A discussion site for Atisha's Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment
The cause of bodhicitta is compassion and wisdom. The compassion makes us want to help others and the wisdom makes us understand that the only permanent solution to their suffering is it bring them to enlightenment. Since only an enlightened person can do this, we must first attain enlightenment ourselves, but we are practicing with the motivation to help others. It's this difference in motivation that is the difference between the path to becoming a buddha or an arhat. Buddhahood arises from a vast accumulation of merit and this merit is generated from the desire to liberate all beings. Both buddhas and arhats cultivate wisdom, the difference in the result lies in the greater merit of the bodhisattva who has aroused bodhicitta. It is for this reason that bodhicitta is like a wish fulfilling jewel, as it is essential for achieving buddhahood, which fulfills the wishes of all beings.