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Rules to becoming a Bodhisattva?

JohnCobbJohnCobb Hot Springs Arkansas Explorer
edited February 20 in Buddhism Basics

Hi everyone! Been some months since I posted, but I'm always lurking lol. I was saddened at the death of Thich Nhat Hanh, as most of the Buddhism books and videos I've watched and read are his or one of his sangha's (in the case of videos). Many times I've read the Bodhisattva vows in various places, books and online, but now have come to understand that Bodhisattvas are sort of like saints that you can call on to help with different things, like Green Tara coming to help with fear etc. If this is the case, how do we know if someone who has passed on is a Bodhisattva that can be called on for help? I'm not trying to confuse two different belief systems, just trying to understand a concept and only have certain imagery that I can go by until I know more.
Am I understanding the idea of a Bodhisattva correctly? At first I understood it to be someone who vows to return again and again until all sentient beings attain Buddhahood.
Can y'all help me understand please?
I bow to you all.

Comments

  • I bow to you all.

    That makes us living Bodhi :mrgreen:

    However in the way that you mean:

    • Bodhisattva are manifest from and in our Mind
    • They are pragmatic manifestations of primordial principals
    • We connect through faith, visualisation, calling (mantra) and association

    Bodhi Bowing 🦞

    BunksJohnCobbFleaMarket
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited February 21

    I hope we are getting there … B)

    The question, how do I best serve others? (the Bodhisattva question) is the beginning. Accepting we will never be the ideal, makes us want to practice the Way/Path/Dharma to our best capacity.

    This is where we have to be kind. Kind to our greatest obstacle and ally. Did you guess? Ourselves.

    Shoshin1BunksJohnCobbFleaMarket
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @lobster said:
    I hope we are getting there … B)

    The question, how do I best serve others? (the Bodhisattva question) is the beginning. Accepting we will never be the ideal, makes us want to practice the Way/Path/Dharma to our best capacity.

    This is where we have to be kind. Kind to our greatest obstacle and ally. Did you guess? Ourselves.

    See @lobster ! You shouldn't sell yourself short =)

  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Newbie, not Veteran

    @lobster said:
    I hope we are getting there … B)

    So we get the cool badge first, right? And do the work for others later? B)

    BunksJeroenlobsterJohnCobb
  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    The Four Great Vows of the Bodhisattva are,

    All beings without number, I vow to liberate,
    Endless blind passion, I vow to uproot,
    Dharma gates beyond measure, I vow to penetrate,
    The great way of Buddha, I vow to attain.

    JeffreyBunksJohnCobblobster
  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    We take to ourselves the First Major Precept of the Bodhisattva Canon:
    A Bodhisattva shall not kill, encourage others to kill, kill by expedient means, praise killing, or rejoice at witnessing killing. He or she must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of killing.

    We take to ourselves the Second Major Precept of the Bodhisattva Canon:
    A Bodhisattva must not steal or encourage others to steal, or steal by expedient means. He or she must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of stealing.

    We take to ourselves the Third Major Precept of the Bodhisattva Canon:
    A Bodhisattva must not engage in licentious acts or encourage others to do so. He or she must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of such misconduct.

    We take to ourselves the Forth Major Precept of the Bodhisattva Canon:
    A Bodhisattva must not use false words and speech, encourage others to lie, or lie by expedient means. He or she must not become involved in the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of lying.

    We take to ourselves the Fifth Major Precept of the Bodhisattva Canon:
    A Bodhisattva must not trade or partake in the consumption of alcoholic beverages or intoxicants, or encourage others to do so. He or she should not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of intoxicants whatsoever.

    We take to ourselves the Sixth Major Precept of the Bodhisattva Canon:
    A Bodhisattva should not broadcast the misdeeds of members of the Assembly, nor of monks and nuns outside of the Assembly, or encourage others to do so. He or she should not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of such behavior, but attentive that his or her silence does not permit the suffering of sentient beings.

