Bodhicitta and going too far?

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Bodhicitta and going too far?

Postby Challenge23 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:30 pm

Hello!

One of the things that I have been thinking a lot about in regards to my practice is the ideal of bodhicitta. The idea of absolute selflnessness, giving everything for the service of others, and how having that level of kindness towards others directly leads to great happiness.

To be frank, I'm deeply skeptical. Levels of generosity even close to what seems to be discussed in my experience not only don't lead to happiness but seem to lead to at least some unhappiness.

For example, let's say that someone takes all of their money and donates it to the poor. From the point of view of the poor that is a wonderful thing and they can gain temporary happiness. However, what about later on the same day when the person who gave the money needs to eat? I understand that in the case of very profound practitioners they can mitigate their need for food and water but it seems like the causation is in the wrong direction. It seems that the practice makes the bodhicitta possible, not the other way around.

Of course, it could be argued that one of the goals of practice is to adopt the view that you as an individual does not matter as much as other people. I would agree with this except on a practical level it isn't the job of other people to take care of the practitioner. Therefore the practitioner has to spend a lot of time doing without which doesn't seem to do much for their happiness.

TL;DR- Bodhicitta seems to lead to greater personal unhappiness as opposed to greater happiness. I am sure there is something I'm not getting. Please explain?
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Re: Bodhicitta and going too far?

Postby Paul » Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:55 pm

Challenge23 wrote:TL;DR- Bodhicitta seems to lead to greater personal unhappiness as opposed to greater happiness. I am sure there is something I'm not getting. Please explain?


There's a Tibetan saying - "a beginner training in bodhichitta will even give butter to a dog". You just use your common sense to get the most out of acts of generosity and insight to make sure you don't have a selfish ulterior motive.

Look at Bill Gates and the way he's gone about giving money to help combat malaria. A very smart way to get the most out of the funding he has access to.
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Re: Bodhicitta and going too far?

Postby Dave The Seeker » Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:19 pm

By my understanding, one should do all they can to help others to the best of their ability. One needs to take care of themselves and their family. But not live without their needs nor live in gross excess.
Just a beginners understanding though.

Kindest wishes, Dave

Edit to add: acts of kindness and lending a helping hand to others may be so much more than any monetary act.
Last edited by Dave The Seeker on Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bodhicitta and going too far?

Postby Paul » Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:25 pm

The Seeker wrote:But not live without their needs nor live in gross excess.


i.e. a middle way...
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with fear of being sued.

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Re: Bodhicitta and going too far?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:49 pm

Paul wrote:There's a Tibetan saying - "a beginner training in bodhichitta will even give butter to a dog". You just use your common sense to get the most out of acts of generosity and insight to make sure you don't have a selfish ulterior motive.


Funny I did just this in Ladakh. I fed butter to stray dogs in the winter.
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Re: Bodhicitta and going too far?

Postby Lhug-Pa » Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:13 pm

Paul wrote:Look at Bill Gates and the way he's gone about giving money to help combat malaria. A very smart way to get the most out of the funding he has access to.


I'm usually very suspicious when whitey (whether whitey be Ashkenazi or so-called "Aryan") goes to "help" melanated people in poor countries, especially through organizations like the WHO which Bill Gates seems to be working through, with their "vaccines" and whatnot.

Even the Egyptian Rite Mason H.P. Blavatsky and the 33rd degree Mason Manly P. Hall said:


H.P. Blavatsky and Manly P. Hall 33° wrote: "Tibet knows all too well that in the wake of the white man there follows desolation and ruin:

"Hence the struggle to prevent its national treasures from being dissipated and its religion from being over-thrown by the vandalism of foreign nations."

"Among the commandments of Tsong-Kha-pa there is one that enjoins the Rahats (Arhats) to make an attempt to enlighten the world, including the "white barbarians," every century, at a certain specified period of the cycle. Up to the present day none of these attempts has been very successful. Failure has followed failure."


Although in Tibet's case it's the Chinese following the Western white man Ashkenazi ideology of Marxist-Communism, even though the Chinese obviously don't follow Marxism to the "T".

If Bill Gates were truly concerned, I think that he would be doing a lot more with the money that he has.
Last edited by Lhug-Pa on Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:58 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Bodhicitta and going too far?

