The Enlightenment Attitude

By Lama Thubten Yeshe
Chenrezig Institute, Austalia (Archive #072)

This teaching about the importance of bodhicitta, the mind of enlightenment, was given by Lama Yeshe when he was bestowing bodhisattva vows at Chenrezig Institute, Australia, on September 14, 1979. Edited by Nicholas Ribush.

Lama Yeshe teaching at Chenrezig Institute, Australia, 1979.

The bodhisattva vows were requested when I was at Chenrezig Institute two years ago, but I was unable to give them at that time. Now you have asked again and I'm very fortunate to be able to give them, and you people are also very fortunate in having come to the conclusion that you would like to take them.  These vows can be taken in either of two ways: one is the wishing way, where you think that you would like to actualize bodhicitta as much as possible, understanding that this is the best way to live; and the other way is by taking the vows—the eighteen root vows and the forty-six branch vows—in a serious way. I am sure that you understand this, I am not going to go into the details.

The thing is, from the Buddhist point of view, that it is very important for us to have the enlightenment attitude. It is an important thing. The reason is, I think I can say, that without some kind of attitude or thought with which to transform the actions of our daily life, life seems to be a disaster. If you are living in a couple relationship, or even if you are just a single person, you still have to relate with human beings. Even if you go into the Himalaya mountains, you still have to relate with sentient beings, human beings. There is no place that you can go where you don't have to relate with human beings, so it is very important to have this attitude, because all actions, both good and bad, depend on it. You know—I'm not going to tell you that, you know already. So in order to transform our lives, to live in the best way, we desperately need to have constantly such as the divine quality enlightenment attitude, bodhicitta.

Otherwise, you can see in the West, that people dedicate their entire lives or most of their lives totally to sense pleasure, sense pleasure. Can you imagine? It is obvious why human beings in the West are easily depressed and kill themselves—it is because their purpose, goal or destination of life is so narrow. So narrow. “If this man or lady cannot give me satisfaction, there is nothing worthwhile in this earth.” Can you imagine that? This is the life, this is the life. It is a completely cold, narrow mind. They particularly mention, “If this lady, this man does not give me satisfaction, then I'm not worthwhile.” It just isn't true. There are so many millions of ladies and millions of gentlemen too, but such a neurotic attitude, such a wrong view, so fanatical, such a self-cherishing thought, not seeing beyond the limitation. You can see, life is so empty, so empty.

So you see, the West is unbelievable. They try so hard to make themselves happy by putting material possessions into different perspectives. “Maybe if I put it this way, something interesting; maybe I put this way, something interesting; maybe I put this way, something interesting; maybe I put this way, something interesting; maybe if I put this way, something interesting.” [Lama turns his body in all different directions.] All those things are not true—can you imagine? This way, this way, and this way—what difference? I mean, of course relatively there is some difference, but that doesn't make you satisfied, does it? Yet they try so much, unbelievable.

It is very good to see the reality of Western life, or the Western way of living life, to check up historically. If you do you will really get a bit of a hard shock, I tell you. It is not happy; Western life is definitely not a happy life, I can say. I'm sorry. Even though you think your life is happy, it’s not true. I'm not saying that I have investigated each individual and discovered that each is unhappy; I am not saying like this, but I am just looking at it sort of generally. It is a very difficult life. And also, people in Western samsara have some kind of instinctive attitude. I don't know, perhaps I can say instinctive—there is no checking, no observation, they just do things, just spinning, just doing things instinctively, instinctively, spinning themselves. This makes me so afraid. No observation, no checking what's going on. That's dangerous.

I can see when Western people start to meditate, when they begin to observe their attitude, then they can see, “What has been happening to me?” At some point they really become crazy. Why? Because before they were just going round and round like this, then suddenly [Lama circles his finger round and round in the air and suddenly brings it up to his eyes indicating that people first circle around until they suddenly see themselves for the first time] so the nervous system is shocked. So, instead of becoming better by meditation they get worse. But it is much better to question for a minute, rest in this way, than just spinning around; you do not become worse.

