View Full Version : Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? (A Sit-a-Long Series)

09-19-2019, 03:02 AM
Dear All Bodhisattvas!

Below is a series of 'sit-a-longs' reflecting on several of the famous "Greats" among the Bodhisattvas ... Kannon, Maitreya, Manjusri, Jizo, Samantabhadra, Vimalakīrti and others ... as well as the qualities of a Bodhisattva which can manifest in any of our words, thoughts and actions in life ...

This series is greatly inspired by Taigen Dan Leighton's wonderful book "Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression"./

I - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva?

II - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? - The Virtue of Generosity

III - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? - The Virtue of the Precepts

IV - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? - The Virtue of Patience

V - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? - The Virtue of Effort

VI- Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? - The Virtue of Meditation

VII - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? - The Virtue of Wisdom

VIII - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? - The Virtue of Skillful Means

IX - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? - The Virtue of Vow & Commitment

X - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? - The Virtue of Mystical Powers

XI - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? - (MORE) The Virtue of Mystical Powers

XII - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? - The Virtue of Knowledge

XIII - Whattsa NOT'SA Bodhisattva? Living Devil: Mara

XIV - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? - Shakyamuni

XV - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? - Manjushri

XVI - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? - Samantabhadra

XVII - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? - Avalokiteshvara (Kannon)

XVIII - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? - Kshitigarbha (Jizo)

XIX - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? - Maitreya

XX - Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva - Vimalakīrti

Gassho, Jundo


09-19-2019, 03:04 AM
Over the next few weeks, we'll be looking at several of the famous "Greats" among the Bodhisattvas.

The "Greats" include Kannon, Maitreya, Manjusri, Jizo, Samantabhadra and many others. We'll look at a few Buddhas too ...

Especially in Mahayana Buddhism, a "Bodhisattva" is an enlightened being, or one bound for enlightenment, who ... motivated by great compassion, and even postponing her own attainment of ultimate Buddhahood ... vows to use her wisdom to aid other human beings to attain liberation.

But, ya know, that may be YOU on both the receiving and giving end of that.


09-19-2019, 03:06 AM
Ten Pure Virtues or "Perfections" (Paramitas in Sanskrit) are fundamental to the Bodhisattva path.

Today, we will discuss Generosity (Dana Paramita)


09-19-2019, 03:08 AM
Ten Pure Virtues or "Perfections" (Paramitas in Sanskrit) are fundamental to the Bodhisattva path.

Today, we will discuss the Perfection of an ethical life,
in keeping with the Precepts (Shila Paramita)


09-19-2019, 03:09 AM
Ten Pure Virtues or "Perfections" (Paramitas in Sanskrit) are fundamental to the Bodhisattva path.

Today, we will discuss the Perfection of Patience (Kshanti Paramita)

If the video does not work today ...
please consider it a perfect chance to put this Perfection into Practice! [morehappy]


09-19-2019, 03:12 AM
Last time, in our discussion of the Ten Pure Virtues or "Perfections" (Paramitas) of the Bodhisattva path ...

we talked about "Patience" ...

... and today we will talk about the Perfection of Effort and Diligence (Virya Paramita).

All the perfections go hand-in-hand, each supporting and nurturing the others. Each is part of the Bodhisattva's vow to "Save All Sentient Beings". But "Patience" and "Diligent Effort" have a special bond ...

Our way might be called "patience in effort", "stillness in motion" "quiet in action" ...

... for, with the latter alone, we are always running headlong through life, trying to find the end of a rainbow which we never reach, rarely at ease, unsatisfied, never arriving at the ultimate goal ...

... while the former alone leads to passivity, inaction, complacency and resignation.

Thus, remember that our teachings emphasize, not just stillness ... but stillness in, as and amid the motion. Yes, we are like a stone Buddha in the garden, sitting with come what may, not budging if it rains or if the sun comes out. It is all the same

.... yet the stone Buddha rises, dances and lives life!

This is the reason I repeatedly emphasize that our Way is stillness in action ... effort without effort ...


