Bodhichitta ~ Awakened Heart

Wisdom is one half of awakening, Compassion is the other; the left and right sides of the Awakened Heart, known as Bodhichitta.

It is also translated as ‘Enlightened Mind’, but since it is based upon the desire to awaken in order to alleviate the sufferings of all beings, the Heart is a closer translation. Heart and ‘Mind’ are the same here anyway.

~ Kurt Vonnegut

Pema Chodron writing on Bodhichitta~

Many of us prefer practices that will not cause discomfort, and at the same time we want to be healed. But bodhichitta training doesn’t work that way.

A warrior accepts that we can never know what will happen to us next. We can try to control the uncontrollable by looking for security and predictability, always hoping to be comfortable and safe.

But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty. This not knowing is part of the adventure, and it’s also what makes us afraid.

Bodhichitta training offers no promise of happy endings. Rather, this “I” who wants to find security—who wants something to hold on to—can finally learn to grow up. The central question of a warrior’s training is not how we avoid uncertainty and fear, but how we relate to discomfort.

How do we practice with difficulty, with our emotions, with the unpredictable encounters of an ordinary day?

“Do I prefer to grow up and relate to life directly or do I choose to live and die in fear?”

All beings have the capacity to feel tenderness—to experience heartbreak, pain and uncertainty. Therefore the enlightened heart of bodhichitta is available to us all.

Bodhichitta… will inspire and support us in good times and bad. It is like discovering a wisdom and courage we do not even know we have.

Just as alchemy changes any metal into gold, bodhichitta can, if we let it, transform any activity, word or thought into a vehicle for awakening our compassion.


The warmth of the Bodhichitta heart also includes sadness. It is not simply some kind of blissful love that is oblivious, either to the sufferings of others or to the sufferings of one’s own human self. It is only by knowing our own pain that we can possibly put ourselves into the shoes of the other and feel true empathy and compassion for their pain. And this warmth, this sadness, this love expands the heart and grows the awakening energy.

It starts off small. It allows us to be humans who feel tired and grouchy and cranky and pissed off and who don’t want to help others even if we aspire to it. That’s okay ~ it’s a mind training. It is a seed. It starts off small, in dark places. Something we water and nurture, slowly slowly. Something  that will one day in natural time sprout and bloom and let us expand beyond the tight armor of our selves to truly encompass others.

All practice grows and flourishes by learning to relax with where you are already.

So some combination of learning to relax where you are already and, at the same time, holding a big vision or keeping the possibility open that really your capacity, my capacity, the capacity of all beings is limitless, absolutely limitless. ~ Pema Chodron.


Patrul Rinpoche on Bodhichitta ~

Generally there are said to be two levels to bodhichitta, the relative and the ultimate.

Relative bodhichitta is the mind that is intent upon attaining perfect enlightenment for the sake of others, and ultimate bodhichitta is the wisdom that directly realizes emptiness.

Relative bodhichitta itself can be further divided into aspirational bodhichitta, which is like the wish to go somewhere, and the bodhichitta of application, which is like actually making the journey.

Ultimate bodhichitta only arises through the power of meditating on the path, and is therefore known as ‘subtle bodhichitta, which is gained through reality itself’.

Relative bodhichitta has two points or aspects: compassion, which is focused on sentient beings, and wisdom, which is directed towards perfect enlightenment. If either of these two aspects is lacking, then it will not be the bodhichitta of the Mahayana, so it is important that they are both complete.

He is talking here about wisdom and love. One without the other is incompleteness.


To be continued…..(by anyone).


Generally just Being. Nothing in particular, no claims to fame. I like gardening and the sea, nature, art in all forms from poetry to films and everything in between, and being in the company of my family.

Posted in Buddhism, Uncategorized

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