Day 3:Teachings on The Four Freedoms from Attachment - What is bodhicitta?




Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
31 December, 2014


This morning Jamgön Rinpoche entered the Pavilion casting a smile at Gyaltsap Rinpoche, as they walked together along the path that curves around to the center of the stage. When Jamgön Rinpoche was seated on his throne, as during the last two days, this morning there was a long line of offerings for his long life.This time it was led by Bokar Rinpoche's monastery while the sangha recited The Aspiration of the Bodhisattva. The head discipline master then read the list of donors interleaved with poetic expressions of their wishes for Jamgön Kongtrul’s well-being and the flourishing of the lineage, its teachers and teachings. Afterward, speaking in a clear and resonant voice that was very reminiscent of his previous incarnation, Jamgön Rinpoche began his explanation of the third of the Four Freedoms from Attachment.

3. Parting from Attachment to Our Self-Interest

Liberating myselfalone does not bring any benefit to

All my mothers and fathers, the beings in the three realms.

How terrible to leave my parents withtheir suffering

While only focusing on myown happiness.

May the suffering of the three realms ripen in me;

May all my merit be carried off by living beings;

And through the blessings of that merit,

May they all come to full awakening.

He began by saying that we should think that we are listening to the Dharma this morning for the benefit of all beings limitless as space; for their sake, we must achieve the state of completely perfect buddhahood, the unified state of Vajradhara. With this pure attitude and motivation, we should listen to the Dharma.

The third of the Four Freedoms reads:

If you are attached to your own self-interest, you have no bodhichitta.

The commentary on the root text continues:

When free of attachment, you pass into nirvana.

When you pass into nirvana, you find happiness.

But the melody of experience, parting from the four attachments,

Has no benefit if it liberates just you.

When we attain true nirvana, we attain ultimate happiness, the melody of experience, the freedom from attachment. It is said that those practicing in the foundational vehicle, the listeners and the self-realized buddhas, seek liberation and peace mostly for themselves. However, as practitioners of the mahayana, we take the path of the greater individual. Atisha describes such a person in his Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment:

          Through knowing their own suffering,

          They are filled with the wish to extinguish

          The suffering of themselves and others―

          Such is the great individual.

Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye (the First Jamgön Kongtrul) writes in his Treasury of Knowledge: "Under the sway of great compassion, they become fully awakened in order to efface the suffering of all living beings."

Jamgön Rinpoche then continues quoting the main text:

Liberating myself alone does not bring any benefit to

All my mothers and fathers, the beings in the three realms.

How terrible to leave my parents with their suffering

While only focusing on myown happiness.

As Buddhists, we accept karma with its cause and effect, so we must also say that all sentient beings in the three realms, not one left out, have been our parents. Due to birth and death, sometimes we have seen them as friends and sometimes as enemies. Yet,as our parents, they have cared for us with great kindness.The Prajnaparamita Sutra in 8000 Linesstates that they gave birth to us, cared for us, raised us, and protected us.If we were to turn our backs on their suffering and immerse ourselves in searching only for personal happiness, that would be dreadful.

The text continues:

May the suffering of the three realms ripen in me;

May all my merit be carried off by living beings;

And through the blessings of that merit,

May they all come to full awakening.

To paraphrase the first two lines: "May I take all loss and defeat upon myself. To all living beings, may I give away all my own merit, all my virtues and all the good things that I have from this life and lives from beginningless times. By the blessings of this merit, may every living beingcome to full awakening."Merely thinking this brings incredible merit in itself.

Explicit in this passage is the result of practice, being able to exchange oneself for others; implicit here is the cause, meditation on love and compassion. "Love" here means wishing to bring all beings into happiness. In his Garland of Jewels, Gampopa explains that gods and humans who have love are protected from all poisons and weapons, are able to accomplish every goal they set, and can be reborn in the realms of Brahma.

"Compassion"means wishing to free all sentient beings from suffering and its causes. It has inconceivable benefits as revealed in the Realization of Avalokiteshvara. If we have just this one quality, it will bring all the Dharma into the palm of our hand. What is this one thing? Great compassion.

If we meditate intensively on love and compassion, we will naturally develop bodhicitta and there are two types: aspirational bodhicitta and engaged bodhicitta. The primary practice of engaged bodhicitta is to exchange self with others. In Maitreya’s Ornament of Clear Realization, bodhicitta is described as wishing to achieve perfect enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings.

In general, bodhicitta can be classified in three ways: in terms of examples, stages of the path, and characteristics. Maitreya's text mentioned above gives twenty-two examples, which include the ground, a boat, a treasure, the wish-fulfilling jewel, an elephant, and clouds.

In terms of paths and levels, there are four types: (1) the bodhicitta related to our aspiration or intention; (2) pure intention;(3) ripening; and (4) purifying obscurations.

In terms of characteristics, there are two types: ultimate and relative bodhicitta.The essence of ultimate bodhicitta can be described by three attributes: it has the essence of emptiness and compassion; it never moves from its ground; and it is free of all conceptual complexity. A sutra explains that ultimate bodhicitta is: beyond the mundane world, free of conceptual proliferation, extremely clear, the object of ultimate truth, stainless, and unmoving, like a lamp not stirred by the wind.

And relative bodhicitta is as described above―the wish to attain full awakening in order to benefit all sentient beings―and there are two types, aspirational and engaged, which can be explained in different ways. According to Gampopa's Ornament of Precious Liberation, one tradition comes through Manjushri to Nagarjuna and on to Shantideva, while another comes from Maitreya to Asanga and then Serlingpa.

In the first tradition, aspirational bodhicitta is the wish to go somewhere, i.e., full awakening, whereas engaged bodhicitta is actually going there, actually engaging in practices that bring us to enlightenment. The second tradition holds that aspirational bodhicitta is to think, "For the sake of all sentient beings, I shall achieve buddhahood."It is a commitment to the result. Engaged bodhicitta is the commitment to the cause, the practice of the six paramitas that lead to full awakening.

Developing bodhicitta in these ways is essential. It is said that the distinction between the childish and the noble ones is bodhicitta, so it truly is the gateway into the mahayana. In The Levels of the Bodhisattva, Asanga describes four causes of bodhicitta:(1) belonging to the family, or having the aptitude of the mahayana; (2) being accepted by the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and a spiritual friend; (3) compassion for all living beings limitless in number; (4) having no fear when thinking of the suffering in samsara and of all the difficulties one must undergo plus the willingness to accept obstacles. We should make all the effort we can to create these causes.

After the recitation of The Aspiration for Mind Training, Jamgön Rinpoche gave brief meditation instructions. The first was to sit in the seven-point posture of Vairocana and settle our minds for a while. Then he asked us to contemplate how horrendous it is to leave sentient beings, all of whom have been our kind mother, caged in suffering and seek happiness only for ourselves. Then we should think that we will commit to achieving complete and perfect awakening, doing everything we can to achieve this goal. Rest in equipoise meditating on this, he concluded.

After the meditation, Jamgön Rinpoche read the prayers for the living and deceased. He asked that as he recited the dedication, people especially remember those who perished in the Air Asia flight. Though not originally phrased as an instruction, it was a clear teaching on bringing bodhicitta into our daily lives.

The world also seems to have appreciated the teachings on this Guru Rinpoche day as a bright rainbow touched down next to the Bodhgaya stupa.

2014.12.31 Day 3:Teachings on The Four Freedoms from Attachment 第32屆噶舉大祈願法會.「離四貪執修心法」開示四之三
http://www.kagyumonlam.org/English/News/Report/Report_20141231.html

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