Author Topic: WHAT IS BODHISATTVA?  (Read 13114 times)


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« on: July 02, 2012, 01:06:58 AM »
Bodhi means enlightenment, the state devoid of all defects and endowed with all good qualities. Sattva refers to someone who has courage and confidence and who strives to attain enlightenment for the sake of all beings. Those who have this spontaneous, sincere wish to attain enlightenment for the ultimate benefit of all beings are called bodhisattvas. Through wisdom, they direct their minds to enlightenment, and through their compassion, they have concern for beings. This wish for perfect enlightenment for the sake of others is what we call bodhichitta, and it is the starting point on the path.

Jessie Fong

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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2012, 01:19:36 AM »

(Ch. ??, Guan Yin, Kr. Guan Um, Jp. Kannon, Tib. Chenrezig, Viet. Quán Th? Âm) -
The bodhisattva of compassion, the listener of the world's cries who uses skillful means to come to their aid; the most universally acknowledged Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism. Known as Guan Yin in East Asia, Chenrezig in Tibet, and Migjid Janraisig in Mongolia.


I would say that Guan Yin is very renown in Asia, especially in South East Asia

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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2012, 09:27:56 AM »
In Tibetan Buddhism, a Bodhisattva is anyone who is motivated by compassion and seeks enlightenment not only for him/herself but also for everyone...

Becoming a Bodhisattva is a huge step in helping not only yourself, but also every other sentient being, both seen and unseen. Most people are self-motivated and work primarily to solve their own problems, keeping others a distant second. Should someone do an act of kindness, repayment is generally expected whether in the form of a thank you and/or further praise.

A Bodhisattva is motivated by pure compassion and love. Their goal is to achieve the highest level of being: that of a Buddha. Bodhisattva is a Sanskrit term which translates as: Bodhi [enlightenment] and sattva [being]. And their reason for becoming a Buddha is to help others. The Bodhisattva will undergo any type of suffering to help another sentient being, whether a tiny insect or a huge mammal. In Shakyamuni Buddha's 'Perfection of Wisdom in 8,000 Lines' it states: "I will become a savior to all those beings, I will release them from all their sufferings." If this sounds familiar to anyone not acquainted with Buddhism, then you only need to think of the example of Jesus Christ, a true Bodhisattva.

When someone first enters the way of the Bodhisattva, they develop Bodhicitta, or, mind of enlightenment. Even as a person strives towards such an exalted goal, they feel as though they are limited by the fact that they, too, are suffering. So that they can be of aid to others, they decide to become Buddhas for a Buddha is capable of unlimited compassion and wisdom. Also, Buddhas are able to relate to all others at whatever level is needed. To those of lesser intelligence, a Buddha will use simpler words; and to those of great intelligence, a Buddha can explain answers in a more exalted language.

By entering the Bodhisattva way, the mind must become enlightened. And so the training begins by generating the 6 Perfections.

The 6 Perfections:

The 6 Perfections are:

1] Generosity
2] Ethics
3] Patience
4] Effort
5] Concentration
6] Wisdom

Generosity - How does one become more generous? Is it possible to rid oneself of materialistic tendencies, selfishness and a desire to want to be kind to others and give to those who lack? Being able to provide for people by starting a business and then hiring those who need jobs would be profitable not only for yourself but for those who were previously unemployed. Volunteering your time and talents to those who need them is also a way of cultivating generosity. To share Buddhist teachings so people are able to help themselves and in turn, others, is the finest gift you can offer. You have created a positive ripple effect. The ripples of the teachings will travel far and wide to allow many to be assisted.
The attitude behind your generosity is of the utmost importance; giving with anger or the desire for payment isn't a good motivation. But if you have a humble motivation to help, then you're on your way to become a Bodhisattva.

Ethics - Knowing the basic difference between right and wrong is imperative to generating the 6 Perfections. To practice the perfection of ethics means to refrain from doing harm to yourself and all those around you. Killing, sexual misconduct, consuming harmful substances such as alcohol or drugs, being deceitful, and using abusive language must be avoided. All harmful actions are caused by a mind that harbors them, therefore it's highly important to be mindful of all your thoughts.

Patience - A lack of patience is prevalent in today's society and this will change if we want to evolve into a Bodhisattva. Patience is the antidote to anger. In Chandrakirti's 'Supplement to the Middle Way' he writes: "It makes us ugly, leads to the unholy, and robs us of discernment to know right from wrong." When we become angry, our body stiffens, our blood pressure rises, our breathing is impaired, as is our reason. Far too many people languish in prisons due to a few seconds when they went out of control and their anger harmed someone. Anger directed at oneself can result in suicide. Anger causes wars of all sizes.

