Bodhicitta, Agape, Whatever.

I gave this book to my Mom over the holidays. I also got a copy for myself. It makes a very nice light reading companion to my ponderous Zen Catholicism book, which tends to muddle my mind at times. (I also like it because I haven’t encountered many teachings about Buddhism by women.)

She starts the first few essays talking about Bodhicitta, literally “enlightenment mind”, which is essentially involved with our capacity for compassion for all beings and increasing our ability to help relieve suffering. Meditaiton and Practice inspired by a motivation to help others and releive suffering — the highest motivation — is Bodhicitta.

So, while reading more about Bodhicitta teachings, I came across this wonderful passage by the Indian saint Shantideva

“Whatever joy there is in this world
All comes from desiring others to be happy,
And whatever suffering there is in this world,
All comes from desiring myself to be happy.

But what need is there to say much more?
The childish work for their own benefit,
The Buddhas work for the benefit of others.
Just look at the difference between them!”

So is Boddictta analogous to Agape? Seems so. I was immediately reminded of a familiar prayer from my own tradition:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred . . . let me sow love
Where there is injury . . . pardon
Where there is doubt . . . faith
Where there is despair . . .hope
Where there is darkness . . . light
Where there is sadness . . .joy

Divine Master,
grant that i may not so much seek
To be consoled . . .as to console
To be understood . . .as to understand,
To be loved . . . as to love
For it is in giving . . .that we receive,
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned,
It is in dying . . .that we are born to eternal life.

— Prayer of St. Francis

Funny, the more I travel through the teachings of Buddhism, the more I realize that I’ve never really left home.

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