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Bodhisattva Ideal - Questions and Answers Tuscany 1984 Part 3 - Unchecked

by Sangharakshita

DISCLAIMER - This transcript has not been checked, and may contain mistakes and mishearings.

cations of Buddhism much more fully than the original Buddhism itself did. So that when one is
thinking more in those sort of terms, it seems more appropriate, you know, to use the expression
Bodhicitta rather than the term Stream Entry, even though in a sense the two are inter-changeable. But
even though, yes, they are interchangeable, they do present themselves, partly because of the historical,
you know, assoctat ions, under a sort of difference of aspect; and it is because of that difference of
aspect that I tend to speak of the Bodhicitta rather than Stream Entry, in the way that you describe .
VESSANTARA: Would you say that the denotations of both are the same, but that the connotations
are different?
S: One could put it in that way, yes.
Yes, because in a way the denotation of Stream Entry is more as it were, you know, individual, not to
say individualistic, though at the same time it cannot be, because it is, it represents a liberation, you
know, from the sense of ego. In the same sort of way the Bodhicitta, one might say, is, you know, less
egoistic because it has reference to other living beings: because it consists in the will, as I've called it,
to Enlightenment for the sake of all living beings. But really there is only' as you've said, that
difference of connotation and not really one of denotation at all. Perhaps we could say that, as well as
I think I have said in that lecture on Going for Refuge, that the spiritual experience to which all these
different terms pertain, and these are only two of the terms that we have, after all, they all revolve
around that one experience and\express different aspects of it. And for historical reasons, perhaps,
rather than strictly spiritual reasons, or doctrinal reasons, one particualr term seems to refer to one
aspect of that proces or that experience, better than a certain other term.
VESSANTARA: So the attainment of that experience whatever you called it, would you say that that
was a realistic goal for a spiritually committed person to aim for in this life? [42]
S: Well, yes, this is what I'm saying, that every Order Member should aim at Stream Entry, and should
also, perhaps, be aware that Stream Entry has this other-regarding aspect which we speak of in terms,
usually, of the arising of the Bodhicitta. And just as Stream Entry represents your entering into the
Stream, but there is no 'you' , the Bodhicitta represents the fact that you are going to work for the
salvation, so to speak, of all sentient beings - but that there are no sentient beings. (laughter) So one
operates in both instances with the concept of self and others: in the case of Stream Entry one is
operating with the concept of self and negating that; in the case of the Bodhicitta one's operating more
with the concept of others, and negating that. But between them both concepts are negated, or at least
one real ises their relativity.
WILL SPENS: I think that you said that the Bodhicitta is more likely to arise cullectively within a
Spiritual community: why is this, and how would this manisfest?
S: Well, we've already seen that one can regard Stream Entry and the Bodhicitta as different aspects of
the same experience. So if one says that the Bodhicitta is more likely to arise within the spiritual
community, I think one also has to say that one is more likely to attain Stream Entry within the
Spiritual Community. So why is that? I think the reason is pretty obvious, because a spiritual
community represents a situation of intense mutual spiritual friendship wherein you encourage one
another in your efforts. So if you have a situation in which you are all encouraging one another in your
spiritual efforts as on, say, or as in a spiritual community, you're much more likely to achieve that sort
of breakthrough, you know, whether in terms of Stream Entry, or in terms of the arising of the
Bodhicitta, than if you were simply on your own. This is not to say that you can't do it on your own,
and certainly many people have done it on their own: but I think for the majority of people the
spiritual community is a much more favourable context for that sort [43] of experience. I must say,
though, that, speaking in terms of the Bodhicitta, I was going somewhat further than that even, in a
way that isn't quite applicable in connection with Stream Entry. I spoke of the Bodhicitta as
representing the idea of working for the salvation or emancipation of all beings, but at the same time
realising that there were no beings to be saved or emancipated. So in much the same way, what one is
trying to do is to suggest something which is, as it were, supraindividual, but which is not collective -
and this is very, very difficult.
It's as though you've got a number of stages: you've got first of all the sub-individual, that's stage one,
where there's no individuality, where there is as it were only membership of the species, membership
of the group. Then you've got a second level, you might say an intermeditate level where you have got
the individual: perhaps in opposition to the group. Sometimes two kinds of individual are
distinguished here: the individual as held down by the group and the individual as (laughs) - as
dominating the group - or the individual as dominated by the group, and the individual as dominating
the group. But then there's another stage still, a third stage, where the individual as it were stands free
from the group altogether, and is just an individual. Hm? I mean, all understand what that means
because we've been into it so much. But then, beyond that, you've got another stage where the
individual enters into free association with other individuals, and this is what we call the spiritual
community. And time and again, of course, we've insisted that this is not the same as a group: a free
association of real individuals is not a group, it's a spiritual community. It's a sangha. But you can
envisage something even beyond that - hm? But we don't have any word, even, for that - we don't
have a word, even, for spiritual community: but if you can envisage what happens as a result of the
intensive interaction of individuals, real individuals, one might say even transcendental individuals,
well, what results, one might say, is the Bodhicitta. [44]
It's not an individual thing, in the same way that, you know, the individual is an individual - it's another
level beyond that. At the same time it isn't something collective which all those individuals possess in
common. I think some of the language that I've used in this particular lecture might give that
impression, but that was not my intention.
So one has got really these four different levels. But one speaks of the Bodhicitta here, rather than of
stream entry, or the arising of the Bodhicitta rather than of stream entry, because the Bodhicitta.
perhaps for more historical reasons, has this other-regarding reference which stream-entry doesn't.
Stream entry has, so to speak, a self-regarding reference, even though in the case of Stream Entry
there's no self, just as in the case of the Bodhicitta, you know, there are no others, in an ultimate
physical sense.
VESSANTARA: Could you see the Bodhicitta as a sort of common purpose. Of an Aryasaugha?
S: Well , you could certainly speak of a common purpose of an Aryasangha, and you could even
speak, you know, of the arising of the Bodhicitta as being the common purpose of the Aryasangha. But
at the same time you mustn't think of it as something, as it were, collective. And that Bodhicitta, when
it had arisen, would not be a purpose in that sort of collective sense. One has come to a level where it's
very difficult to find words which adequately express, you know, what happens.
PRASANNASIDDHI: Don't you also say that the Bodhicitta will arise when one sees the sufferings of
snetient beings? It would seem to imply a sort of more worldly, as opposed to spititual community -
associated with the world, or, you know, people of the world as opposed to the people of the spiritual
S: Well, yes, certainly I've mentioned that in the course of a lecture. This is one of the four factors
which, you know, Vasubhandhu mentions. That constitutes, in a way, a spiritual practice: you know,
that you [45] reflect upon the sufferings of others, and in this way stimulate yourself to develop the
Bodhicitta so that you can help others. But inasmuch as it's a spiritual practice, all spiritual practices
can be intensified within the spiritual community, inasmuch as you encourage one another. You can
encourage one another in this respect too. So to that extent the Bodhicitta is still more likely to arise,
so to speak within the spiritual community.
But of course one is not to take this expression, 'within the spiritual community' too literally - not that
within this particular closed circle of people. What it is really trying to convey is that it is another level
of development beyond even individuality, perhaps even transcendntal individuality, as we usually
understand it. The spiritual community is not necessarily that which is located in a particular place
occupying certain physical bodies.
PRASANNASIDDHI: So you could be living in society, and involved with sentient beings who are
suffering, but on another level you're in contact with...
S: Well, just as you could be on your own, you could be on solitary retreat, but in a sense you could be
in contact with other members of the spiritual community, in the sense that you would be very ...

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