Author Topic: Are all sentient beings helping the bodhisattvas?  (Read 12502 times)

hope rainbow

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Are all sentient beings helping the bodhisattvas?
« on: April 07, 2012, 03:23:34 AM »
What is it?

a. Do the holders of the bodhicitta vows help all sentient beings to get closer to their definitive cessation of suffering?

b. Or is it that the sentient beings help the holders of the bodhicitta vows to achieve their definitive cessation of suffering?

In other words: can a holder of the bodhicitta vows practice in a universe in which there is no more sentient beings? Can enlightenment be achieved if I live in a world in which there is no more sentient beings?

negra orquida

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Re: Are all sentient beings helping the bodhisattvas?
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2012, 12:46:09 PM »
Wow.. this question is quite confusing....

Quote
can a holder of the bodhicitta vows practice in a universe in which there is no more sentient beings? Can enlightenment be achieved if I live in a world in which there is no more sentient beings?

If there are no sentient beings, then who is the "holder of the bodhicitta vows"? and who is  "I"? What is a "world without sentient beings"?

I imagine that having lots of different kinds of sentient beings would be a very conducive place for a boddhisatva vow holder to practice and work their compassion, its like how people who want to be the best doctors would want to go to India to study and practice medicine.  Until the boddhisatva holder attains enlightenment, he/she would need to have sentient beings to refine their practice.  And the reason why the boddhisatva holder wants to practice to become a boddhisatva is because he/she wants to have the skills to take these beings out of samsara.

hope rainbow

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Re: Are all sentient beings helping the bodhisattvas?
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2012, 01:42:25 PM »
I imagine that having lots of different kinds of sentient beings would be a very conducive place for a boddhisatva vow holder to practice and work their compassion, its like how people who want to be the best doctors would want to go to India to study and practice medicine. 

This reminds me that many Masters do make prayers to take rebirth in places where the Dharma practice is very marginal, or non-existent, or put down. Like if this was like the best place to be for beings that wish to practice the path with quick results.

Until the boddhisatva holder attains enlightenment, he/she would need to have sentient beings to refine their practice. 

I only mention a "universe in which there is no more sentient beings" as a matter of thought.
I think that a true holder of the bodhicitta vows does not help sentient beings like someone would throw a coin in a beggar's cup thinking he is helping the beggar.
No, I think that when a true holder of the bodhicitta vows helps other (and that is: all the time), it is with a great sense of gratitude towards the beings that give him the opportunity to engage in the practices of patience, generosity and effort, and not with a sense of superiority (and the sense of superiority with pride).
So, who's helping who?
There is no mistake in the lamrim, the first essential step to engage in the path of a bodhisattva (after renunciation) is the equalize one self with others. Without that, the path will fail.

And the reason why the boddhisatva holder wants to practice to become a boddhisatva is because he/she wants to have the skills to take these beings out of samsara.

Hehehe... indeed....
So again, who's helping who?
Help goes both ways.
Gratitude goes both way.

Manjushri

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Re: Are all sentient beings helping the bodhisattvas?
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2012, 09:29:39 AM »
In a world without sentient beings, is it possible to achieve enlightenment?.. Good question. Will it be your karma to be born in a place where you cannot create any positive karma or merits to bring you to enlightenment? But then again, enlightenment comes from within, from realisations and attainments, and the imprints and positive potential you have built from your previous lives to take you closer to enlightenment. So on this aspect, even if you were meditating alone, deep in the forest, you would be able to gain enlightenment right?

Anyways, I guess the real question should be: Even as holders of boddhicitta vows with sentient beings around us now, are we practising enough and gaining enough merits to bring us towards enlightenment? If you have sufficient merits to gain attainments and realisations, then gaining enlightenment would be possible regardless of your situation wouldn't it?

kurava

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Re: Are all sentient beings helping the bodhisattvas?
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2012, 11:34:04 AM »
In a world without sentient beings, is it possible to achieve enlightenment?.. Good question. Will it be your karma to be born in a place where you cannot create any positive karma or merits to bring you to enlightenment? But then again, enlightenment comes from within, from realisations and attainments, and the imprints and positive potential you have built from your previous lives to take you closer to enlightenment. So on this aspect, even if you were meditating alone, deep in the forest, you would be able to gain enlightenment right?

