Unifying Generalization and Particulars

Yutang Lin

Bodhicitta encompasses all sentient beings in limitless oneness.
Each and every being we run into is still prayed for individually.
Those with karmic links to encounter even though are very few.
Well-wishing to any is with the same attitude of praying for all.


Some asked, "When we dedicate merits we always dedicate first to all sentient beings, could we then just save the trouble of dedicating individually to people we know of?" In theory, since they are all included already among all sentient beings, there is no reason why we could not omit this "repetition." Nevertheless, in actual practice it would be much better to unify generalization and particulars by listing them individually in addition.

If we leaned toward employing generalization to include and replace particulars, then the practice could deteriorate into hollow talks. Hence, after we had, first of all, dedicated merits toward the sooner attainment of enlightenment for all sentient beings, we had better include those suffering ones that we saw or heard about in the dedication by bring them to mind or mentioning them. Thus the cultivation of wisdom and compassion is fulfilled with a solid sense of reality, and hence it is easier for it to take root and grow up.

On the contrary, what we see or hear are ultimately very limited, and hence while we dedicate merits to each and every one of them we should transcend considerations of all sorts of worldly relationships but simply regard them equally as lively representatives of all suffering beings. Thus, even though actual individuals we have prayed for are rather limited in number, nevertheless, the expansion of our Bodhicitta remains boundless, and we could gradually merge into and attain the genuinely boundless great mind.

Written in Chinese and translated on December 28, 2004
El Cerrito, California

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