So it is good to learn how to change the instinctive behavior in order to transform the Western life. It is the instinctive attitude that leads to certain actions. Any movements of the body and speech result from attitudes of the mind, and in order to transform that, you need quite a lot of effort, observation, and penetration on the motivation.

What I'm saying is, my point is that it is important that each of us has the attitude or aim of looking beyond sense pleasures. Even philosophically we can think, “Well, yeah, today I'm not getting any chocolate. Yeah, OK. I'm not getting chocolate. Well, I'm not going to die. I can have other pleasures. Muesli I can eat.” Or you can think, “My boyfriend has disappeared. Well, he is one man. OK. He has disappeared, but there are so many of them. So, if I wait, maybe something will come out.” Instead of being so concrete, which makes you kill yourself, it is so dangerous. But that doesn't mean, I'm not saying that you should not be concerned with this life's pleasure. You can have pleasure, but you should know that this pleasure is not the only one, and that you should not grasp at it in such a neurotic way. It is not worth it. This pleasure is temporal—come, goes, come, goes.

Let me make an example. I was a Tibetan refugee. I had a samsaric nest, my parents, my sisters—I had four or five sisters and three or four brothers. My pleasure did not depend on my sisters or brothers, it did not depend on the Tibetan environment. I still have pleasure in Australia, don't I? However, many refugees were very sad and sometimes they even killed themselves, thinking, “Now I have lost my country, I have lost my wife, my husband, my children, everything I have lost. There is no more point in living.” So they killed themselves too. Attitude is extremely important. The only thing that makes me happy is that I think, “Hmmmmm, not too bad.” That is profound; from a Buddhist point of view this is profound. With this you are almost Buddha. You can see that another condition makes you just as happy as the previous condition. And understand that the relative conditions change from time to time, they cannot hang on permanently. So there is room, there is room.

Actually, the attitude is the essence of life. Like this pillar keeps the house from falling down, doesn't it? The attitude is the source of life. So the good life, good relationships, come from the good attitude. With the bad attitude human beings fight each other and have disastrous relationships. The good attitude—we have the same potential, we live together, we help each other, and we can grow and be helpful for each other. If we human beings have that kind of attitude, human relationships can be good and worthwhile. But if we have very low attitude, then the life becomes very shaky. Western life in particular is so shaky, unbelievably shaky.

The greatest suffering in the West is the incredible changing of life, the fickle mind changing, changing, changing—this makes the most suffering in the Western life. This is my observation. Because fundamentally, there is no stability between us. We human beings are living with each other—whatever you do affects me, whatever I do affects you. So if you are shaking, you are spinning, it makes me also go like that. I cannot cope. I cannot cope with the Western students’ attitude and life—it will be much better that I went back! [Lama starts to get off the throne.] Well, you understand what I mean. I'm sure you people think that I'm crazy, “He has come for such a short time, just a couple of days, and immediately he is judging our way of life. This man makes incredible presumptions.” Well, perhaps I am presumptuous, but perhaps I am looking at you like this: you are there, and I'm looking from the outside, like this. [Lama shows looking at us from a distance, in perspective.] Sometimes tourists can see better than the people who are inside, rolling each other. Rolling each other? They themselves don't understand what is happening.

I'm not criticizing Western life, saying that it is the worst life in the world. Western life could be perfect, really profound life. It depends; it is up to the individual transformation, the individual attitude. What I'm talking about is the majority of people who do not have a philosophy of the reality of life, the right life, not living in the right livelihood. That is the problem.

I want you to understand that Western relationships are always shaking, shaking, shaking, Why Western people's relationships with each other are like a tornado is because they have a fickle attitude. Their attitude is so limited, their expectations are a fantasy, their aim is so small and narrow. As I say, if the only purpose someone is having a relationship with you is that they are expecting chocolate, how can it be done? From the beginning they have limited thinking; the basis for the relationship is already narrow, a fantasy—their relationship with you. I'm not sure if my language is expressing this clearly enough for you. My language is not so good. I would really like to make this clean and clear. It is important to know, it is true that when two human beings come together in a relationship, if their attitude in dealing with each other has such a narrow destination, then what happens is [Lama snaps his fingers] you crash; that is the result.