Patience creates a joyousness within us. Our features become relaxed and we can look many years younger. We are then tolerant and happy and much further along the path of becoming a Bodhisattva.

Effort - Enthusiastic effort is necessary if you want to achieve anything, but for something as noble and challenging as joining the ranks of the Bodhisattvas, effort is definitely a requirement. Who doesn't want their efforts repaid instantly? However, the way of the Bodhisattva is arduous and requires virtues that many of us currently lack. Laziness is a huge fault that curtails effort. Tomorrow never comes so your effort is needed NOW!

Concentration - Developing a calm mind through meditation will sharpen our concentration. Being able to focus single-pointedly on one object with a non-wavering mind will be a great advantage. The calm-abiding mind develops clairvoyance and abilities to heal ourselves and others. When radiating inward and outward calm, you'll become like a lighthouse in a stormy night. You'll inspire others with your strong mental capabilities and they in turn will want the inner peace that you have found for yourself. Concentration is a form of mindfulness. This means that when you pay unwavering attention to what you're doing, you avoid many frustrations. Lack of mindfulness in the kitchen might result in burning a casserole, which not only wasting the ingredients, but twice as much time will be spent cleaning up the mess. Not practicing mindfulness when driving causes accidents. As Lama Tsong Khapa writes in his 'Summary of the Stages of the Path': "Concentration is a king with dominion over the mind, once placed, immovable like the king of mountains."

Wisdom - Wisdom is the root of all great qualities we can cultivate in this life. As the Sixth Perfection, it is the total of the other five. Meditation on wisdom is essential for entering into the stages of being a Bodhisattva. Buddhist texts emphasize two vital subjects when it comes to knowledge""selflessness and impermanence. Everything changes constantly. One day you leave work at 5:30, the next day it's 5:45. Nothing is fixed; it's variable. As for selflessness, we must first discover the location of the self. Is it in the body? If so, where""the mind? The physical world and all living beings are created by the mind. As we are the results of our past actions, so is the world we live in. Since there are places on earth that are like heaven, those areas where so much virtue has settled that people travel great distances to see such wonderful locations. Conversely, the hellish regions are dense accumulations of non-virtue and evil thrives there, keeping people captive to the negative states of consciousness.

To become a Bodhisattva is to be fearless. There is no aversion for those who are hostile and there is no obsessive clinging to those who are closest to us. There is no possessiveness, only love, compassion and discernment into the nature of reality.

Santideva, the 8th century Bodhisattva wrote a book entitled 'Bodhisattvacharyavatara,' which is one of the most important texts that students of Tibetan Buddhism study. The title has been translated into 'A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life' and is written in verse form. While there are only 10 chapters, dealing with the 6 perfections as well as developing the spirit of awakening, in chapter 10, verse 55 the entire essence of the meaning of Bodhisattva is beautifully expressed:

"For as long as space endures

And for as long as living beings remain,

Until then may I too abide

To dispel the misery of the world."


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« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2012, 10:04:57 AM »
Dear Icy,

This topic is very important because so many people pray to Kuan Yin but very few people know the background of Kuan Yin, its almost like blind faith!!

Below is a list of Bodhisattva that has been listed in wikipedia:

(Ch. ???, Xu Kong Zang, Kr. Huh Gong Zang, Jp. Kokuzo, Viet. H? Không T?ng) - The Bodhisattva of infinite happiness generated by helping countless numbers of sentient beings.

(Ch. ??, Guan Yin, Kr. Guan Um, Jp. Kannon, Tib. Chenrezig, Viet. Quán Th? Âm) - The bodhisattva of compassion, the listener of the world's cries who uses skillful means to come to their aid; the most universally acknowledged Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism. Known as Guan Yin in East Asia, Chenrezig in Tibet, and Migjid Janraisig in Mongolia.

(Ch. ??, Di Zang, Kr. Ji Zang, Jp. Jizo, Tib. Sai Nyingpo, Viet. '??a T?ng). The bodhisattva of the beings suffering in hellish realms, or the bodhisattva of great vows.

(Ch. ???, Da Shì Zhì, Kr. Dae Sae Zhi, Jp. Seishi, Viet. ??i Th? Chí) - Represents the power of wisdom, seen on the left of Amitabha in Pure Land Buddhism.