Yes, enlightenment comes from within but how do you know you have attained equanimity if there is no one around to test if you are free from attachment and aversion?

To whom can you practice loving kindness in a world of total solitude ?

With whom can you practice patience ?

Who can you give to for the practice of generosity?

How to perfect moral discipline with not a single other soul in the universe?

In fact, it is through the realization that their spiritual training is dependent on others Bodhisattvas develop loving kindness and other virtuous qualities for other sentient beings. We are all inter connected and inter dependent, no one can practice as an island in the world. That is why great masters always pray to take rebirth in the most challenging conditions to develop the 6 perfections as quick as possible.


Aurore

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Re: Are all sentient beings helping the bodhisattvas?
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2012, 04:14:04 PM »
I had this same thought when I come across difficult people. Sometimes I think to myself, if there is no such difficult people, I cannot practice compassion with. If there is nobody in trouble, no one who requires help, I would not be able to collect merits. I don't hold any bodhicitta vows but with this in mind, I understood your question as a matter of interdependency. So the answer is A and B. a. The holders of the bodhicitta vows and sentient beings are dependent on each other to achieve and realise the cessation of sufferings.

In Yonten Shigyurma, The Foundation of All Realisations, it says:-

With mindfulness, introspection, and great care ?induced by that pure aspiration?, bless me to make my essential practice ?the Pratimoksha, root of Buddha’s teachings.

Just as I’ve fallen in this sea of suffering? so have all beings, my kind mothers;? seeing this, bless me to train in Bodhicitta, ?taking up the burden of liberating them.

And yet, just wishing this, without practicing ?the three ethics, Enlightenment cannot be attained.? Knowing this well, please bless me to intensively ?strive to train in the Bodhisattva vows.


From this I gather that practicing and holding Bodhisattva vows can bring one to Enlightenment.

"From now until samsara is emptied, I shall work for the benefit and well-being of my mothers, all sentient beings,"

Now this is something I have been pondering. Can samsara be emptied? What do you think?

jeremyg

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Re: Are all sentient beings helping the bodhisattvas?
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2012, 05:33:13 PM »
In some religions, or zen buddhism, it is said to be possible to achieve enlightenment, as an individual through non-attatchment. Thus we would not need to help others in order to achieve enlightenment. Having said that I am sure that helping others, is the fastest avenue. But i think that it is possible to gain enlightenment through non-attatchment, and meditation. Please correct me if i'm wrong.

And in response to aurora's post, I am also interested to know if samsara can be emptied. Or if more beings will exist and it will never end. Of course we are talking about an infinite amount of years, but what if one day everyone achieved enlightenment, then what would happen?

Q

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Re: Are all sentient beings helping the bodhisattvas?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2012, 06:37:58 PM »
What is it?

a. Do the holders of the bodhicitta vows help all sentient beings to get closer to their definitive cessation of suffering?

b. Or is it that the sentient beings help the holders of the bodhicitta vows to achieve their definitive cessation of suffering?

In other words: can a holder of the bodhicitta vows practice in a universe in which there is no more sentient beings? Can enlightenment be achieved if I live in a world in which there is no more sentient beings?

Nice thoughts!

I believe everything is interdependent. If we look at things in another way, technically the reason why we're involved in Dharma is because we know Dharma can bring peace and happiness in our lives. I have always thought that the reason why I want to practice the Dharma is because I see much suffering in many people's lives. I'm not saying I'm a Bodhisattva of course! But it is very difficult to notice our own suffering compared to the sufferings/difficulties of people around us, especially when we think that we are not in bad shape. So initially we start because we want happiness... then as we grow spiritually, we practice so that we can bring happiness to others...

Back to the question... As far as I understand things... I think even with the absence of sentient beings (hypothetically, as I don't know if there will be a point in time where there is none) we can still practice Dharma, only in a different way/approach.

