Home » Excerpts » Four Ways Bodhisattvas Lose Bodhicitta

As they might backslide,
beginner Bodhisattvas should
keep giving rise to Bodhicitta now,
until they become great Bodhisattvas.

As they might backslide,
beginner Bodhisattvas should
keep aspiring to reach Pure Land now,
where they become great Bodhisattvas.

Stonepeace | Books

There are various conditions leading to the deterioration of both Bodhicitta [aspiration to guide all to Buddhahood] and the practice of Bodhisattva Dharma [teachings based on Bodhicitta]. These conditions are called parajika (defeats), and they are acts or thoughts that break or defeat the Bodhisattva practice. This same term is used in connection with the monastic Vinaya [discipline], where it denotes the first four rules, the transgression of which calls for expulsion from the order of Bhiksus [monastics]. The elder Tripitaka Master Hsuan Tsang [who was proficient in the Buddha’s teachings, discipline and other commentaries] translated this term as ‘overcoming by specific conditions’. This means that the good roots necessary for the practice of Bodhisattva Dharma are overcome by the specific conditions of unwholesome roots [of greed, hatred and delusion].

The first specific condition which leads to the defeat of the Bodhicitta is the tendency to praise oneself and to slander others. If the Bodhisattva loses his Mahakaruna [Great Compassion], he is no longer willing to profit others at his own expense. Being solely concerned with his own name and fame, he loses respect in the eyes of family, friends and society. The second specific condition leading to defeat is seeing someone in a state of suffering and anxiety and not lifting a finger to help. Losing one’s Mahakaruna, one makes no effort to teach or profit those who may come for assistance but, instead, cultivates miserly tendencies.

The third specific condition leading to defeat is not receiving the repentant or those desirous of following the right path. Losing one’s Mahakaruna, one allows himself to bear anger and grudges in his mind and, as a result, is not willing to teach or assist those who are repentant. The fourth specific condition leading to defeat is the act of foolishly deceiving others with pseudo-dharma [similar but false teachings]. Without wisdom, one manipulates heterodox views, slandering the Buddhadharma [Buddha’s teachings] and deceiving others with what appears to be Dharma but which is, in fact, not genuine. If a Bodhisattva falls into any of these categories of defeat, he loses the Bodhicitta and also the qualifications of Bodhisattva practice [until there is proper repentance]. Therefore, one should preserve the qualifications, protect the Bodhicitta and increase the vast storehouse [treasury] of Bodhisattva Dharma.

The Practice Of Bodhisattva Dharma
By Dharma Master T’ai-Hsu
Translated By Dharma Master Lok To
Edited By Dr. Frank G. French

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