Definition - What does Bodhicitta mean?

Bodhicitta is a concept within Buddhism that refers to the “enlightened mind,” a state of mind in which an individual desires—above all other things—to be empathetic toward all beings, as well as dedicated to helping others find enlightenment and freedom from suffering. In Sanskrit, bodhicitta can be broken down into two parts: bodhi, which means “enlightenment” or awakening,” and citta, which means “conscious” or “mind.”

Within the practice of yoga, in which core beliefs center on harming no one and being gentle with oneself, bodhicitta is exercised when individuals dedicate themselves and their practice to others as well as overcome the ego, connecting with the true Self.

Yogapedia explains Bodhicitta

In Buddhism, there are levels to bodhicitta. Various schools of Buddhism have different understandings of the number of the levels. The first level is that of an individual who seeks their own benefit in life, but also realizes that if they serve others around them, that they will also prosper. The second level is that of an individual who acts in service to others, recognizing that they themselves are also benefitted. The third level is that of an individual who leads and serves others wholeheartedly with utmost concern for the safety and well-being of others, rather than their own.

Alternatively, in some schools of Buddhism there are two levels of bodhicitta: aspirational and engaged. In aspirational bodhicitta, the individual desires to overcome spiritual and emotional afflictions in order to realize the truest Self and help others do the same. In engaged bodhicitta, the individual has fully realized and engaged in practices that perpetuate this goal.

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