(Ch. ??, Mi Le, Kr. Mi Ruk, Jp. Miroku, Viet. Di L?c) - The bodhisattva to be reborn and to become enlightened, thus succeeding Gautama Buddha in the future. Known for his or her benevolence.
(Ch. ??, Wen Shu, Kr. Moon Soo, Jp. Monju, Tib. Jampal Yang, Viet. V?n Thù) - Bodhisattva of keen awareness and wisdom.

(Ch. ??, Long Shu, Viet. Long Th?) - The founder of the Madhyamaka (Middle Path) school of Mah?y?na Buddhism.
Two strong guardians of the Buddha, standing today at the entrance of many Buddhist temples in Japan and Korea under the appearance of frightening wrestler-like statues. They are manifestations of the Bodhisattva Vajrapani.

(Ch. ?????, Lianhuasheng Shang Shi, Tib. Padma Jungne or Guru Rinpoche) - Most associated with Tibetan Buddhism and Bhutanese Buddhism. The Nyingma school regards Padmasambhava as a second Buddha.

(Ch. ??, Pu Xian, Kr. Bo Hyun, Jp. Fugen, Tib. Kuntu Zangpo, Viet. Ph? Hi?n) - Represents the practice and meditation of all Buddhas.

(Ch. ??, Qie Lan, Viet. Già Lam) - Only revered in Chinese Buddhism-Taoism, Sangharama refer to a group of devas who guard Buddhist monasteries and the faith, but the title is usually referring to the legendary Chinese military general Guan Yu, who became a Dharmapala through becoming a Buddhist and making vows.

8th century scholar, wrote about Bodhisattvas.

The goddess of the White Parasol and protector against supernatural danger.

(Ch. ??, Wei Tuo) - A Dharmapala who guards the Dharma, with links to Vajrapani and is somewhat the direct forbear to Murugan, a Hindu deity. Primarily worshipped in Chinese Buddhism.

Mentioned in Shantideva's A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way Of Life

(Ch: ??, Ri Guang, Kr. Il Guang, Jp: Nikk?) - One of two attendants of Bhaisajyaguru Buddha.

(Ch. ??, Du Mu) - Female bodhisattva, or set of bodhisattvas, in Tibetan Buddhism. She represents the virtues of success in work and achievements. Also a manifestation of Avalokite?vara.

(Ch. ???, Jin Gang Shou, Kr. Kum Kang Soo, Jp.Shukongojin, Tib. Channa Dorje, Viet. Kim c??ng th?) - An early bodhisattva in Mahayana and the Chief Protector of the Buddha and earthly Bodhisattvas. Also linked to Seishi Mahasthamaprapta and Nio Kongo Rikishi and said to wield the power of all 5 Tathagathas.

Bodhisattva of abundance and fertility. Popular in Nepal.

Looking at the list above, it is funny why Skanda is one of Bodhisattva, he is the deity who is usually the 'doorman' of temples. We always see his statue right in front of the main prayer hall of each temple, holding a big knife looking wrathful.. anyone has any comment on this?
Down with the BAN!!!


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« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2012, 12:25:19 PM »
When we speak of what is a Boddhisattva, we have to examine what are the qualities of a Bodhisattva.
Courageous Bodhisattvas risk their lives to help others, and so, when we are in relatively better, more comfortable situations, we must certainly practice giving. Even if they are threatened, the courageous ones will not engage in improper actions. Instead, after examining the situation carefully, when they find that certain actions are correct and justified, on the basis of reason, they engage in them even at the risk of their lives. That is the way of the decent, civilized and courageous ones, who do not follow misleading paths but the path of the Tatagatha, the fully Enlightened One.


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« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2012, 04:41:32 PM »
The root of all qualities of the Bodhisattva vehicle is caring for sentient beings. We admire and respect the Buddha because he has reached the state free of all faults and possessing all good qualities, knows the method to reach that state, and teaches it to us. If we do as the Buddha did, by meditating on love and compassion for all sentient beings, not harming or getting angry with them, we too can become a Buddha.
Our enlightenment depends on the Buddhas and on sentient beings, and from this point of view, they are equally important to us. Thus when we look at any sentient being, we should recognize that she is indispensable to our attainment of enlightenment. Our enlightenment comes from cherishing sentient beings; it does not come from cherishing only ourselves. Understanding this, whenever we encounter people in our lives, it becomes easy to feel, "May this person be happy and free from suffering."
Caring for sentient beings means freeing them from the suffering of unfortunate rebirths and of cyclic existence in general, teaching the Dharma to those who want to hear it, providing the means for them to eliminate the causes which bring suffering temporarily and ultimately, not harming them, not lying to them, not creating discord among them, not speaking harshly to them, and so on. Through caring about them now, excellent results will follow, for us and for them.