09-19-2019, 03:15 AM
On Today's "Top Ten" Countdown of the "Pure Virtues of the Bodhisattva" ...

... we come to No. 5 ... Meditation .. Dhyana ...

(not to be confused with the 50's song 'Diana' ...

Hold me, darling, ho-ho hold me tight
Squeeze me baby with-a all your might

Oh, please stay by me, Diana
Oh, please, Diana
Oh, please, Diana
Oh, please, Diana)

Anyway, we spoke about this just a few days ago, in looking at Master Dogen's 'Bendowa" ... how 'Zazen' may thus appear to be well down the list ... just one of many Buddhist practices ...

... but is better seen as the very center of all ... Zazen as the heart & foundation of the Bodhisattva Virtues.

Zazen is the spindle which makes the whole record spin, baby!
(for those old folks who remember 'records')

And if you think too that Zazen's just some narrow form of 'meditation' ... a little tool, bit of a mind trip, some one hit wonder ...

... change that tune!

Like that song says ...

You and I will be as free
As the birds up in the trees
... Dhyana


09-19-2019, 03:17 AM
Now we come to Wisdom (Prajna Paramita)

In Mahayana Buddhism, this means seeing into, piercing ... emptiness ...

being, allowing, witnessing and losing ourselves in ... the dance of emptiness ...


09-19-2019, 03:19 AM
We continue with our series on the Ten Pure Virtues or "Perfections" of a Bodhisattva ....

with Skillful Means (Upaya)

Historian and Soto Zen Priest Taigen Dan Leighton writes ...

Skillful Means, upaya in Sanskrit ... is an essential concept in Mahayana Buddhism. Skillful means, sometimes translated as tactfulness, expedients, or ingenuity, is the practice of applying awakening teaching to the diverse variety of students or practitioners. ...

The idea of skillful means became crucial to the adoption of Buddhist ideas into China, and thereafter in all of East Asia. Skillful means is fully expressed and elaborated in the Lotus Sutra, probably the most influential Buddhist text in East Asia. Several colorful parables depict aspects of skillful means. In the parable of the burning house, a man comes home to find his house in flames and his children playing inside. When he tells them to flee the house they refuse, as they would rather play with their toys. The father finally entices them from the house with descriptions of many colorful carriages waiting outside. They exit to find only one ox cart, symbolizing the One Vehicle of Buddha's Way that can carry everyone. The One Vehicle includes all the various skillful teachings for saving beings from the flames of worldly suffering. The sutra emphasizes that the father in the parable was not lying, as he lured the children from the burning house to save them. ...

The idea of many teachings and practices applied skillfully to the single aim of spiritual awakening is an appealing approach for a modern Western understanding of the sometimes confusing abundance of Buddhist schools. Moreover, skillful means might be a way of respecting the pluralism of all religious traditions in our contemporary global interconnectedness. All traditions may be equally respected for the value of their teachings as they apply to different peoples' particular approaches to ultimate religious truth, and to primary principles such as kindness and compassion. ...

The practice of skillful means reminds us to listen to others respectfully, honor their differences, and recognize that others may have different needs and benefit from different teachings and practices. Following the model of the bodhisattva of compassion, we must not self-righteously cling to any particular method. We can learn various useful approaches, and as we learn to trust and respond with whatever is at hand, our skillfulness can develop.

(from An Introduction to Skillful Means)


09-19-2019, 03:22 AM
In keeping with our 90-day Ango Practice Season, we look at the Bodhisattva Virtue of ....

Vow and Commitment (pranidhana)

The most fundamental Bodhisattva's vows are these four, which we chant daily ...

To save all sentient beings, though beings numberless

To transform all delusions, though delusions inexhaustible

To perceive Reality, though Reality is boundless

To attain the Enlightened Way, a Way non-attainable

Likewise, 'Ango' is a time of many other vows ... an expression of d
edication and intention sustaining effort, practice and beneficial activities toward our self and others (not two)


09-19-2019, 03:26 AM
We now come to the Bodhisattva Virtue of ....

