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Thread: the bodhisattva ideal

  1. #1

    the bodhisattva ideal

    today i contemplated a bit about the path of the bodhisattva and i want to share my view on it, im curious about your views and understandings. i think its a good time before ango and the jukai time to contemplate a little bit


    The way of the bodhisattva is to strive to fulfill the ideal itself. That means to embody the following virtues, the paramita:
    Dana paramita, the virtue of “open handedness”:
    The dana paramita is embodying an openness, the unconditional love towards all beings. It means to give without expectation, without attachment. It’s the giving beyond the act of giving but with the innermost intention out of compassion and love. Its not only about giving material things but also giving your time, your being, your attention and share your presence with others.
    The sila paramita, the ethical way to live:
    When we are compassionate and loving, we can only act ethically. We cannot harm others in any way because how can you hurt someone through compassion, with love? We cannot speak bad about people, steal, engage in sexual misconduct and so on… what intention is behind such immoral behaviours? Its selfishness, greed, anger, aversion… the poisons of mind…
    Ksanti paramita, patience:
    We will encounter again and again situations, circumstances and conditions in live, that are not the conditoons we would wish, that maybe hurt, challenging us and so on… we cannot avoid it because we are human beings and bound to old age, sickness, death but also while living with others that have different views that do not fit with ours. Also, on the path we may face own ideas and our mind poisons… not to become entangled, not to react blindly to our karma but be patient, with compassion and understanding is the embodying of ksanti paramita
    Virya paramita, the virtue of effort:
    To walk the path with our whole heart, it takes a lot of effort sometimes… to follow the ethical ideals, to practice the dana ideal, trying being patient, keep zazen practice as daily practice, be mindful not to act to our habit patterns/karma and create more negative karma and so on, that takes much effort.
    Dhyana paramita, the parmita of meditation.
    Daily zazen practice, formal but also informal, make it our daily life, bring zazen into our daily life tasks and make it a part of our whole being..we embody buddha with our practice, we recognize our own true nature and practice awakening as a foundation of our life, of the live of a bodhisattva.
    And the perfection of wisdom, prajna paramita.
    In one hand, intellectual understanding of the dharma is a good thing but if we understand the dharma beyond our intellect, that’s highest wisdom. This way understanding anicca, anatman and dukkha, the impermanence, the interconnection/dependent origination and what dukkha is, the causes and the cessation of it… these understanding beyond intellect is
    As we can see, are those paramitas also congruent with the noble eightfold path, are some kind of result of it… we have the moral virtues, the insight/wisdom virtues and the meditation/samadhi virtues. To fulfill the perfection of the paramitas means to embody them, to make it part of our being, of our nature. So we follow the path wholeheartedly and come back every time we leave it. The moment we walk the path with our whole being, we already arrived. And yet, the ideal of the bodhisattva, is an ideal and so we take the vows that cannot be finally fulfilled…to free all beings, to put all the delusions to an end, to master all the dharmas and to embody the enlightened way. We need to fulfill the vow any moment…without an end.

    gassho,

    ben



    stlah

  2. #2
    Thank you, Ben. I feel that it is a lovely, lovely description and summary of the Bodhisattva Path.

    I feel that these are ideals to guide us as human beings. Our Bodhisattva Vow recites ...

    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
    This means that the Bodhisattva knows that, while we live in the complicated world of Samsara (this ordinary life and world), we can never fix everything, master everything, help everyone ... until we bring forth the Buddha's Teachings of leaping beyond Samsara somehow, even as we are up to our necks in Samsara. As well, as we are imperfect bodhisattvas (you and me, with a small "b", who vow to "save all sentient beings" in ways that even the Big "B" Bodhisattvas like Kannon cannot easily do), we must do our most to aim for the ideals in your essay, even if we may fall down again and again. Ideals are important to human beings because they give us direction and hope, even if we sometimes fall short. We just must choose to do our best with each moment, as you so beautifully say, "We need to fulfill the vow any moment…without an end."

    There is also a "holistic" relationship in our Zen Practice; Sitting Zazen helps us be more gentle, compassionate, less violent and angry while, in turn, living in ways which are gentle, compassionate, less violent and angry helps uncloud the mind and heart, thus facilitating Zazen.

    By the way, in my new book manuscript which I just finished ("ZEN of the FUTURE!") I say that future society, biologists, technology designers and the like might wish to code some of the Bodhisattva ideals into our DNA or the programming code of future AI to make a world that is a bit more lovely. I would like to live in a future world filled with beings (both human and electronic) who are more gentle, compassionate, not very violent and angry. (You will have to wait for the book to read more).

