Bodhicitta meditation for skeptics

I’m a Mahayana Buddhist in the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. This tradition has many features that baffle my scientifically trained mind. Unfortunately, some are at the heart of the tradition. Navigating my skepticism is part of the challenge of being a modern Buddhist.

However, I’m not quite as much a skeptic as the Bachelor’s. I do believe in rebirth, I do believe (with caveats) in the possibility to become a Buddha.

Those two beliefs are necessary for meditating on Bodhicitta in a way that approaches what the tradition meant by the word.

So let’s start with the basics: Bodhicitta is the Mind of Enlightenment. It’s the deeply felt intention or choice to become a Buddha to save all sentient beings from Samsara. It involves developing kindness for all beings, including your boss, and the awareness that nobody is going to be rushed to Nirvana. Patience is therefore an essential part of the story.

Note that in this tradition you are motivated to become a Buddha, not merely a Bodhisattva. A Buddha, after all, is more capable of helping people, being omniscient and all. A Bodhisattva is a being who is training to become a Buddha.

And that’s where my skepticism rears it’s ugly head: omniscient, all powerful – even accepting the limits of karma – do I really believe all that? Continue reading Bodhicitta meditation for skeptics