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« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2012, 07:54:24 PM »
Bodhisattva is anyone that motivated by great compassion, has generated Bodhicitta, which is a spontaneous wish to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. For Tibetan Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism, it is focus a lot on the Bodhisattva Path.

In order to get into Bodhisattva Path to practice the Six Perfection, one of the preliminary practices is to take the Bodhisattva Vows. There are in total 18 major vows and 46 minor vows. Before taking Bodhisattva vows, one must first take Pratimoksha vows as they are the basis for the Bodhisattva vows.

The 18 major vows by Asanga are as below:
1.   Praising oneself or belittling others due to attachment to receiving material offerings, praise and respect.
2.   Not giving material aid or (due to miserliness) not teaching the Dharma to those who are suffering and without a protector.
3.   Not listening to others' apologies or striking others
4.   Abandoning the Mahayana by saying that Mahayana texts are not the words of Buddha or teaching what appears to be the Dharma but is not.
5.   Taking things belonging to Buddha, Dharma or Sangha.
6.   Abandoning the holy Dharma by saying that texts which teach the three vehicles are not the Buddha's word.
7.   With anger depriving ordained ones of their robes, beating and imprisoning them or causing them to lose their ordination even if they have impure morality, for example, by saying that being ordained is useless.
8.   Committing any of the five extremely negative actions: (1) killing one's mother, (2) killing one's father, (3) killing an arhat, (4) intentionally drawing blood from a Buddha or (5) causing schism in the Sangha community by supporting and spreading sectarian views.
9.   Holding distorted views (which are contrary to the teaching of Buddha, such as denying the existence of the Three Jewels or the law of cause and effect etc.)
10.   Destroying towns, villages, cities or large areas by means such as fire, bombs, pollution or black magic.
11.   Teaching emptiness to those whose minds are unprepared.
12.   Causing those who have entered the Mahayana to turn away from working for the full enlightenment of Buddhahood and encouraging them to work merely for their own liberation from suffering.
13.   Causing others to abandon their Pratimoksha vows.
14.   Belittling the ?r?vaka or Pratyekabuddha vehicle (by holding and causing others to hold the view that these vehicles do not abandon attachment and other delusions).
15.   Falsely stating that oneself has realised profound emptiness and that if others meditate as one has, they will realize emptiness and become as great and as highly realized as oneself.
16.   Taking gifts from others who were encouraged to give you things originally intended as offerings to the Three Jewels. Not giving things to the Three Jewels that others have given you to give to them, or accepting property stolen from the Three Jewels.
17.   Causing those engaged in calm-abiding meditation to give it up by giving their belongings to those who are merely reciting texts or making bad disciplinary rules which cause a spiritual community not to be harmonious.
18.   Abandoning either of the two types of Bodhicitta (aspiring and engaging).


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« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2012, 07:54:23 AM »
Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have put off entering Nirvana in order to help others attain enlightenment. There are many different Bodhisattvas, but the most famous in China is Avalokitesvara, also known as Guan Yin.  Renouncing their own salvation and immediate entrance into nirvana, they devote all their power and energy to saving suffering beings in this world. As the deity of compassion, Bodhisattvas are typically represented with precious jewelry, elegant garments and graceful postures.

Among the Bodhisattvas, it is Avalokitesvara who has the largest number of forms and is perhaps the most venerated and most popular Buddhist deity. His sex, originally masculine, is sometimes considered feminine in China and Japan, although this discrimination is unsupported by any canonical text. And was often considered in China and Japan as the 'mother of the human race' and, in this respect, worshipped in the form of a woman.

Avalokitesvara is known from very early in the development of the Mahayana doctrines and, until Buddhism disappeared from India, enjoyed great favour there. His cult passed from India to South-East Asia and Java, where it met with great success, and also in Nepal, Tibet (where he arrived with Buddhism and where King Srong-btsan Sgam-po, 519-650, was considered to be his incarnation), and in China, from where he went on to Korea and Japan. All these countries imagined him in different forms according to their own temperaments and spirituality.

His Holiness the 14th the Dalai Lama is an incarnation Avalokitesvara.

hope rainbow

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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2012, 02:02:06 PM »
Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have put off entering Nirvana in order to help others attain enlightenment.

Are bodhisattvas enlightened?
Or are enlightened beings bodhisattvas?

