Bodhichitta

When Joanna was in Tibet, she received an important teaching about the power of intention from watching the monks rebuild the monastery of Khampagar. Once a major center of Tibetan Buddhist culture and learning, it had been destroyed by the Red Guards during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. A shift to a more relaxed occupation policy had allowed reconstruction to begin. This policy, however, could be reversed at any moment; there was no guarantee that the monastery, once rebuilt, would not be destroyed again.

That didn’t stop the monks. They faced the uncertainty by bringing to it their intention. They assumed that since you cannot know, you simply proceed. You do what you have to do. You put one stone on top of another and another on top of that. If the stones are knocked down, you begin again, because if you don’t, nothing will be built. You persist. In the long run, it is persistence that shapes the future.

With the uncertainties we face, we need a strength of intention similar to that of those Tibetan monks. If we take bodhichitta - the desire and intention to act for the sake of all beings - as our foundation stone, then whatever else is happening, we can count on this. Bodhichitta is grounded in our conscious connectedness with all life. So this is our starting point. It is what we build on. Moving around the spiral of the Work That Reconnects helps us strengthen this connectedness, helps us open to and trust it more. Each time we go around the spiral, we reinforce our bodhichitta. In a time of uncertainty, it can be the one thing we are sure of.

In the Buddhist tradition, bodhicitta is seen as something very precious, something to treasure and protect. We can think of it as a flame in our hearts and minds that guides us and shines through our actions. The bodhisattvas, the hero figures of the Buddhist tradition, have such strong bodhichitta that even when they reach the gates of nirvana, having earned the right to disappear into eternal bliss, they turn around every time and choose to come back. They choose to return to samsara, this realm of suffering, because their bodhicitta calls them to serve life on Earth and act for the welfare of all beings.