Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Help me understand what justifies the Bodhisattva ideal?

TorTor California New

So I can't really ask this question at any Buddhist center because teachers are uncomfortable being seen as possibly "criticizing" other Buddhist schools.

I left Mahayana in favor of Theravada because I could not reconcile certain things, like:

1) Buddha taught that the god realm of samsara is still samsara; that even the devas are destined for the lower realms one day because...samsara. Yet,

2) The Bodisattva ideal seems to paint a picture that when one chooses to remain in samsara to help others, that one will somehow always remain in a position to help...always remain a deva of sorts.

These seem in conflict to me.

Plus, I don't understand how it's at all practical to remain in samsara, trying to help and direct all the beings towards enlightenment, and that we all, on some sort of cue, will one day transcend together. Have any Mahayanas here ever heard any teachings that detail the logistics of how this might happen?

Comments

  • Have any Mahayanas here ever heard any teachings that detail the logistics of how this might happen?

    >

    @Tor - you only have to meditate to see that the mahayana ideal has been achieved.

    I think @federica may be alluding to this, when she says that beings are numberless... and its a cerebral and physical impossibility to save them all - well if they are... it is... and that is where love and compassion come into the equation... Saving every bloody soul is hard work, especially when they are ignorant of it!

    And the bodhisattva ideal is an internal recognition of this.

    btw @federica: "So long as we love, we serve. As long as we serve lovingly, I would say we are indispensable." that is really lovely. Is that from your heart or taken from something you have been taught or read?

    lobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    It is not meant to be taken literally, though some teachers do put it forth that way. Mine does not (neither do other teachers I have been on retreats with). My teacher is Vajrayana but we spend a lot of time discussing Bodhisattva-hood. It is a way to build up compassion and focus on Right Effort and Right View. Today, right now. Not 20 life times from now. Many do believe you have a choice to be reborn should you so choose to do so rather than exit Samsara. But that is not the focus that I have ever been taught. It is not at all maintaining oneself as a deva or any other such thing. It is a decision to dedicate ones life to helping other people.

    It is an ideal to live up to. That is all. In what way do you think it is in conflict? I don't see conflict either. But if you already made the choice to leave Mahayana, why does it suddenly matter now? Even if you could not (sadly) get answers from the center, it is widely discussed online and answered by many teachers.

    satcittanandalobster
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    @satcittananda said:....btw @federica: "So long as we love, we serve. As long as we serve lovingly, I would say we are indispensable." that is really lovely. Is that from your heart or taken from something you have been taught or read?

    It is, in part, a quotation from Robert Louis Stevenson (He being the author of 'Treasure Island').

    His accurate and full quotation runs -

    “So long as we love we serve; so long as we are loved by others, I would almost say that we are indispensable; and no man is useless while he has a friend.”

    The change in the saying is my own work, and from the heart.....

    satcittanandakarasti
  • satcittanandasatcittananda UK Explorer
    edited January 21

    "Treasure Island" How wonderful! <3

    "TREASURE ISLAND"

    Thank you @federica !

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    You're very welcome. :)

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited January 21

    Outstanding explanation from @federica ... <3

    Here is how Mahayana and Theravada are both logically true at the same time.

    The nature of things is to have no nature; it is their non-nature that is their nature. For they have only one nature: no-nature.
    Nagarjuna
    https://aeon.co/essays/the-logic-of-buddhist-philosophy-goes-beyond-simple-truth

    Do I understand that or Yogacara or Theravada philosophy? Not required to be 'understandable'.

    Is it true? Sure. That I know.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahmajala_Sutta_(Theravada)

    When thinking in linear, non holistic ways we assume paradox and contradiction can not coexist? Not this crustacean.
    As I said to the Buddha only this morning, 'Think or think not, there is no thought.' ... actually come to think of it, might have been Yoda ... :3

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    My understanding is that the answer to your question lies in the teachings on the Bhumis. A bodhisattva doesn't fall because of their constant effort and because they develop the wisdom and compassion so that they don't acquire negative karma and continuously gain positive karma. There also comes a point where it is said to be impossible to back slide.

    I don't have the knowledge to explain it all, but I think I'm at least pointing you in the right direction.

    lobsterTor
  • TorTor California New

    Thanks for your contributions everyone! You gave me some more stuff to think about.

    Here in California most every center is Mahayana and I got my start at a center that I later learned was loosely based on Pure Land, and I mistakenly thought that all schools were like that. I didn't know any better! I'm still open to Mahayana, but for the past few years my focus has been on Theravada and I found a not-too-far-away Thai center so I could first learn to distinguish the Buddha's core suttas from the Mahayana sutras that came later.

Sign In or Register to comment.