The West does also have its good side. The Christian religion has a great deal to offer. Really, I see many Christian people coming together in a relationship and they stick to each other very sincerely. Many of them are very happy, by believing, “God created us, we are coming together, our aim is to work toward God, salvation,” or whatever it is. Actually, there are many good things also in Western religions, you can see. But many people reject religion. They believe themselves to be like fish or chickens—chicken religion, chicken thinking, fish religion, fish thinking. They reject Christianity—they make fish religion, chicken religion.

Anyway, the attitude is so important. We always say, “profound life,” don't we, in the West? We do say, everybody uses the words, “profound life.” Profound life means profound meaning, profound destination, or profound aim. The reason that we human beings are bored with each other is that we don't have a profound destination. We shake hands with each other and that is it, that is the aim, our aim is finished. Then we are bored. We can't see that besides shaking hands there is some profound meaning and reality; we can't see. That is what's wrong. Really, the point is that we Westerners should live as much as we can by taking what life and society offer. You should have a comfortable life, you can do that, you can take that advantage, you can use that. But at the same time, you should know that sense pleasures and comfort of this life are not the only things to live for. We can do better, better. Each day we can live a better life. It doesn't matter whether I'm young or stupid or old at the moment. Still my potential for a joyful life can grow infinitely.

Also, you understand the characteristic of the bodhicitta attitude is that we are not concerned with the comfort of only our own life; moreover, we are not only concerned with our own liberation. We see or recognize that the potential for everlasting peace and the blissful state exists within all of the universal sentient beings. Last, we take the responsibility of leading all these sentient beings and fertilizing their potential—taking the responsibility all by ourselves. This attitude is very important.

For example, often we have friends. Sometimes your friend might say, “This time I need somebody to do this,”—expressing a need for something, some help from you. He doesn't ask in a heavy way, and our self-cherishing thought doesn't have room, or sensitive awareness or understanding to take that vibration into our mind. We are already blocked. You see, the human psychology is that really, if you have not prepared yourself in such a way, even when your friend expresses his need to you like this you just ignore it. You can see, your friend is not stupid. He knows, “I tried to express myself in such a way but look, he never heard, it never went into his mind.” Unbelievable—that's the way it goes. I think we all do this, it's not so good, is it?

You have a relationship with another person and sometimes that person really gives their life, their energy, everything to you for such a long time. And when they have a difficult time and express their need in a very gentle way, your concrete mind is so strong that it never occurs to you that they need something. It just goes off from here. Can you imagine? I mean the other person is going to be hurt, aren’t they? That means you have no preparation; you have no foundation to receive, you have already rejected, “Urrr,” you have already built a wall. Or maybe as Westerners say, the door is already closed. So there's no room. That is the way human problems and conflict come.

Then the next day perhaps intellectually you say to your friend, “Wow, can I do something for you?” And they think, “Forget it.” Inside they think, “Forget it. Yesterday I told you so many times that I needed help and you didn't pay any attention. Today you are just saying ‘Hello, can I help you? Do you want something from me now?’” It's true, completely true. You see, this is the way all the human conflict comes. Some reason, incredible. We are not open. For you just to be able to hear what your friend is expressing is incredible. I tell you, that takes tremendous energy. Just to hear, let alone your sharing. Some reason, I don't understand human beings; just to hear, just to be receptive is difficult, let alone saying, “Oh, you have this problem; I'm sorry, I have compassion.”

Even though these things are not new, still, to be kind of sympathetic also takes time. It takes time, we are just like stone, so much like stone, no response to the needs of any humans or other sentient beings. That is the problem. So in human relationships it is very important to be open to each other, sort of willing, determined, wanting to help each other. If you determine in that way, then there is room for the gross information to come in through here to here. [Lama points at his ear then his heart.]

The Tibetan yogi, Lama Je Tsongkhapa said that the enlightenment attitude, bodhicitta, is the essence of the Mahayana vehicle and it is also the foundation of development of the six paramitas and the ten bodhisattva bhumis. It is also like alchemy, the energy that has the ability to transform iron into gold. Similarly, by having the enlightenment attitude, it is possible to transform our mundane Western life into the transcendental bodhicitta path to enlightenment, the path to enlightenment. It is possible.