    We take to ourselves the Seventh Major Precept of the Bodhisattva Canon:
    A Bodhisattva shall not praise himself and speak ill of others, nor encourage others to do so. He or she must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of praising himself and disparaging others.

    We take to ourselves the Eighth Major Precept of the Bodhisattva Canon:
    A Bodhisattva must not be stingy or encourage others to be stingy, but should be the embodiment of charity when a destitute person is in need. He or she should not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of stinginess.

    We take to ourselves the Nineth Major Precept of the Bodhisattva Canon:
    A Bodhisattva must not harbor anger or encourage others to be angry, but should be compassionate and filial, helping all sentient beings develop the good roots of non-contention. He or she should not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of anger.

    We take to ourselves the Tenth Major Precept of the Bodhisattva Canon:
    A Bodhisattva shall not speak ill of the Triple Jewel or encourage others to do so. He or she must not create the causes, conditions, methods or karma of slander.

    Bunks
  • We take to ourselves the First Major Precept of the Bodhisattva Canon:

    A Bodhisattva shall not kill, encourage others to kill, kill by expedient means, praise killing, or rejoice at witnessing killing. He or she must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of killing.

    What no fish?
    Well that is me out … @Bunks can sell me and donate the proceeds to Bodhisattvahs-r-us or similar …

    I iz hopeless case :3

    JohnCobbBunks
  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Newbie, not Veteran

    How many weeds in the garden are too many?
    How many ants in the kitchen are too many?
    How many bacteria on the skin are too many?

    JohnCobblobster
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @FleaMarket said:
    How many weeds in the garden are too many?
    How many ants in the kitchen are too many?
    How many bacteria on the skin are too many?

    This is probably worth a thread of its own and we've had them. Talk of killing in Buddhism is generally directed towards sentient beings. Its a bit of a tricky business determining exactly what is sentient and what isn't. But plants and bacteria probably aren't, while ants are much more likely to be.

    That said ants in the house can usually be helped quite a bit by keeping things clean. But, yes at some point the termites eating down your house do need to be definitively dealt with.

    FleaMarketJohnCobb
  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Newbie, not Veteran

    @person said:
    This is probably worth a thread of its own and we've had them.

    I spoke without due diligence. I'll take a look for these threads.

  • JohnCobbJohnCobb Hot Springs Arkansas Explorer

    @ShanJieshi2 said:
    We take to ourselves the First Major Precept of the Bodhisattva Canon:
    A Bodhisattva shall not kill, encourage others to kill, kill by expedient means, praise killing, or rejoice at witnessing killing. He or she must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of killing"

    May I ask where this list is from? I didn't want to requote the whole text lol.

  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    @JohnCobb said:

    @ShanJieshi2 said:
    We take to ourselves the First Major Precept of the Bodhisattva Canon:
    A Bodhisattva shall not kill, encourage others to kill, kill by expedient means, praise killing, or rejoice at witnessing killing. He or she must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of killing"

    May I ask where this list is from? I didn't want to requote the whole text lol.

    Hi John, it's part of our practice, I'm happy to show you and share what's needed.

    JohnCobb
  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    He or she must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of killing.

    So you’d think that all bodhisattvas would be strict vegans.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Jeroen said:

    He or she must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of killing.

    So you’d think that all bodhisattvas would be strict vegans.

    Even so, what of the bugs that are killed by the pesticides and machinery used for collecting the vegetables, wheat, fruit etc that they eat? Where does one draw the line?
    🤔

    Jeroen
  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    I think in the first instance it is about consciousness. But maybe a Tibetan bodhisattva would think differently about this, and would just tuck into a juicy steak.

    JohnCobb
  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Newbie, not Veteran
    edited February 22

    If I understand Kamma correctly..