I do not think we will be able to live in a world where there are no sentient beings, because if there are none, then we shouldn't be born/ be in existence there either.

pgdharma

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Re: Are all sentient beings helping the bodhisattvas?
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2012, 01:23:33 PM »
If no sentient being exist in the universe, it will not be quiet difficult for the holder of the bodhicitta vows to practice and achieved enlightenment.  How to practice loving kindness, generosity and patience when there is not a single being around? Who is to judge whether enlightenment is achieved? If there are no being in existence then this holder of the bodhicitta vows will be the last being that exist and will be trapped in samsara as there will be no one to guide him or for him to practice his bodhicitta vows.

thor

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Re: Are all sentient beings helping the bodhisattvas?
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2012, 06:11:52 PM »
In some religions, or zen buddhism, it is said to be possible to achieve enlightenment, as an individual through non-attatchment. Thus we would not need to help others in order to achieve enlightenment. Having said that I am sure that helping others, is the fastest avenue. But i think that it is possible to gain enlightenment through non-attatchment, and meditation. Please correct me if i'm wrong.

And in response to aurora's post, I am also interested to know if samsara can be emptied. Or if more beings will exist and it will never end. Of course we are talking about an infinite amount of years, but what if one day everyone achieved enlightenment, then what would happen?

Jeremy, my kind and holy Lama has on several occasions answered questions similar to yours. The fact is, with questions such as where did sentient beings come from in the beginning, and what happens when all sentient beings become enlightened, are not relevant to us. The timeframe that we are talking about is so far in the past and so far in the future as to be unimaginable. Furthermore, my Lama who is none other than Vajrayogini also explained that even if he did explain the beginnings and endings to us, we would not be able to comprehend. He also explained that such questions are not relevant to our practice. Even if we understood how things will be, it does not help us. Therefore we are better off concentrating on our studies and practices as there are countless sentient beings in countless worlds so we should focus on attaining the state of buddhahood to help these beings.

I hope this answer helps.

ratanasutra

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Re: Are all sentient beings helping the bodhisattvas?
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2012, 06:20:18 PM »
Everything is interconnected so i think that if there is no more sentient beings how the holders of the bodhicitta vows can practice it. How can practice generosity etc..

So both are support and help each other, sentient beings learn virtue actions from the holder of the bodhicitta vows and in return the vow holders practice with sentient beigns.

Therefore in Buddha time, Manjushri emanated as one of Buddha student so that from his questions, interactions with the Buddha and many people can get to learn and get benefit from that. 

lotus1

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Re: Are all sentient beings helping the bodhisattvas?
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2012, 06:31:03 PM »
What is it?

a. Do the holders of the bodhicitta vows help all sentient beings to get closer to their definitive cessation of suffering?

b. Or is it that the sentient beings help the holders of the bodhicitta vows to achieve their definitive cessation of suffering?

Firstly, I believe both are interdependent. The Bodhicitta vows holder’s motivation is to free sentient beings from sufferings, so they will definitely help sentient beings to be free from samsaric sufferings. In order to practise the Bodhicitta vows, they need sentient beings too. This can be read from Lamrim, on the topic of the sevenfold cause-and-effect to develop Bodhicitta:
1.   Understanding all sentient beings to be your mother
2.   Remembering their kindness
3.   Repaying their kindness
4.   Meditating on the love that comes from the force of attraction
5.   Developing the great compassion
6.   Developing altruism
7.   Developing Bodhicitta


In other words: can a holder of the bodhicitta vows practice in a universe in which there is no more sentient beings? Can enlightenment be achieved if I live in a world in which there is no more sentient beings?

One decided to take on the Bodhicitta vows as he/she could not bear to see the sufferings of all sentient beings and take responsibility to become Buddha so that he/she would find the way to free all sentient beings from Samsaric sufferings. If there is a universe in which there is no more sentient beings, I think, there will not have any need to create the cause to be a Bodhisattva and take on Bodhicitta vows as there is no one to be free?  ;D
However, it would not be useful for us to keep thinking of this question as it would really take a long time for all sentient beings to be freed. It is more useful for us to spend our time to practise and be a Bodhisattva ASAP and able to free more sentient beings.  ;)

KhedrubGyatso

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Re: Are all sentient beings helping the bodhisattvas?
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2012, 04:10:50 AM »
Living beings are the objects of our compassion and principal  purpose in developing bodhicitta to attain enlightenment.
In this sense, they are causes of our enlightenment. Without them, there is no reason for a Buddha or bodhisattva to arise.

