(bodhi = enlightenment + sattva = being) is a Sanskrit
word which can be interpreted in two ways:
Enlightener of Sentient Beings. The Bodhisattva takes the enlightenment
that he has been certified as having attained, the wisdom that he has
uncovered, and uses that enlightened wisdom to enlighten all other
Enlightened Sentient Being. The Bodhisattva is also a sentient being,
but he is one who has become enlightened.
these two meanings show that a Bodhisattva is an enlightened sentient
being who enlightens other beings." (HD 13)
you should know that what a Bodhisattva does is most difficult. It is
difficult for him to appear (in the world) and difficult for one to
encounter him. To be able to see a Bodhisattva is twice as difficult. A
Bodhisattva is one on whom all living beings rely. He causes them to
grow and brings them to realization. He is the savior of all living
beings, because he plucks them out of suffering and hardships. He is the
refuge of all beings, because he protects and guards the world. He is
the rescuer of all beings, because he delivers them from fear. (EDR II
Bodhisattva is someone who has resolved to become a Buddha (see Bodhi
resolve) and who is cultivating the Path to becoming a Buddha.
Usually the term Bodhisattva is reserved for those who have reached some
level of enlightenment. The term Bodhisattva, Mahasattva (great being),
refers to Bodhisattvas who have gone beyond the seventh ground of the
Bodhisattva Path (see Ten Grounds).
Bodhisattva . . . is also called 'a living being with a great mind
attuned to the Way.' No matter how badly people may act towards him, he
doesn't hold it against them. He absolutely never becomes irritated,
never loses his temper. . . ." (SS I 107)
is an extremely spiritual and holy name. . . . Some people claim they
are Bodhisattvas, although they are not. Some people who are
Bodhisattvas will not admit it. You see, it is very strange: those who
are not Bodhisattvas say they are, while those who are don't say so.
Ultimately, whether you say so or not, those who aren't, aren't, and
those who are, are. There is no need to say so. Bodhisattvas don't put
ads in the newspapers saying, 'Do you recognize me? I am a
Bodhisattva.'" (HS 96)
the Bodhisattva walks the Bodhisattva Path, he does what is very
difficult. From an ordinary point of view, a Bodhisattva practicing the
Bodhisattva Path appears quite stupid. If he were not, then why would he
choose to undergo suffering himself in order to come and teach and
transform living beings? But no matter what kind of suffering there is,
he can endure it. He undergoes intense suffering even to the point of
enduring the suffering due other living beings. If the Bodhisattva
weren't stupid, then why would he take such a big personal loss? He
doesn't benefit himself in anything he does. But that isn't because he
is stupid. A Bodhisattva has great wisdom. Because he has great wisdom,
he wants to take across all living beings and cause all of them to have
wisdom too. He wants to forsake himself for the sake of the multitudes.
He forsakes his own small self in order to bring living beings' great
selves to realization. When you walk the Path of the Bodhisattva you
benefit yourself and you benefit others. In doing this you shouldn't
fear any kind of suffering. The Bodhisattva undergoes suffering just as
if he were eating candy. He undergoes suffering as if there were no
suffering to undergo. Furthermore, he wants to undergo suffering for the
sake of all living beings. That is the one kind of suffering that's
worthwhile. Moreover, the Bodhisattva thinks that:
endure suffering is to end suffering.
To enjoy blessings is to exhaust blessings.
he thinks in that way, he undergoes suffering on behalf of living
beings. He transfers all of his bliss to all living beings in the Dharma
Realm (see transference/dedication). The merit from this kind of
open and unselfish action is inexhaustible. It is completely public
spirited, and it is for the benefit of all living beings." (FAS Ch9
Bodhisattva is someone who likes to help other people. If you help
others, then you are a Bodhisattva. If I help others, then I am a
Bodhisattva. If you do not help others, then you are a raksasa
ghost. If I do not help others, then I am a raksasa ghost. . . .
