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Buddha is seen as someone who has attained "complete enlightenment" with regard to the nature and purpose of existence. Buddhism is not merely a collection of one man's sayings; rather, it is the outburst of spiritual reality as it manifests in this world. A Bodhisattva dedicates his life to upholding Buddhism's teachings by completely and lovingly laying aside himself. In order to enlighten others, he first aims to enlighten himself. A "bodhi" is a being that is born wise. He has attained a point of knowledge from which he cannot return. The Bodhisattva involves participating in acts of compassion for the benefit of all human beings. Its basic ideal is to provide relief to those that are suffering and to be their guides.
1.1 Bodhisattva as a compassionate savior.
The Mahayana Buddhism portrays the Bodhisattvas as a divine savior who is a role model to be followed for all believers. All good Buddhists are considered to be Bodhisattvas in the making. The Bodhisattva is filled with immense compassion for all beings. He is distressed when he sees the victims who carry their past deeds and are to face punishment in purgatory while others are to go through rebirths that will lead to their separation from the Buddha. He feels that he will be able to set them free from their pain and suffering (AstasahasrikaPrajnaparamita, p. 22).
He has no companion and also puts on the supreme wisdom armor. His strength comes from within; he does not need to be helped by generosity, but rather he supportscharity. Same goes for the virtues of patience, morality, wisdom and meditation.
1.2. Bodhisattva as a source of strength.
He gains his strength in the following ways (Tathagataguhya Sutra, Siksasamuccaya, p. 274): He gives up his life and body but doesn’t neglect the Law of Righteousness.He is compassionate towards the weak and does not show them any dislike.He feeds the hungry with the best food. For this reason, the bodhisattva provides the strength, both physical and spiritual, as may be required by those in need. He takes upon himself the burdens of those who are weary and tired. He provides protection for the ones who are afraid and encourages them to venture onto the path of righteousness. He is also joyful in all things and even prays that those who afflict him may be filled with the joy of complete enlightenment. In this way, he becomes imperturbable and cannot be shaken by all deeds of Mara.
1.3. Bodhisattva’s stand on meat consumption.
The bodhisattva does not eat meat as this would cause terror to the living beings that he is so compassionate. He holds the firm belief that all life is sacred, and none should be held above the other. Animals experience pain when they are slaughtered. All form of meat eating is prohibited unconditionally. The Buddhist tradition encourages all Buddhists not to eat meat. They are only permitted to do so if the animal providing the meat was not killed with the intention to feed them and if they were not involved in the killing. Many Buddhist prefer to be vegetarians altogether as this is a step towards being a bodhisattva. This calls for empathizing with the animals that are usually slaughtered.
1.4. Bodhisattva as the embodiment of selflessness
From the story of the Bodhisattva and the hungry tigress, we see that Prince Mahasattva gave his body up to save the life of the hungry tigress that had given birth to some cubs and was exhausted from hunger and thirst and was likely to die if she did not find something to eat. He believed that by sacrificing his futilebody, he would win Dharma-body which is perfect and pure. Selflessness requires the bodhisattva to be patient with others and to constantly fight to overcome the desire for material gain and its sensual pleasures which lead to anger, impatience, conceit, hate, delusion and greed. He finds great happiness in living a life free of materials.
1.5. Turning the wheel of Dharma
The mind of those who have anattachment to worthless objects is filled with passion and a darkening delusion. They are not able to understand the treaties that are doctrinal. But even with the extreme suppression of these emotions it is not possible to comprehend the true sense of truth. So a new path can be found through the five mendicants. Suffering must be comprehended, and its cause has to be given up so as to realize how to stop it. This leads to the opening of the spiritual organ of vision (Chodron).
1.6. The meeting of father and son
The Buddha goes to preach the Dharma to his father and also shows him how proficient he is in his wonder working power. The father feels overjoyed with his son’s fruitfulness. The father feels tht the Buddha’s choice to leave and give up his luxurious home. We see here that a bodhisattva is supposed to even give up being with those h loves so as to become a universal monarch. Even his father sees that if he remained tied up with the things of this world he wouldn’t have been able to achieve as much as he had. The father now understands that if his son had remained to become a king he would not have been able to become the sovereign master of this world.
1.7. Three bodies of the Buddha
The three bodies of Buddha are also known as the Trikaya. The Body of Essence, the Body of Bliss and the transformation body. The Body of Bliss changes in different planes of the universe in accordance with the region. However, the Body of Essence is uniform and stable and is inherent in the Body of Bliss. The Transformation body exhibits birth, Nirvanna and enlightenment. These three bodies are connected and have uniform stability. Bodhisattva believes in the interconnection of the three bodies in sustaining life.
1.7. 1. The desire for death
Even though the Tathagatas are able to live to up to the end of aeon, the great Seer went in to a trance with such immense yoga force until he gave up the physical life he was still due. Bodhisattvas sacrifice this life when their work is done so as to be reborn in the Tushita heaven.