    In the meantime, a few years ago, we had a series of short talks on the Bodhisattva Virtues and the Big Bodhisattvas, if you are interested ...

    Bodhisattva-Basics: Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? (A Sit-a-Long Series)
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...Long-Series%29

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-19-2019 at 04:24 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Member Anna's Avatar
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    May 2019
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    Rural Queensland, Australia
    Obviously I am at the beginning of my Zen Buddhist journey but having been vegan for the past 15 years, an anarchist fighting metaphorically and literally in work places and the streets for many more, and also having been sober for a whole bunch of years too I'd perhaps naively suggest that the Bodhisattva path begins and ends with not being an self centred arsehole and be prepared for this road to involve a great many costs. When i say costs i mean costs in terms of employment, career, financial stability, educational opportunities, threats against your life, threats against your loved one's lives and finally and perhaps the greatest cost is a cost to your physical health and mental wellness.
    Perhaps I'm in a mood or perhaps not.
    Gassho
    Anna
    ST/LAH

    Next day: Apologies for tone. I need to work on speaking gently. The content, an extremely miniscule insight into my lived experience as an adult (we'll leave the childhood stuff at the door lol) stands though.
    Last edited by Anna; 08-20-2019 at 07:20 PM. Reason: Added apology
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
    No Gods No Masters.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Thank you, Ben. I feel that it is a lovely, lovely description and summary of the Bodhisattva Path.

    I feel that these are ideals to guide us as human beings. Our Bodhisattva Vow recites ...



    This means that the Bodhisattva knows that, while we live in the complicated world of Samsara (this ordinary life and world), we can never fix everything, master everything, help everyone ... until we bring forth the Buddha's Teachings of leaping beyond Samsara somehow, even as we are up to our necks in Samsara. As well, as we are imperfect bodhisattvas (you and me, with a small "b", who vow to "save all sentient beings" in ways that even the Big "B" Bodhisattvas like Kannon cannot easily do), we must do our mast to aim for the ideals in your essay, even if we may fall down again and again. Ideals are important to human beings because they give us direction and hope, even if we sometimes fall short. We just must choose to do our best with each moment, as you so beautifully say, "We need to fulfill the vow any moment…without an end."

    There is also a "holistic" relationship in our Zen Practice; Sitting Zazen helps us be more gentle, compassionate, less violent and angry while, in turn, living in ways which are gentle, compassionate, less violent and angry helps uncloud the mind and heart, thus facilitating Zazen.

    By the way, in my new book manuscript which I just finished ("ZEN of the FUTURE!") I say that future society, biologists, technology designers and the like might wish to code some of the Bodhisattva ideals into our DNA or the programming code of future AI to make a world that is a bit more lovely. I would like to live in a future world filled with beings (both human and electronic) who are more gentle, compassionate, not very violent and angry. (You will have to wait for the book to read more).

    In the meantime, a few years ago, we had a series of short talks on the Bodhisattva Virtues and the Big Bodhisattvas, if you are interested ...

    Bodhisattva-Basics: Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva? (A Sit-a-Long Series)
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...Long-Series%29

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Wonderful expressed, thank you jundo!!!

    And I just watched the first parts of the bodhisattva series you posted, they are great.

    I'm really looking forward to the ango



    Gassho and deep bows

    Ben


    Stlah

    Enviado desde mi PLK-L01 mediante Tapatalk
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-19-2019 at 04:24 AM.

  5. #5
    Beautiful, Ben. I guess the the path is like our zazen: when we are distracted by thoughts we come back to the moment and when we stray from the path we come back to being loving, compassionate, patient...

    Gassho,

    Neil

    StLah

  6. #6
    Thank you for this nice reflection. It makes me want to explore further.

    Naive and basic question: what does it mean in practice to “save all beings”? Like with respect to all three terms: what is “save”, how does it apply to “all”, and what classifies as a “being”?

    Gassho
    Kevin
    ST


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  7. #7
    This is lovely. Thank you Ben and Jundo for sharing this teaching

    gassho, Shokai
    stlah
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    May we all grow together in our knowledge of the Dharma

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin M View Post
    Thank you for this nice reflection. It makes me want to explore further.

    Naive and basic question: what does it mean in practice to “save all beings”? Like with respect to all three terms: what is “save”, how does it apply to “all”, and what classifies as a “being”?