So from the Mahayana point of view, if one is concerned to get only oneself healthy, liberated, it is still a self-cherishing thought, concerned with only oneself and not with other sentient beings. That is also the self-cherishing thought. Actually, it is quite profound to have the comprehension that the source of human problems is the ego conflict, and to want to reach beyond that and attain cessation of suffering, or liberation, or nirvana. I mean, sometimes we have difficulty to understand that even intellectually; as far as transformation of oneself it is still very difficult. Yet from the bodhisattva's point of view, wanting to do that is still a baby attitude, self-cherishing thought and not profound.

All human problems come from the lack of wisdom. To gain wisdom, tremendous wisdom, we need to be open—to discover the profound total openness, totality of the enlightenment, or buddhahood, the state of the totally conscious, omniscient wisdom. We need to have the totally open attitude.

Let me make an example. When I learn English, if I do not open myself to my teacher, if I think that I cannot learn anything from Western people, if I have that kind of attitude, that wrong conception, I cannot learn anything; I cannot, it is blocked already. The moment that I think that I cannot learn anything from Western people, if I make that determination, then I cannot learn English, it is not possible, I am closed already.

My point is that when you are open, when you are searching, then there is a possibility to discover, for example, uranium, which is the energy to produce the nuclear things. Because you are seeking it, looking for that, you discover it. Those examples are good. Then they discover how to make things from it, how to use it, they discover nuclear energy. It is similar, for human beings to become totally perfect; it is possible. When we say “Buddha” we mean totality and perfection, not something partial. So we do need sort of concentrated totality wisdom. If we are not open it is not possible.

When you are open, even when you look at how children are acting, dogs and monkeys, the changing weather, you can learn from all these things, you can learn something. All the movement of things in the world is showing reality to you. For me, perhaps I have learnt words, maybe I talk a few words to you, blah blah blah, but perhaps the real teaching is what I am taking from you. I feel I learn a great deal from Western people. Perhaps the attitude in the West is that the students know nothing and only the teacher is knowledgeable—do you have that attitude in schools? You do? My goodness, that's dangerous, that's dangerous. It is not true. You can see how those teachers waste their energy.

Even higher bodhisattvas can learn from children, sure. Amazing. Do you know Gudrun, the daughter of Tom and Kathy? When I was here two years ago, I invited them all to come for lunch and we ate together. I was eating like this and saying to Gudrun, “How are you?” She was young, so young, two years ago, and she said to me, “Lama, don't talk.” She was my guest, and I said, “Why?” Incredible, she was so precise, so serious, “When you talk with food in your mouth, your words are not clear.” Fantastic, such a young girl but so precise. How could I reject that? For me it was perfectly logical.

I am making such simple examples, but they relate to such a profound thing, the enlightenment attitude bodhicitta. This is because I want you to see clean-clear how beneficial it is, I want you to understand that it is really worthwhile. Human beings just existing without having a profound attitude or a profound destination, just living for temporal chocolate, are so dry. To give a more tangible example, we have come here, we talk some kind of intellectual teaching to you, and you sort of understand, “Maybe what this monk says is half true, not too bad; hmmm, maybe he is a little bit kind.” Sort of, we have some feeling for each other. Even Lama Zopa spends maybe twelve days, always pumping, pumping, pumping. But still you don't feel tremendously upset with Lama Zopa, do you? The reason is that we are not involved at such low levels, we are trying to relate to each other in a higher way. We are not fighting with you as you fight with your boyfriend or girlfriend.

I want you to understand. How many times do you fight with your girlfriend or boyfriend in one day? I'm joking. But the important thing is this, that in our relationship with each other we do have some kind of lower attitude, and that is why we fight. If you have any kind of relationship with human beings, in one way you can relate at mundane levels and in another way you can relate beyond mundane levels, having some kind of higher destination. I'm not sure what I'm talking about. Remember, many times in the Buddhist scriptures it says “beyond” something. Well, we have the attitude that we like to eat chocolate, we like chocolate, but at the same time, inside, we can see beyond chocolate. I think it is better to put it that way, so then you can understand clean-clear. So this we have to learn. Men can deal with ladies, ladies can deal with men, but at the same time they can reach beyond that. It is important, check out how to reach beyond normality at the same time as you are living in normality. It needs a profound attitude, profound nuclear wisdom to go through those obstacles.

