[Extracted from Bardor Tulku Rinpoche’s teaching on the daily practice of Guru Rinpoche from the treasure of Terchen Barway Dorje. Translated by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso, transcribed by Linda Lee, edited by Basia Coulter. Copyright Bardor Tulku Rinpoche and Peter O’Hearn.]
In the practice of the mahayana, and especially in the practice of the vajrayana, the most important thing of all is bodhichitta. Remember that all beings have been your mother countless times, throughout beginningless samsara. All of these beings are suffering. All of these beings lack the freedom to avoid the suffering that they wish to avoid.
So with that motivation think, “I will practice Dharma in order to establish all beings in the state of buddhahood.” It is not sufficient merely to just generate bodhichitta as a motivation, however, we also have to consciously and assiduously train our minds in it. For not training our minds in bodhichitta, we will lack the awareness and the positive habit that will give us a remedy in times of trouble. One day we will surely become angry. One day we will surely experience some kind of mishap or adversity, and it is extremely unlikely that, if we have not prepared ourselves for this by training our minds in bodhichitta, we will have ready access to the remedy for adversity or our kleshas.
Whether we practice the Nyingma tradition or Kagyu tradition, whether we practice the teachings of the old translation or the new translations, whether we are engaged in a seven‑day practice intensive or in our concise daily practice at home, in all these situations, and in the context of any and all practice, we need bodhichitta as our motivation and we need dedication to the awakening of all beings as the culmination and completion of every session of practice.
Those who engage in the concise daily practice of many yidams know that each and every one of these practices begins with the vow of refuge and the generation of bodhichitta. Each and every one of them concludes with the dedication of the virtue of the practice to the awakening of all beings. But why do we repeat these things so many times in a session of practice? It is because we need this. We need to constantly reinforce this motivation of bodhichitta in our minds. By training our minds in it through constant repetition and reinforcement, our minds will become trained in it. The generation of bodhichitta will become easier and easier. And through that training, bodhichitta will arise as a remedy both for adversity and for our kleshas.
It does not matter whether you are practicing in your own personal shrine room or in the great and elaborate shrine of a Dharma center. If in your practice you have a fantastic generation stage visualization, you sit immovably with perfect meditation posture of the seven dharmas of Vairochana, and you recite the liturgy with beautiful voice and impeccable melody, even if you do all of that, if then you get up off the cushion, leave the shrine room, and there is no trace whatsoever of Dharma in your behavior, if your words are coarse of most degraded individual, if your mind is utterly unruly, then there is simply no point. It is said, ”Those who become jaded with Dharma are impervious to it.” Once we become jaded with Dharma, then forget about helping anyone else. We ourselves are beyond help.
We have been born in the dregs of time, so we have to accept the fact that there is always going to be adversity. That is just the way it is. But among beings born at this time, we are extremely fortunate. We are like those with eyes among the blind, those with working legs among the lame.
We have the opportunity to encounter supremely great masters, such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness the 16th and 17th Gyalwang Karmapas, His Holiness Minling Trichen, and His Holiness Sakya Trizin. We have the opportunity to readily and easily receive the most profound Dharma. We are really in a situation of someone who has found themselves on an island of jewels. It would be a tragic waste for someone to find themselves on an island of jewels and leave with empty hands. It would be even more tragic if we leave this life where we have this extremely rare opportunity with empty hands. If we become jaded with Dharma, we will be wasting our lives, and we will be wasting this rarest and most precious of opportunities.
The only solution to the very real danger of this is bodhichitta. And we need to constantly generate bodhichitta, reinforce it in post-meditation, and especially, cultivate it consciously during our meditation sessions whether we are practicing at home or at a center.
And when you recite the generation of bodhichitta, do no do it like a parrot chanting “om mani peme hung.” Think about what you are saying. If you do that, then you will generate the resolve to benefit beings exactly as all buddhas and bodhisattvas of the past have done and are doing until samsara is empty.
Generate bodhichitta not just with your mouth, but with your mouth and mind together. That will make your aspiration very powerful, and it will certainly become accomplished. On the other hand, aspirations made with the mouth alone—you may chant something but your mind is wandering—are not really aspirations at all. You simply cannot expect everything that comes out of our mouths to be accomplished. So in training our minds every day without fail in bodhichitta we must remember that we are constantly accompanied by our bodies, our speech, and our minds; whether we are at home or have gone out, we never leave these behind. They are always with us.
And anything we do—whether good or bad—is done by our bodies, speech, and our mind. We, therefore, have the responsibility to constantly consider: “What am I thinking? What am I saying? What am I doing?” When you examine your thoughts, words, and actions, if you find that they are in accord with Dharma, then take joy in that and make the aspiration that it always be so. But if you find that you have been unable to think, speak, and act appropriately, regret your inability and make the aspiration that neither you nor any other being ever experience this failing again. Doing this repeatedly by reinforcing bodhichitta in thoughts, words, and deeds, your bodhichitta will be strengthened progressively. As hard as it may seem to do this, remember that there is nothing that will not become easy if practiced enough.