in Buddhism, a being who has developed a spontaneous wish and a compassionate mind to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings
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- Shariputra, the bodhisattva treats all things and beings, each one of them, with perfect equality. His deeply searching mind is pure, and because it rests on Buddha wisdom, it can see the purity of this Buddha land.
- Thus, Mahāmati, wherever there is the evolution of living beings, let people cherish the thought of kinship with them, and, thinking that all beings are [to be loved as if they were] an only child, let them refrain from eating meat. So with Bodhisattvas whose nature is compassion, [the eating of] meat is to be avoided by him. Even in exceptional cases, it is not [compassionate] of a Bodhisattva of good standing to eat meat.
- For fear of causing terror to living beings, Mahāmati, let the Bodhisattva who is disciplining himself to attain compassion, refrain from eating flesh.
- Ratnākara, the various kinds of living beings are in themselves the Buddha lands (buddhakṣetra) of the bodhisattvas. Why so? Because it is by converting various beings to the teachings that the bodhisattvas acquire their Buddha lands. It is by persuading various beings and overcoming their objections that the bodhisattvas acquire their Buddha lands. It is by inducing the various living beings to enter into the Buddha wisdom in such-and-such a land that they acquire their Buddha lands. It is by inducing the various living beings to develop the capacity for bodhisattva practices in such-and-such a land that they acquire their Buddha lands.
Why is this? Because the bodhisattva's acquisition of a pure land is wholly due to his having brought benefit to living beings. Suppose a man proposes to build a mansion on a plot of open land. He may do so as he wishes without hindrance. But if he tries to build it in the empty air, he will never be successful. It is the same with the bodhisattvas. It is because they wish to help others to achieve success that they take their vow to acquire Buddha lands. Their vow to acquire Buddha lands in not founded on emptiness.
- Ratnākara, you should understand that an upright mind is the pure land of the bodhisattva. When the bodhisattva attains Buddhahood, then beings who are free of flattery will be born in his country.
A deeply searching mind is the pure land of the bodhisattva. When he attains Buddhahood, beings who are endowed with blessings will be born in his country.
A mind that aspires to bodhi or enlightenment is the pure land of the bodhisattva. When he attains Buddhahood, beings dedicated to the Great Vehicle will be born in his country
Almsgiving is the pure land of the bodhisattva. When he attains Buddhahood, beings who are capable of casting away everything will be born in his country.
Keeping of the precepts is the pure land of the bodhisattva. When he attains Buddhahood, beings who fulfill their vow to carry out the ten good actions will be born in his country.
Forbearance is the pure land of the bodhisattva. When he attains Buddhahood, beings who are adorned with the thirty-two features will be born in his country.
Assiduousness is the pure land of the bodhisattva. When he attains Buddhahood, beings who strive diligently to acquire all manner of blessings will be born in his country
Meditation is the pure land of the bodhisattva. When he attains Buddhahood, beings who can regulate their minds and keep them from disorder will be born in his country.
Wisdom is the pure land of the bodhisattva. When he attains Buddhahood, beings who are correct and certain in understanding will be born in his country.
A mind devoted to the four immeasurable qualities is the pure land of the bodhisattva. When he attains Buddhahood, beings perfect in the exercise of pity, compassion, joy, and indifference will be born in his country.
The four methods of winning people are the pure land of the bodhisattva. When he attains Buddhahood, beings who are regulated by the emancipations will be born in his country.
Expedient means are the pure land of the bodhisattva. When he attains Buddhahood, beings who can employ all manner of expedient means with complete freedom will be born in his country.
The thirty-seven elements of the Way are the pure land of the bodhisattva. When he attains Buddhahood, beings will be born in his country who are proficient in the four states of mindfulness, the four types of correct effort, the four bases of supernatural power, the five roots of goodness, the five powers, the seven factors of enlightenment, and the eightfold holy path.
A mind intent on transferring merit to others is the pure land of the bodhisattva. When he attains Buddhahood, he will acquire a country endowed with all manner of blessings.
Teaching others to avoid the eight difficulties is the pure land of the bodhisattva. When he attains Buddhahood, his country will be free of the three evils and the eight difficulties. Observing the precepts himself but not taxing others with their shortcomings is the pure land of the bodhisattva. When he attains Buddhahood, no one in his country will be called a violater of prohibitions.
The ten good actions are the pure land of the bodhisattva. When he attains Buddhahood, beings will be born in his country who suffer no untimely death, possess great wealth, are pure in action, sincere and truthful in word, ever mild in speech, never alienated from kin or associates, skillful in solving disputes, invariably speaking profitable words, never envious, never irate, and correct in understanding.
Therefore, Ratnākara, because the bodhisattva has an upright mind, he is impelled to action. Because he is impelled to action, he gains a deeply searching mind. Because he has a deeply searching mind, his will is well controlled. Because his will is well controlled, he acts in accord with the teachings. Because he acts in accord with the teachings, he can transfer merit to others. Because he transfers merit to others, he knows how to employ expedient means. Because he knows how to employ expedient means, he can lead others to enlightenment. Because he leads others to enlightenment, his Buddha land is pure. Because his Buddha land is pure, his preaching of the Law is pure. Because his preaching of the Law is pure, his wisdom is pure. Because his wisdom is pure, his mind is pure. And because his mind is pure, all the blessings he enjoys will be pure.
Therefore, Ratnākara, if the bodhisattva wishes to acquire a pure land, he must purify his mind. When the mind is pure, the Buddha land will be pure.
