During his recent visit to Portland, His
Holiness the Dalai Lama gave teachings on bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is
a sanskrit word that means "awakened heart," or the "mind
of awakening." According to His Holiness, bodhicitta is "the
heart of the Bodhisattva path." When doing any practice in Tibetan
Buddhism, the practitioner always generates the "precious bodhicitta."
This is the very high-octane rocket fuel that propels our journey
out of the fear-based nightmare of the separate self into the true
heart of love, compassion and wisdom.
| Paul Levy
When we are thinking about our own self and our own problems, this
very narcissistic, self-concerned thinking is itself the activity
that precludes our enlightenment. The Buddha saw through the fiction
of the separate self with all its problems; he realized it was something
we were literally imagining into existence moment by moment. He
saw that we had all gotten absorbed into a habit pattern of imagining
that we existed in a certain substantial, and hence separative way
that we simply do not.
To generate the precious bodhicitta, we need to step out of the
arbitrary, imaginary and false identity pattern that we are separate
selves, and make a slight though radical adjustment in the way we
view reality and ourselves. To use a modern metaphor that I imagine
the Buddha would be quite happy with, instead of looking out of
windows when we look out of our eyes, it is like we are wearing
a big mirrored motorcycle helmet, where everywhere we look we see
nothing but the reflection of our own true face. In other words,
our definition of who we are imagining ourselves to be literally
expands to include and embrace everything and everyone we are experiencing.
It is like stepping into a new suit of clothes, in which we are
much more expansive, multi-dimensional and non-localized than we
As latent bodhisattvas, it is our responsibility to strengthen
the muscle of bodhicitta, as the precious bodhicitta is something
that can be cultivated. Just like we make butter by churning cream,
we cultivate the precious bodhicitta by recognizing the truth of
our situation, which is that we are all interconnected and not separate.
This is exactly the state of mind that Christ was pointing at when
he said, "Whatever you do to the least of my brethren you do
unto me," and "treat your neighbor as thyself." The
natural expression of this realization is the intention to be of
help to seemingly other beings, who are now recognized to be embodied
reflections of parts of our true self. Paradoxically, to have the
intention to help and serve seeming others is the very state of
consciousness that redeems our own suffering. We realize that the
best way for us to receive the blessings we've been seeking, be
it of love, healing, or enlightenment, is to embody and radiate
out these very qualities for the benefit of others, as the duality
between self and others has been seen through. This is the place
where to give is to receive, where we become a true servant of God.
A healer and artist whose medium is dreaming, Paul Levy is in
private practice, helping others who are also spiritually awakening.
A pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, he is in the new
book Saints and Madmen: Psychiatry Opens its Doors to Religion.
A long-time Tibetan Buddhist practitioner, he is the coordinator
of the Portland PadmaSambhava Buddhist Center. He can be reached
at (503) 234-6480.
For more articles by Paul Levy, see www.communityconnexion.com/levy