The Great Chariot

by Longchenpa | 268,580 words

A Commentary on Great Perfection: The Nature of Mind, Easer of Weariness In Sanskrit the title is ‘Mahāsandhi-cittā-visranta-vṛtti-mahāratha-nāma’. In Tibetan ‘rDzogs pa chen po sems nyid ngal gso’i shing rta chen po shes bya ba ’...

2a) The general explanation of arising and entering

Now the essence of arousing bodhicitta will be explained. Thus regarding the wish for supreme enlightenment:

Arousal of bodhicitta consists of the desire
Of attaining true buddhahood for limitless sentient beings.
The two divisions are aspiration and entering.
Wishing for this is always related to application,
Just as volition to move is always related to moving.

In arousing bodhicitta, we desire buddhahood for the benefit of others.

The Ornament of Clear Realization says:

Arousing bodhicitta for others’ benefit,
Because of that we wish for perfect enlightenment.

Moreover since it is correct that this attitude has a beneficial essence, and because we discriminate its particular qualities, by arousing the essence, the particulars will also subsequently be produced. An attitude resolving to arouse it and so forth will subsequently be attained.

From the two essences of these bodhicittas, arousing the bodhicitta of aspiration is the resolve to attain enlightenment. Entering is putting that Dharma into practice. Aspiring and entering are like wanting to go and actually going. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Briefly, this most excellent wish, the bodhicitta,
Is known to be divided into two separate kinds.
There is the attitude that aspires to enlightenment
And that of actually entering into enlightenment.

It should be known that the difference between these two
Is like the one between wanting to go and really going.
Thus, by capable persons, these two bodhicittas
Ought to be known to have this particular distinction.

Here there are many ways of dividing the classifications. There are the arousal of relative and absolute bodhicitta. The Nirvana says:

Divided into absolute and relative,
There are two varieties of Bodhicitta.

There are also the arousal of bodhicitta by ordinary individuals and by the noble ones, as well as the external apprehension of sentient beings and the internal apprehension of the nature of mind.

These are also called arousing relative and absolute bodhicitta. The Sutra of the Great Creation of Bodhicitta (byang chug sems bskyed pa chen po’i mdo) says:

The bodhisattva Kashyapa asked, “Bhagavan, how is such an aspiration aroused.”

The Buddha spoke saying, “All dharmas are like the sky without any characteristics. Therefore they are primordially luminous and completely pure. That is called enlightenment. Giving birth to the aspiration to be in accord with that, the precious aspiration which has not arisen before, is called arousing the aspiration to enlightenment, bodhicitta.”

There are also three kinds of arousing bodhicitta depending on the three disciplines of the three learnings.[1] The Middle Length Prajñaparamita says:

The wish that vows to be faultless, the wish to collect virtuous dharmas, and the wish to ripen sentient beings--Diligently arouse these three bodhicittas.

On the paths of accumulation and preparation, arouse the wish to practice with strong interest. From the first to the seventh bhumi wish for pure attitudes, on the three pure bhumis for ripening, and on the level of buddhahood for abandoning obscurations. Regarding these four, Ornament of Mahayana Sutras says:

As for arousing bodhicitta, those on the bhumis
Have the wish for devotion and good attitudes,
Then for ripening, and after that as well,
They have the wish that obscurations should be abandoned.

There are also bodhicittas of aspiring to the five paths of accumulation, preparation, seeing, meditation, and no more learning. The Prajñaparamita in Twenty Thousand Lines says:

There are beginner’s bodhicitta, the bodhicitta of one who is properly trained, the bodhicitta of seeing the Dharma, the bodhicitta of complete liberation, and the bodhicitta that is inconceivable by thought. Subhuti, these are the wish that those who are entering the path may enter it; that those who have entered it should be properly-trained; that the divine eye may be produced; that one may meditate on the truth of the noble path; and that the unobscured buddha eye may be obtained.

There are also six divisions depending on the six perfections. The same text says:

The vast immeasurable mind of the bodhisattvas possessing the six perfections is not shared with shravakas and pratyekabuddhas.

There are also ten divisions related to the ten perfections. Gewa’i Lha says:

Thus, by proper inner resting in meditation, after meditating on the ten bodhicittas,...