Postby justsit » Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:40 pm

It may be helpful to have a clear understanding of what bodhicitta is, and what it is not:

"Literal Meaning/Etymology

Bodhi means our ‘enlightened essence’ and chitta (Skt. citta) means ‘heart’ or 'mind', hence the translation ‘the heart of enlightened mind’.
Scholarly Definitions

The most famous definition of bodhichitta appears in Maitreya's Abhisamayalankara:

Arousing bodhichitta is: for the sake of others,
Longing to attain complete enlightenment.[1]

This has twin aspects or purposes: 1) focusing on sentient beings with compassion, and 2) focusing on complete enlightenment with wisdom.

Khenpo Pema Vajra defines bodhichitta as "the wish to attain enlightenment in order to free all other sentient beings from the sufferings of existence and lead them to the unsurpassable bliss of omniscience."[2]

Khenpo Tsöndrü defines the generation of bodhichitta as "a special type of mental consciousness endowed with two aspects, inspired by the cause, longing to bring about the welfare of others, and accompanied by the support, longing to attain complete and perfect awakening."[3] "

From Rigpa Wiki. More here.
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Re: Bodhicitta and going too far?

Postby Konchog1 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:52 pm

Challenge23 wrote:First Post
How can anyone love another unless they love first themselves? You have to take it easy. When you vow to remain as long as Samsara exists that's not a "just in case", that's how long it'll take. Don't be like Avalokitesvara whose head split open. Keep your position secure and help those who can be helped.
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Re: Bodhicitta and going too far?

Postby maybay » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:33 am

Lhug-Pa wrote:If Bill Gates were truly concerned, I think that he would be doing a lot more with the money that he has.


Bill Gates is not a king or a priest. He's a business man and a technical whiz. He could have the best intentions, but his view of the world is conditioned by his less noble profession, as are our own.

"It is enough to cause you bewilderment, Vaccha, enough to cause you confusion. For this Dhamma, Vaccha, is profound, hard to see and hard to understand, peaceful and sublime, unattainable by mere reasoning, subtle, to be experienced by the wise. It is hard for you to understand it when you hold another view, accept another teaching, approve of another teaching, pursue a different training, and follow a different teacher..."

Majjhima Nikaya 72.18 (Aggivacchagotta Sutta)


All things considered I think he's doing his best.
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Re: Bodhicitta and going too far?

Postby ground » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:21 am

Challenge23 wrote:... the ideal of ...

One may be worried about ideals or not. Ideals were not known before reading or hearing about them. So what is the difference? Having learned an idea or not. Wanting something to be different after having learned an idea about how things should be. An idea one would not have bothered with before because of not knowing it becomes the focus of worry, thinking, doubt, exertion, striving, spending time with. Maybe there has nothing been to do before but now there seems to be much to do. The wheel keeps on turning.


Kind regards
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Re: Bodhicitta and going too far?

Postby seeker242 » Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:33 pm

Challenge23 wrote:Hello!



TL;DR- Bodhicitta seems to lead to greater personal unhappiness as opposed to greater happiness. I am sure there is something I'm not getting. Please explain?


I don't think that is the case because Bodhicitta is not about donating ALL of your money to the poor.

"In Buddhism, bodhicitta is the intention to achieve omniscient Buddhahood (Trikaya) as fast as possible, so that one may benefit infinite sentient beings. One who has bodhicitta as the primary motivation for all of his or her activities is called a bodhisattva. Bodhicitta also means the aim to, on the one hand, bring happiness to all sentient beings, and on the other, to relieve them of suffering; this definition is consistent with the definition of seeking enlightenment, as enlightenment is the freedom from saṃsāra.


ALL sentient beings includes yourself, not just others. A layperson donating ALL of their money to the poor could easily be contrary to bodhicitta. Bodhicitta isn't about sacrificing yourself to save others, it's about saving everyone, including yourself.
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Re: Bodhicitta and going too far?

Postby duckfiasco » Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:36 pm

Bodhicitta is not the opposite of egotism. You don't throw yourself on the floor and invite everyone to walk on you, nor do you throw yourself off a bridge. All of that suggests there is a self you're supposedly sacrificing. The examples you give of someone giving all their money away and becoming destitute, or as I often struggle with, consistently letting myself be used by others for apparently selfish means, that shows the lack of wisdom in the "selfless" approach as well.

The problem is when you keep "self" in the picture, you just transfer the problems. There has to be wisdom in the intention or else suffering follows in the wake even of apparently selfless action. It may perpetuate the suffering of others by letting them get what they think they want. That suffering is caused by ego-clinging, just as if you had done the opposite and been greedy or spiteful.