    Gassho
    Kevin
    ST


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I think, when we encounter when boundaries between I and you, in and out drop, there are no beings left, no subject no object, we experience the saving of all sentient beings..neither liberation nor dependence/bondage.
    It's like when buddha sakyamuni was awaken, the whole world was awake.. Yet, we give all our compassion and love into the world of duality, of appearances and try to save every being within it's conditions.. try to help others... But I'm very curious what jundo and other say about this

    Gassho
    Ben

    Stlah


    Enviado desde mi PLK-L01 mediante Tapatalk

  9. #9
    Thank you Hishiryo and Jundo . I'm only a beginner, so as far as I understand I think it signifies that, like you said, when the Buddha attained realization the entire world awakened too. To realize that we are all part of the soup as Jundo tells us, and to realize that it is our mind telling us that beings and objects exist independently rather than interdependently throughout the universe, is the starting point to save all sentient beings, because at that point a person caught a glimpse of the universal self or universal reality. Please correct me if I'm on the wrong track.

    Gassho,
    Jack
    Sattoday/lah
    Last edited by Kakedashi; 08-20-2019 at 08:54 PM.

  10. #10
    Ben and Jack express it so nicely, poetically. Yes.

    A facet of this wise-crazy Way is to realize, and allow other sentient beings to realize, that there have never been (ultimately) any sentient beings from the start, and thus (in the Wholeness which is "Emptiness") no conflict or lack from the start in need of repairing and rescuing! Allowing sentient being to experience so in this world of separate beings who conflict and lack is how we rescue-non-rescue these beings-non-beings. (My way of putting things is far less poetic).

    However, so long as they/we are alive ("birth and death", by the way, are also ultimately only one way to view things), the sentient beings still need to live in this complicated, sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly world, so another way to rescue sentient beings is to help them master how to live in the interplay of these two ways of viewing ... lack and no lack, fear and nothing originally to fear, conflicts and no individuals to conflict, death but no death etc. It's tricky!

    Finally, in modern times, many Buddhists have become a bit more focused on "rescuing sentient beings" by material actions in this world, e.g., feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, etc. It was not that Buddhists would not have liked to do such in the past (and there were many ancient Buddhists who did good charitable work like that in the past), but it was much harder in the medieval, agricultural, traditional, class bound kingdoms and empires of old Asia. So, a lot of Buddhists took the attitude that this world was just hopeless, best to "get out of Dodge," either by escaping rebirth completely or just building a wall and shutting the monastery gates. Now, today, in modern societies, "engaged" Buddhist efforts to make an impact on the problems of society such as hunger, war and poverty are possible for the first time, so many Buddhists (Treeleaf folks among them) are more socially involved.

    Many ways to rescue even if ... ultimately ... nobody in need of rescue. Even if there are no hungry mouths to feed "ultimately" ... there are hungry mouths to feed in this world, so let's feed them!

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-20-2019 at 10:29 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Thanks Ben, Jack, Jundo.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Many ways to rescue even if ... ultimately ... nobody in need of rescue. Even if there are no hungry mouths to feed "ultimately" ... there are hungry mouths to feed in this world, so let's feed them!


    Gassho,
    Kevin
    S@2Day LaH

  12. #12
    Hello all, I am finding this topic of interest and benefit. The only thing I would like to add is that I notice when the topics of Bodhisattva Ideal or the Precepts come up, it can often take on a dour note. I am not sure why this is. Perhaps we look at the requirements and think to ourselves how far we need to go, or how far we are removed from those ideals. Perhaps we see these practices as difficult tasks or sacrifices of things we must give up. I would like to offer a word of encouragement. When we stray form these practices, when we find ourselves not holding up the precepts, do we not then suffer,or cause others to do so? If you are really paying attention I think you will find that this path is one of deep, wholesome joy. Much like a child who is learning that hot water burns, we begin to realize through the pain and suffering we are causing ourselves and others, that certain paths bring pain and other's bring happiness. I am not talking here about the kind of happiness that comes from eating dessert. In adapting ourselves to this practice and path, we may loose what we thought was ourself, to something that was there all along. This I think is to be celebrated.

    Gassho
    Ishin

    Sat Today/Lah
    Grateful for your practice

  13. #13
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Gratitude for the wisdom in this thread and to Ben for starting it!

