the bodhisattva – some thoughts
Being a Christian (though probably not a good one) with a Vedic bent to my outlook and with a pinch of Taoism and Zen thrown in, I don’t often treat of Buddhism on this blog.
After the existential angst in my essay on Friday, the idea of the bodhisattva came to me out of my memory of readings on Buddhism many years ago.
As I recall, the bodhisattva is an enlightened soul that standing on the cusp, the very threshold of Nirvana, consciously and freely chooses to forego entrance to Nirvana so as to help all other sentient beings achieve enlightenment and liberation (release from the continuous round of birth-death-rebirth (samsara), release from the wheel of terror-joy). The vow of the bodhisattva is that he/she will not enter Nirvana until all other sentient beings have entered it first.
The bodhisattva, he or she, is motivated by compassion for all other sentient beings (who all suffer). Because having suffered so over many lifetimes, he/she is acutely, poignantly aware of how others suffer.)
Think about that for a moment or two.
What if you were at that point? You are literally ready and able to attain full and permanent release from the suffering we all endure, and at the very last moment you freely decide to forego this release – for how long?! Many, many kalpas (eons or ages) that it will take for all other sentient beings to achieve enlightenment.
Of course, at that point of spiritual development, you have evolved past petty egoism and selfishness. Yet, still, this is hard to wrap one’s mind around – the total self-sacrifice for others.
a not so random thought
Contrast this ideal of all-encompassing compassion with the adherents of Islam who ardently believe that if you will not convert (to Islam) then the world would be better off with you dead, and that you (yourself) would be better off dead.
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