Anyway, I'm not going to talk too much more now, but I feel that it is so important that when we do things we do them correctly and that the things we do do not bring problems. You see, when I talk about bodhicitta philosophy I expect you to understand, but if you don't see how it is related with your life then you don't know how to hold it: “Bodhicitta, there is bodhicitta, yeah, I can't put it together with my life; my life is involved with chocolate so how can I put it with bodhicitta?” This is not so good. You see, the Buddhist teaching is so down to earth, I tell you, actually, so down to earth, so simple, so logical. I myself don't have much wisdom or method, but I'm not afraid to give Buddhist teachings even in the Western intellectual world; those teachings are so logical, so simple. If you don't understand these two things—that you are dealing with the world and at the same time you are reaching beyond that—then you cannot practice Dharma, you can't put it together, you can't. There are always problems and conflict.

Take, for example, the many young hippies living in the Australian bush. They are extreme, living without a house. I hear, I'm not sure. But a house is not the problem, muesli is not the problem—the problem is the grasping, narrow mind that cannot see you can go beyond all that. I have to say, that many times hippies have a misunderstanding of renunciation. Their renunciation is a fickle mind, they can only stay a few months in the bush, they cannot hold their reality. You know that they cannot hold their reality, they are just joking, playing a game, sort of reacting against their parents and society. This is unrealistic, it does not help themselves and the result is that they become sick, they get hepatitis, cancer, bitten by insects—anyway, you know what I mean. An unhealthy body—what are you gaining? Your attachment is still there. Anybody who lives in the bush criticizing society people as terrible, bad and impure, I can immediately recognize as one who himself has the impure, sick mind. I don't care who it is, I am going to say that. So you see, renunciation means having no problem. But here you are, living in the bush, thinking that society people are bad. “Society people are bad, they do this, they do this, this, this.” Sort of you are completely obsessed with society people, “Society people, urrrr.” How can you be free? How are you renouncing society? You are more involved with society, aren't you, instead of renouncing it.

There is one example also, that at one time there were two Buddhist monks crossing a river and they saw a lady with leprosy. One monk, out of compassion, carried this lady across the river. The other one was thinking, “Wow, he broke his vow, he broke his vow, he broke his vow, he touched a lady, he touched a lady.” Sort of his mind was going like this. So then they argued about who was right and who was wrong, and finally they asked their teacher. The teacher told the one who was criticizing, “This is your problem, your mind is caught up with that; the other one didn't even think about it, he just carried her, that's all.”

So you understand the psychology. The point is that Buddhist philosophy and meditation teaches you to follow the middle path to enlightenment. To live in the middle way. It is not saying you have to lead a miserable life in order to become enlightened, in order for you to work toward enlightenment. It is never mentioned that you have to be miserable in this life for you to discover enlightenment. Where is the Buddhist scripture that said that? Anyway, in the Dharma scriptures they say that anyone who practices Dharma goes from happiness to happiness, from the happy path, the path to enlightenment, to the happy goal, destination. But if you understand that first you have to renounce, go into the jungle and be miserable, give up society and a comfortable life, that is a misconception.

Of course, when you think about it the other way, it is better to be simple than to have tremendous, outrageous grasping onto one, two, more and more things. That is also painful isn't it? But Australian life also allows you to be simple and comfortable at the same time, doesn't it? You can live a comfortable life without tremendous effort, sure you can. This is the beauty of what your life offers—your karma to be born in Australia, and the kindness of society people. You have something to be really thankful for, this is your karma, so take advantage. You use those energies but you also go beyond that, seeing that this is not our only destination, there is something beyond it. So you slow down, you are not craving, you know that these are not the only things, the most important things.

