May 24 Discussion Questions


Discussion Questions

  • Chapter 1 describes the benefits of bodhicitta. Please list a few of the major benefits.
  • Some people feel: “Rescuing all sentient beings from samsara sounds so difficult, I can’t even rescue myself. I can’t do it!” What advice or words of encouragement might you offer to someone who suffers from this sort of doubt and low esteem.
  • Explain the difference between aspirational and engaged bodhicitta.

Reading

Start Chapter 4.

Meditations

  • Meditate on the meaning of “sentient being” (dro wa, Tib.) Rinpoche explained that it means beings who are migratory, transient, like guests in this life. Does this change the way you view yourself?
  • Rinpoche mentioned several ways in which we can transform our day-to-day activities such as washing, illness, even negative emotions such as anger into Bodhisattva practices. This week, pick one specific action and try to do it with awareness — keeping in mind how you can use it to benefit all sentient beings.
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2 thoughts on “May 24 Discussion Questions

  1. Sure, I’ll take a stab at the discussion questions:

    1) A few of the major benefits of Bodhicitta include:

    —- Bodhicitta alone is able to withstand the “great and overwhelming strength of evil” (Chapter 1, verse 6).
    —- “Just as by the fires at the end of time, Great sins are utterly consumed by Bodhicitta” (Chapter 1, verse 14).

    2) Some people feel: “Rescuing all sentient beings from samsara sounds so difficult, I can’t even rescue myself. I can’t do it!” What advice or words of encouragement might you offer to someone who suffers from this sort of doubt and low esteem:

    Just in my own experience, I find it’s very beneficial to take things one step at a time and rejoice in the merit of each successful step. So, just as verse 14 implies that Bodhicitta can purify negative karma, each good action that we do, no matter how small, purifies some of our negative karma and helps us to accumulate merit. Likewise, through the practice of ethics, every harmful action that we refrain from out of concern for others purifies some of our negative karma and helps us to accumulate merit. (Wash, rinse, repeat.)

    3) Explain the difference between aspirational and engaged Bodhicitta:

    Aspirational Bodhicitta: The sincere wish to achieve Enlightenment so that we can help others to do likewise (the “…wishing to depart…” in Chapter 1, verse 16).

    Engaged Bodhicitta: Actively, diligently engaging in the activities that will help us to achieve Enlightenment for the sake of others (“…setting out upon the road…”).

  2. Thanks, Lisa! Here are a couple of more thoughts to supplement your excellent answers:

    1) Benefits — In his commentary on Shantideva’s text, His Holiness writes, “there is nothing as powerful as bodhichitta for purifying our negative actions and obscurations, for attaining temporary and ultimate happiness, and for helping other beings. If we wish to free ourselves and others from the suffering of samsara, then we should develop bodhichitta”. he also writes that bodhichitta “brings us peace immediately, so we are less narrow-minded and agitated. When we meet others, we do not feel claustrophobic and distant. On the contrary, we feel close to people. With a mind like this we are never afraid but strong and courageous”.

    2) Low self esteem — As we gradually understand emptiness better we will be able to recognize our self-cherishing ego, our habitual clinging to a self that does not inherently exist. And as we’re freed from this type of ignorance, we will gain confidence and courage that we will be able to reveal our inherent Buddha nature for the benefit of ourselves and all around us.

    3) His Holiness writes, “Aspiration bodhichitta is the vow to generate the same intention as the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the past. Application is the vow to accomplish, as the did, all the activities of the path to enlightenment, for the sake of all beings.”

    I like this quote because it helps me remember that there are thousands upon thousands of Buddhas who have already achieved Enlightenment by following the Mahayana path, and also countless Bodhisattvas joyfully practicing the path. So the skeptic in me thinks, well, I’m in good company, and the whimp in me prays fervently for their assistance. : )

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