The Four Immeasurables (Brahmavihara/Apramanas) as Aspiration Bodhicitta. Part One
November 9 @ 10:00 am - November 10 @ 4:00 pm
Bodhicitta, the awakened mind,
Is known in brief to have two aspects:
First, aspiring, bodhicitta in intention;
Then active bodhicitta, practical engagement.
If the simple thought to be of help to others
Exceeds in worth the worship of the Buddhas,
What need is there to speak of actual deeds
That bring about the weal and benefit of beings?
Those who wish to crush the many sorrows of existence,
Who wish to quell the pain of living beings,
Who wish to have experience of a myriad joys
Should never turn away from bodhicitta.
Since all the qualities of the Mahayana path and its result arise from cultivating a state of mind turned to supreme enlightenment, one must generate bodhicitta at the very beginning.
Bodhicitta is then classified, first, as “plain” [and easily cultivated] or relative bodhicitta, which is engendered on the basis of prompting; and, second, as “subtle” or ultimate bodhicitta, which is gained through [the recognition of] ultimate reality.
Through compassion, it focuses on the welfare of others; through wisdom it focuses on perfect enlightenment. As it is said (in the Sutralankara), “It is a mental state endowed with two aims”. And further, “The cultivation of bodhichitta is the wish to attain perfect buddhahood for the sake of others”
From bodhicitta in intention
Great results arise for those still turning in the wheel of life;
Yet merit does not rise from it in ceaseless streams
As is the case with active bodhicitta.
Simply to engender the bodhicitta of aspiring to supreme enlightenment produces, for those who wander in samsara, an immense result in terms of power and excellence: the states of Brahma and of Indra, kings of the gods, or of a chakravartin, a sovereign of the human race. And yet a ceaseless stream of merit (in other words, the virtues of generosity, ethical discipline, and so on) does not flow from bodhicitta in intention, as it does from bodhicitta in action.
For when, with irreversible intent,
The mind embraces bodhichitta,
Willing to set free the endless multitudes of beings,
In that instant, from that moment on,
A great and unremitting stream,
A strength of wholesome merit,
Even during sleep and inattention,
Rises equal to the vastness of the sky.
From that moment on, the power of one’s merit constantly increases and becomes inexhaustible-even when one is asleep, at play or in some other distracted state. It becomes as immeasurable as space itself.