by Andreas Kretschmar | 246,740 words

The English translation of the Bodhisattvacharyavatara (“entering the conduct of the bodhisattvas”), a Sanskrit text with Tibetan commentary. This book explains the bodhisattva concept and gives guidance to the Buddhist practitioner following the Mahāyāna path towards the attainment of enlightenment. The text was written in Sanskrit by Shantideva ...

(2) The second power is the power of the cause [rgyu thobs], which makes one awaken to the Mahāyāna family [rigs sad pa]. This means one awakens to a natural affinity for the Mahāyāna qualities [theg chen gyi rigs sad pa]. Someone who accumulated great merit in former lifetimes will in this life, from early childhood onward, feel great compassion and kindness for all sentient beings.

Through the power of the cause of merit accumulated in former lifetimes, one awakens to the Mahāyāna family [rgyu rigs sad pa]. Some people have meditated on bodhicitta in previous lifetimes, and thus, a seemingly insignificant circumstance can cause them to spontaneously develop bodhicitta. In this way they awaken through the power of the cause [rgyu] of residual karma [las ’phro] from former lifetimes to the Mahāyāna affinity [rigs sad pa]. This is the second power that brings about the relative bodhicitta. This power is considered stable.

(3) The third power bringing about relative bodhicitta is the power of the root [rtsa ba’i stobs]. The root of bodhicitta is compassion, and without compassion bodhicitta cannot take birth. Bodhicitta is always endowed with compassion, but compassion is not necessarily endowed with bodhicitta. Keeping strong and heartfelt compassion constantly in mind can, however, lead to the natural arising of bodhicitta. Again, this power is considered to lead to a stable bodhicitta.

(4) The fourth power is the power of studying [thos pa’i stobs]. Through the power of studying many profound Mahāyāna teachings, stable bodhicitta may arise firmly in one’s mind.

(5) The fifth power is the power of familiarization with virtue [dge ba goms stobs]. If one constantly practices the ten wholesome actions and gathers the accumulation of merit through offerings, generosity, and so forth, the precious bodhicitta may arise firmly and stably in one’s mind.

The first of these five powers, the power of the friend, is not considered to be stable in the long run. If the friend’s attitude deteriorates, one might follow his negative example and destroy one’s own bodhicitta. The other four powers are considered stable conditions for the birth of bodhicitta because they will not be easily damaged in adverse circumstances. Bodhicitta that arises from another person’s efforts, like the efforts of a friend, is unstable. The other four causes arise from one’s own efforts and are, therefore, considered stable.

Kongtrül Lodro Thaye elaborates on the phrase revealed by others, saying,

“Relative bodhicitta primarily comes about due to causes that are revealed by others”

[kun rdzob sems bskyed ni gtso bor gzhan gyis bstan pa’i rgyu las byung ba’o].

Relative bodhicitta arises through the abovementioned five causes. It does not depend on receiving the bodhisattva precepts.

All these five causes for relative bodhicitta are tangible indicators [rags pa brda]. Relative bodhicitta always maintains the concept that distiguishes between the three factors [’khor gsum rnam par rtog pa’i rnam rtog]: object [yul], subject [yul can] and the action [bya ba]. Absolute bodhicitta, the recognition of wisdom, no longer discriminates among the three factors [’khor gsum mi dmigs pa’i ye shes].

The word development [bskyed] in the phrase development of bodhicitta [sems bskyed] connotes ’expansion’ [chen por btong]. At first bodhicitta is limited, feeble and unstable. Through practice it slowly grows, becoming stronger and more stable. Bodhicitta continues expanding until finally coming to include all sentient beings.

Relative bodhicitta may take birth [skye pa] naturally in someone’s mind, or an individual may develop it [bskyed pa] through a teacher’s instructions. Even when bodhicitta is developed, it must still truly be born in one’s mind. The natural birth of bodhicitta is, therefore, considered more valuable than artificially developing it.
Text sections 245-246:

The question raised in the text is:

“On what basis is bodhicitta developed?”

Another way to put this question is:

“What actually is being developed? Is bodhicitta a mental pattern [sems byung] or is it the dominant mind [gtso sems]?”

Asaṅga and his brother Vasubandhu [dbyig gnyen] stated that developing bodhicitta by making the pledge to liberate all sentient beings is developing a ’mental pattern’ [sems byung]. On the other hand, Ārya Vimuktasena [’phags pa rnam grol sde] and Haribhadra [seng ge bzang po] stated that developing bodhicitta is developing the ’dominant mind’ [gtso sems]. They did not accept the position of Asaṅga and Vasubandhu. Unifying both positions, the omniscient Longchen Rabjam stated that when one develops the ’dominant mind’ [gtso sems], the ’mental pattern’ [sems byung] is developed along with it.

When you look at a vase and think “vase” that mental label is called ’dominant mind’ [gtso sems]. When you begin to distinguish different attributes of the vase such as size, height, value, beauty and so forth, these mental labels are called ’mental patterns’ [sems byung] or ’secondary mind’ [’khor sems].

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