Meditations by Lama Matthew Rice – Winter 2018

Bodhichitta: The Heart of Enlightenment

“The altruism of bodhichitta is the path of beings of great potential. Therefore train yourself in the deeds of bodhisattvas, and do this on a grand scale! Shoulder the responsibility of freeing all beings from samsara. Of all the eighty-four thousand sections of the Buddha’s teachings, none is more profound than bodhichitta. “– Dudjom Rinpoche

I must make a confession. Sometimes it is very hard to live up to the words spoken by Dudjom Rinpoche. The path of a the Bodhisattva is one that brings much meaning to my life, but the constant stream of suffering that we have been hearing lately, whether it’s natural disasters or the sustained hate and violence in our country and in the world, I have moments of feeling overwhelmed by it all.

There is a story about Chenrezig, after he had many kalpas working for the benefit of all beings in each of the six realms, he looked with the eye of knowledge from the top of mount Meru to see if he had liberated many beings and whether the number of beings in samsara had diminished. Alas, he saw that they were still innumerable. He became very sad and being discouraged, he thought, “I do not have the capability to help beings; it is better that I rest in nirvana.” This thought contradicted his promise to Amitabha, and he burst into a thousand pieces and felt intense suffering.

However, there is an upside to this story. Amitabha, by the power of his grace, reconstructed the body of Chenrezig. He gave him eleven faces and a thousand arms similar to the thousand spokes of a universal monarch’s wheel and a thousand eyes, symbolic of the thousand buddhas of the present kalpa. Chenrezig could henceforth help the beings in this form as well as with his other forms of two or four arms. Amitabha asked Chenrezig to retake his promise with still more vigor than before and then transmitted to him the six syllable mantra: OM MANI PADME HUNG.”

So this coming year, I am also going to retake my promise to continue to arouse bodhichitta and allow it to flourish in my heart and mind. But I will also not be alone. You can join me in this journey.

There is a famous prayer, “Bodhichitta is precious, may it arise for whom it has not arisen, once arisen, may it not diminish, but ever grow and flourish.” Not only does this prayer hold the essence of the Bodhisattva, but it is also a description on Shantideva’s famous text The Way of the Bodhisattva. The first three chapters explain how to generate bodhichitta. The next three chapters explain how to prevent bodhichitta from diminishing. The next three chapters explain how to make the bodhichitta grow and flourish, while the final chapter is a prayer of dedication.


I am happy to announce that this famous text will be taught this year by Geshe Tsewang Thinley as part of our Tier 3 course. As this is such an important part of the Mahayana path, Geshe la is going to take his time with the text, looking at each chapter in detail while helping us apply those teaching to our daily lives. I hope that you can join us in this journey of discovery. To awaken bodhichitta in your own heart and mind is one of the greatest gifts that you can give to yourself and others.

“With their boundless wisdom, beings’ only guides, have investigated thoroughly and seen its value. Thus whoever longs for freedom from conditioned states should grasp this precious bodhichitta and guard it well.” – Shantideva