    We are born.
    We cause action.
    That action causes other actions which cause more actions which cause more actions ad infinitum.
    Then we die.
    Then our body decomposes and our stuff gets eaten by other things. Those things get eaten by things which get eaten by things which get eaten by things...and now we're a human again cuz humans eat everything eventually. Maybe even as a relative that knew you when you were alive..

    ..I mean if you farm-to-table it quick enough who knows how fast you could come back.
    Body, soil, crops, livestock, back to body!..

    Now we're living again in the world we caused through our actions.
    Is it a good one or a bad one? Look to your actions as a guide.
    Reminds me of a boomerang.

    You catch what you throw?

    Hope I'm not too far off the mark.

    JohnCobb
  • I like the metaphor of eating or consumption. We are what we process/eat. Nutrients or junk?

    We might say that simplifying ones input rarifies the output … or at least lessens are learned …

    So in this sense food for thought, rather than regurgitated thinking …

    Guidance from bodhisattva living is in the act of bathing in the right stream - in other words path walking.

    FleaMarket
  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    Fording the stream and returning to it in equal measure

    Acharya Shantideva received the profound understanding of Nagarjuna
    and with an eye single to the welfare and liberation of all sentient beings,
    he established the Avaivartika Sangha at Ashrama Vihara.

    There are few expressions which capture the essence of Madhyamika Buddhism better than "fording the stream and returning to it with equal measure". All of the teachings throughout the history of the Buddhism, from Siddhartha Gautama to the present day, are a part of that stream, countless keys to countless Dharma Doors which call out to us to "ford the stream" and learn from those who have walked the path before us.

    lobster
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited February 22

    @Bunks said:

    @Jeroen said:

    He or she must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of killing.

    So you’d think that all bodhisattvas would be strict vegans.

    Even so, what of the bugs that are killed by the pesticides and machinery used for collecting the vegetables, wheat, fruit etc that they eat? Where does one draw the line?
    🤔

    My understanding of the line in Buddhist thought are intentional actions. Modern ethical thought in the west tends to include farther reaching ripples of economic and social impacts. It becomes a little difficult and messy when you start combining the two, trying to sort out how including modern thought in one area impacts the Buddhist views in other areas. In this case, traditionally a bodhisattva's actions wouldn't be extended out in the way modern ethics does, so if we redefine the boundaries of ethical behavior we redefine what makes a bodhisattva. The TV show The Good Place

    makes a good case that its impossible to be a bodhisattva by today's standards.

  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    Laozi (老子) and Zhuangzi (莊子) both taught that the ideal was to follow
    nature’s example. Zhuangzi especially emphasized the idea “not to assist
    Nature with man,” which is an admonition to flow with nature, not to change
    it.

  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    There must be a return to that purity before the roots of folly take hold. With confession and repentance there is social guilt and culpability. In Buddha Dharma there is only the responsibility to correct each error. In religious systems there is sin, but in Buddha Dharma there is no sin or morality.

    There is only natural virtue

    person
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited February 22

    OP, if I understood your inquiry correctly, you're wondering about the "rules" for becoming a Bodhisattva, so that you can know which "saints" to appeal to for help. You feel you need to identify which ones made the grade, or if your favorite teacher is among the special group.

    I question the entire premise of asking a Bodhisattva for help. That sounds like a Catholic, or perhaps pan-Christian, concept, not a Buddhist one. My understanding is, that that's not how it works. You rely on yourself and the teachings for help. That's what the Buddha taught, as I understand it.

    I suppose that in theory, the Bodhisattvas that are in a position to observe the whole of humanity going through their trials and tribulations would spontaneously act, when they perceived a suffering being, if they viewed it as appropriate to do so. They might decide that it would be best for that person to struggle through on his own, for a more profound learning experience, for example. Tough love.

    That said, however, the way Buddhism has evolved in Asia, concepts like asking the Buddha for help have crept in from the influence of folk beliefs or other religions. Asians do ask the Buddha and a few other Bodhisattvas (Quan Yin comes to mind, and her Tibetan counterpart: Avalokitishvara) for help.