Miraculous, Mystical Powers (bala)

Mahayana sutras and lore refer to a variety of supernatural powers developed through meditation and Buddhist practice, said of aid to the Bodhisattva ... such as the ability to foretell the future, to see the past lives of beings, to read minds, to radiate light and to cause rain ... others too ...

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Taigen Dan Leighton writes ...

Buddhist attitude toward such powers has often been ambivalent, particularly in the Zen tradition, which emphasizes attention to ordinary, everyday activity. This outlook was epitomized in the legendary utterance by the great eighth-century Chinese adept, Layman Pang, that the ultimate super- natural power was chopping wood and carrying water. The ordinary world, just as it is, can be appreciated as an amazing, wondrous event. And experiences that seem supernatural and miraculous may only appear so to the limited portions of our mental and spiritual faculties that we conventionally employ.


09-19-2019, 03:29 AM
More of the Bodhisattva Virtue of Miraculous, Mystical Powers (bala)

In the Tashin ts (Penetration of Other's Minds) portion of the Shbgenz, the subject is mental telepathy, one of the supernormal powers (abhij) regularly said in Buddhist literature to be accessible to great meditators. Here, Dgen takes up the famous story of a Zen master's test of the mind-reading powers of an Indian monk claiming such ability. Dogen expresses his doubts about such powers, while seeing the mind of self and the mind of others in a grander way ... :

"Tell me," said the [National Teacher, Master Dazheng Huizheng to the Indian Master], "where's this old monk right now?"
The [Indian] Master said, "Reverend Preceptor, you're the teacher to a nation; [so, why are you thinking to] go off to Xichuan to watch the boat races?"
The Teacher asked again, "Tell me, where's this old monk right now?"
The [Indian] Master said, "Reverend Preceptor, you're the teacher to a nation; how could you be on the T'ianjin bridge watching the playing monkeys?"
The Teacher asked a third time, "Tell me, where's this old monk right now?"
The [Indian] Master said nothing for a while, not knowing where the Teacher had gone.
The Teacher said, "This fox spirit! Where's his penetration of other minds?"

[Dogen comments]:

[T]he National Teacher's basic intention in testing the Master [from India by] saying, "Tell me, where's this old monk right now?" is to test whether the [Indian] Master is an eye to see the buddha dharma -- to test whether the [Indian] Master has the penetration of other minds in the buddha dharma. ... The National Teacher's saying, "Where's this old monk right now?" is like his asking, "What is this old monk?" [To say,] "Where's this old monk right now?" is to ask, "What time is right now?" [To ask,] "Where?" is to say, "Where is here?" There is a reason [to ask] what to call this old monk: a national teacher is not always an "old monk"; an "old monk" is always a "fist." ... Do not think that those types who seek to get the penetration of other minds can know the whereabouts of the National Teacher ... If it cannot know the way of the buddhas and ancestors, what good is [such ability]? It is useless to the way of the buddha ...In the buddha dharma, if we are going to say that there is the penetration of other minds, there should be the penetration of other bodies, the penetration of other fists, the penetration of other eyes. If this is so, there should also be the penetration of one's own mind, the penetration of one's own body. And once this is the case, one's own mind taking up itself is at once the penetration of one's own mind. To express such a statement is the penetration of other minds as one's own mind itself. Let me just ask, "Should we take up the penetration of other minds, or should we take up the penetration of one's own mind?
Speak up! Speak up!


09-19-2019, 03:32 AM
The Tenth of the Bodhisattva's Ten Virtues is .... Knowledge (Jāna) ...

In Saving All Sentient Beings ... Knowledge Goes a Long Way ...


09-19-2019, 03:35 AM
Today, though, let's talk about the Devil, Satan, Mara, Evil ...

Oh, I believe in the Devil! Bodhisattvas too.

(As a matter of fact, looks like the Devil got to my haircut!) [twisted]


09-19-2019, 03:37 AM
Today, the Bodhisattva Bossman ... we're looking at Shakyamuni ... the man who became "THE BUDDHA".

