Home Forums Basic Buddhist Teachings Bodhisattva

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Patrick29 Patrick29 11 months ago.

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  • #40891

    Does a Bodhisattva intentionally not seek awakening/enlightenmet, to forego Nirvana?

  • #40893

    Mark Knickelbine

    Hi, Patrick —

    Well, there’s bodhisattvas and then there’s bodhisattvas. The Pali stories about Gotama pre-enlightenment refer to him as a “bodhisatta,” especially in the stories of his past lives, so at one point early Buddhists would use the term to refer to someone who was on his/her way to nibbana but just wasn’t there yet. Mahayana Buddhism developed the term to refer to a being who was practicing not just for his or her own salvation but for the good of all beings, which precludes leaving samsara until all have achieved enlightenment. But, like an arahant, the bodhisattva may achieve enlightenment in this or a previous lifetime, and simply stick around with us living and dying beings. And anyone who is fully committed to practicing for the liberation of all beings is already a bodhisattva, whether they themselves have achieved liberation or not. Zen students take the four Bodhisattva Vows at every service.

    I love the bodhisattva ideal, because I think when we examine our experience carefully we understand that kindness and compassion really are the hallmarks of awakening, and we can always expand the horizon of our caring for others.

  • #40896

    Thanks for the answer Mark 🙂

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