Bodhi is not only the name
of the tree that the Buddha sat under when he reached enlightenment, it is the
name of the state of enlightenment that he reached. The expression of Bodhi is
love, compassion and wisdom and it continually shines throughout the universe
like the rays of the sun. Though the most sublime essence of humankind is its
Bodhi nature we are continually weighed down by our three root poisons of ignorance,
greed and hatred. These emotional obscurations are like clouds in the sky and
they prevent our wisdom to shine.
To cultivate a Bodhi tree we use sunlight
and water. To cultivate our Bodhi nature so that we fully awaken to our Bodhi
mind we apply skilful means and wisdom.
Skilful means are the various techniques
that we use to bring about our enlightenment such as love, compassion, wisdom,
morality, energy control and meditation. Love, compassion and wisdom counters
the three root poisons of hatred, greed and ignorance. Morality protects us from
generating bad karma and further ignorance. Energy control purifies the body and
mind, and meditation brings us into the state of the clear light. Though the Buddha
Shakyamuni taught the eighty four thousand techniques to reach enlightenment throughout
the three world systems they can all be boiled down to these essential ingredients.
According to the Buddha's teachings there are three major schools and nine
vehicles to enlightenment. The Hinayana school is based on the first two vehicles
which are for the listeners of the doctrine, and the meditative recluses. The
Mahayana school begins at the third vehicle which is based on the Bodhisattva
path. A Bodhisattva's mind is intent on bringing all sentient beings to full enlightenment.
The mere karmic repercussions of this type of sincerity results in supreme enlightenment.
The Vajrayana school begins at the fourth vehicle of enlightenment.
three vehicles are known as the outer tantras which are based on purification
and understanding the spiritual nature of all things. The last three vehicles
are based on the three inner tantras. Mahayoga is the practice of generation and
transforms everything onto the path of enlightenment. Anuyoga, the stage of perfection
uses intense energy cultivation to transform the body into a Buddha mandala entering
the sate of pure bliss and clarity. Atiyoga-Dzogchen-the Great Perfection. These
teachings can be intellectualized gradually or suddenly realized through the direct
mind to mind transmission from a realized master.
Traversing the nine vehicles
of enlightenment we begin by opening the window of cultivation to let the sun
shine in. When realizations begin to dawn in our mind stream we begin to feel
the bliss of Bodhicitta. However, the sunlight of our own cultivation is not enough
to grow a Bodhi tree. We must apply the water of compassion and social interaction
to help rid the world of pain and suffering. When the Bodhi tree is used to make
a boat it can rescue those lost in the ocean of samsara and deliver them to the
ultimate pristine shore of Nirvana.