Now, most folks usually think of Shakyamuni as "THE BUDDHA" ... but before he was"THE BUDDHA" Shakyamuni was a young seeker, in search of the key to human suffering to benefit all sentient beings, not himself alone. That seeking, that "Vow to Save All Sentient Beings" is precisely what makes a Bodhisattva a "Bodhisattva".

There are legendary tales as well, the hundreds of "Jataka Tales" and others, of past lives of the Buddha ... past lives as man, woman, fish and animals too, in which he gave of himself time and again to benefit others ... often sacrificing his very life to save others. These tales, merely legend or not, show how Shakyamuni came to symbolize selfless, compassionate giving as a Bodhisattva.

But I would insist that, even after becoming "THE BUDDHA", Shakyamuni as "THE BODHISATTVA" still remained ... for Gautama Buddha did not remain sitting under that Bodhi Tree complacent in his own peace and discovery ... nor did he vanish immediately from this world ... but rose up to walk across India, teaching, serving and helping others for the next 40 years ... helping others even now.


09-19-2019, 03:40 AM

Each of the Bodhisattvas may be seen as an archetype for a vital aspect of Buddhist Practice ... Manjushri Bodhisattva for Wisdom. Taigen Dan Leighton writes in FACES OF COMPASSION ...

Manjushri is the bodhisattva of wisdom and insight, penetrating into the fundamental emptiness, universal sameness, and true nature of all things. Manjushri ... sees into the essence of each phenomenal event. This essential nature is that not a thing has any fixed existence separate in itself, independent from the whole world around it. The work of wisdom is to see through the illusory self-other dichotomy, our imagined estrangement from our world. Studying the self in this light, Manjushri's flashing awareness realizes the deeper, vast quality of self, liberated from all our commonly unquestioned, fabricated characteristics.

... Manjushri cuts through our conventional conceptions of and attachments to abiding, increase and decrease, ordinary and holy, nirvana and samsara, arising and ceasing, aspiring, and grasping. Experiencing personally and clearly the perfection of wisdom that Manjushri expounds is about seeing through, and being liberated from, all limited views about these common snares of consciousness. (Bodhisattva Archetypes, p. 93 & 116)


09-19-2019, 03:48 AM
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09-19-2019, 03:56 AM

Taigen Dan Leighton writes, in his wonderful book Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and their Modern Expression ...

One meaning of Avalokiteshvara's name is "Regarder of the World's Cries or Sounds," indicated in the Japanese name Kanzeon. A shortened form of this is Kannon (or the Chinese Guanyin), "Hearing or Regarding Sounds." Avalokiteshvara is the one who calmly hears and considers all of the world's sounds of woe. This name implies that empathy and active listening are primary practices of compassion. Just to be present, to remain upright and aware in the face of suffering without needing to react reflexively, is compassion. Kanzeon acknowledges beings and their cries, and responds when appropriate or when it would be useful ... Considering all the many manifestations encompassed by Avalokiteshvara, however, we might also remember to carefully regard our own cries, the suffering of all the beings included within us. We cannot offer compassion to others if we cannot be compassionate, accepting, and forgiving of ourselves. We can hear and acknowledge our own feelings of fear, frustration, and anger with calm uprightness, rather than needing to react externally and act them out inappropriately.

I feel this is a wonderful reminder that we should offer Compassion and Loving Kindness to this Sentient Being, you and me, even as we reach out to help all Sentient Beings and the world (we are sentient beings in this world too!).

Kannon is often depicted with 1000 arms and eyes, seeing and reaching out toward suffering wherever it manifests. Truly, those hands and eyes are our hands and eyes.


09-19-2019, 04:04 AM

Jizo Bodhisattva is a beloved figure in Japanese Buddhism, and statues of him can often be seen along roads to protect travelers, in temple grounds and cemeteries. He is a figure of Compassion, much as Kannon, who travels anywhere from heaven to hell to help those in need ... especially those who find themselves in a hell of their own making by Greed, Anger and Ignorance.

