Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
"The atmosphere created by the Mahabodhi Temple is so potent it’s as if you fall into a trance. Here you’ll find the vajra seat (vajra asana, also known as the Diamond Seat) where, after many years of searching for the truth and six excruciating years of penance by the banks of the Niranjana River, Siddhartha finally discovered the Middle Path and achieved enlightenment under the bodhi tree.
The bodhi tree is important to Buddhists because it is a symbol of enlightenment. In spite of an abundance of trees, caves, and temples in the area, it was in the shade of a bodhi tree that Siddhartha
chose to sit, and it was also there that he crushed his final defilements to achieve enlightenment and become the liberator of the Three Worlds. It is believed that all the one thousand buddhas of this fortunate aeon will achieve enlightenment right on this very same spot. All of which means that showing respect for the bodhi tree is not in any way the same as worshipping the spirit of a tree like a shaman, but rather a recognition of the extraordinary event that took place beneath its branches.
Bodhgaya is not only special because it’s where all the buddhas will achieve enlightenment. According to Tantric Buddhism, everywhere in this world and all the phenomena that exist outside ourselves have a corresponding existence within our bodies. Good practitioners and yogis are able, in their practice, to visit the holy places that reside within the chakras and channels of their own bodies, and in this way make progress on their path to enlightenment. Those of us whose practice isn’t quite so advanced can at least visit the outer reflection of these inner holy sites, the heart of which is usually considered to be in Bodhgaya.
Here Buddha is telling us that for anyone at all enlightenment has to be and is achievable, and defilements have to be and are removable. If the goal of enlightenment is not achievable and defilements are not removable, the path we’re trying to ollow is itself deceptive and quite meaningless.
Our job is to develop confidence in the fact that our own true nature has exactly the same potential as that of the Buddha, and that all we need to do to mature that potential is follow Siddhartha’s example and apply the right methods.