The altruistic intention to gain enlightenment in order to benefit all beings (AKA bodhicitta, awakening mind, bodhi mind, dedicated heart, thought of enlightenment) is the 2nd of the three principal realizations of the path.
- We all want to be happy & avoid suffering.
- We want to work for the benefit of all; there's only one me and an infinite number of other beings.
- So we need to help others find happiness, too.
It’s difficult to help others when our minds are partial.
- We need to have impartial love & compassion for all (equanimity).
- The foundation of love is realizing that others are not inherently our friends, enemies, or strangers, so it makes no sense to have strong feelings of attachment, aversion, or indifference to various people.
To cultivate love & compassion for all:
- Remember the kindness of others.
- Everything we have is because of the efforts and/or kindness of others.
- Remember our parents, our teachers, the many instances of kindness we've experienced.
- We can also realize that those who harmed us did so out of their own confusion & ignorance.
- Remember that we have had many lives.
- We've been each other's parents & children many times.
- We'll want to repay others' past kindnesses and we’ll want them to be happy.
- This open heart of love makes us feel joyful.
- Great benefit comes from cherishing others.
Love is the wish for others to be happy; compassion is the wish for them to be free from suffering.
- Love & compassion can be impartial & extend to everyone when we've eliminated clinging attachment to friends, anger towards enemies, & indifference towards strangers.
- Love must be combined with wisdom, and we have to act appropriately in each situation, doing what is most beneficial for the greatest number of people.
- Compassion is not pity (which is condescending); compassion regards others as equals who, like us, want to be happy & avoid suffering.
With love & compassion, we'll go on to develop the great resolve to take upon ourselves the responsibility for the happiness of others.
- This resolve motivates us to help others automatically, without hesitation or feeling obliged or inconvenienced.
- Our present abilities to help are limited.
- So we aspire to become a Buddha (with wisdom, compassion, & skillful means) in order to benefit all beings.