Jizo has become known over the centuries as a protector of children and women, including expectant mothers. Most of all, he is the protector of deceased children, including stillborn, miscarried or aborted infants. He is thought to protect them in the 'other world', nursing and soothing them, guiding them back for another chance to be born in this world when the time is right. For that reason, he is often seen by the hundreds in cemeteries dressed in children's clothes and a bib, surrounded by toys and dolls.


So many children suffering in the world.

In my heart, I hope that Jizo is with them somehow...


09-19-2019, 04:08 AM

MAITREYA is said to be the future Buddha, the successor to the historic Śākyamuni Buddha. It's said that his 'coming' which will happen in a few thousand (or perhaps millions) of years. In the meantime, he awaits his return, residing in Tuṣita Heaven. Yes, there are some elements to Maitreya rather like the 'Second Coming' of Jesus. Maitreya is taken by some as something like a Buddhist Messiah.

He is often seen seated in a pose somewhat reminiscent of Rodan's "THE THINKER", but with softer shape and expression, sometimes tranquil and sometimes crying, contemplating the suffering of sentient beings. In fact, Maitreya's name may be derived from the Sanskrit wordMaitri (Metta in Pali), 'loving-kindness'.

Sometimes he is seen in this form ...


... perhaps from after he let himself go. [scared] However, the origins of this popular "Laughing Buddha" are actually found a figure called Hotei from China, a jolly fat monk who happened to be a devotee of Maitreya, and whose image became mixed into the Maitreya legend over time. In any event, even if not really "Maitreya", the image is very popular in Chinese Buddhist temples ... and Chinese restaurants. One popular belief is that if one rubs his fat belly on the 1st day of the Lunar Year, it will bring forth wealth, good luck and prosperity.

(In my case, I typically think of the Laughing Buddha when I break my diet ... often at a Chinese restaurant.)

Maitreya was frequently taken as a cult symbol driving peasant rebellions and other mass movements for social change or revolution in China in centuries past.

In so many ways, Maitreya is simply a symbol of future hope and change.


09-19-2019, 04:15 AM

That's an image of the lay master Vimalakīrti in his sick bed where, amid his physical illness and infirmity (or the appearance thereof), he expounds the teachings of Emptiness to the Great Arhats and Bodhisattvas, giving each a run for their money in his powerful expression of Dharma.

And money is something that Vimalakīrti has loads of, though he uses it for good and to aid those in need. He does not hide from the world, but rather is described as practicing and realizing enlightenment right at home with wife and kids, and through his business ownership. He'd go anywhere to teach, from the government offices of the great ministers to schools to shops to bar rooms and brothels. While in the world "although he had a wife and children, yet he was chaste in action ... although he ate and drank like others, what he truly savored was the joy of meditation."

For obviously reason, the story of Vimalakīrti has been popular with those espousing the power of lay practice through the centuries.

Taigen Dan Leighton writes, in his wonderful book Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and their Modern Expression ...

Vimalakirti practiced as a layman amid the delusions of the world, without being ensnared by them. ... Vimalakirti in all his activities embodies the Mahayana view of being in the world but not of it [and in fact] a central point of the Vimalakirty Sutra is that the bodhisattva can onlyawaken in the context of intimate contact and involvement with the follies and passions of the world and its beings. ... Bodhisattvas can develop only through fully entering, before transcending, the turbulent seas of passions and delusions.

Vimalakirti even denies the necessity of "home leaving" or retreat to a monastery (a subject of some discussion these days) in order to truly "leave home" ...

Vimalakirti's critiques express his special commitment to lay practice as a bodhisattva model. Many of his comments and admonitions involve the tendency of the disciples to withdraw from engagement with the ordinary world. He criticizes priestly roles and religious trappings for masking inauthenticity of practice or interfering with the full development of spiritual potential of common people.

Home-office-factory-nursery-jail-or-city streets ...

... each our "monastery" when perceived as such.


Gassho, Jundo