Anyway, I'm sure you have already understood all these things from the lamrim but I want you to be clean-clear. Really, for some reason, human beings are really unbelievably kind to each other. It's true. There is a bodhisattva vow that you should not criticize others, and that if somebody accidentally hits you and then you really get angry with that person so that when he apologizes you say, “I don't want to forgive you,” that is against the bodhisattva vow. If somebody apologizes to you, you have to accept. And there is also a vow against you praising yourself and putting other people down. It is no good to put other people down. Actually, if somebody puts other people down it means there is something going on within himself. If I put you down it means that there is some psychological reasoning going on within my mind, some resistance, some weak mind, some insecure feeling with myself. That is the reason I put you down. So it is important, that we human beings are involved with each other; that even though sometimes we get angry and accidentally hurt each other there is space to accept when somebody says, “Please forgive me.” Accepting is very important.

In Buddhism acceptance is very important. Perhaps this is not in the Western mentality. If I have cancer, the Buddhist attitude is that I have to accept and not reject. How can I think, “Oh, I am Thubten Yeshe, how can I have cancer? How can I have cancer in my nose?” If I think like that you can see that I am stupid, I want to demonstrate to you the stupid way of thinking. The cancer is already here on my nose or somewhere, it is already here. It is a continued existence from the past, whenever it began, so as that is the reality it is best that you accept. Of course, at the same time you can do something. If it helps, you can go to the doctor, you can take so many things. But those who have a narrow, ignorant mind—not only people in the West—cannot accept cancer and psychologically they add to that, so they have double cancer. Each time you psychologically add more cancer, the symptoms get bigger and bigger and bigger.

From the Buddhist point of view it is possible that you can have cancer but be completely blissful at the same time. It depends upon the mental attitude, complete control. Physical pain can be controlled by the mind, I tell you. A Western example is boxing. I mean, can you imagine this? For me it is too much. When I watch boxing on television it is difficult for me, I get pain. They beat each other incredibly, unbelievable. To some extent the boxer controls the pain, but in a negative way. It is not a positive mind. Do you think he controls it with a positive mind? Doubtful. Unbelievable. My goodness.

So, can you imagine, all these things. Like the man who drives in the motor race, how many times he becomes unconscious? Do you know or not, this man? [Students suggest Evil Knievel, the stunt performer.] It is unbelievable, he puts himself unconscious so many times, still his ego is completely blissful. He is intoxicated, his ego says completely, “Yeah, yeah, again I want to do because....” Actually it is rubbish. Who thinks that he is wise? I think people who are really interested, thinking that this is worthwhile, are completely foolish, definitely, absolutely foolish. It is a complete waste of life. I'm sorry. I could not believe what an unbelievable waste of life that is. It is unbelievable the way the mind of mother sentient beings works.

I think I'm going too extreme, excuse me. It is really fortunate that all of you have somehow come to the conclusion that in this life it is worthwhile to develop the enlightenment attitude, bodhicitta, “From now and forever, as much as possible I am going to actualize being more concerned for other sentient beings.” You know, it is not telling a lie. The way to take the bodhisattva vows is to think as much as possible, “I understand my limitations, I look at my own life—so many times this narrow mind, with self-cherishing thought I have given incredible harm to the friends who surround me. Many times I have harmed my parents; even though they have been kind I have rejected them. Not only that, as I have grown up with my friends and they have tried in their way to make me happy, with my self-cherishing mind I have made so many problems for them. But now I understand that all these self-cherishing thoughts are the source of confusion and dissatisfaction, and that I and all universal living beings have equal potential to reach beyond the egotistic self-cherishing thought, and discover the enlightenment realization, by actualizing the six paramitas.”

First is the paramita of generosity, giving. Don't think that giving is not possible, that you are totally miserly. Just when you talk to your friend, you know, somebody says, “Hello, how are you?” and then you reply, “Haa, I'm OK.” This is also giving. Giving does not necessarily mean that you have to hand over something material. Listening to other people, being patient and sympathetic is also giving. For example, here in meditation, just being a good example and well-controlled is giving; as a matter of fact, you are giving. Remember, I talked about this before. We are giving a good example to each other; we are showing each other our potentiality. The best gift is to be a good example. That is true giving. And being sensitive and aware is the real gift.

