How To Grow In Bodhicitta Via Dedication?
Question: How can we grow our Bodhicitta (菩提心)?
Answer: For whatever Dharma practices we have done, including mindfulness of Buddha (念佛), all good thoughts, words and deeds (身口意善业) in general, we should dedicate (回向) the meritorious virtues (i.e. 功德: merits) created, be they little or much, to all sentient beings (众生), to facilitate their path to accomplishment of Buddhahood (成佛), via reaching Pure Land (净土), which is the most skilful. Doing so is to express Bodhicitta, which is the aspiration to facilitate one and all to Buddhahood.
Question: What if it is difficult at first, to dedicate merits to all beings?
Answer: As we have yet to realise non-self (无我) and equanimity (平等心), it is natural to prefer to dedicate merits to those of direct concern first, such as family members and friends (眷属朋友). However, when we dedicate merits to all beings via traditional Dedication Verses (回向文), this already includes everyone by default.
Dedication of merits to all also creates much more merits, as it is a practice of great compassion (大悲) and generosity (大布施). Thus, there should not be thinking that this method of dedication diminishes merits for loved ones. The bigger the heart and mind, the greater the merits are.
Question: What if I still feel more compelled to dedicate to loved ones specifically?
Answer: There are two other methods to dedicate, that still express Bodhicitta.
 There can be dedication to all first, before dedicating to loved ones, to express more deliberate dedication to the latter, with prioritisation of all beings before specific ones.
 If still uneasy with the first method, there can dedication to loved ones first, but with the heart and mind expanding, by adding more names or terms, until eventually including all beings (i.e. ‘So-and-so, So-and-so, .., all other humans, all ghostly beings, all animals, all hell-beings, all asuras and all gods’). In this way, there is prioritisation of specific ones, while not forgoing all other beings.
With the above practice(s) done daily with as much sincerity as we can muster, which will further open our heart and mind in compassion and generosity, Bodhicitta will surely grow in good time.
(Note that perfect Common Bodhicitta [通途菩提心] is not a must for attaining the Middle Grades [中品] and Low Grades [下品] of Pure Land, with it naturally given rise to perfectly after birth in Pure Land. Birth in Pure Land for all grades, including the High Grades [上品], is however attained with ‘Special Bodhicitta’ [特别菩提心], which is to have ‘profound Faith and giving rise of Aspiration’ [深信发愿] for birth in Pure Land.)
Is Bodhicitta A Must For Birth In Amituofo’s Pure Land?