From the Introduction to
"The Life of Milarepa"
In general, the Vajrayana Buddhist training which Milarepa underwent seeks to respond to the varied psychological factors in different individuals and lead aspirants toward higher consciousness, the complete realization of human excellence and finally supreme illumination. It is thus a process of psychological transformation. In practical terms, the aim is to cultivate goodness consciously in thoughts, words and deeds and to become a 'jewel among humanity.'
From the outset, one works to free oneself from all superstitious complexes of superiority or inferiority based on sex, race, color, or creed. A deeper sense of one entire human family and universal fellowship has to be developed as the foundation for a right attitude to human relationships. Only then is the seeker led toward a process of spiritualization.
In order to discover his non-deceptive, or real identity, each individual is encouraged to free himself from the solid and strong influence of his conditioning. This psychological reorientation, which is the basic aim of all true culture, embraces the totality of factors and forces that go to make up an individual's whole stream of being and his attitude toward life. The inner illusions are so subtle that they are often imperceptible. Without this preparatory development of a sound and sane basic attitude toward the goals of living, the whole spiritual endeavor is susceptible to egoistic self-love, as distinguished from a practical concern for one's permanent freedom. For even where consciousness has achieved an exalted level, its need must be further developed into an effective instrument for the process of universal emancipation of all human beings.
The essence of Mahayana Buddhism can be seen in one single term, 'Bodhichitta,' which we have generally translated as 'Enlightened Mind.' This is at once an enlightening attitude and a state of awareness, each of which is both a means to the goal and the goal itself. Here attitude implies action, a non-egoistic view which a man brings to bear upon both his inner practice and outer life. Through this attitude the discipline of meditation combines inseparably with the practice of outer magnanimity, thus leading to the achievement of enlightened awareness. It is through such an awareness that one may perceive things as they really are and as they appear in non-conflicting diversity, while remaining continuously open to manifest the warmth of compassion. Yet such innate purity simply cannot be perceived or realized without first detecting the causes of illusions and defilement in the human psyche. Thus the process of transformation of consciousness takes the form of purification traditionally spoken of as the elimination of illusions and accumulation of virtues.
(Translation: Lobsang P. Lhalungpa)
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