is found only in a few exceptional people. Everybody who has true bodhicitta is endowed with compassion, but not every person who has compassion is endowed with bodhicitta.
Compassion is the wish to free beings from suffering. A mother has compassion and love for her children, but she lacks bodhicitta. Bodhicitta has two aspects, ’compassion’ [snying rje] and ’knowledge’ [shes rab]. With compassion the bodhisattva focuses on benefiting others [snying rjes gzhan don la dmigs pa] by making the commitment:
“I will free all beings from their suffering.”
With knowledge the bodhisattva focuses on perfect enlightenment [shes rab kyis rdzogs byang la dmigs pa] by making the commitment:
“I will establish all sentient beings on the level of perfect enlightenment.”
Thus, compassion and loving kindness by themselves are not called bodhicitta, although they are the basis for bodhicitta.
The qualities of bodhicitta are as inconceivable as the qualities of the Buddha. Whoever has bodhicitta can attain buddhahood, while whoever lacks bodhicitta can never reach buddhahood. Bodhicitta is the unfailing seed that leads to the accomplishment of buddhahood. In order to gain trust and faith in bodhicitta, however, one must have accumulated considerable merit in this and former lifetimes.
First, one needs some understanding of the Buddha’s inconceivable qualities to gain trust in the Buddha. Then one needs the wish to accomplish buddhahood. Even having the wish to attain buddhahood, however, one must have the merit to develop bodhicitta in order to truly embark on the path to enlightenment.