How to generate Bodhicitta
Whenever a person or god is able to generate Bodhicitta, which is the wish to attain enlightenment for the sake of oneself and for the sake of all other sentient beings, to lead them to ultimate state of happiness and to be free from sufferings, that person is known as a Bodhisattva. Just having the wish to attain enlightenment and praying to attain enlightenment is only a thought to attain enlightenment. But we do not consider such thoughts as one having generated Bodhicitta.
Mainly having the wish to attain enlightenment is not sufficient to say that we have generated Bodhicitta. In order to say that we have altruistic mind, we need to have the thought of enlightenment. In addition, to have this thought for the sake of all sentient beings, for them to be free of suffering and for them to lead to ultimate happiness. With these two causes completed purely in our mind, then that is known as Bodhicitta. And that kind of person is known as a Bodhisattva.
That's why when we generate Bodhicitta, we do that for the sake of all sentient beings. We have to be careful how we use that thought for the sake of all sentient, since there are three different categories of sentient beings; namely our relatives and close friends, second is our enemies, and thirdly, the strangers, those we feel indifferent to. We should not have any partiality towards the three types of persons. We should have the same intention to benefit the three categories of persons in equal ways. If we do not do that, whereby we only have good wishes for one's relative but not for other sentient beings, it does not become Bodhicitta because it leaves out some sentient beings. This is not a pure thought. When we set up Bodhicitta, we have to be very careful in setting the motivation. If we are able to generate this spontaneously, then we have generated Bodhicitta.
There are various methods to generate Bodhicitta. One of the methods is the "Six Causes and One Effect" method. First is equanimity, in order to balance the mind to see all sentient beings equally. Then the six causes and one effect:
1. Recognize all sentient beings as one's mother.
2. Remembering their kindness.
3. Repaying their kindness
6. Altruistic Intention
When we see all sentient beings as one's mother, we may wish to see them being happy. In order to generate heart-warming love, one need to remember their kindness. Then to develop thought to repay their kindness. From it arises heart-warming love, which is wishing to lead them to happiness. After that, compassion, i.e. wishing them to be free from sufferings. If you meditate on these again and again, you will become familiarize with these points and spontaneously, one can arise compassion when one see sentient being, wishing sentient beings to be free from suffering and to lead to happiness. This wish alone is not enough. Then, develop special compassion towards all sentient beings. After that, a special insight arises where one will take responsibility to lead sentient beings to be free from sufferings and to the state of happiness. Only the Buddha has the potential to lead them to enlightenment,. Then, since one has taken this precious rebirth, one has to undertake the practice to become a Buddha. The wish to become a Buddha for the sake of all sentient beings - this is known as Bodhicitta.
After knowing Bodhicitta and meditating on Bodhicitta alone cannot lead one to attain enlightenment. In order to attain enlightenment, with this Bodhicitta, one has to undertake the practice of the Six Perfections. Just like one with the intention to visit America and makes preparation and buys tickets etc. The intention alone will not bring one to America. One has to go to the airport and step onto the plane. Then by flying there you are able to reach America. Similarly, having the intention to go to America is like the Bodhicitta, wish to attain enlightenment for the sake all sentient. You are taking the responsibility to lead all sentient beings to the state of happiness. Having this intention alone will not take one to enlightenment if one do not undertake the practice of the Six Perfections.