Enlightened Mind

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Enlightened Mind (byang chub sems)

  • The term enlightened mind (Skt. bodhicitta) refers to the altruistic aspiration to attain full enlightenment (Skt. bodhi) for the benefit of all beings. There are two ways in which such an enlightened attitude may be developed: relatively through cultivation of the four immeasurable aspirations: loving kindness (maitrī), compassion (karuṇā), sympathetic joy (muditā), and equanimity (upekṣā), and ultimately through the understanding that all sentinet beings who have been one's parents over a succession of past lives are bewildered and endure suffering consequent on their misrepresentation of actual reality or emptiness, and expressing the aspiration that they all might come to realise the ultimate truth. As far as the cultivation of relative enlightened mind is concerned, the Tibetan tradition speaks of two major techniques: Atiśa's 'seven-point cause and effect' and Śāntideva's 'equality and exchange of oneself with others'. A genuine cultivation of enlightened mind is attained only when, through the training of the mind, the aspiration to attain full enlightenment becomes spontaneous and no longer requires any deliberate exertion. At that stage the individual becomes a bodhisattva. For a fuller analysis, see Paul Williams, Mahāyāna Buddhism, pp. 197-204. GD (from the Glossary to Tibetan Elemental Divination Paintings)