Also there is purity. At least we should not cheat our parents and friends, who are very kind, and we should not cheat those who give us education, our teachers and so on. We should have a good feeling toward all of them, and not tell lies; there is no reason. If there is a good reason to lie you can do so, but if there is not you should not. So I'm not going to tell you all the details, but there is this paramita of purity.

Actually, all this is wisdom. I want you to understand that this is the wisdom. The way of explaining the Buddhist point of view is that purity comes from wisdom. Without wisdom it is not possible. There are six paramitas; paramita means beyond the giving, beyond the purity, beyond the patience, the enthusiastic feeling, the one-pointedness concentration penetration, and then the wisdom. So all these things are bodhicitta, bodhisattva actions. When you become a bodhisattva, this way of thinking is your equipment, and your duty is to actualize these six wisdoms. As much as possible you actualize.

So think about the profound beings who really have the highest attitude, that leads to the highest destination, and they have already reached it. If you have a Christian background, you can think about the Christian saints. Or we say, “All the past buddhas, all bodhisattvas, by actualizing the bodhicitta attitude and open universal thought have reached the highest destination, the highest consciousness. They have reached beyond the limited thought. As they have acted, I myself am also going to actualize as much as possible, and each day from now on I will develop the understanding of the totally open attitude toward the reality of all universal beings. From now and forever.”

So this time, you are taking the bodhisattva vow from the supreme beings of the ten directions. The higher beings who have reached beyond the self-cherishing thought are in your presence. You should sit like you do when you take the eight precepts in the morning, kneeling on your right knee. This symbolizes single-minded thought, not having the dualistic thought. So with the understanding that you are developing the enlightened attitude to lead all universal sentient beings to the highest destination, the eternally blissful state of consciousness, think that from now on you are going to actualize bodhicitta and the six paramitas as much as possible.

Think that you are making this determination in front of the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions, and feel that it is extremely worthwhile and that you are doing amazing things, you are kind of surprised yourself. It is not an easy thing but really worthwhile, to transform and attain the transcendental experience, understanding that the buddha potential lies equally within all universal sentient beings. So generate the strong motivation, “From now until I discover enlightenment I shall actualize the enlightenment attitude, bodhicitta, in order to benefit all universal sentient beings as much as I can, and day by day I shall also actualize the six paramitas just as all the higher supreme beings, the buddhas and bodhisattvas did.”

[Lama performs the bodhicitta ordination ceremony.]

The merits of having taken this bodhicitta ordination are infinite. This energy becomes universal energy because your attitude, the way you have opened is toward the universal reality of all universal living beings. For this reason the energy of taking this ordination is infinite, so powerful. Therefore, traditionally, we dedicate the merits immediately. Dedication means directing that energy to the highest destination, before it is destroyed by the circumstances of anger or hatred. So it is very important that at this time you dedicate very strongly. But when you dedicate, it is not necessarily only the merits you have created at this time. Of course, at present you do have the infinite powerful attitude nuclear energy, but besides that there are the merits of the six paramitas of previous countless lives—you have had the paramitas from time to time before. And not only that, there is also the merit of all other beings, so we offer all this energy right now. This offering is like investing the energy or directing it for the future, enlightenment.

Also, traditionally we offer this energy to Maitreya Buddha. Maitreya means universal love, compassionate love. Maitreya Buddha is the relative buddha who will come after Shakyamuni's teachings have finished on this earth. So we deposit these merits in the divine wisdom bank of universal love. This becomes auspicious for the energy to become exhaustless. So the energy or merits we have created, we transform into whatever you think is beautiful, and those offerings fill the whole of universal space, and we offer them. So now, all the bodhisattvas of the ten directions are paying attention to you, and saying that at such and such a place in Queensland there is Lama Thubten Yeshe, and these students have taken the enlightenment attitude bodhicitta, and they are praying for the success of this newborn attitude that it will become firmly established and increase without interruption. They are praying for it to increase infinitely and also you should pray.

