A Bodhisattva is said to be a great practitioner who aims to walk on the path taught by Gautam Buddha. He aspires to follow the practice of benefiting sentients of all beings and himself. The destination of Bodhisattva is far. It is a selfless journey that involves numerous kalpas and comprises compassion, diligent practice of patience, wisdom, and mindfulness. A bodhisattva makes the greatest vow for liberating sentient beings from pain and suffering. With undying compassion for others, a bodhisattva guides to hop on the path of awakening.
The Terminology of Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva word is an amalgamation of two Sanskrit words, namely bodhi and sattva. The definition of the word ‘Bodhi’ is ‘to awaken’ whereas ‘Sattva’ is derived as a ‘sentient being.’ After combining both the meanings, Bodhisattva becomes ‘an awakened one who is a sentient being.’
However, the meaning of a bodhisattva is very deep in Buddhism. In a nutshell, it means the practitioner who is seeking enlightenment but is also available to help others towards liberation and push them on the path of awakening. Thus, Bodhisattvas are referred to as the beings that have perfected the practice of benefitting both themselves and society while progressing on the way to enlightenment.
Vows to become a Bodhisattva
When Buddha returned after attaining enlightenment, he imparted four noble truths. These contain the entire essence of Buddha’s teachings. The four noble truths are:
- The truth behind every suffering is pain (Dukkha).
- The origin of the pain starts from desire (Samudaya).
- The end of suffering starts with letting go of the desire (Nirodh).
- The path towards the cessation of desire (Magga).
The four noble truths become the vows for a practitioner aspiring to become Bodhisattva. The vows for a Bodhisattva are:
- Learning the pain of others as well as oneself.
- Understanding that the desires are the reason behind all pains and suffering.
- To end the suffering, make oneself ready to give-up on desires.
- Practice the cessation of desire.
Liberating the Sentient Being
For fulfilling the vows, there are two ways:
- Liberate oneself first and then liberate others:
Until we taste the fruit, it is not possible to describe the taste. Liberating oneself from the sentiments will help in guiding others. Therefore, before extending the helping hands to others, the practitioner should be aware of the complexities of the path. Developing compassion for others can help in excelling the art.
A bodhisattva is required to be liberated from the primary cycle of birth, desire, and death. He must reach a state where the afflictions and sufferings couldn’t affect him much.
- Liberate others first; then liberate oneself:
This way comes directly under the radar of compassion. A Bodhisattva garners all teachings from sentient beings and for sentient beings. To fulfill the bodhisattva path, he has to liberate all sentient beings. If someone draws the path from the sentient beings, then the same couldn’t be recognized as a bodhisattva.
However, regardless of the approach, the Mahayana Buddhism vows to find a way for liberating sentiments making its primary responsibility for the Bodhisattva. They describe themselves as teaching Dharma is their duty; benefiting sentient beings is their mission.
Steps of Becoming a Bodhisattva
The path to achieving true happiness is enlightenment. A person enlightened from within is way happier than anyone who has attained fulfilled desires. The former type of happiness lasts forever; however, the latter vanishes with time. This is the first step of becoming Bodhisattva.
Strive to Attain Enlightenment
Achieving enlightenment is not one day’s job. It is a dedicated and diligent practice that involves meditation. For attaining enlightenment, one has to embrace love, wisdom, happiness, peace, and self-discipline.
This is another key objective of becoming Bodhisattva. He who aspires to come to Bodhisattva has to embrace the love of the surroundings and develop equal compassion for the upliftment of the society. It is said to do a good deed every day.
Get help from the master
To master techniques, one needs proper guidance as we have already mentioned that becoming Bodhisattva requires years of practice to excel in the path. While practicing, there could be some guidance required. The practitioner needs to picture the master while meditating. If they are out of reach, then reading their books as well as understanding their wisdom might help extensively.
Find a personal role model
Finding a role model helps in shaping the path towards enlightenment. There are many Bodhisattvas and Buddhas of love. There are many spiritual ways to find the perfect role model. One can learn from Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig), Buddha Amitabha, the Goddess Tara (Kuan Yin), or any other. The best role model, in this case, is oneself. Making believe that you have achieved enlightenment will ease the path.
Observe the sufferings of the world
The world is always under peril. There are illnesses, agony, hunger, desire, and many other doshas that are creating suffering for humankind. Understanding the sufferings of the world could be sensed by developing empathy. This takes one to the path of excelling as Bodhisattvas.
Proceed to guide the rest
Start with seeing yourself as a spiritual winner. Understanding pain and suffering and guiding them towards enlightenment are the primary goals of Bodhisattvas. They seek ways to help the sufferers.
Becoming a Bodhisattvas is like embracing the responsibility of removing suffering from the world, liberating the sentient beings, and guiding all to be awakened. The task seems hard, but once embarked, the mystic satisfaction helps to take further steps.