One can have the qualities of a bodhisattva and not be enlightened, in fact 1st, 2nd and 3rd levels bodhisattvas are not free from attachments but have developed a mind of priority that puts their Dharma path above any attachment they have.


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« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2012, 03:06:29 PM »
Bodhisattva is an ordinary person who takes up a course in his/her life that moves in the direction of Buddha.
Anyone who directs their attention in their life to practicing the way of life of a Buddha is a Bodhisattva.
Avolokiteshvara and Manjushri are great Buddhas.Most people live by their desires or Karma.We are born into this world with our desires and may live our lives by  reacting or responding to them.
Bodhisattva can be define as one who act as a true adult.Most people in the world act like children.
Today,most people who are called adults are only pseuoadults.Physically they grow but spiritually to many people never mature into adulthood.A Bodhisattva is one who sees the world through adult eyes and whse actions are the actions of a true adult.
For us as Bodhisattva,all aspect of life,live within us,It is with this mind that we work to discover and manifest the most vital and alive posture that we can take in living out our life.


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« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2012, 03:50:46 PM »
Bodhisattva means "enlightenment being", one whose essence is supreme knowledge, a being, who, out of compassion, takes a vow to delay his/her own personal enlightenment in order to work for the liberation of all sentient beings; an enlightened being who has attained one of the ten bodhisattva levels. There are two types of bodhisattvas: (1) ordinary bodhisattvas, who have embarked on the path but have not yet gained direct perception of the meaning of emptiness, and (2) Aryas, who in meditation, can directly experience it.

As a compassionate being, a bodhisattva is destined to attain Buddhahood. He is thus a future Buddha, and cultivates his mind by practising the six paramitas: generosity, moral discipline, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom. He works for the welfare and happiness of all sentient beings and seeks to lessen the suffering of others throughout his countless lives. In his journey to enlightenment, he is prepared to practice these virtues even at the cost of his life.

In his former lives, the Buddha was called a Bodhisattva and the title was used also for Prince Siddhartha before his enlightenment. The Buddha himself used this term when speaking of his former life. During the Buddha's lifetime, it was rare for his disciples to forgo arhatship. But in the scriptures, it was found that some followers did aspire to become bodhisattvas in order to gain Buddhahood.


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« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2012, 06:29:45 PM »
The moment a Mahayana trainee generates spontaneous bodhichitta, he enters the Mahayana path of accumulation and becomes a Bodhisattva of the path of accumulation. While on the path of accumulation, the Bodhisattva meditates on emptiness with a concentration of tranquil abiding until he accomplishes the realization of superior seeing observing emptiness. With the attainment of the union of tranquil abiding and superior seeing, he advances to the path of preparation and becomes a Bodhisattva of the path of preparation. He meditates repeatedly on emptiness with a union of tranquil abiding and superior seeing until the Bodhisattva accomplishes a non-conceptual realization of emptiness (i.e. the ultimate bodhichitta).  With this attainment, he enters the Mahayana path of seeing and attains the first ground.  He is now a Superior Bodhisattva of the first ground.  The first ground is a Superior Bodhisattva’s path that abandons or has abandoned intellectually-formed true grasping and that has attained a surpassing practice of the perfection of giving.  The first ground is called “Very Joyful”.

While on the first ground, the Bodhisattva continues to meditate on emptiness until he attains the path of meditation and enters the second ground. The second ground is a Superior Bodhisattva’s path that has abandoned big-big, innate true-grasping, and has attained a surpassing practice of the perfection of moral discipline. The second ground is called “Stainless”.

The Superior Bodhisattva continues to meditate on emptiness and progress on the paths as follows until he reaches the tenth ground.  After the tenth ground, the Superior Bodhisattva becomes a Buddha.

Innate true-grasping overcome   Ground Entered   Ground Name   Perfection

Middling-big   3rd   Luminous      Patience

Small-big   4th   Radiant         Effort

Big-middling   5th   Difficult to Overcome   Mental Stabilization

Middling-middling   6th   Approaching      Wisdom

Small-middling   7th   Gone Afar      Skilful Means

3 types of small obstruction to omniscience    8th   Immovable      Prayer

3 types of big obstruction to omniscience   9th   Good Intelligence   Force

3 types of middling obstruction to omniscience   10th   Cloud of Dharma   Exalted awareness


