Geshe Sonam Rinchen is currently resident scholar at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, India, where he teaches Buddhist philosophy and practice. This volume of his oral teachings has been edited and translated by Ruth Sonam. As he states at the outset: "The altruistic intention is the essence of the Buddha's eighty-four-thousand different teachings which are the medicine for all our ills. We need more than a detached interest in it. Only if we are fired by a real wish to become a Bodhisattva, or simply to become more kindhearted, will we make an effort to discover the way."
How does one develop this altruistic intention? Rinchen discusses some of the practices that help, including equanimity, recognizing all beings as our mothers, equalizing self and others, recognizing selfishness as the enemy, and seeing the benefits of cherishing others. Standing as a roadblock in the way of bringing about lasting happiness for all living beings is the ego: "The root of all the disturbing emotions which lead us to act negatively and the source of our suffering is our misconception of the self and our exaggerated self-concern."
Rinchen points out that it is nearly impossible to understand the suffering of others and to feel empathy towards them if we are imprisoned in fear. The pursuit of the Bodhisattva vow means moving beyond this fear into a compassion for all. A simple but touching example of this spirit is the following: "By 'not accepting invitations' we deprive others of the opportunity to practice generosity."