According to the dividing points of the stages, the divisions of bodhicitta are taught by twenty-two examples. According to the teachings of the Sutra Requested by Ocean of Understanding (blo gros rga mtsho zhus pa’i mdo), the Abhisamayalankara says:

These are earth and gold, the moon and fire;
A treasure, a source of precious things, a lake;
Vajra, mountain, medicine, and good friend;
A wish-granting gem, the sun, melodious song;
A king, a treasury, and a far-reaching highway;
A steed, a fountain; echoes, rivers, clouds;
Altogether the aspects are twenty-two.

As for the respective meanings of these examples, the commentary says they are:

  1. strong interest
  2. wishing
  3. lofty attitude
  4. application
  5. the perfection of generosity
  6. discipline
  7. patience
  8. exertion
  9. meditation
  10. prajña
  11. skillful means
  12. aspiration
  13. power
  14. wisdom
  15. the higher perceptions
  16. merit and wisdom
  17. the dharmas according with enlightenment
  18. compassion and clear seeing (vipashyana)
  19. retention and confident eloquence,
  20. celebration of Dharma
  21. the path that crosses all at once
  22. possession of dharmakaya.

Strong interest is like earth,
Wishing is like gold,
Lofty attitude is like the rising moon.

These three signify the lesser, middle, and greater paths of accumulation.

Application is like fire.

This is arousing bodhicitta on the four levels of the path of preparation.

Generosity is like a treasure.
Discipline is like a source of precious things.
Patience is like a lake.
Exertion is like a vajra.
Meditation is like a mountain.

Prajña is like medicine.
Skilful means are like a spiritual friend.
Aspiration is like a wish-fulfilling gem.
Power is like the sun.
Perfection of wisdom is like listening to a melodious song.

These refer to the first through the tenth bhumis.

Higher perception is like a king.
The two accumulations are like a treasury.
The dharmas according with enlightenment are like a highway.
Compassion and clear seeing are like an excellent steed.
Retention and confident eloquence are like a fountainhead.

These five apply to all of the eighth, ninth, and tenth bhumis.

Celebration of Dharma is like an echo.
Crossing all at once is like a river.
dharmakaya is like clouds.

These three occur in the tenth bhumi, where wisdom and great buddha activity benefit beings. Commenting on this, the clarification of these words in the commentary says:

The first three include the lesser, middle, and greater levels of the beginner’s path of accumulation. The next one includes the path of entry to the first bhumi. The next ones include the ten bhumis, “Supremely Joyful” and so on, the paths of seeing and meditation. The next five include special paths. The next three kinds of arousing bodhicitta concern preparation for, real experience of, and completion of the level of buddhahood. Thus, these divisions include everything from the beginner’s level to buddhahood.

Some say that the last three are joined to the level of illumination (prabhasvara), but this way of explaining the scripture is not right. Those on that level do not perceive entry into buddhahood, because they do not perceive exhaustion or the final limit. The level of buddhahood is where the arhats of the Mahayana dwell. The Ornament of Mahayana Sutras says:

The arousal of bodhicitta
By the Conqueror’s children
Is taught to be like clouds.

By that, it is taught that these twenty-two go from the path of accumulation to the tenth bhumi.[2] Here, if it asked whether there is arousal of bodhicitta on the level of buddhahood, it is not maintained that there is desire for attainment here, as with the arousal of bodhicitta by students. This is because buddhahood has already been attained. Also, because the time of proclamation is over, there is no more receiving bodhicitta in rituals. However, arousal of absolute bodhicitta still exists for those who have attained dharmata, mounting higher and higher without harming attainment. This is because emptiness exists without being discarded, and because the great objectless compassion produces benefits.

The Middle Length Prajñaparamita says:

I see with the Buddha-eye, and the arousal of bodhicitta I possess is beyond the number of grains of sand of the river Ganges in the eastern part of the world. I teach the Dharma in order to benefit those sentient beings who have gone into the birth-places of Hell beings, hungry ghosts, and animals.

