From “The Teaching on Aspirational Bodhicitta” by His Holiness the Dalai Lama:
“So then how is it that your own enlightenment can serve as a contributing factor to others’ enlightenment? It is said that a buddha does not wash away others’ ill deeds with water. A buddha does not remove the suffering of others’ by way of laying on hands. A buddha can not give to others that buddha’s realizations. It is by way of teaching to others those qualities of the path that Buddha developed by experience that a buddha can help others achieve enlightenment. So this is the procedure by which one develops an altruistic intention to become enlightened–Bodhicitta, the Mind of Enlightenment, endowed with the two aspirations, the aspiration to bring about others’ welfare and the aspiration to bring about one’s own enlightenment.”
From “Bodhicitta: The Perfection of Dharma” by Lama Thubten Yeshe:
“From the Western, materialistic point of view, we’d think it was great if a rich person said, ‘I want to make charity. I’m going to offer $100 to everybody in the entire world.’ Even if that person gave with great sincerity, his or her merit would be nothing compared with just the thought, ‘I wish to actualize bodhicitta for the sake of sentient beings, and I’ll practice the six paramitas as much as I can. That’s why I always say, actualization of bodhicitta is the most perfect path you can take.
“The best Dharma practice,
the most perfect, most substantial,
is without doubt
the practice of bodhicitta.”
Remember the story of the Kadampa geshe who saw a man circumambulating a stupa? He said, ‘What are you doing?’ and the man answered, ‘Circumambulating.’ So the geshe said, ‘Wouldn’t it be better if you practiced dharma?’ Next time the geshe saw the man he was prostrating, and when he again asked what he was doing, the man replied, ‘One hundred thousand prostrations.’ ‘Wouldn’t it be better if you practiced dharma?’ asked the geshe. Anyway, the story goes on, but the point is that just doing religious-looking actions like circumambulation and prostration isn’t necessarily practicing dharma. What we have to do is transform our attachment and self-cherishing, and if we haven’t changed our mind in this way, none of the other practices work; doing them is just a joke. Even if you try to practice tantric meditations, unless you’ve changed within, you won’t succeed. Dharma means a complete change of attitude – that’s what really brings you inner happiness, that is the true Dharma, not the words you say. Bodhicitta is not the culture of ego, not the culture of attachment, not the culture of samsara. It is an unbelievable transformation, the most comfortable path, the most substantial path – definite, not wishy-washy. Sometimes your meditation is not solid; you just space out. Bodhicitta meditation means you really want to change your mind and actions and transform your whole life.”
From “How to Generate Bodhicitta” by Venerable Ribur Rinpoche:
“Bodhicitta, the aspiration to attain enlightenment in order to benefit all sentient beings, is something that is truly inconceivable, truly splendid and marvellous. One of the great gurus of Lama Atisha told him that an attainment such as clairvoyance, or a vision of a deity, or concentration as stable as a mountain is nothing compared to bodhicitta. For us, these attainments seem amazing. If we ourselves, or if someone we heard of, had a vision of a deity, achieved clairvoyance, or through practicing meditation attained concentration as stable as a mountain, we would think this to be unbelievably wonderful. However. Atisha’s guru said to him: “These are nothing compared to bodhicitta. Therefore, practise bodhicitta.”
Even if you practised mahamudra or dzogchen or the two stages of highest yoga tantra [generation stage and completion stage] and even if you achieved the vision of many deities, these are not beneficial if you do not have bodhicitta.
As the great Bodhisattva Shantideva said, “If you churn the 84,000 teachings of the Buddha, their essence is bodhicitta.” By churning milk we get butter, which is the very essence of milk. In the same way, if we examine and churn all the 84,000 teachings of the Buddha, their very essence is the practice of bodhicitta. Therefore, it is extremely important for us to strive to achieve the uncontrived, effortless experience of bodhicitta. At the very least, we should try our best to generate the contrived experience of bodhicitta, the bodhicitta that arises through effort.”
The Definition of Bodhicitta at http://www.bodhicitta.net: