Bodhicitta Love Never Excludes or Rejects Anybody

One of the most difficult ways to practice Bodhicitta, practicing love, compassion, and forgiveness, is towards ourselves. This can be very difficult for us. We can be very loving and compassionate and demonstrate honorable intentions toward others, but we can be very hardhearted and closed-minded when it comes to relating to our own suffering.  

Oftentimes we need to be the object of our own compassion, because we have a deeply ingrained hatred towards ourselves, which we do not completely understand, so we avoid dealing with it. This is why it is so easy to take someone else as the object of our love and compassion. We like to play the role of savior, trying to help others, so we can continue ignoring our own issues. This is why it is so important to practice tonglen for ourselves regularly. This is the most powerful healing method we can incorporate into our lives.  

When we become capable of acknowledging our own suffering through tonglen practice, we can swiftly resolve our karmic issues. We can experience the amazing transformation of suffering into happiness.  

It takes a lot of meditation and Dharma practice to unfold love towards oneself and towards all other beings. When we practice Bodhicitta mind we should not practice it partially. We should include all sentient beings. This includes our co-workers and family members, people we pass by on the street every day, homeless people we see laying in a doorway, politicians we disagree with, angry gas station attendants.  

Bodhicitta love never excludes or rejects anybody. Ego has the tendency to reject and exclude certain people. However, this Bodhicitta mind can include all other beings without reference point, including ourselves. This is because within this Bodhicitta mind, there is no idea of a self to construct barriers, to establish boundaries that keep others out of our hearts and prevent us from entering into theirs.  

In Bodhicitta mind, there is only one heart. To realize this we must start with ourselves. We have to journey into the unknown territory of our own hearts to uncover the love and compassion that is already there. This journey of uncovering love and compassion is one of acknowledgmentacceptance, and letting go.

First we acknowledge our resistance to life, to the unconditioned experience of love that exists as what is in every moment. Then we accept this unresolved part of ourselves, the resistance. We accept simply by being aware, without judgment or hesitation. We face our unwillingness directly, without distraction, by asking ourselves, “What is happening in my life right now?” We use this method of inquiry constantly to reveal our resistance to our lives, lives which are actually always prefect as they are. When we begin to see ourselves directly, our constant struggle to do, to obtain in order to produce some sense of satisfaction in our lives, then we begin to experience some space around the resistance. And this space is acceptance, a loosening of the tight grip of ego. To accept is to let go, which happens automatically.  

However, this letting go might mean that we are bound to experience some unpleasantness, some discomfort, but this is merely the release of bound up habitual energy. It has no substance. It is just like a deluded dream. But to experience ourselves in this way, we have to make some kind of sacrifice if we truly want to be free from the karmic weight of our ignorance, of not understanding who we are. This is because we are used to caving in on ourselves, disempowering ourselves by succumbing to our habitual tendencies, which are created out of the hope and fear that maintain the constant sense of struggle. There is no struggle, though, and there never has been.  

In actuality, the unfolding of this process is the birthing of a complete willingness that evolves naturally into pure faith, which is the unlimited expression of our Buddha nature. From this place of healing within ourselves, we can then expand ourselves within the sphere of awareness, extending love and compassion, tolerance and forgiveness, healing that includes all of the people in our lives, especially the ones who are not the objects of our loving-kindness and compassion.  

We have to recognize that the practice of Bodhicitta is the essence of all other practice. Whether we are practicing meditation or mantra, or even the highest yoga, ati yoga; the essence never changes—it is Bodhicitta mind, the genuine heart of understanding. Bodhicitta is suffused with boundless love and unbearable tenderness that expresses its concern for the welfare of others continuously.  

If we lack recognition of this Bodhicitta mind we stray from the path that leads to enlightenment. We only need to remind ourselves of this point constantly: that we already possess Bodhicitta mind.

Bodhicitta is the Main Ingredient 

What is true spirituality and who owns it? Nobody owns it. As long as there is the principle of Bodhicitta mind, then there is true spirituality. The moment there is no longer Bodhicitta mind, it is no longer the path to enlightenment.  

We always have to re-examine our heart and mind to see whether Bodhicitta is the main ingredient. In the Dharma practice recipe, Bodhicitta is the main ingredient. All other practices are just spice on top of that. Bodhicitta mind is the main ingredient. We must have that or the recipe is not going to be very delicious or satisfying.  

We prove it thus: when we do Dharma practice and forget to take Bodhicitta as the core essence, no matter how much we put ourselves into retreat, we always go back to the same samsara, the same hope, fear, and insecurity, because Bodhicitta has been lacking in our Dharma recipe. By practicing Dharma without connecting to our own hearts, our practice lacks the genuine flavor of a pure mind. So we have to always take refuge and generate Bodhicitta as the essence of our recipe. We need to examine whether there is the Bodhicitta ingredient or not. We need to examine our own motivation.  

I’ve found the most helpful practice in Mahayana is to examine my own motivation. The essential message of the Mahayana teaching is to put Bodhicitta into practice by continuously examining one’s motivation.  

Examining motivation is not about being harsh or judgmental to ourselves by being spiritually or religiously restrictive. We do not have to give commentary to ourselves about whether we are a good or bad spiritual practitioner. But it is good to re-examine our mind without judgment.  

Examination is completely different. When we examine our minds and the underlying motivation of our Dharma practice, we may sense that there is a lack of love and compassion. That’s fine. We only have to be aware of this and then we can cultivate the desire to generate genuine Bodhicitta mind. If we do have the Bodhicitta mind then we should be very joyous.  

From the beginning, when we practice Bodhicitta mind, the most important point is to acknowledge the suffering of all sentient beings, including ourselves. We acknowledge by asking ourselves, “What is the nature of the suffering we experience?”  

The nature of suffering is just the experience of our minds. It does not exist in physical circumstances. Suffering is a state of mind; the state of our minds when they have been completely obscured by the delusions of hope and fear. Suffering is only a state of mind. Our experience of suffering is like experiencing mental hallucinations. By understanding the nature of reality through the realization that all suffering is a fabrication of the mind, we come to understand the suffering of all sentient beings. We develop this understanding by deeply contemplating the sufferings of ourselves and all sentient beings.

Source: Used with permission from