Welcome to Mangala Shri Bhuti’s Dharma Blog
Welcome to Mangala Shri Bhuti’s Dharma Blog, where we explore the dharma, which we have been fortunate to come into contact with. In a word, what is “dharma”? We can say it is the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. We can also say dharma represents certain truths or “the facts of life”. But most essentially, we’ve found that dharma comes to mean an awakening of our own active intelligence about the causes of suffering and happiness. This process is ignited by the teachings we hear and catalyzed further by our contemplation and practice. Join us in appreciating and deepening our understanding of dharma through these excerpts by Mangala Shri Bhuti’s teachers and senior students.
In Tibet there is a family of teachings called "Lojong," which means "mind training." This type of teaching has a long history, which dates back over a thousand years. Within the Lojong teachings there is a set of practices which have been explained and elaborated by many great teachers.
One of these practices is, "Train yourself in the five strengths of bodhicitta." The first of these five strengths of the good heart is the "power of determined focus."
When there is no determined focus, life becomes wobbly, or even self-destructive. However, when there is a clear and determined focus--whether you go fast or slow--you are moving in the direction you want to go or toward what you want to achieve.
Whether you're driving fast or slow, you're still moving your vehicle closer to your destination. The road conditions make some difference, but reaching your goal is not as dependent on the conditions, but rather depends much more on how determined you are to reach the destination. Reaching your goal is mainly achieved by the power of determined focus.
In this case, that determined focus is known as "aspiration bodhicitta." This is the strong, genuine, and selfless wish to be enlightened for the sake of all mother sentient beings. It includes a deep internal sense of loving-kindness and compassion, and arises as a result of practicing of The Four Immeasurables.
As all the buddhas and bodhisattvas have said, this determined focus, or the ability to generate a strong aspiration to become enlightened for the sake of all sentient beings, is the greatest saving grace that your mind can ever embrace.
Once you have made that aspiration and commitment, it’s easy to imagine yourself transforming by at least 1%, or making 1% progress along your spiritual path in this lifetime. And that mere 1% progress means you will at least have put a stop to the endless cycle of suffering.
By continuously renewing and generating that aspiration, and making it very clean and crisp, the power of our bodhicitta (good heart) gathers momentum.
A clean aspiration here means that it is not based on self-interest. We're not even wishing to attain freedom from the suffering of samsara, or having some attraction towards peace, which is still a form of self-interest.
That wish to be enlightened has to be truly for the purpose of benefiting others, and not just wishing to be seen as a bodhisattva or some great savior with all that self-importance. Truly being clean means that it is genuinely altruistic, based on the loving-kindness and compassion generated in the Four Immeasurables practice.
A crisp aspiration means that one is very clear about how all this is possible. The sincere conviction that it is possible for you and all beings to attain enlightenment, and particularly for you personally, must become very sharp and clear in your mind.
For this to take place requires a deep conviction in your Buddha Nature, which is present in all sentient beings. Buddha nature is not created, nor transported from somewhere outside of you, but is present in all sentient beings. This must be deeply understood.
In this way, the enlightened state is no longer abstract. It may be abstract to countless other sentient beings, and perhaps even to many who are on the spiritual path. But in the individual for whom this aspiration is clean and crisp, it’s not something abstract. You develop certainty that you will become enlightened without any doubt.
This whole process relies on determined focus. If you have that determined focus strong inside of you, then life won't be wobbly. Your spiritual path won't be unstable or uncertain. Depending on conditions, steady progress will be made, sometimes slow, sometimes fast.
That has always been my own approach. I have tried to approach life in that way with all the rest of my responsibilities as a husband, father, and provider, as well as for the monasteries under my care, to do what I need to do, but also to steadily move along the path. So one can feel both a real sense of resolution with one’s life while also making clear progress on the spiritual path.
Excerpt taken from Words of My Perfect Teacher Program - Talk 8, 2011