- No teaching foresaw the future with such precision as Buddhism. Parallel with reverence for Buddha, Buddhism develops the veneration of Bodhisattvas—future Buddhas. According to the tradition, Gotama, before reaching the state of Buddha, had been a Bodhisattva for many centuries. The word Bodhisattva comprises two concepts: Bodhi—enlightenment or awakening, and Sattva—the essence. Who are these Bodhisattvas? The disciples of Buddhas, who voluntarily have renounced their personal liberation and, following the example of their Teachers, have entered upon a long, weary, thorny path of help to humanity. Such Bodhisattvas appear on Earth in the midst of the most varying conditions of life. Physically indistinguishable in any way from the rest of humanity, they differ completely in their psychology, constantly being the heralds of the principle of the common welfare. [...] Buddha, directing all possibilities toward the affirmation of evolution, bade his disciples venerate the future Buddhas more than the Buddhas of the past. “Thus as the new moon is worshipped more than the full moon, so those who have faith in Me must reverence Bodhisattvas more than Buddhas.” History has not revealed to us elsewhere such a living example of self-denial. According to tradition, the Blessed One preordained the Bodhisattva Maitreya as his successor.
- Thus have I heard at one time. The Lord Buddha was in residence in the garden of Amrapali, in the city of Vaisali, attended by a great gathering. [...] Of bodhisattvas there were thirty-two thousand, great spiritual heroes who were universally acclaimed. They were dedicated through the penetrating activity of their great superknowledges and were sustained by the grace of the Buddha. Guardians of the city of Dharma, they upheld the true doctrine, and their great teachings resounded like the lion's roar throughout the ten directions.
Without having to be asked, they were the natural spiritual benefactors of all living beings. They maintained unbroken the succession of the Three Jewels, conquering devils and foes and overwhelming all critics.
Their mindfulness, intelligence, realization, meditation, incantation, and eloquence all were perfected. They had attained the intuitive tolerance of the ultimate incomprehensibility of all things. They turned the irreversible wheel of the Dharma. They were stamped with the insignia of signlessness. They were expert in knowing the spiritual faculties of all living beings. They were brave with the confidence that overawes all assemblies. They had gathered the great stores of merit and of wisdom, and their bodies, beautiful without ornaments, were adorned with all the auspicious signs and marks.
They were exalted in fame and glory, like the lofty summit of Mount Sumeru. Their high resolve as hard as diamond, unbreakable in their faith in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, they showered forth the rain of ambrosia that is released by the light rays of the jewel of the Dharma, which shines everywhere.
Their voices were perfect in diction and resonance, and versatile in speaking all languages. They had penetrated the profound principle of relativity and had destroyed the persistence of the instinctual mental habits underlying all convictions concerning finitude and infinitude. They spoke fearlessly, like lions, sounding the thunder of the magnificent teaching. Unequaled, they surpassed all measure. They were the best captains for the voyage of discovery of the treasures of the Dharma, the stores of merit and wisdom. They were expert in the way of the Dharma, which is straight, peaceful, subtle, gentle, hard to see, and difficult to realize.
They were endowed with the wisdom that is able to understand the thoughts of living beings, as well as their comings and goings. They had been consecrated with the anointment of the peerless gnosis of the Buddha. With their high resolve, they approached the ten powers, the four fearlessnesses, and the eighteen special qualities of the Buddha.
They had crossed the terrifying abyss of the bad migrations, and yet they assumed reincarnation voluntarily in all migrations for the sake of disciplining living beings. Great Kings of medicine, understanding all the sicknesses of passions, they could apply the medicine of the Dharma appropriately. They were inexhaustible mines of limitless virtues, and they glorified innumerable buddha-fields with the splendor of these virtues. They conferred great benefit when seen, heard, or even approached. Were one to extol them for innumerable hundreds of thousands of myriads of aeons, one still could not exhaust their mighty flood of virtues.
- Vimalakirti Sutra, Chapter I, as translated by Robert Thurman in The Holy Teaching of Vimalakīrti: A Mahāyāna Scripture, Motilal Banarsidass, 1991, ISBN 8120808746.
- This is what I heard: At one time the Buddha was in the Amra Gardens in the city of Vaishali, accompanied by a multitude of leading monks numbering eight thousand. There were also thirty-two thousand bodhisattvas, all known to the assembly, persons who had carried out all the basic practices of great wisdom. Sustained by the might and supernatural powers of the Buddhas, they accepted and upheld the correct Law in order to guard the citadel of the Dharma.
- The Ethical Discipline of Bodhisattvas, by Geshe Sonam Rinchen (Tibetan Gelug Tradition)
- Bodhisattva, probably Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin), Northern Qi dynasty, c. 550--60, video, Smarthistory.
- The 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas online with commentaries.
- The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas, all-in-one page with memory aids & collection of different versions.
- Audio recitation of 'The 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas' in MP3 format (Paul & Lee voices).
- What A Bodhisattva Does: Thirty-Seven Practices by Ngulchu Thogme with slide show format.
- Access to Insight Library: Bodhi's Wheel409
- Arahants, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas by Bhikkhu Bodhi
- The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravāda Theory and Practice by Jeffrey Samuels
- Online exhibition analyzing a Korean Bodhisattva sculpture
- Buddhanet.net Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva
- Sacred visions : early paintings from central Tibet, fully digitized text from The Metropolitan Museum of Art libraries