I think you're perhaps a bit too fixated on results and ends instead of working on the mind behind everything. I would suggest just continuing practice and not worrying so much about vague ideals, like TMingyur said. You'll find that small opportunities to practice generosity will arise of themselves, and you'll start to do them as naturally as you would saying hello. That's karma at work :)

Of course, it could be argued that one of the goals of practice is to adopt the view that you as an individual does not matter as much as other people.

This isn't the goal of practice in this area. The problem is our dualistic worldview, us/them. No matter which we place in superiority to the other, them over us and call it "selfless," or us over them and call it "protection," the basic view is flawed. That view is "self".

One of the things Buddhism addresses in depth is these notions of self and other people. We attach simple labels/ideas to things then try to impute them as part of reality. No, they are descriptors that are very vague, even "self". The fact that the result of practice may appear to be selfless acts and putting others over oneself says more about our unenlightened viewpoint interpreting enlightened action into what we can understand.

Ultimately, you can begin to let go of clinging to yourself, your ideas of how things should be, how others should act, and even how you should act. It's not yourself that is the problem, but the view. You don't just throw everything out and become some soiled rag Buddha that others use as they see fit. It's more about getting in touch with the rich spontaneity of the moment. Out of that comes a natural generosity and light-heartedness akin to setting down a heavy burden. That burden is the self.

You often hear people who act heroically say, "It seemed like the natural thing to do," "I didn't think about it," "Anyone would've done the same thing," etc. Under duress, their egos didn't seem so important as the realness of the moment right in their faces, so they acted within that framework. Surprise surprise, selfless acts bubbled forth.

In imitating or aspiring to behavior (such as following the Precepts), we can get a taste of the state of being that drives them. It's not at all about striving and struggling to be Buddhas. We already are Buddhas. The trick is getting in touch with the naturalness we already have. Then generous action is the cart that follows the horse :thumbsup:

Basically, practice practice practice! :twothumbsup: Save yourself, then you can save others.
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Re: Bodhicitta and going too far?

Postby KeithBC » Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:14 pm

Challenge23 wrote: The idea of absolute selflnessness, giving everything for the service of others, and how having that level of kindness towards others directly leads to great happiness.

If you'll pardon the observation, there is a level of excessive zeal in the way you express bodhicitta. Yes, advanced bodhisattvas and Buddhas can do this, but that's not most of us yet.

Try practicing reasonable bodhicitta. Reasonable selflessness, giving what you can for the service of others, which will, indirectly, lead to great happiness. If excessive zeal makes you resent the giving or harms you and/or others, then you have wasted your effort and taken a step backwards.

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Re: Bodhicitta and going too far?

Postby catmoon » Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:08 am

Huseng wrote:
Paul wrote:There's a Tibetan saying - "a beginner training in bodhichitta will even give butter to a dog". You just use your common sense to get the most out of acts of generosity and insight to make sure you don't have a selfish ulterior motive.


Funny I did just this in Ladakh. I fed butter to stray dogs in the winter.


It really is funny, but hey, stupidity, like everything else, is relative to the situation.


If you are a poor farmer, and your only source of income to feed your kids is selling a bit of yak butter, then it's dumb to feed it to the dogs. If you are a more prosperous Westerner, to whom a bit of butter is a thing of no great importance, giving some to a dog is simple kindness.
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Re: Bodhicitta and going too far?

Postby Kilaya. » Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:49 am

duckfiasco wrote:Bodhicitta is not the opposite of egotism. You don't throw yourself on the floor and invite everyone to walk on you


The other day I was reading the Bodhicharyavatara, and it actually does recommend things like that:

Chapter VI.
125. In order to please the Tathágatas, today with my entire being, I place myself in the service of the world. Let streams of people step on my head and strike me down. May the Protector of the World be pleased!
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Re: Bodhicitta and going too far?

Postby duckfiasco » Wed Mar 21, 2012 5:33 pm

I'm not sure that passage is talking about quite the same thing. Letting others pursue behaviors or ideas that you feel may be harmful to them doesn't equate to compassion. It's not a virtue to become utterly passive, a stone Buddha. The trick is in seeing where one's ego is protesting treatment it doesn't like, versus where there is genuine concern for the other. I get the feeling that passage is talking about throwing this precious me complex down before the world in service to it, whatever ill treatment you may receive in doing so. That's not the same as being a doormat or a bump on a log, is it?
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Re: Bodhicitta and going too far?

Postby Kilaya. » Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:13 pm

I don't know, I'm a bit baffled when it comes to these type of teachings and their application in daily life.
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