Book Review: Bodhisattva Attitude by Lama Zopa


Bodhisattvas want to be used by sentient beings. That is what the bodhisattvas’ attitude is. They actually accept it. The worldly mind things that being used by others is bad, it is the worst thing, but bodhisattvas are most happy to accept this. If you want to achieve enlightenment, you have to practice bodhicitta and this is EXACTLY what the bodhisattvas’ attitude is. Their happiest practice is to be used by sentient beings. It is what they are always looking for. ~ Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Ven Sarah Thresher has carefully designed a collection of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teachings on bodhicitta. She is one of Rinpoche’s most devoted, and most self-sacrificing students. Her respect and love for him is evident in the effort she put into transcribing his teachings, editing and organizing them. Designed for busy practitioners, the book presents the subject as a series of meditations of varying lengths.

Part one presents selected verses from Shantideva’s Guide to a Bodhisattva’s Way of Life. Part two contains five of Rinpoche’s teachings titled:

1. Everything Depends on Your Attitude: an introductory talk
2. Cutting the Concept of Permanence: bodhisattva motivation for life 1
3. Give Up Stretching the Legs: bodhisattva motivation for life 2
4. Bodhisattva Attitude: how to dedicate your life to others
5. Four Wrong Concepts: a motivation for taking the eight Mahayana precepts

The teachings sparkle with Rinpoche’s humor and reflect the radiance of his wisdom. Reading them brought back memories of being with Rinpoche during the Light of the Path retreat in North Carolina.Part three contains a long version of the motivation based on the teachings. Finally in part 4, based on her many years of teaching, Ven Sarah distilled each teaching to its essence. She presents it in an easy-to-read format to gently guide the meditator’s stream of thoughts.

The appendices contain the mantras that Rinpoche suggests we offer every morning to multiply the merit of our virtuous acts. Other short teachings and advice on practicing bodhicitta are also included. In short, everything you need to support your meditation on bodhicitta is brought together in this single volume.

You may wish to progress through the sections sequentially. For example, you could read one of the teachings several times until you developed a sense of ease with it and then use the long version of the motivation. Or, you may already be so comfortable that you could just meditate on a short motivation before your daily practice.

In some ways, Bodhisattva Attitude is more accessible to a general audience than The Heart of the Path, the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive’s publication of Rinpoche’s guru devotion teachings. Everyone feels the benefits of cultivating a mind of loving kindness towards oneself and others to some extent. Relatively few people, however, deeply understand the role a spiritual teacher teacher plays, and even fewer have a guru. The two books complement each other for by practicing bodhicitta with a pure motivation, we create the causes and conditions that will enable us to find and serve a guru.

Bodhisattva Attitude is an expression of Ven Sarah’s guru devotion. She shares the Dharma so we may recognize that every moment of consciousness is a fleeting opportunity for serving others. We can’t attain Enlightenment without serving others, and there’s no reason to seek Enlightenment other than to help others.

Bodhisattva Attitude is one of many books available for free on the LYWA website. Donations to support LYWA’s publication efforts can be made online: http://www.lamayeshe.com, or by sending a check to:

Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive
PO Box 636
Lincoln, MA 01773 · USA

Please share your comments about the book.

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