Bodhicitta is probably the most important word one can learn about, and is absolutely fundamental to the development and progression of society. It is interesting how readily it can be observed throughout history, accompanying greatness. Lobsang Gyatso does a good job introducing and exploring this concept in this book. It is pretty heavily steeped in Buddhist language, which may not translate as well to Judaeo-Christian audiences, but the treatment is thorough enough that one should leave with a solid understanding of what it is and a few potential practices to help cultivate the habit/view.
You will see bodhicitta be referred to as the heart of enlightenment. Basically speaking, bodhicitta is the desire to help all beings achieve realization and attain enlightenment. It could be understood as a combination of the Christian values of grace and charity, but there may be some subtle differences between them. ‘Realization’ is a bit of a vague term to use in this definition; I’m offering it in the sense of how it is traditionally understood in Buddhist terminology. It is like altruism, wanting good results for other people, aside from any sense of personal gain, but beyond base charity, also involves a degree of teaching or facilitating the education of someone in matters of true importance. Helping someone rid themselves of delusions in a sincere and kind-hearted manner is as much an act of bodhicitta as giving bread to the poor is an act of charity – both are ultimately acts of compassion, although bodhicitta also requires a certain degree of imparting independence, that charity doesn’t necessarily extend to.
I hope that you will read this book and see where what fits. Generally speaking, your understanding of the cycles of human existence may not be the same as what is being presented, but it is important to consider the outcome of the system and not just the system itself – what are the dharma-holders trying to achieve by getting you to think of things in this way? My general thought is that understanding individuals to be more a product of their environment, experiences and perceptions than anything inherently related to their ‘self’ is immensely helpful to generating compassion and empathy, and bodhicitta.
Internalizing the understandings presented in this book can produce wondrous effects on your worldview, and your experienced reality.