I have no power to help others,' you say. 'First of all I have no money,
and secondly I don't know how to talk to people. How can I help people?'
. Have a compassionate mouth, not one which scolds people. Have a
skilful tongue that finds ways to reason with people, not a tongue which
continually gossips. Find a way to lessen the strife and discord in the
world. Then, whether or not you have money, you can foster merit. If you
have money, you can use that too, but what is more important is to have
good thoughts, do good deeds, and be a good person. . . ." (DS 5-6)
of the Bodhisattva consists of practicing the Six (or ten) Paramitas and
traversing the many stages of partial enlightenment leading to the
perfect enlightenment of Buddhahood.
Venerable Shariputra Tries to Cultivate the Path of the Bodhisattva
Venerable Shariputra, upon hearing the Buddha say that cultivating the
Bodhisattva Way was the door of the Great Vehicle practice, decided that
he too would cultivate the Bodhisattva Way. When you are cultivating the
Bodhisattva Path, if someone wants your head, you have to give them your
head. If they want your hands, you have to give them your hands. If they
want your feet, you have to give your feet away. In general, if living
beings want your body, you are supposed to give it to them: head, eyes,
brains, marrow-that's inner wealth. If someone needs those things of
yours, and you're cultivating the Bodhisattva Path, you have to give
personally told the Buddha that he was going to cultivate the
Bodhisattva Way, to cultivate Great Vehicle Dharma. The Buddha said,
'You'd better try it out first. It is not all that easy. Give it a
preliminary three-month trial run. Then if you find you really can do
it, you can set about cultivation of the Bodhisattva Way in earnest. In
cultivating the Bodhisattva Way, you must have an attitude of there
being no self, no others, no living beings, and no lifespan. You have to
be able to stomach the most bitter things, and yield the most pleasant
ones to others. You must sacrifice yourself for the sake of others.'
said, 'I think I can do that. I imagine I could give my body away to
someone if that person asked for it.'
Buddha said, 'Okay, go try it out.'
Shariputra set out to cultivate the Bodhisattva Way. As he was walking
the Bodhisattva Path, he saw a stone in the road and said to himself, 'I
should move this rock away or else people with poor eyesight walking
along this road could break a leg or have a spill and be injured.' And
so he moved the rock away and thought to himself, 'I'm cultivating the
Bodhisattva Way.' He kept on going and ran into a hole full of water. He
said, 'I'd better fill this hole. It would be easy to walk here if there
weren't any water. Filling the hole would prevent situations such as
that when Shakyamuni Buddha in a previous life had to spread out his
hair to cover a mud puddle.' And so he found a pail and brought load
after load of dirt until he had filled the hole so there was no more
water. Then he said to himself, 'These are both ways of benefitting
people. The road wasn't easy to travel on but I've repaired it, and that
is cultivating the Bodhisattva Way.' He was very happy that he had
cultivated the Bodhisattva Way twice that day. When he went back and sat
in meditation that evening, he felt very comfortable and said, 'It's not
strange that people cultivate the Bodhisattva Way. It's really fine.
Today I have fewer false thoughts during my meditation. I'm certainly
going to continue to cultivate the Bodhisattva Way.'
next day he set out for the mountains, where he found lots of dead
trees. He said, "I'm going to clear those dead trees off to one
side, which will also be cultivation of the Bodhisattva Way.' Then he
met an eyeless person who was walking down the road without a guide. He
thought, "I should cultivate the Bodhisattva Way and escort this
blind person to his home.' And so he said, 'Mr Blindman, where do you
want to go?'
eyeless person said, 'You are the blindman!'
thought, 'What? He's the blindman, and he gets upset when I call him
"Mr Blindman". Oh well, when one cultivates the Bodhisattva
Way, one has to be patient.' And so he said, 'Oh, you are Mr Has Eyes.'
that the blindman retorted, 'What's it to you if I have eyes or not?' He
was exploding with anger as he scolded him.
said, 'I just want to help you. I'll guide you wherever you want to go.'
