Dharma Talks


Sangpo speaks to an audience at the NBMC during a Dharma Talk on Bodhicitta, or compassion. Photo by Anna Guasco.

About once or twice a month, the center hosts Dharma (Buddhist teaching) talks following the usual introduction and 30 minute sit.  Dharma talks are given by speakers, who tend to be scholars or monks representing an array of Buddhist traditions.  The topics of the Dharma talks vary, but generally are a discussion of Buddhist theory and the integration of theory into meditative practice.

Meditation does not require a specific religion, but rather can be a means through which any individual can cultivate Bodhicitta, or compassion

In May, 2013, the NBMC hosted Khenpo Sherab Sangpo, a scholar and monk of Tibetan Buddhism, and the spiritual director of the Bodhicitta Sangha: Heart of Enlightenment Institute in Minneapolis. Sangpo spoke about “Bodhicitta” or compassion.  He focused on Bodhicitta as “is the desire to help other people, or to not suffer, or wishing that others are free from suffer[ing].”  Though he himself is an avid scholar of Buddhism (specially the Tibetan tradition), he openly acknowledged that meditation does not require a specific religion, but rather can be a means through which any individual can cultivate Bodhicitta, or compassion. After describing Bodhicitta and its importance, he then led a directed 20 minute meditation in which he described meditating on Bodhicitta as visualizing you or someone you know suffering. With in-breaths, you see suffering of that person coming out as black smoke.  With out-breaths, you dispel that suffering, and see compassion as radiating white light.  At the end of the sit, Sangpo encouraged anyone in the group who is struggling with meditation to  start simply, with small increments done frequently.  Meditating on Bodhicitta and the kind mind it produces, according to Sangpo,  takes time and practice.

To hear Sangpo discuss meditating on Bodhicitta and our common goal of happiness, click on the audio clip. Show Transcription

We need to cultivate, think about, great compassion, what we call bodhicitta. Bodhicitta, or compassion, is the desire to help other people. Or to not suffer. Or wishing that others are free from suffering. That’s the characteristic of bodhicitta. Because we want happiness, right? We all want happiness. And if you investigate, it is just the same without it. Really, there’s no difference between you and others.We all want happiness and to avoid suffering. That’s why we have to meditate on bodhicitta. We all know that. I don’t have to tell you that we want happiness and not suffering. We all know that, but just knowing it is not enough. We want happiness, we don’t want suffering. How do we develop that capacity that we call bodhicitta. So through this kind of practice, you will start to develop bodhicitta.