    Saving sentient beings is tricky and multifaceted indeed. I am not poetic in my descriptions either, but I have wrestled with this often and here are my thoughts. Sometimes saving beings manifests as engagement with those who are lacking basic rights and needs... sometimes it manifests in showing others how to find joy or peace in what they already have... sometimes it manifests as recognizing our own skin bag as sick or tired and in need of TLC... sometimes it is just awakening to how we are never seperate from any of it for even a moment, as stated above. The nurse and the sick, the teacher and the student, all the same.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Ishin View Post
    Hello all, I am finding this topic of interest and benefit. The only thing I would like to add is that I notice when the topics of Bodhisattva Ideal or the Precepts come up, it can often take on a dour note. I am not sure why this is. Perhaps we look at the requirements and think to ourselves how far we need to go, or how far we are removed from those ideals. Perhaps we see these practices as difficult tasks or sacrifices of things we must give up. I would like to offer a word of encouragement. When we stray form these practices, when we find ourselves not holding up the precepts, do we not then suffer,or cause others to do so? If you are really paying attention I think you will find that this path is one of deep, wholesome joy. Much like a child who is learning that hot water burns, we begin to realize through the pain and suffering we are causing ourselves and others, that certain paths bring pain and other's bring happiness. I am not talking here about the kind of happiness that comes from eating dessert. In adapting ourselves to this practice and path, we may loose what we thought was ourself, to something that was there all along. This I think is to be celebrated.

    Gassho
    Ishin

    Sat Today/Lah
    When it comes to following the Precepts it is always to the best of my abilities. I am no saint. I am a limited and flawed individual with my own habits and baggage to overcome. I try my best to follow the Precepts but if I mess up then I pick myself up and keep trying (probably throwing in a little Verse of Atonement for good measure). The Precepts are a great set of guide lines for living a gentle life and committing to them has been beneficial to myself and hopefully to others as well.

    Looking forward to up coming discussions here on the Precepts as part of this year’s Jukai. I fully intend on renewing my vows along with all the participants.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    Last edited by Tairin; 08-23-2019 at 02:26 PM.
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  16. #16
    Hi all

    Thank you all for sharing, all of your teachings and experiences makes the path well-trodden and clear for others to follow, and some very beautifully crafted words

    For my part, I like to think of the paramitas as inherent human qualities, much as the Dalai Lama speaks of humanity's "inherent goodness" and, as such, the world comes forth to give life to the paramitas in me, rather than I go into the world to practice the paramitas. Wind is all around us, but sometimes we must fan it to feel it right? So sometimes it does feel as if I go into the world to practice, but am I the fan, the wind, or the fanned wind?

    For me also, there is great beauty in the path, in the forms of expression everywhere around us where we can "tag" what we perceive as a particular paramita. But I find they are like ghosts, as soon as I lift my camera to take a picture the ghost vanishes, so I try instead to sit with joy, in celebration of some others happiness, whether it exists as a consequence of an action or word of mine or not, and continue to vow to save all sentient beings, silently knowing that it is all beings that are saving me.

    Deep bows, sattoday

    Tokan

  17. #17
    hi everyone,

    to have a wish to literally become an all compassionate Bodhisattva is the beginning of the Bodhisattva Path. Knowing that you are, no matter how it looks like, is to be one .

    I know you all are.
    sattoday and also LAH

  18. #18
    Thank you all for sharing your thoughts.

    I wonder who it is who fulfils the vows?

    Shall we not ask also if the vows fulfil us?

    This dance...

    Gassho

    Mark

    Sat

  19. #19
    Hi pinecone,
    I think, as long there's a gap between you and the vow, it's not the full embodiment, it's real paramita when there's just the virtue left, like, in shikantaza, there's neither the sitting fulfilling you nor you fulfill the sitting but just sitting, one with everything, beyond discrimination.

    Gassho

    Ben


    Stlah

    Gesendet von meinem PLK-L01 mit Tapatalk

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by hishiryo View Post
    Hi pinecone,
    I think, as long there's a gap between you and the vow, it's not the full embodiment, it's real paramita when there's just the virtue left, like, in shikantaza, there's neither the sitting fulfilling you nor you fulfill the sitting but just sitting, one with everything, beyond discrimination.

    Gassho

    Ben


    Stlah

    Gesendet von meinem PLK-L01 mit Tapatalk
    Yeah, yeah ... but then when there is a guy with a gun pointed at my kid, my wife or me ...

    ... let's discuss the fine points later.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Yeah, yeah ... but then when there is a guy with a gun pointed at my kid, my wife or me ...

    ... let's discuss the fine points later.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Probably I will not be able to maintain any equanimity in that case.
    But, yeah I'm looking forward to discuss further then.

    Gassho,
    Ben


    Stlah

    Gesendet von meinem PLK-L01 mit Tapatalk

  22. #22
    This was beautifully written. A nice reminder of the Bodhisattva today on this lovely Sunday. It's great to have the ideal to work towards on being more compassionate, loving and patient beings. But it's an ideal we may never achieve in this life because we are human, and we will make mistakes. Within those mistakes is where we find empathy for others who are on the path working towards being more loving beings.

    Gassho,
    Ekai
    SATtoday

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