When you have compassion, a bodhisattva’s compassion for all sentient beings, why you have bodhicitta for all sentient beings is because of your joy, not because of your sorrow. When you see that all sentient beings are suffering, you see that they don’t have to suffer, they can get out of that suffering, but not from somewhere else, the means of getting out of suffering is in them. Buddha-nature is in them, primordial wisdom is in them. When you see that then you get the natural aspiration, “May I reach liberation so that I can liberate all mother sentient beings who are suffering absolutely unnecessarily.” You have aspiration, confidence and a destination; it is more than just hope. So that is joy, it is not sorrow. It is not like, “These poor sentient beings are suffering. I have to do something for them.” It is, “These future Buddhas are unnecessarily suffering. They are having a nightmare. Their essence is perfect so they have all the means in them to overcome this suffering. So may I be the aspiration and guide for them. May I have that honor to be the guide and example and giver of that great realization for them, to make them realize who they are,” that’s all. You are not bringing something from somewhere and giving it to them, or cutting something from yourself and sewing it on to them. It is just making them realize who they are. That is what bodhicitta is. And it is joy, confidence, and an honor. It is not suffering, it is not pain and it is not misery.
Tai Situ Rinpoche
from the book Nectar of Dharma: The Sacred Advice, Volume Four
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