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Meditating on Bodhicitta

Generating compassion What is bodhicitta?

The word has many nuances and is easier to understand, perhaps, than to translate. For this reason we have used the Sanskrit term, in the hope that by dint of careful definition it may be incorporated into, and allowed to enrich our language.

Citta means “mind,” “thought,” “attitude.” Bodhi means “enlightenment,” “awakening,” and is cognate with the term buddha itself. This gives us “mind of enlightenment,” “awakened mind”—the attitude of mind that tends toward Buddhahood, the enlightened state. It should be noted that bodhicitta is not a synonym for compassion; it is a broader term in which compassion is implied.

According to tradition, bodhicitta is said to have two aspects, or rather to exist on two levels. First, one speaks of ultimate bodhicitta, referring to the direct cognizance of the true status of phenomena. This is the wisdom of emptiness: an immediate, nondual insight that transcends conceptualization. Second, there is relative bodhicitta, by which is meant the aspiration to attain the highest good, or Buddhahood, for the sake of all, together with all the practical steps necessary to achieve this goal. The connection between these two bodhicittas—the wisdom of emptiness on the one hand, the will to deliver beings from suffering on the other—is not perhaps immediately clear.


The true realization of emptiness is impossible without the practice of perfect compassion, while no compassion can ever be perfect without the realization of the wisdom of emptiness.


At first sight, this apparently closed circle suggests that bodhicitta is impossible to achieve. It is nevertheless the startling assertion of Buddhist teaching that the mind itself, even the mind in saṃsāra, is never, and has never been, ultimately alienated from the state of enlightenment. Bodhichitta is in fact its true nature and condition.

Let's get started

  1. Sit in a comfortable position.

  2. Breathe in and out. Concatenate on your breath for a few minutes.

  3. Imagine a person in front of you. It can be your mother, relative, friend, or any other person close to you.

  4. Now think about all the suffering that person experiences. Contemplate on it.

  5. Imagine all that suffering leaving the person's body in the shape of black smoke and coming towards you.

  6. Visualize as you are breathing in that black smoke. You are removing the person's suffering.

  7. You can use the ability to transform the black smoke into pure light. By breathing in, you are taking the negativity and suffering from the person. Hold your breath for a second. Try to contemplate your visualization.

  8. Gently breathe out. When you're breathing out, you're sending all your happiness in the shape of pure white light.

  9. The pure white light moves towards that person's body and helps him/her with the suffering.

  10. Meditate for 10 minutes.

  11. Breath in - absorb the suffering. Hold your breath - transform the black smoke into pure light. Breath out - send happiness toward that person.

  12. Try to contain more people in your practice. Send happiness to all of your friends. Your hometown. Your country. The whole world.


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