1.8. Joyfulness in everything
He is joyful in all things and even prays that those who afflict him may be filled with the joy of complete enlightenment. In this way he becomes imperturbable and cannot be shaken by all deeds of Mara. Joy is one of the core values of Buddhism and therefore, the bodhisattva has trained his mind such that he able to maintain utmost calm and inner joy even when undergoing intense pain and suffering. He believes that with practice nothing is difficult. The bodhisattva stands for embracing joyfulness, especially in challenging times or when it would be ordinarily require a withdrawal from human society.
1.9 Upholds the six perfections
A bodhisattva upholds the perfection of giving, vigour, meditation, morality and wisdom. He should remain unshaken in upholding these virtues and also help others to uphold them.
1.9.1. Faith in emptiness
All things that are conditioned are impermanent, insatiable and fragile in form. According to Buddhism all things that are conditioned are done so by ignorance and upon final analysis they usually do not exist. It is seen that that which is being conditioned and he who conditions it are both ‘Empty’ and are without power of action in their essential nature (Lalitavistara, p. 77).
By maintaining doctrine of Emptiness, a bodhisattvas is not lured by woldly things and does not get excited by gain of feel less wanted by loss. He is not intrigued by fame nor is he shamed by infamy. He is not allured by the empty pleasures of this world and isn’t dismayed by the pain that it brings forth. He knows that it is all just emptiness (Dharmsangitri Sutra, p. 264).
2.1. Comparison of my findings with the themes of Vimalakirti Sutra
The Vimalakirti Sutra is a sutra dedicated to providing instruction on the concept of nondualism. This, in various varieties, means that the human self cannot exist beyond itself. It states that beyond the everyday reality, there is no transcendence. Other versions also state that the universe is one and the facets of our universe do not allow for a differentiation between the Absolute (Brahman) and the soul (Atmana). In this sense, it denies the existence, and presence of, other beings out of the human surrounding that are intended to help him attain a higher spiritual plane. The bodhisattva calls for an acknowledgement of the human soul as the soil in which the teachings of the Buddha can be planted. Manjushri stated that the Buddha law cannot grow in a person who has come into the understanding of the uncreated nature of reality. He adds that humans only seek the Buddha law when they run into challenges, meaning that if the world would be rid of its various problems, the Buddha law would be rendered defunct.
A comparison between the concepts of Vimalakirti Sutra and what entails being a Bodhisattva would be an attempt in futility, since the two are different. However, the first contrast is that the Vimalakirti Sutra considers itself flexible. Adherents to this teaching often find ways of justifying what they do, even though some are against the original Buddhist tradition. Being a Bodhisattva requires a discipline that lacks in the Vimalakirti Dutra. It entails following strict guidelines that help make the person a better being.
According to the Vimalakirti, a bodhisattva masters the way of the Buddha by following a path that is not the way. He does so by going into the area of the five sins and showing no anger or anguish as he is led to the hell of never-ending suffering. He is however still free of sin or defilement. In his actions, he seems to be greedy and filled with desire yet he is free of the stain of attachment. He appears to break the commandments, yet he is not capable of committing even the smallest of faults. He appears angry and irritable, yet he is compassionate and forbearing at all times. He seems to be immersed in the desire of earthly possessions but is rather pure in mind. This supports what we have seen in the previous paragraphs concerning what a bodhisattva stands for. That even though he may appear to be something different, he stands with the teachings of Buddhism and upholds the way to self-enlightenment and also showing light to others.
According to the Vimalakirti, he appears to be poor and destitute, but his hands are covered in jewelry and are capable of bestowing inexhaustible benefits. He seems to be in possession of great wealth yet he views it as transient. He seems to have wives and concubines, yet he does not indulge in the fleshly desires. Even though he seems to employ unconventional ways of salvation, he abides by the true teachings in providing salvation to all living beings.
The bodhisattva masters the way of the Buddha by going to places which are usually opposite to the way in that fashion. However, one can only be able to fully grasp and appreciate the Law of Buddha if they are in the midst of the desires of the flesh. Just as if seeds are planted in the sky, they will never germinate. They have to be planted in soil that has enough manure tosprout.Bodhisattvais portrayed as full of wisdom and as one who is full of compassion. He dwells in emptiness and tranquillity. His real friends are the thirty-seven elements of the way. He can gain enlightenment through them.
Second, the Vimalakirti Sutra holds that silence does not mean a level of spiritual enhancement, but an actual state of emptiness in a bodhisattva. While it holds that most of Buddhist literature encourages silence, it is pointless to adopt quietude when an individual has said so many words in his life. For a bodhisattva, however, silence is markedly important in communing with the spiritual realm. It enables the individual to meditate adequately, even while engaging in his daily activities. Since silence requires a humbling of self even when there is need to speak in defense of something right, the Vimalakirti Sutra discourages it.
The concept of dualism is one which has been a source of contention among the adherents of Buddhism. Bodhisattvas believe that disregarding the duality of the various opposites, such as light and darkness, self and other, meritorious and blameful deeds would be tantamount to entering the gate of nondualism. These aspects prevent the monk from accepting his true nature. Nondualism, according to the Vimalakirti Sutra, enables the Buddhist to accept birthlessness as a spiritual truth (111). It encourages an open way of thinking, which is likely to cause him to stray further from what he has already believed.
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