In chapter three of “Dimensions of Love: East & West” by James A. Mohler, titled, “When he (Bodhisattva) exerts himself for the good of others, he should be filled with love and love alone without any admixture of self-interest”, we see how one who has set out on a quest to become a successful Bodhisattva must incorporate love for others (Mohler, 1975). The very soul of the Bodhisattva is devoted to the spreading of love in his fellow men. In the coming paragraphs, light shall be shed upon the intricacies involved in the responsibilities that one finds himself subjected to when he chooses to travel on the path of the Bodhisattva.
The analysis performed shall be in the light of the third chapter of the book as mentioned above while elaborating upon the various aspects of the Mahayana Bodhisattva. As we go along with the summarization and analysis of the article, we shall observe the factors that are of primary importance to the Mahayana Bodhisattva and what the life of the Mahayana Bodhisattva dictates. Karuna dictates a side of the code of conduct that Buddha presented known as ahimsa. It is no surprise that the presence of Karuna is in multiple religions and mostly in ones that originated around the same time as did Buddhism and Jainism.
It is believed that this element of uniformity may have become prevalent as a result of the movement to discourage the growing bloodshed of that time. The essence of Karuna is to make sure that any element that can encourage or can potentially lead to the encouraging of harm is not promoted under any circumstances. Ahimsa is a unique method of resistance that is incorporated in Kural as well as in Buddhism and in all religions it remains an ideology that speaks of replying to adversity with a unique passive resistance that is composed of exercising good in reply to evil when subjected to evil.
So much so that Tiruvalluvar suggests that since all souls are equal, hence pain inflicted by one upon another is nothing but pain inflicted on one’s self. This ideology revolves around the concept of “self-giving” According to Mahayana Buddhism, the ultimate achievement of inner peace is only possible once one has committed one’s self to serving others and the singular purpose of one’s life has become the spreading of love and peace amongst others. It can be seen how this approach results in the attainment of inner peace for one.
The path of success for the bodhisattva does not revolve around any segment of society but unanimously declares that all segments of society, whether drenched in riches or dwelling in the bowels of evil, are to be helped in their journey through life and towards salvation. To the bodhisattva, his very existence makes him responsible to save the people in the world from misery and pain (Rinchen, 1997). Yet modern day religious scholars often argue that the degree of significance that Mahayana Buddhism places on Karuna down plays the element of intelligence.
Not only is Mahayana Buddhism shown as an approach to life, but in Chinese Mahayana Buddhism, it is also given form and shape in the Goddess of Mercy Kuan-yin. Kuan-yin is a goddess of mercy in the sense that she looks down upon the world with sympathy for the less fortunate. So much so that according to an ancient Chinese proverb, it is believed that a goddess of mercy dwells in every home. In order to become a bodhisattva that is complete in his being, it is necessary to commit one’s being and one’s life to the bringing of peace and love to others.
The bodhisattva is not one whose comprehension of the world around him is dictated by the degree of affluence or hardship that it holds. The bodhisattva is oblivious to such worldly factors in his beliefs and his world exists for the bringing of peace and tranquility to the worried and the pained around him. The bodhisattva does not differentiate between the beggar and the king and helps anybody who karma leads to him. They choose to stay indifferent of infatuation, loathing and recklessness in order to develop virtue within their being.
Even the very prayer of the bodhisattva does not center around the person saying the prayer himself/herself but on the extent to which he can be of service to the people around him/her and lead them through the path to inner peace. The bodhisattva prays for the inner illumination of others once he/she has achieved it. The desire of the bodhisattva is only to bring others to the path of inner illumination and nirvana. In this quest, the bodhisattva does not refrain from undergoing any form of pain or discomfort.
If the bodhisattva must, then he/she will gladly suffer through pain and torture if it can bring another person peace and tranquility. This aspect is dominant to such a significant degree that the bodhisattva does not even choose to give his family and his own being the comfort and the satisfaction that he chooses to ensure for those who come to him for help and assistance and for the enlightenment that he has achieved. The love of a mother holds monumental importance in the universe, and it is the nature of this very love that the Bodhisattva holds for all he beings around him (Beliefnet, 2008).
To the common man, freedom and information are two of the most important elements of success in his life, however, to the bodhisattva, all these and similar elements remain little significance once he has achieved the complete incorporation of Karuna in his being. Needless to say, the bodhisattva feels the pain that the people around him feel and chooses to commit his being to the eradication of that pain. He considers himself to be of no more respect than the people around him and sees all the people as his equal.
He does not consider his world in the perception of his own being but chooses to perceive it in the perception of the people around him. The two foundations of the perception that the Bodhisattva chooses to incorporate in his being are that firstly, he never treats people with bias or prejudice but chooses to treat everybody equally as he sets about to take away the misery and pain from their lives. Secondly, the Bodhisattva does not treat anybody in a way that they would not appreciate, but in a way that would make them comfortable and make them feel warm and welcomed in the discovery of their path to nirvana.
Until and unless all the people in the world are relieved of the pain and misery that they suffer, the bodhisattva never accepts the ultimate blessing of nirvana even though it has been bestowed upon him. He believes that his true happiness will be brought by allowing the people around him to gain access to relief from suffering. He refuses to accept nirvana as his state of mind until he has eradicated pain and suffering from the world and he chooses to spend the entirety of his life in the pursuit of this quest. For the bodhisattva, the consuming of flesh is another matter upon which he exercises very rigorous rules.
