I've heard of this distinction within Tibetan Buddhism, I'm not sure if it exists elsewhere.
The three types of bodhicitta are king like, ferryman like, and shepherd like.
King like is like Amitabha Buddha. The bodhisattva attains enlightenment ahead of everyone in order to lead others into enlightenment.
I'm not familiar with a Buddha that represents the style of ferryman ferryperson, but this type achieves enlightenment alongside others.
And then shepherd like bodhicitta where the bodhisattva leads others to enlightenment ahead of themselves. Avolokiteshvara is this kind of Buddha.
I kind of feel resonant with the second one.
I think sounds like something from Jewel Ornament of Liberation which draws from other sources. What text did you find these?
Don't remember, it may have been from an oral teaching.
Wow, this is very interesting @Person... I seem to be able to distinguish between the three and then I cannot. And then I can and then I cannot.
In my minds eye, I can see the King, the Shepherd and the Ferryman as masks for the faceless and they are all of us.
Good point. Ultimately I suppose, these are all conventional designations or styles of being rather than any kind of concrete attribute.
In some forms of zen, Bodhicitta can be likened to two styles of Dharmic transmission called the horizontal and vertical transmission..
The vertical transmission is the "king like" Bodhicitta leading to the development of the shepherd bodhi sattvic Bodhicitta.
The horizontal transmission is the ferryman Bodhicitta leading in a different way
for the development of the shepherd bodhi sattvic Bodhicitta.
After reading @how 's post and seeing that the concept may not hold in his tradition, that the ideal is that of the shepherd, I tried googling a bit more it does look like a solely Tibetan interpretation.
A nice, short post on the topic.
Its interesting, I never came across it during my Tibetan period. Thanks for bringing it up @person
I think that the importance of the delineation of Bodhicitta/vertical verses the horizontal, in zen, is really about their assertion that these two forms are like your two legs walking on the path towards suffering's cessation. You can hop your way along the path by specializing in just one or with a deliberate cultivation of both... just walk.
So the three forms are King/Ferryman/or in combining both..a sheppard.
Traditionally the Bodhi-mind, the dedication to help all sentient beings reach Enlightenment, is distinguished into three types:
(A) Resembling a shepherd--wishing to reach Enlightenment only after all sentient beings have done so.
(B) Resembling a ferryman--wishing to reach Enlightenment simultaneously with all sentient beings.
(C) Resembling a prince--wishing to become enlightened first, like assuming the throne with full authority, in order to save all sentient beings from transmigration.
That sounds as if it could also be more generally Mahayana. It would be interesting to see if it was present in any of the Chinese sources.