    But I think the Buddha intended for his followers to have confidence in their ability to reason their way out of their struggles. That's what The Way that he took such care to present in detail, is for. ...Isn't it?

    FleaMarketJeroenJohnCobb
  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran
    edited February 22

    asking for help.
    Imagine that Christmas and the New Year are just around the corner. All Christians are looking forward to this bridge to a new year and asking for their wishes and to be able to order their lives in a new beginning. But none of that happens.
    The key is that everything is done with Faith and Hope.
    Faith is that an external entity has the power and administers it (mysteriously?).
    and Hope that that change will come and land in the front garden of the house.
    For Buddhists and non-Buddhists, on the other hand, it is best to get used to changing these words for others.
    With Confidence and Practice.
    Confidence in one's own capacities and daily practice to increase them and their range of influence.

    22 2 22...maybe doing some wiccan magic will help today too...mmh no, I don't think so.

    Kotishka
  • @ShanJieshi2 said:

    22 2 22...maybe doing some wiccan magic will help today too...mmh no, I don't think so.

    Taoist magic, maybe. ;)

  • I set my alarm for 2:22 today and cheered! But I guess that time was only at that moment in my time zone

    FleaMarketJohnCobblobster
  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Newbie, not Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    I set my alarm for 2:22 today and cheered! But I guess that time was only at that moment in my time zone

    I await my 2:22 alarm today to cheer at the same time as you!

    ShanJieshi2lobster
  • JohnCobbJohnCobb Hot Springs Arkansas Explorer

    @Dakini said:
    OP, if I understood your inquiry correctly, you're wondering about the "rules" for becoming a Bodhisattva, so that you can know which "saints" to appeal to for help. You feel you need to identify which ones made the grade, or if your favorite teacher is among the special group. "

    Thank you for your response! I guess in some ways, yes, I'm curious about Bodhisattvas as beings that can be called on for help. Again, I only have Christian terminology that I can really use at this point although I haven't called myself a Christian in years.
    The word Bodhisattva keeps coming up in my studies and I guess I was just looking for folks input on what is a Bodhisattva. What the rules are for saying who is a Bodhisattva, what role does a Bodhisattva play in Buddhism. I guess I'm just looking to learn.

  • JohnCobbJohnCobb Hot Springs Arkansas Explorer

    @ShanJieshi2 said:

    @JohnCobb said:

    @ShanJieshi2 said:
    We take to ourselves the First Major Precept of the Bodhisattva Canon:
    A Bodhisattva shall not kill, encourage others to kill, kill by expedient means, praise killing, or rejoice at witnessing killing. He or she must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of killing"

    May I ask where this list is from? I didn't want to requote the whole text lol.

    Hi John, it's part of our practice, I'm happy to show you and share what's needed.

    I'd love to learn. I loved the wording of what you shared.

    Bunkslobster
  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    Hi John! we should then start a thread just to be able to advance on the Bodhisattvayana / Paramitayana path.

    BunksJohnCobblobster
  • JohnCobbJohnCobb Hot Springs Arkansas Explorer

    @ShanJieshi2 said:
    Hi John! we should then start a thread just to be able to advance on the Bodhisattvayana / Paramitayana path.

    Howdy!
    I like that idea. Should I start the thread or would you like to? Lol I don't even know where to start. I'd just like to learn about where what you originally commented here came from.

  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    @JohnCobb said:

    @ShanJieshi2 said:
    Hi John! we should then start a thread just to be able to advance on the Bodhisattvayana / Paramitayana path.

