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Awakening the heart-mind of the spiritual hero

the bodhisattva, bodhichitta, and the Bodhicaryavatara

A bodhisattva is one who has vowed to train to become fully awakened (enlightened) in order to benefit all beings. This spiritual aspiration has inspired countless people to devote their lives to developing their capacities for wisdom and compassion.

The starting assumption for Mahayana Buddhism is that all living beings have the same potential for awakening. Thus, we are all capable of becoming bodhisattvas.

In Mahayana Buddhism, the quality the bodhisattva cultivates is "bodhicitta": 'the mind (citta) of awakening (bodhi)'. The more common translation is 'enlightenment mind' or 'awakening mind'.

The awakening being's experience leads to the end of all suffering or dukkha whatsoever; hence, the bodhisattva's ultimate goal is to eliminate all suffering, the most profoundly compassionate motivation.

In this podcast episode, I explain the terms bodhisattva and bodhichitta, and I'll share some inspiring verses from the Bodhicaryavatara, or Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, a famous text on how to become a bodhisattva by the great Indian saint Shantideva in the 8th century CE. The Bodhicaryavatara is one of the best introductions to the subjects of bodhicitta and compassion in Mahayana Buddhism.

Curious about the basics of Buddhism? Please check out my book The Buddhist Path to Joy ( and my free courses for beginners:

May you and all beings be well.

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