How to Live with Bodhicitta

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 2000 (Archive #1257)

Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche explained how to practice bodhicitta in daily life at the 33rd Kopan Course held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in 2000.

This teaching is an edited excerpt from Lecture Eight of the course.

Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

Generating strong compassion for other sentient beings with a sincere heart and working hard for others is a very powerful purification. That is something to be kept in mind. No matter how hard it is, when you benefit others and generate strong compassion for others, you purify many eons of negative karma. Combining this with guru devotion—obtaining advice and doing service—is the most powerful purification.

I just mentioned some examples of negative karma and the unbelievably heavy suffering results, therefore you can now see how essential it is in your own daily life to live morally. It is so important even for a lay person to live in the precepts. As I mentioned the other day, this is one of the crucial means to make your daily life extremely meaningful. It is the basis for realizations, for protecting you from negative karma, from obstacles to realization, as well as stopping you from harming others, so it involves many things.

From this you can understand that everything is to do with your attitude. It is all to do with your mind. Therefore, it becomes so essential to keep your daily life attitude in the lam-rim. When we talk about karma, here it means the practice of lam-rim in daily life, not only when you do sitting meditation in the morning, but for the whole twenty-four hours. While you are working, you are mindful of living in the lam-rim, and you practice lam-rim all the time, to protect yourself immediately from negative karma and eventually to achieve enlightenment and to be able to liberate all sentient beings from suffering and bring them to enlightenment.

If you really want to practice, begin the day with bodhicitta. The very first thing to do when you wake up is to generate the bodhicitta attitude in your life. Do this meditation while chanting OM MANI PADME HUM, creating merit with the good karma and purifying your speech by reciting the mantra. Meditating on bodhicitta purifies so much negative karma and collects so much merit.

On the first day, do the seven techniques cause and effect, as I explained last night. So, when you wake up in the morning, begin the day with the bodhicitta attitude. Think about how you are going to spend your life from now until death—especially this year, especially today, never allowing yourself to be under the control of the self-cherishing thought, but always practicing and never being separate from bodhicitta. In other words, determine to separate from the ego, but to never become separate from bodhicitta. Anyway, what it means is “I am going to live my life for others.” All it contains is “From now on, I am going to live my life for others.”

Begin the day with that bodhicitta motivation, and the rest of the day—while you are working, whatever you do—continue with that thought. When you meet people, think, “This is my most precious kind mother sentient being who has been kind from beginningless rebirths.” Continue the bodhicitta motivation that you generated in the morning for the rest of the day like that. When you meet people, if you think that their kindness is so precious, then respect and the wish not to harm them comes naturally. The wish to help, to offer service, and to practice loving kindness and compassion, all comes. By keeping the mind in that attitude continuously, you take the opportunity to create merit with every sentient being you meet. By generating loving kindness and compassion for others, and by offering service, you create the cause of enlightenment with every sentient being for the rest of the day.

Then the next day, begin with the other technique of bodhicitta—exchanging oneself with others. I think today I explained that technique—I just gave you some idea of the very powerful bodhicitta practice of exchanging oneself with others. Actually in the lam-rim outline there is equalizing, then meditating on the shortcomings of self-cherishing, then the benefit of cherishing others, then training in the attitude, then the actual exchange. These are outlines.

So, on the second day, begin with meditation on bodhicitta. Begin the day with exchanging oneself for others, and chant the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM at the same time, completing your practice of chanting OM MANI PADME HUM, if you have a commitment. Then, for the rest of the day try to hold your mind in that bodhicitta, thinking that “every sentient being is the source of all my peace and happiness.” Everybody you meet—animals, insects, your enemies or your friends—each one is the source of all your past and future happiness, and is most kind and most precious. Try to feel that with all people. And again, respect them and offer service to them and everything will come naturally. You will collect so much merit for the rest of the day with other sentient beings, who are the cause of enlightenment.