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« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2012, 01:46:13 PM »
In giving we not only find wealth while in cyclic existence but we achieve the zenith of prosperity in supreme enlightenment. Therefore we all have to practice giving. A Bodhisattva's giving is not just overcoming miserliness and being generous to others; a pure wish to give is cultivated, and through developing more and more intimacy with it, such giving is enhanced infinitely. Therefore it is essential to have the firm mind of enlightenment rooted in great love and compassion and, from the depths of one's heart, to either give one's body, wealth and virtues literally to sentient beings as infinite as space, or to dedicate one's body, wealth and virtues for them while striving in all possible ways to enhance the wish to give infinitely. As mentioned in Engaging in Bodhisattva Activities and in The Precious Garland, we should literally give material help to the poor and needy, give teaching to others, and give protection to them, even the small insects, as much as we can. In the case of things which we are not able to part with, we should cultivate the wish to give them away and develop more and more intimacy with that wish.


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« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2012, 05:26:11 PM »

An enlightened being who,out of compassion,forgoes Nirvana in order to save others.A bodhisattva is motivated by pure compassion and love.Their goal is to achieve the highest level of being :that of a Buddha. The Buddha will undergo any type of suffering to help another sentient being,Whether a tiny insect or a huge mammal.In Buddha Shakyamani 's "perfection of wisdom in 8,000 lines it states"I will became a savior to all those beings,I will release them from their sufferings.
When someone first enters the way of the bodhissatva.they develop bodhicitta or the mind of enlightenment.
By training and generating the 6 perfection.They are 1)generosity 2)ethics. 3)patience 4)effort 5)concentration and 6)wisdom.
To become bodhisattva,is to become fearless.There is no aversion for those who are hostile and there is no obssesive clinging to those who are closest to us.There is no possesiveness only love and compassion,only love
The book 'A guide to the bodhisattva" ways of life is written by Shantideva,the 8th century bodhisattva.There are 10 chapters dealing with the 6 perfections as well as developing the spirit of awakening in chapter 10,the entire essence of the meaning of bodhisattva is beautifully expressed.


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« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2012, 07:58:58 PM »
A BODHISATTVA IS an ordinary person who takes up a course in his or her life that moves in the direction of buddha. You're a bodhisattva, I'm a bodhisattva; actually, anyone who directs their attention, their life, to practicing the way of life of a buddha is a bodhisattva. We read about Kannon Bosatsu (Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva) or Monju Bosatsu (Manjushri Bodhisattva), and these are great bodhisattvas, but we, too, have to have confidence or faith that we are also bodhisattvas.

Most people live by their desires or karma. That's what the expression gossho no bompu means. Gossho are the obstructions to practicing the Way caused by our evil actions in the past. Bompu simply means ordinary human being--that is, one who lives by karma. Our actions are dictated by our karma: We are born into this world with our desires and may live our lives just by reacting or responding to them. In contrast is gansho no bosatsu, or a bodhisattva who lives by vow.

The life that flows through each of us and through everything around us is actually all connected. To say that, of course, means that who I really am cannot be separated from all the things that surround me. Or, to put it another way, all sentient beings have their existence and live within my life. So needless to say, that includes even the fate of all mankind--that, too, lies within me. Therefore, just how mankind might truly live out its life becomes what I aim at as my direction. This aiming or living while moving in a certain direction is what is meant by vow. In other words, it is the motivation for living that is different for a bodhisattva. Ordinary people live thinking only about their own personal, narrow circumstances connected with their desires. In contrast to that, a bodhisattva, though undeniably still an ordinary human being like everyone else, lives by vow. Because of that, the significance of his or her life is not the same. For us as bodhisattvas, all aspects of life, including the fate of humanity itself, live within us. It is with this in mind that we work to discover and manifest the most vital and alive posture that we can take in living out our life. . . .

t's not enough for a bodhisattva of the Mahayana to just uphold the precepts. There are times when you have to break them, too. It's just that when you do, you have to do so with the resolve of also being willing to accept whatever consequences might follow.
That's what issai shujo to tomo ni ("together with all sentient beings" --regardless of what hell one might fall into) really means. . . .

It's not enough just to know the definition of bodhisattva. What's much more important is to study the actions of a bodhisattva and then to behave like one yourself.

Regarding the question "What is a bodhisattva?" you could also define a bodhisattva as one who acts as a true adult. That is, most people in the world act like children. The word dainin means "true adult" or "bodhisattva." Today most people who are called adults are only pseudoadults. Physically they grow up and become adult but spiritually too many people never mature to adulthood. They don't behave as adults In their daily lives. A bodhisattva is one who sees the world through adult eyes and whose actions are the actions of a true adult. That is really what a bodhisattva is.