Generation of the Bodhi Mind is a critical method of Buddhist cultivation that, if not superior is as equally important as any other methods mentioned in Tipiṭaka.
In the Great Skillful Means Sutra, the Buddha instructs Anan: “Generation of the Bodhi Mind is a superior method that helps the cultivator shorten their path to awakening.” In the Adornment Sutra, the Buddha kindly reminds that “Even the cultivators who simply forget to generate the Bodhi Mind are actually doing all the evil deeds for whatever they are doing”, let alone one who has never made any vow or practised cultivating the mind.
ORIGIN OF THE GENERATION OF THE BODHI MIND
The Great Skillful Means Sutra that the Buddha was blamed by Nigrantha who said to Anan: “Gotama, your original Teacher is not virtuous as he lost his mother as soon as he was born. He left his dear wife for his own purpose of cultivation and so he is disloyal. He’s given his wife and son to others so he is not humane. He refused to inherit the Kingdom’s Crown to lead the Kingdom built by the King Sihahann. By doing so he fails to help people live virtuous lives and maintain a prosperous nation thus remaining unfaithful. He is undutiful, being the only child abandoning his father to suffer. You are foolish to call such a person the Teacher.”
Extremely sadden, Anan came to see the Buddha. The Buddha then solicitously explained to him. He was delighted and kindly begged the Buddha to show him and the mass the easiest method for cultivation. The Buddha said the best method is to practise the gratefulness and dedication of gratitude. Anan requested further: “The method sounds easy but it’s hard to practise well to be able to adequately return all the countless benefaction received.” The Buddha complimented Anan’s skillful articulation and said: “The best way to practise the gratefulness and dedication of gratitude is to generate the Bodhi Mind and encourage the others to do the same.”
“Generate” means to determine, “Bodhi” means the awakening, the knowing of the mind’s true nature as unpolluted and calm.
There are many meanings by the word “Mind”. Its literate meaning is the heart or the feeling while the full meaning in Buddhism is the Thousand-Headed and Thousand-Eyed, Unimpeded and Greatly Compassionate Mind. That is the mind that knows the true nature of all the dharmas, knowing the way to help sentient beings escape all suffering and surpass all the obstacles caused by ill karmas and rebirth.
According to .. Volume 109 page 321, there are 8 attributes of mind. These are Right, Evil, True, False, Great, Minor, Complete and Incomplete.
1, Right mind: Is the mind that is not subject to interests or pleasure, only willing to escape rebirth and achieve the Bodhi Fruit.
2. Evil mind: Is the mind that is subject to benefits and fame, more concerned about the current pleasure or the future comfort.
3. True mind: Is the mind that is only willing to attain enlightenment when looking up toward the Buddhas and only to help sentient beings escape suffering when looking down. It is not subject to obstacles, adversities, regression and tiredness.
4. False mind: Is the mind that is not willing to repent for sins or to improve from mistakes, or doing good deeds but still with evil thoughts, or doing good deeds with kind intentions but still concerned about fame or benefits.
5. Great mind: Is the mind that is only relaxed and whose vow is realized only when all the sentient beings achieve the peaceful non-rebirth fruit or the Supreme Fruit.
6. Minor mind: Is the mind that considers 3 lower realms of existence as prisons, and rebirth as unacceptable. Only concerned about one’s own liberation and not others’ is the quality of the Minor mind.
7. Complete mind: In knowing that one’s essence lies with sentient beings, one strives to enlighten them; in knowing that the Buddha is one’s true nature, one would endeavor to liberate and awaken oneself. Therefore one knows one’s own formless vow, formless fruit and formless form. That mind is called the Complete mind.
8. Incomplete mind: Seeing the sentient beings and Buddhahood outside the mind, one makes a vow to cultivate non-stop but still attached with one’s own seeing and understanding. That mind is called the Incomplete mind.
For these 8 attributes of the Bodhi Mind, we should only choose to cultivate the mind that is Right, True, Great and Complete.
IV. WHY GENERATE THE BODHI MIND
As mentioned in Part II, the prerequisite and complimentary conditions for the cultivators to generate this mind are the gratefulness and dedication of gratitude. The realization of this can be achieved through the 10 following deeds:
1. Gratefulness for the Buddha: The Buddhas existing in 10 directions and 3 lives have great compassion for sentient beings’ ignorance so Their Holinesses appear in thousands of bodies and use countless skillful means to open beings’ eyes and help them understand the Buddhist philosophy. This gratefulness can never be justly expressed with words.
2. Gratefulness for parents: We are only born as human beings in this life after countless previous births by former parents in our past lives. Where are they all now, how can we repay their great favor? The only way is to practise Buddhism and help all the sentient beings escape rebirth.
3. Gratefulness for the Master: One owes his understanding of the Bodhi Mind to his Master , hence one should generate the Bodhi Mind to help all the sentient beings, including the Master, escape rebirth. This is the marvelous way to dedicate gratitude.
4, Gratefulness for donors: Donors from 10 directions support to make the Buddhist cultivation possible and one has benefited from that too.
5, Gratefulness for all sentient beings: All living beings around us were once our parents, children, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters or relatives. We, therefore, should determine to dedicate gratitude by not having bad thoughts or actions towards them.
6. Remebering the suffering of rebirth: There is enduring suffering in 6 realms of existence so one should not hesitate but determine to develop the Bodhi Mind.
7. Respect one’s true nature of Buddhahood: One should believe in the ability to achieve the Buddhahood. Be ashamed that one and the Buddha has the same root nature but one has been ignorant for so many lives, rendering it difficult for the Buddha to help.
8. Repentance of ill karma: After being ignorant for so many lives, one is fortunate now to meet the Virtuous Follower. So, one should determine to cultivate, especially to repent of one’s past sins, and transfer the profound merits wrought to all the sentient beings, thereby eradicating the negative karma of life-times past.
9. Making a vow to be reborn in the Pure Land: Only in the Pure Land, one is not subject to rebirth and have sufficient conditions to cultivate further to achieve the Buddhahood.
10. Enabling Buddhism to perpetuate: The Buddha has tried many lives to find the Path to Liberation thanks to His great compassion for sentient beings. How can one delay the promotion and enhancement of Buddhism to repay such great debts of gratitude?
In order to enhance one’s self-direction, warm one’s heart and ensure no delay or regression in one’s aspiration and actions, one should generate the Bodhi Mind as the superior way of maintaining one’s vigour and determination.
Translated into English: Hoa Chí