In the first three chapters of his Bodhicaryavatara, Shantideva shows the eminence and the transcendence of the Mind of Awakening (Skt. Bodhicitta).
He shows us how to prepare the soil of our mind so that the seed of Bodhicitta could germinate. Bodhicitta, is initiating the aspiration and determination to become awakened. In brief, this bodhicitta
Should be understood to have two aspects:
The mind that aspires to enlightenment,
And (the mind) that enters into (the conduct of) enlightenment. Just as one understands the distinction between
Aspiring to go and (actually) going,
In the same way the wise ones should understand
The distinction between these two in their progressive order. From the bodhicitta of aspiration,
Great fruits arise while still circling (in samsara),
And yet, it does not have the unceasing stream of merit
As does the bodhicitta of application.
This preparation is described through the sevenfold prayer (Skt.Anuttara Puja). Anuttara puja is a Sanskrit term that translates as “supreme worship.” It is a method of devotion developed by the seventh-century Indian master, Shantideva. It consists of several spiritual exercises and is typically practiced in the Buddhist tradition. The goal is bodhicitta, a mind dedicated to others and to attaining enlightenment.
The spiritual exercises that comprise anuttara puja, also known as “sevenfold worship,” are:
Vandana (obeisance, bowing down) and puja (worship) – paying homage to the Buddha.
Sarana-gamana (going for refuge) – committing to the path to enlightenment by seeking “refuge” in the Buddha, dharma or spiritual community.
Papadesana (confession of errors) – appraisal of one’s shortcomings and a resolve to overcome them.
Punyanumodana (rejoicing in merit) – honoring one’s own and others’ positive qualities.
Adhyesana (prayer, entreaty) and Yacana (supplication) – requesting the assistance of those who are more enlightened.
Atmabhavadi-parityagah (surrender) – the declaration of altruism and self-denial.
Some sources separate vandana and puja as distinct steps, while others separate adhyesana and yacana – in each case creating a seven-fold path of worship.