Bodhicitta is a spontaneous wish to attain enlightenment that is motivated by great compassion for all sentient beings. This wish for enlightenment is accompanied by a falling away of the attachment we have to the illusion of an inherently existing self.
We awaken this bodhicitta, this tenderness or kind caring love for life when we can no longer shield ourselves from the vulnerability of our human condition. Where the only certainty is that one day we shall pass, and the time we have to live is unknown, this is the basic fragility of existence.
It tends to be when we feel defeated, at the end of our rope or hopeless that we lose inspiration for living. When we feel this way, ready to give up, we are presented not just with the hopelessness of our being, but with the opportunity to tap into the healing that can be found in the tenderness of pain itself. This is the time to touch the genuine heart of bodhicitta.
In the midst of loneliness in the midst of fear, in the middle of feeling misunderstood and rejected is the heartbeat of all things, the genuine heartbeat of sadness. At these times we are also able to touch at or feel the pain of all beings, not just our single life, but life itself. In so doing it is clear that life and pain go hand in hand, there is no life without pain, and there is no reason that we should expect to live a life free from its existence.
Possibly the best you can do is ‘you take it all in… you let the pain of the world touch your heart, and you turn it into compassion… It is said in difficult times it is only bodhicitta that heals.’
One thing is sure, by shielding ourselves from suffering, from deny pain and its existence we think we are protecting ourselves. The truth though is that we are making ourselves brittle. We become hardened and alienated and separate from the whole. The separateness we experience comes like a prison for us, a suit of armor, one that restricts us to our personal hopes and fears and for caring only for the people closest or nearest to us.
So if we avoid pain, we suffer, if we allow ourselves to sit with our pain we heal. When we don’t close off and we let our hearts break we discover our kinship with all beings.
There is a noble heart of humanity, it is one to which we all belong no matter how far we travel from its core. This heart is never affected by all of our kicking and screaming. It’s integrity never marred. No matter our condition or dedication to greed or selfishness, the genuine heart of bodhicitta cannot be lost, we can always return to it, always finding it completely whole. It is a source of hope, renewal, and faith.