Less Suffering, 

More Happiness. 

One Breath at a Time

Comfortable with Uncertainty – 1 – Awakening Bodhicitta

18 Aug 2014 2:38 PM | Anonymous
Today we start a series of talks about our new book, Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion, by Pema Chodron. This is a pithy book with some very specific practices that are designed to open our heart and shift our perspective. We’ll start with laying the groundwork of the some of the words that will be used and the practices that we will be working on:

The main practice, which is training in bodhicitta (awakened/open heart/mind).

Bodhicitta is a Sanskrit word, the language of the original teachings that were written down, like Latin. Bodhi means awakening or enlightening, and citta which is mind or consciousness, but is sometimes translated as heart/mind. In Tibetan Buddhism, the heart and mind were recognized as a single unit that operated to drive our experience of consciousness. Sometimes it is thought of as beyond thinking and feeling undefined an openness that transcend the physical experience of living. B. Alan Wallace, a Buddhist scholar, even throws in the term, Spirit, to try a get at the spaciousness of Bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is getting at this experience of being open to whatever is needed, without hanging on to our own fixations.

Bodhicitta in its most complete sense would combine both:
The Absolute: the arising of spontaneous and limitless compassion for all beings. Absolute is this universal idea of spaciousness, freedom from attachments.
The Relative: the falling away of the attachment to the illusion we have of our selves as something separate from the whole. Relative is referring to the everyday intention to want the best for others as if it were our own.

These two aspects of Bodhicitta go hand in hand.

Bodhicitta is also the union of wisdom and compassion. Sometimes, when we think about compassion, it might be assumed that we should just give all our money away. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche called that idiot compassion. When we are truly present and aware in the moment, and have a fundamental desire to relieve the suffering of all beings, in that moment, with wisdom, we will know what is the best action to take.

Chogyam Trungpa also describes Bodhicitta as this tender spot within us all. Most of us, have an emotional place that we protect, wanting not to be hurt. But by arousing Bodhicitta, we are opening the willingness to be vulnerable, to be open to the possibilities. A sense of friendliness to all things and all people, including ourselves.

Pema talks about another key component of arousing bodhicitta as being a spiritual warrior undefined a sense of bravery and kindness, of courage and compassion. We don’t normally think about warrior as a peaceful image, but in this description, we can see how the importance of a sense of fearlessness is a very valuable part of the process. Bravery and courage implies going forward even if it feels uncomfortable or scary. We will be breaking old habits to experience ourselves and the world in this new way, and the first reaction might be fear and trepidation. The practices we will be discussing about seeing our fear clearly and dismantling the unskillful defensiveness that we have built around our heart. Note that we will not do away with uncertainty undefined uncertainty is a natural part of living. Instead, we learn to respond to uncertainty in a dramatically different way, using uncertainty as a reminder to be open to all the possibilities in each moment.

Lastly, Pema Chodron encourages us to see this practice as integrated into everyday life. It is not as if we have to save another person from drowing in a river in order to open our heart. There are small everyday ways that we can practice having an open heart/mind that can ultimately make a huge difference our lives and the lives of other. “Even the most mundane situation becomes and opportunity for awakening.”

In the coming weeks, we’ll be exploring these valuable practices:
Meditating with bodhicitta
Tonglen (a specific technique of giving and receiving, from simply wishing another to be free of suffering, all the way to visualizing exchanging oneself for others.
The Lojong teachings: 59 pithy slogans that can serve as easy reminders how to shift our perspective
Aspiration practice: using the four boundless qualities of loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity/impartiality.
Reflection on the paramitas (“perfections” or skillful qualities): including generosity, ethics, patience, enthusiastic effort, concentration and wisdom.


Contact us

Address: 707 West 47th Street  Kansas City Missouri 64112

within the Unity Temple on the Plaza buildling on 47th & Jefferson

Phone: (816) 561-4466  x 108 

Email: Janet Nima Taylor  nima@templebuddhistcenter.org

Join us
We envision a time when all may experience the wisdom, compassion and joy of the Buddhist path with less suffering and more happiness.

copyright Temple Buddhist Center
We are located at 707 West 47th Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64112, within the Unity Temple on the Plaza building, corner of 47th and Jefferson.
You can reach us at 816-561-4466 X108 or email Nima at nima@templebuddhistcenter.org

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