blind man said, 'I don't need any help from you,' and told him off.
said to himself, 'The Bodhisattva Way is not easy to cultivate! I wanted
to show him the road and he cursed me. But be patient, practice the paramita
of patience and don't pay any attention to him. However, I think I'll
take the Bodhisattva Way back with me for the day and let it rest a
little. Tomorrow we'll see.'
returned, and as he sat in meditation that evening he kept having false
thoughts about what had happened. 'He was blind and when I wanted to
guide him along the road he cursed me! People in the world are really
weird.' But he still didn't think of quitting, and hadn't decided it was
too hard to cultivate the Bodhisattva Way. He still thought to himself,
'If he scolds me a bit it's not important. I can take it. I wouldn't
have even cared if he had hit me.!'
next day he set out again to cultivate the Bodhisattva Way. On the
Bodhisattva Way he encountered a person who was walking along and
crying, sobbing his heart out. Shariputra asked him, 'What's wrong?
Whatever trouble you are in you can tell me about it. You don't have to
be so sad and in so much pain.'
crying person said, 'You shouldn't even ask about my troubles! There's
nothing you could do to help me.'
said, 'Maybe there's something I can do for you. Give it a try and tell
man said, `It wouldn't do any good to tell you. Don't waste my time.
I've got too much pain in my heart, so all I can do is cry.'
said, 'I'm sure I can help you. Tell me what's wrong, and I'll find a
way to help.'
man said,'Do you really mean it? It's because my mother is sick. She
went to see the doctor, who wrote her a prescription that says she needs
the eye of a living person to cure her. I've gone the rounds of all the
pharmacies trying to buy a live person's eye, but there are none for
sale. That kind of medicine doesn't exist, so there's no way to cure my
mother's illness, and all I can do is cry. At first I intended to take
out my own eye to cure her, but I can't give it up. It's too painful.
And so now there's nothing I can do but cry!'
thought it over, 'I really should help him out of this painful dilemma.
This is a Bodhisattva Way I should cultivate! Also, he is very filial.
I've found a friend in my cultivation of the Bodhisattva Way. This is
excellent! I should practice this Bodhisattva Way!' He thought it over
for not very long-maybe two minutes-and made up his mind, 'I'm going to
do it!' Then he said, 'Don't cry. I'll give you my eye to help you out.'
man said, 'Really? Of course that would be wonderful! Can you really
give up your eye to cure my mother's illness?'
said, 'It's no big deal. I can give it up. I'm someone who wants to
cultivate the Bodhisattva Way.'
person said, 'Fine. I'm going to bow to you first, bow to this
Bodhisattva who wants to cultivate the Bodhisattva Way.'
the person bowed to him, Shariputra couldn't get out of giving up his
eye, and so he took a knife and gouged out his left eye. He was able to
stand the pain and said, 'Okay, you can take this to cure your mother's
person took it, looked at it and said, 'Ugh, your eye stinks! And anyway
its a left eye, and I need a right eye. It's totally useless!' He
slammed the eye to the ground and stamped it into the dirt with his
foot, smashing it to bits.
that, Shariputra's heart was filled with pain. Before he had been able
to bear the hurt from his eye, but now there was hurt from his eye and
from his heart too, and he said, 'It's no wonder the Buddha said to give
cultivating the Bodhisattva Way a trial run. It' really hard to
cultivate the Bodhisattva Way! It's really hard!!!' He was in pain and
regretted it; he didn't want to cultivate the Bodhisattva Way anymore.
crying person started to laugh and said, 'Oh, so that's how your
Bodhisattva Way was all along. It was just a start without a finish. You
could only manage to get started, but you couldn't keep it up. What kind
of Bodhisattva Way were you cultivating anyway?' After saying that, he
rose into empty space; it turned out that he was a god who had come to
test him. Furthermore, Shariputra hadn't lost his eye after all, but his
Bodhisattva Way was finished." (FAS-PI 51-54)