I am in agreement with Thor 's comments . Actually , the questions here  are not beneficial for most of  us and will serve to confuse as it requires  profound understanding of dharma which I feel is beyond the scope of most readers minds in this column.

To deal with such questions, one needs to have  profound understanding  that there are  no suffering sentient beings outside our mind. Hence there is also no liberation outside our mind. If we still see causes and conditions and phenomena as existing outside our mind , as the above questions are presuming  , then we are moving away from reality and our discussions will not be meaningful or beneficial and barking up the wrong tree

yontenjamyang

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Re: Are all sentient beings helping the bodhisattvas?
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2012, 08:44:22 AM »
Conventionally there are 2 observations regarding this topic of "Are sentients being helping the bodhisattvas?"

1) If a boddhisattva achieved enlightenment when there are still sentient beings, then we can say the sentient beings has help the boddhisattva.
2) The boddhisattva, through his enlightened motivations must have also helped many sentient beings before he attained enlightenment. Some may have become Buddhas before him like in the case of Shakyamuni and Maitreya.

So we can conclude that it is a symbiotic relationship.  All Buddhas and Boddhisattvas are aware of all sentient beings but the reverse is not true. Regardless, the boddhisattvas continue to help all sentient being whether they know it or not. Also, Avalokiteshvara's vowed that he will not become a Buddha until "samsara is emptied". So it is not possible that there are one last unenlightened being without other sentient beings to rely on for his boddhicitta. In that case other methods will be applied.

On a profound level, I think what KG replied is the most accurate.

Living beings are the objects of our compassion and principal  purpose in developing bodhicitta to attain enlightenment.
In this sense, they are causes of our enlightenment. Without them, there is no reason for a Buddha or bodhisattva to arise.

I am in agreement with Thor 's comments . Actually , the questions here  are not beneficial for most of  us and will serve to confuse as it requires  profound understanding of dharma which I feel is beyond the scope of most readers minds in this column.

To deal with such questions, one needs to have  profound understanding  that there are  no suffering sentient beings outside our mind. Hence there is also no liberation outside our mind. If we still see causes and conditions and phenomena as existing outside our mind , as the above questions are presuming  , then we are moving away from reality and our discussions will not be meaningful or beneficial and barking up the wrong tree



vajrastorm

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Re: Are all sentient beings helping the bodhisattvas?
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2012, 09:11:49 AM »
In the beautiful 'lojong' prayer of "8 Verses of Thought Transformation", the first stanza shows how 'invaluable' and 'indispensable' sentient beings are to practitioners embarked on the Bodhisattva path to Enlightenment:

"With the thought of attaining enlightenment
 For the welfare of all beings
 Who are more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel
 I will constantly practice holding them dear."

Each sentient being is to be seen as a "wish-fulfilling jewel" because we depend on them to help us gain enlightenment. Bodhicitta is manifested in great altruistic and equal compassion for all, without exception.

Regarding the question postulated by HR - "Can enlightenment be achieved if I live in a world in which there is no more sentient being?" - I can't see how(especially in this degenerate age) samsara can be cleared of all sentient beings with their all having gained Enlightenment. I recall the story of how Chenrezig came to have 1000 arms; how He despaired when after an infinitesimal moment,when He thought He had cleared all beings from the Hell realm, He spotted beings descending into that realm!He was later "recreated" with 1000-arms so as to be able to extend infinite help to all sentient beings.

Bodhisattvas make the following aspiration:

" For as long as space remains
  For as long as sentient beings remain
  Until then may I too remain
  To dispel the miseries of the world".

So the bodhisattvas do need all sentient beings. Indeed, they are committed to dispelling all the miseries of all beings in samsara.