So we are offering all the merits of the past countless lives’ good energy, and also during this meditation course you have meditated so much, and throughout your life you have had the thought of loving kindness toward other beings, so all this nuclear energy we dedicate, putting it into one direction. Thus, we offer it to the divine universal love. That is a very good way for you to direct your energy so that it becomes exhaustless. Contemplate that your energy is spreading throughout all universal space and as well as giving it to the buddhas and bodhisattvas, you give it to all universal sentient beings.

[Lama says the dedication prayers.]

Actually, you do have some experience at this time, sort of a totally opened mind. It's there, it's there. So each day you should remember that: instead of thinking garbage, keep your mind on that memory sometimes to relax. We call that meditation on bodhicitta. Right now you do have some experience of bodhicitta, to some extent the experience of being beyond the self-cherishing thought. That part itself is clarity, so contemplate on that each day. This is the method for increasing this energy, by remembering each day.

Traditionally we should remember bodhicitta three times a day. You don't have to, but it's good. In the West we can remember once at breakfast, a second time at lunch, and a third time at dinner, so remembering bodhicitta three times a day is there. You don't need some kind of formal meditation; you are just talking with your friends but inside you are remembering bodhicitta. You can do it; the human being is unbelievable. Don't think, “How can I talk, communicate with my friend and at the same time remember bodhicitta?” Simultaneously, you can superficially be talking to your friend and inside be remembering the bodhicitta. There are so many different ways to practice, to keep the bodhicitta energy going by remembering it each day as much as you can. Just remember it, that's all.

Also, you can reap the benefits of bodhicitta. That is very important. Some people have a misunderstanding about the enlightenment thought, bodhicitta. They say, “Oh, thought—thought is no good, thoughts are my problem. Bodhicitta is thought, thought is my problem. I want all thoughts to vanish.” That's wrong—as long as you are existent you are thought. Consciousness is thought. Don't try to contradict this in a rubbish philosophy kind of way. There are two divisions of thought: negative and positive. When you open yourself to other sentient beings, when you open your heart to the highest destination of enlightenment, it is incredible; that has nothing to do with the mundane, irritated, dissatisfaction thought. You can see there is a distinction.

Anyway, I think you people understand. Thank you so much. I think it is worthwhile, myself, I am very happy. We are too arrogant in a “good meditator” sort of way. Instead of that we should actualize bodhicitta, loving kindness, the understanding of the enlightenment attitude every day. That way it gets better and better every day and that keeps our life meaningful. Therefore it is so worthwhile. Especially in the Western life we have to deal with people, we have to act, so if we don't have this kind of attitude it is very difficult. First of all you have to have a job, don't you, in order to sustain your life, the Western life. When you have a job you have to deal with your boss. So if you have the enlightenment attitude, bodhicitta, during the day there is space. Even if your boss gives you a bad time there is space, there is some exception coming in your mind. So it is really worthwhile. I'm very happy that I'm so fortunate to have contact with so many bodhisattvas! It's true you know.

Remember, the history of Atisha, the great Indian Mahayana pandit, in the lamrim? Atisha had more than one hundred teachers. But these were not like the academic Western teachers. In the West we have mathematics teachers, geography teachers, who talk about only garbage; excuse me, you know what I mean, I think you understand. Atisha had more than one hundred teachers and he respected them all, but none could compare with the one who gave him the bodhicitta. I'm not saying that I am giving this to you, I want you to understand that I am talking about a way of thinking. Atisha was not stupid, he understood who really gave him the method of actualizing bodhicitta, the enlightenment attitude. Whenever he heard the name of this Lama Dharmarakshita, he would come out in goosebumps and tears would come to his eyes. This kind of expression was beyond the intellectual.

My point is that Western Dharma practitioners should not be arrogant, intellectual sort of, “I am practicing higher, higher, higher.” There's no higher—you have to go through from where you are now, from here you have to be led. The most profound way is the universal practice which does not contradict any other religions in being concerned with other sentient beings. Western religions also do not contradict the bodhisattva path. All religions in the world, and even non-religious people, I can see that they are beautiful. They say, “I don't have any religion but as I live, I try to help other people.” That is their religion, I tell you. Their attitude is their religion. So the bodhisattva's way of life does not contradict Buddhism and does not contradict non-Buddhism. It is the universal way, so we are very fortunate. It is really worthwhile.