It is believed in ahimsa that the reincarnation of a man who consumes the flesh of other living entities will be in the form of carnivorous animals. Beliefs related to the discouraging of the consumption of flesh are the most strongest in eastern traditions like Jainism and Buddhism. The quest for taking away the suffering from all beings at the cost of giving away one’s own comfort is the most primary of priorities for the bodhisattva. The bodhisattva does not turn his back from hard times and does not feel scared of or threatened from adverse circumstances or situations that may cause any discomfort or harm to the bodhisattva.
He is always willing to sacrifice himself so that others may have a better development of their soul. The bodhisattva vows and dedicates his life to fighting against all forms of pain, discomfort, evil and sin that plague the people of the world he has been made responsible for by the inner peace that he has achieved. To the Bodhisattva, the people who are spending their lives in the thirst for wealth and are engaging every instant of their limited life in the race to acquire worldly possessions and to satisfy worldly desires are people who are in the need of the Bodhisattva the most.
It is these people that the Bodhisattva tries to save and tries to bring them to peace of heart and realization and achievement of nirvana. Hence, it is the singular presence of all of God’s creations that the Bodhisattva gives room to in his heart. His mind and heart continue to contemplate how he can be of service to the people who are ailed with the perplexities of the material world and are lost in the pain and misery that the world captivates them in. To the Bodhisattva, the only purpose in life is to bring deliverance to these sick souls.
In this quest, the Bodhisattva is willing to sacrifice his life and his property if the time calls for it. Not only is the Mahayana Bodhisattva willing to sacrifice his very life but he does not refrain from sacrificing every possession that he holds to his name if he can rid somebody of pain and discomfort by doing so. A person who chooses to enter Mahayana Bodhisattva works on six aspects of his person (Essortment, 2008). These six aspects include that of generosity, ethics, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom.
Generosity is a trait not very commonly found in human kind, the unselfish desire, to put others wants, needs, requirements and satisfaction before one’s own. One always searches for personal gain, a means to benefit oneself. But according to Buddhist teachings the potential to benefit one’s self and by doing this, in turn benefiting countless others. This is the teachings of Buddhism, the need for self actualization in the form of selflessness, working for the good of others, concerning oneself with providing solutions for other suffering from the infliction of various situations.
Ethics and moralistic virtue is one of the components of the 6 Perfections. Knowing the difference between right and wrong, good and evil and being able to hold a veneer of control over oneself, that is what Buddhism preaches. Patience corresponds to anger, and anger dominates a person’s actions in negative aspects. Therefore once again a veneer of calmness must at any cost take over the sensation of effused anger. Patience gives an aspect of happiness and peace. Effort is the driving force to achieve something this virtue is highly required to join the prestigious Bodhisattva.
The reason for this is that in order to join, there are many virtues one must possess and if not possess then must procure within oneself, and for this relentless effort is required. Another key aspect that the Mahayana Bodhisattva spends time upon is Meditation. Meditation is the key for ultimate focus. Calm concentration helps one and heals others surrounding him. Distraction places a hurdle in focusing on things important, but meditation clears the mind of all else and focuses on what is required. Concentration creates clairvoyant abilities and provides focus on virtuous deeds.
Besides mediation, knowledge and wisdom are the ultimate amalgamation of the other five perfections. To concern oneself in knowing taking precautions where necessary and controlling what when and where is the capability of wisdom. The Mahayana Bodhisattva believes that it is his purpose in life to ensure that the people who are happy always have smiles in their heart, that all the people who are plagued with disease find health and strength once more, that everybody finds the path to deliverance, that anybody who sets out on a journey reaches his destination safely and in time (Exotic India, 1998).
All in all, the Mahayana Bodhisattva desires to take away all the pain in the world for his own self and replace it with nothing except joy and pure happiness. From the above elaboration of what the Mahayana Bodhisattva holds dear to himself, we can infer that the very establishment and fundamentals of Buddhism are based upon compassion.
This compassion is unique in the sense that it is entirely selfless and comes from a soul that does not hold any concern for its own well being but believes that the completion of its existence will only be possible once it has spent its entire life in the quest for bringing peace and deliverance to the pained and troubled people of the world. The life of the Mahayana Bodhisattva is one plagued with pain and suffering from the apparent view of the person. But the fact of the matter remains that it is in this suffering and pain that the Mahayana Bodhisattva finds comfort.
He finds comfort in knowing that he has given his share of happiness to somebody else and has therefore completed the purpose of his existence. Hence, we can conclude that attainment of material laurels is the least of concerns for the observer of Buddhism. In fact, Buddhism concentrates more on bringing sanctuary to people who are caught up in the web of the world and are suffering pain and misery because of it. Therefore, having become drenched in his responsibilities as a Mahayana Bodhisattva, the person becomes a reincarnation of the Buddha himself. References Beliefnet. (2008). What Mahayana Buddhists Believe .
Retrieved February 13, 2009, from beliefnet. com: http://www. beliefnet. com/Faiths/2001/06/What-Mahayana-Buddhists-Believe. aspx Essortment. (2008). What is Bodhisattva? Retrieved February 13, 2009, from essortment. com: http://www. essortment. com/all/whatisbodhisat_rfld. htm Exotic India. (1998, October 27). The Bodhisattva Ideal. Retrieved February 13, 2009, from kheper. net: http://www. kheper. net/topics/Buddhism/bodhisattva. htm Mohler, J. (1975). Dimensions of love, East and West. Doubleday. Rinchen, G. (1997). The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas. Snow Lion Publications.