Posts tagged ‘bodhisattva’

In Buddhism, people can attain enlightenment in many ways. They can also do different things once they are enlightened. One choice is to enter nirvana, where all suffering ends. A person who choose this is called an arhat.

A second choice is to stay in the world to help others find enlightenment. A person who chooses this is called a bodhisattva.

The difference between them is explained in a story.

Two men were wandering in the desert when they came to a compound, surrounded by a high wall. The first man climbed the wall. Giving a cry of delight, he leaped down on the other side.

The second man also climbed the wall. At the top, he saw that the walls surrounded a beautiful oasis with springs and gardens. He wanted to enter the garden. But he thought about all the other people who were wandering in the desert. Instead of entering the oasis he returned to the desert, determined to help other wanderers find the oasis.

One of these men was an arhat, and one was a bodhisattva. Which was which?

A bodhisattva is a person who has achieved enlightenment and is dedicated to helping other people escape from suffering. Some teachers suggest that non-Buddhists might be bodhisattvas.

Can you think of anyone (either from history or the present day) who fits the description of a bodhisattva? Name as many people as you can.

In Buddhism, a bodhisattva struggles to achieve ten perfections. Only when these have been achieved can the bodhisattva become a Buddha.

The ten perfections are charity, right conduct, dispassionateness, wisdom, steadfastness, forbearance, truthfulness, determination, loving compassion, nonattachability.

Think about the ten perfections. How do you think they can be achieved? Choose one perfection. Describe how a person could achieve it.

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