Noble Living, Noble Caring, Noble Dying · Noble Caring

Cultivating Kindness: Advice from Phakchok Rinpoche

Phakchok Rinpoche shares his advice on how to cultivate bodhicitta in our daily lives.

Bodhicitta is a word that means the mind of enlightenment. You will never realize enlightenment without it. What qualities does this mind have? Bodhicitta needs compassion, bodhicitta needs loving kindness, and bodhicitta needs sympathetic joy.

“I wish all beings [to be] free from suffering and cause of suffering” is compassion.

“I wish all beings happiness and cause of happiness” is loving-kindness. This wish for well-being is loving-kindness.

“I wish all beings [to be] free from suffering and the cause of suffering and attain enlightenment.” That vast wish expresses bodhicitta.

They are a little bit different, but all are associated with each other. All with the motivation to enlighten without hope or expectation. This is bodhicitta, which frees you from attachment to yourself, attachment to others, and attachment to freedom itself. Please don’t forget bodhicitta, always keep it in mind. Then you won’t miss anything.

Cultivating Kindness: Good Heart

We really need to begin with the good heart and the good heart needs to be developed by compassion and loving-kindness. In the beginning, we need to understand and feel and try to apply the good heart. Then we need to understand and practice compassion and loving-kindness. And with that compassion we need to really want to gain the enlightenment of the Buddha. This is how we develop our bodhicitta. This is called “bodhi-citta,” “great heart” or “great motivation to be enlightened”.

Your aspiration always needs to be very vast. When we apply, we should start by taking small steps. We want to benefit all beings, but we need to begin somewhere, right? We start with ourselves. It is best to begin with one family member, one friend, one action, or one hour-long session. It is important to have the vast aspiration, but as beginners, we need to start small so that we don’t have regret. By being smart this way, we don’t feel the burden and we don’t experience “burn-out.”

Cultivating Kindness: Feeling Blessings

The kindness of past masters can allow us to feel the blessings in our own hearts. It makes us feel humane and respectful. Because of kindness, we make the effort to give gifts to others. Additionally, kindness makes other people happy while simultaneously developing us into responsible people. On the other hand, if we forget kindness, we show ourselves to be selfish people. We all know that we do not want to be selfish, right? So, with this reminder, we have the tools to change.

Noble Living: Life as the Path

For the true practitioner, every moment of life is the path. That means the whole day, all 24 hours! This is because they do every activity with the intention of bodhicitta. Normally, we tend to make a separation between our “dharmic” and our “normal” lives. We actually are limiting ourselves this way. However, if we remember the intention well, then everything you do becomes different. We have to realize that our intention and our application don’t reach the same level right away. They are not exactly parallel: aspiration can be vast while the action starts less vast. Slowly, we will improve and our application will equal the aspiration! And that, truly, is Buddhahood. Right now, we start with small steps.

So we spend an hour doing practice, and an hour helping people. We clean the temple and we clean our altar shrine. Just start slowly, and then begin extending. Naturally, it will start to add up.

Cultivating Kindness: Stages of Practice

First, you need to have the knowledge that you experience, whatever experience you are going through, that everything is a reflection of my mind. I should not have fear of anything that I experience. It’s just a reflection of your mind.

Number two, I generate compassion to all. I am going through this thing that I really, really powerful having great compassion.

Third, I am going through [it] with no reference point.