If there is no Bodhicitta,
there would be no Buddha,
and no Buddhadharma [teachings of the Buddha].
The title of this article sounds like a ridiculous question. And indeed, it is. For if even the Buddha did not teach the path to Buddhahood, who would or could? Since the Buddha is a fully enlightened being, who has reached the peak of spiritual evolution personally, he is one who is fully qualified to teach it. Some might argue that the Buddha might not have taught it in detail, because the goal of Buddhahood is not easy to attain for most. This is a poor argument as the Buddha is one with perfect compassion and wisdom. It would be limiting the Buddha severely to say he lacked the skilful means to awaken the seeds of perfect compassion and wisdom (or Buddha-nature) within sentient beings. Even if it is true that some might not be fully ready for Buddhahood in his time, he could nevertheless water these seeds for growth in good time. The universe is also unfathomably vast, with its planes of sublime gods and other unseen beings – to many of whom the Buddha taught. Surely, there are many others who are ready to walk the path to supreme enlightenment.
The Buddha had never stated in any discourse, that since it is ‘too challenging’ to attain Buddhahood for all, it ought to be avoided – for good and forever, that we should settle only for self-liberation. Conversely, he repeatedly praised and urged the arising of Bodhicitta – the pure aspiration to strive on the Bodhisattva path, to advance towards Buddhahood, to guide one and all to the same perfect enlightenment. After all, it was only through giving rise to and actualising Bodhicitta, that the Buddha attained Buddhahood. All Buddhas are born of Bodhicitta, who wish all beings to become Buddhas too. If otherwise, the Buddha himself would at most be an Arhat, Pratyekabuddha (Silent Buddha) or a Bodhisattva… and not more – the three of whom still lack perfect compassion, wisdom and sklful means to teach the Dharma to the extent that the Buddha did to benefit the masses. Then again, even those already Arhats, Pratyekabuddhas and Bodhisattvas can upgrade their spiritual aspirations, to further practise the Buddhadharma till they become Buddhas in good time.
Though the Buddha (Samyaksambuddha: who realised the truth by oneself and teaches others how) is also an Arhat by definition, he is much superior to the usual Arhat (Sravakabuddha: who learnt in/directly from a Buddha) in compassion and wisdom. He is a perfected Bodhisattva, definitely no ‘Silent Buddha’ (Pratyekabuddha: who realised the truth by oneself but lacks much means to teach), and by default concerned about Bodhicitta. As with no one teaching, learning and practising it, there would be no more Buddhas. With perfect compassion, he would naturally do his utmost to advocate nothing less than the greatest spiritual goal – the Buddhahood he attained. If the Buddha did not teach the path to Buddhahood, he would not be a Buddha, as all Buddhas’ ultimate concern is to eventually guide all to Buddhahood, by one way or another. What does it matter, if it is difficult to teach or walk the path? The hardest path is often the worthiest. However, he taught the Pure Land path in hundreds of sutras too, urging birth in the best Dharma school in the universe as the swiftest way to full enlightenment!
The Buddhadharma missing Bodhicitta
might still be the Dharma,
but not the complete Dharma of the Buddha.
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