The glorious teacher Jñanakirti said that within the twenty-two above, the first three are aspiring, and the later nineteen are maintained to be entering:

The three divisions of strong interest and those that follow
Are the three aspects of bodhicitta of aspiration.
As for what is called the bodhicitta of entering,
It is explained as having the other nineteen aspects.

Though he says that, it should actually be maintained that each of these divisions has two aspects, those of aspiring and entering. Aspiring intends to realize enlightenment. Entering puts that into effect by being engaged in a particular way. Both aspects must therefore be complete.

As the support of arousing bodhicitta according to the mind-only school, one of the seven families of individual-enlightenment, whichever it may be, arises as its support, making what at first was not attained be attained. The Lamp of the Path of Enlightenment (byang chub lam sgron) says:

The seven families of the pratimoksha
Always have vows of achieving this as other;
However it is not seen as other for those
Who have the good fortune of Mahayana vows.

According to madhyamaka, it should not be maintained that those who have the wish to receive the arousal of bodhicitta are only those who have the free and well-favored human body. The Jewel Heap Sutra says:

Now to explain the scope of those who have this Dharma, countless gods, nagas, asuras, sky- soarers[3] and big-bellied ones[4] produce bodhicitta, the wish for unsurpassable, true, complete enlightenment.

These two systems[5] are not understood to be contradictory. Thus, at the time of arousing bodhicitta, even if we have not been designated by the name of one who has taken the pratimoksha vows, we must be able to make a commitment with a similar meaning, not to cut off life and so forth. Therefore, we will certainly have a similar support.

That from transgressing the sense of that vow a wrong attitude will arise is certain. If we are not able to take the appropriate version of the pratimoksha vow, nothing at all will arise. This would contradict the very wish that was being aroused. In brief, for a being who wishes to practice this, gathering its bases is the bodily support. Having the particular attitudes of faith and so forth is the support of thought. The Sutra of The Palm Tree of the Three Jewels (dkon mchog ta la la’i mdo) says:

Because we have faith in the Conqueror and his Dharma,
We also have faith in the highest enlightenment.
If we also have faith in the practice of buddha children,
We will have the attitude of the wise.

As for the support of place, wherever we are born, so long as causes that damage bodhicitta do not arise, that is the support of place.

The three causes of arousing bodhicitta are faith with the Buddha as its object, compassion with sentient beings as its object, and hearing the benefits of bodhicitta. The Ornament of Mahayana Sutras says:

From the powers of friendship, and those of the cause and root,
From the power of hearing and being accustomed to virtue,
So the arousal of bodhicitta has been explained;
As unstable and stable and stabilized by others

Relying on true companions, being urged by the spiritual friend, and having heard the Dharma are the causes of arousing the unstable bodhicitta of aspiring, the first kind to arise.

Arising subsequently from becoming accustomed to virtue, the cause, the awakening gotra, and the root, compassion, the causes are produced that create stable arising of the bodhicitta of entering. The above passage is saying that there are these causes.

The essence of arousing bodhicitta is entering into an attitude of aspiration inseparable from the desire to attain complete enlightenment for the benefit of others. Included in this is the essence of the six perfections, The Gandavyuha Sutra says:

This bodhicitta sets out to do benefit for others. It is this nature of aspiring and entering which has the six perfections.

Also the two bodhicittas and the three disciplines of a bodhisattva are of one nature. By the wish to benefit others and good conduct, there are aspiring and entering.

Master Sherab Jungne in his The Ornament of the Sage’s Intention (thub pa dgongs rgyan) says:

Neither of these bodhicittas goes beyond desire for unsurpassable, true, complete
enlightenment for the benefit of sentient beings.

By self-control there is (1) the discipline of control. Since from that benefit for others is produced, there is (2) the discipline of benefiting sentient beings. By increase of the two accumulations and so forth, there is (3) the discipline of gathering virtuous dharmas. Since all of these control bad aspects of one’s continuum, they are taught to be the controlling disciplines of a bodhisattva.

Like a wishing-jewel that cures plagues, makes arise what is needed and desired, clears darkness and so forth, these are different aspects of one essence.

Footnotes and references:


In discipline, samadhi and prajña.


Clouds of Dharma.


Among the animals.


lto ‘phye. A class of hungry ghosts.


Madhyamaka and mind-only

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