    Howdy!
    I like that idea. Should I start the thread or would you like to? Lol I don't even know where to start. I'd just like to learn about where what you originally commented here came from.

    ok, then we start a thread on this topic.
    I would like to know something about your daily practice and other details you think are relevant.
    If you belong to a Sangha surely your Master will want to know about this new activity which is fully in tune with the Dharma beyond the differences between schools.
    Of course everyone is free to join in, but for the benefit of all, we will avoid debates and focus on sincere questions from practitioners beyond the merely intellectual.
    In these cases it is also very good to make weekly reports to correct what is needed.
    All agreed? we will start shortly.

    JeroenBunks
  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited February 25

    @JohnCobb said:

    @ShanJieshi2 said:
    We take to ourselves the First Major Precept of the Bodhisattva Canon:
    A Bodhisattva shall not kill, encourage others to kill, kill by expedient means, praise killing, or rejoice at witnessing killing. He or she must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of killing"

    May I ask where this list is from? I didn't want to requote the whole text lol.

    I don't want to step on ShanJieshi2's digital toes, but this AFAIK is a standard elaboration of the bodhisattvaśīla precepts. You can find a version of them in the Brahmajāla vaipulya and also in the Ākāśagarbhasūtra.

    I would recommend you check out "The Nectar of Mañjuśrī's Speech." It is a relatively simple not-too-verbose translation of a commentary on Venerable Śāntideva's exegesis of the bodhisattva precepts. The commentary is from the late 1800s, so the worldview of the author isn't incredibly ancient and foreign to us, which also helps with readability for non-specialists in many ways. The language is also simple enough for someone to read and absorb who isn't already some sort of Dharma-specialist. It's a non-technical guide. It is what I consider to be "my first Dharma book."

    lobsterBunksKotishka
  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    @Vimalajāti said:

    @JohnCobb said:

    @ShanJieshi2 said:
    We take to ourselves the First Major Precept of the Bodhisattva Canon:
    A Bodhisattva shall not kill, encourage others to kill, kill by expedient means, praise killing, or rejoice at witnessing killing. He or she must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of killing"

    May I ask where this list is from? I didn't want to requote the whole text lol.

    I don't want to step on ShanJieshi2's digital toes, but this AFAIK is a standard elaboration of the bodhisattvaśīla precepts. You can find a version of them in the Brahmajāla vaipulya and also in the Ākāśagarbhasūtra.

    I would recommend you check out "The Nectar of Mañjuśrī's Speech." It is a relatively simple not-too-verbose translation of a commentary on Venerable Śāntideva's exegesis of the bodhisattva precepts. The language is also simple enough for someone to read and absorb who isn't already some sort of Dharma-specialist. It's a non-technical guide.

    Exactly..but as I never really know with whom I am interacting I can only give small hints on this subject.
    eventually we meet people who accept to study and practice with patience, perseverance, diligence and continuity and everything is within reach. Nothing hidden or mysterious. I always keep in mind that the first of the Dharma Gates is that of words. Once through, everything becomes a little easier.

    VimalajātilobsterBunks
  • @FleaMarket said:
    How many weeds in the garden are too many?
    How many ants in the kitchen are too many?
    How many bacteria on the skin are too many?

    How many angels/bodhisattvas can dance on the end of a vaccination needle?
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_many_angels_can_dance_on_the_head_of_a_pin?

    … meanwhile in another dimension …
    Part of us is ignorant/sleeping and we also are partly boddhisattvas. How to wake up and dance?

    • Empowerment from the four jewels. (Boddhisatvas get a bonus invisible ring - at least.)
    • Bow and call on the 'gone before'. Personally I call on the yet to come, other dimensions and religions. I need all the helpers available.
    • Look out. Look in. Shine.

    BunksFleaMarket
  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited February 27

    @lobster said:
    How many angels/bodhisattvas can dance on the end of a vaccination needle?

    There is no needle!

    Oooooooooooooh spooky no-needle!

    lobsterFleaMarket
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @JohnCobb it is important to connect with the Bodhisattva principle. In Vajrayana, initially a visualisation and mantra practice.
    https://www.lionsroar.com/how-to-do-green-tara-practice/

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