Before going on with the actual teaching, the first thing that has to be attended to is motivation. The motivation for doing anything has a very profound effect on the outcome and hence is important. The Buddha said,

“All dharmas are composite. Stay at the very tip of intention.”

This means that all of our future experience ultimately depends on our intention now. For example, it is entirely because of your past intentions that you at this very moment are someone who has either attained buddhahood or is continuing to wander around in saîsåra. Because that is so, you should always be right with it in terms of knowing your intention and should always have the very best intention possible.

There are people who do not have good intentions in general but who do have a very good situation in life. They might have a lot of wealth. They might have good things around them. Nonetheless, because of their lack of good intentions, things will slowly turn sour for them. Friends will turn to enemies and, in general, their whole situation will slowly turn against them even though their external circum stances were good to begin with. On the other hand, there are people who have very fine intentions and who to start with might not be particularly well known, or rich, or anything like that, but who in the end, will become very well liked, will probably become famous, may end up with a lot of wealth, and so forth, just because they have good intentions. It does work that way.

How is it for us? Well, we have been busy wandering around in cyclic existence for a long time and the reason for that is that our basic intention has always been one of doing things for our own purpose. A person who, on the other hand, involves himself with intentions for the purpose of others, has the ability to step out of wandering in cyclic existence and to attain buddhahood because of it. Therefore, please start now by developing a pure intention for studying these dharma teachings.

The whole practice of the Greater Vehicle—which is what is being discussed here—starts with the intention of becoming a buddha for the sake of bringing every single sentient being to that same state. Therefore, please arouse the thought that you will study these teachings for the purpose of bringing all sentient beings to the state of unsurpassed buddhahood. Think that you will do so by first hearing the dharma teachings, then practising them, and then attaining buddhahood yourself so that you can lead them to that same state.

A Great Completion style motivation is the same except that it emphasizes that you will attain buddhahood through the key points of Great Completion practice. The sort of motivation that you establish is like this: “It is necessary for all sentient beings to attain the rigpa dharmakaya which is present within them. That which they have within themselves should be realized by themselves. In order for them to do that, I will listen to these teachings.”

An alternative would be to establish clearly in your mind the good motivation that, “Since all of the sentient beings who are wandering around in samsara have in their own mind streams the perfect state of Samantabhadra, which is their own innate, complete self-knowing wisdom, they can achieve and should be brought to buddhahood. In order to bring them to the stage of buddhahood, I will listen to and practise this dharma.”

An alternative thought would be: “It is necessary for all sentient beings to attain to the precious stage of a truly completely enlightened, unsurpassable buddha. I will, through the Great Completion practice of self knowing rigpa, attain buddhahood myself so that they can be brought to that stage.”

An alternative thought would be: “Sentient beings—those who grasp at an I, who take an I to be there when there is no I, those who grasp at a self when they have no self, those who have not made manifest their self-arising rigpa wisdom—are cycling around in cyclic existence and suffering because of it. In order to help them and draw them out of their suffering and into the state of a buddha, I myself need to become a
buddha. Therefore, for that reason, I will study this dharma teaching.”