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Course: The Bodhicitta Factor


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About Shen Shi’an 沈时安: 
An independent Buddhist teacher and writer, he was one of the founding members of the Dharma Propagation Division of Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery (Bright Hill Temple in Singapore) in 1997. Holding an MA in Buddhist Studies, which covered the major Buddhist traditions, he recently served as a Dharma Trainer and Project Coordinator in its Community Development & Training Department till 2011, focusing on Buddhist research, writing, teaching and answering of media queries. He was the founder of the temple’s Youth Mission (now ‘KMS Youth’), a book purchaser for its Awareness Place project, and the Chief Editor of the Web (and Library) Department, which co-supported, one of the world’s most popular Buddhist websites.

He is the founder and editor of since 1997, one of the world’s largest independent Buddhist inspirational e-newsletter with over 29,000 members, the editor of ‘Be a Lamp Upon Yourself’, ‘Awaken: Gateway to Buddhism’ and the writer of ‘The Daily Enlightenment (Book 1,2,3,4)’. He also contributes occasionally to magazines such as ‘Nanyang Buddhist’, ‘Awaken’ (for which he was a Contributing Editor) and ‘For You (Information)’, and writes movie reviews for, the world’s leading Buddhist news network. To date, he had reviewed over 300 movies. He popularised Dharma@Cinema, which is an innovative way of sharing the Dharma through detailed review discussions of both popular and offbeat films, and was part of the film selection team of T.H.I.S Buddhist Film Festival 2009.

Specialising in the Pure Land teachings, he has taught the subject at Singapore Buddhist Federation, Pu Ji Si Buddhist Research Centre and Poh Ming Tse, while leading the ongoing weekly Pureland Practice Fellowship at Kong Meng San, where he continues to teach various Dharma courses. He is also frequently invited to conduct Dharma discussions for youths for tertiary institutions’ Buddhist societies (SPBS, NPBS, NYPBS, NUSBS, NTUBS) on various subjects, along with the sharing Buddhist perspectives at Secondary Schools (SPS, Manjusri School), Junior Colleges (CJC) and International Schools (UWCSEA, SJII).

He was also a guest speaker for Dharma activities hosted by Dharma Drum Mountain (Singapore), Fo Guang Shan (Singapore), Tai Pei Buddhist Centre, Singapore Buddhist Mission Youth, Singapore Buddhist Youth Mission, Wat Ananda Youth, Buddha of Medicine Welfare Society and Kampung Senang. He has represented Buddhist views at governmental events conducted by NACLI, NHB, NHG, SAF, SPF, MHA, ACM, STB and, and was a committee member of the Inter-Religious Organisation, co-representing the Buddhist faith, through which he served in interfaith harmony projects such as giving of public talks to introduce Buddhism. He also co-runs, which is a community blog that promotes sharing of Buddhism via creative writing through thousands of articles. (He can be reached at for invitations to share the Dharma via talks and classes.)


  • Bodhicitta is a lofty aspiration which I think can only be accomplished by the foremost Dharma Practitioners. For ordinary folks like us, the most we can do to help is through charity or volunteer work, etc.
    A few years ago, there was a news report about a Thai monk who severed his private organs as he was disappointed that it was aroused during his meditation practice. I’ve always thought that such radical actions taken to practice the Dharma is not in line with what Buddhism is all about. Shouldn’t spiritual attainments be gradual, and not forced by trying too hard?

  • Bodhicitta is an aspiration to work towards, even if it is not attained in one lifetime. Without Bodhicitta, Buddhahood is impossible. Nearing the aspiration is wiser than just thinking it is out of reach.

    Severing organs to cut off lust is not wise. In Section 31 of the Sutra of 42 Sections:

    The Buddha said, “There was once someone who was plagued by ceaseless sexual desire and wished to castrate himself. The Buddha said to him, ‘To cut off your sexual organ would not be as good as to cut off your mind. Your mind is like a supervisor: if the supervisor stops, his employees will also quit. If the deviant mind is not stopped, what good does it do to cut off the organ?'”

    The Buddha spoke a verse for him:

    Desire is born from your intentions.
    Intentions are born from thoughts.
    When both aspects of the mind are still,
    There is neither form nor activity.

    The Buddha said, “This verse was spoken by the Buddha Kashyapa.”

    (Bodhicitta does NOT require cutting off organs.)

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