Bodhisattva

In Buddhism, a bodhisattva (/ˌboʊdiːˈsʌtvə/ BOH-dee-SUT-və)[1] is any person who is on the path towards Buddhahood.

In the Early Buddhist schools as well as modern Theravada Buddhism, a bodhisattva (Pali: bodhisatta) refers to anyone who has made a resolution to become a Buddha and has also received a confirmation or prediction from a living Buddha that this will be so.[2]

In Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva refers to anyone who has generated bodhicitta, a spontaneous wish and compassionate mind to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.[3]

Translations of
Bodhisattva
EnglishBodhisattva
Paliबोधिसत्त
Sanskritबोधिसत्त्व
Bengaliবোধিসত্ত্ব
Burmeseဗောဓိသတ်
(IPA: [bɔ́dḭθaʔ])
Chinese菩提薩埵(菩薩), 菩提萨埵(菩萨)
(Pinyinpútísàduǒ (púsà) )
(Wade–Giles: p'u2-sa4)
(Jyutping: pou4 tai4 saat3 do3)
)
Japanese菩薩
(rōmaji: bosatsu)
Khmerពោធិសត្វ
(UNGEGN: Pothisat)
Korean보살, 菩薩
(RR: bosal)
Monတြုံလၟောဝ်ကျာ်
([kraoh kəmo caik])
Sinhalaබෝධි සත්ත්ව
Tibetanབྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་དཔའ་
(byang chub sems dpa)
Thaiโพธิสัตว์
phothisat
VietnameseBồ Tát
Glossary of Buddhism

Early Buddhism and the Nikāya schools

Gandhara, rilievo col buddha shakyamuni che medita nella grotta indrashala e il buddha dipankara, II-III secolo
Gandharan relief depicting the bodhisatta (future Gautama Buddha) taking a vow at the foot of Dipankara Buddha, Art Institute of Chicago.
DevoteeDetail
Probable early image of a bodhisattva (Bimaran casket, 50 CE).[4]
Ascetic Sumedha and Dipankara Buddha
Modern depiction of the bodhisatta resolution (praṇidhāna) in front of Dipankara.
Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara-BMA
Bronze statue of the bodhisatta Avalokiteśvara. Sri Lanka, ca. 750 CE.

In early Buddhism, the term bodhisatta is used in the early texts to refer to Gautama Buddha in his previous lives[5] and as a young man in his current life in the period during which he was working towards his own liberation. During his discourses, to recount his experiences as a young aspirant he regularly uses the phrase "When I was an unenlightened bodhisatta..." The term therefore connotes a being who is "bound for enlightenment", in other words, a person whose aim is to become fully enlightened. In the Pāli canon, the bodhisatta is also described as someone who is still subject to birth, illness, death, sorrow, defilement, and delusion. Some of the previous lives of the Buddha as a bodhisattva are featured in the Jataka tales.

According to the Theravāda monk Bhikkhu Bodhi, the bodhisattva path is not taught in the earliest strata of Buddhist texts such as the Pali Nikayas (and their counterparts such as the Chinese Āgamas) which instead focus on the ideal of the Arahant.[6]

The oldest known story about how Gautama Buddha becomes a bodhisattva is the story of his encounter with the previous Buddha, Dīpankara. During this encounter, a previous incarnation of Gautama, variously named Sumedha, Megha, or Sumati offers five blue lotuses and spreads out his hair or entire body for Dīpankara to walk on, resolving to one day become a Buddha. Dīpankara then confirms that they will attain Buddhahood.[2] Early Buddhist authors saw this story as indicating that the making of a resolution (abhinīhāra) in the presence of a living Buddha and his prediction/confirmation of one's future Buddhahood was necessary to become a bodhisattva. According to Drewes, "all known models of the path to Buddhahood developed from this basic understanding."[2]

The path is explained differently by the various Nikaya schools. In the Theravāda Buddhavaṃsa (1st-2nd century BCE), after receiving the prediction, Gautama took four asaṃkheyyas (‘incalculable aeons’) and a hundred thousand, shorter kalpas (aeons) to reach Buddhahood.[2]

The Sarvāstivāda school had similar models about how the Buddha Gautama became a bodhisattva. They held it took him three asaṃkhyeyas and ninety one kalpas (aeons) to become a Buddha after his resolution (praṇidhāna) in front of a past Buddha. During the first asaṃkhyeya he is said to have encountered and served 75,000 Buddhas, and 76,000 in the second, after which he received his first prediction (vyākaraṇa) of future Buddhahood from Dīpankara, meaning that he could no longer fall back from the path to Buddhahood.[2] Thus, the presence of a living Buddha is also necessary for Sarvāstivāda. The Mahāvibhāṣā explains that its discussion of the bodhisattva path is partly meant to “stop those who are in fact not bodhisattvas from giving rise to the self-conceit that they are.”[2]

The Mahāvastu of the Mahāsāṃghika-Lokottaravādins presents four stages of the bodhisattva path without giving specific time frames (though its said to take various asaṃkhyeya kalpas):[2]

  1. Natural (prakṛti), one first plants the roots of merit in front of a Buddha to attain Buddhahood.
  2. Resolution (praṇidhāna), one makes their first resolution to attain Buddhahood in the presence of a Buddha.
  3. Continuing (anuloma), one continues to practice until one meets a Buddha who confirms one's future Buddhahood.
  4. Irreversible (anivartana), at this stage, one cannot fall back.

Later Theravāda

The Sri Lankan commentator Dhammapala in his commentary on the Cariyāpiṭaka, a text which focuses on the bodhisatta path, notes that to become a bodhisatta one must make a valid resolution in front of a living Buddha, which confirms that one is “irreversible” (anivattana) from the attainment of Buddhahood. The Nidānakathā, as well as the Buddhavaṃsa and Cariyāpiṭaka commentaries makes this explicit by stating that one cannot use a substitute (such as a Bodhi tree, Buddha statue or Stupa) for the presence of a living Buddha, since only a Buddha has the knowledge for making a reliable prediction. This is the generally accepted view maintained in orthodox Theravada today.[2] The idea is that any resolution to attain Buddhahood may easily be forgotten or abandoned during the aeons ahead. The Burmese monk Ledi Sayadaw (1846–1923) explains that though it is easy to make vows for future Buddhahood by oneself, it is very difficult to maintain the necessary conduct and views during periods when the Dharma has disappeared from the world. One will easily fall back during such periods and this is why one is not truly a full bodhisatta until one receives recognition from a living Buddha.[2]

Because of this, it was and remains a common practice in Theravada to attempt to establish the necessary conditions to meet the future Buddha Maitreya and thus receive a prediction from him. Medieval Theravada literature and inscriptions report the aspirations of monks, kings and ministers to meet Maitreya for this purpose. Modern figures such as Anagarika Dharmapala (1864–1933), and U Nu (1907–1995) both sought to receive a prediction from a Buddha in the future and believed meritorious actions done for the good of Buddhism would help in their endeavor to become bodhisattas in the future.[2]

Over time the term came to be applied to other figures besides Gautama Buddha in Theravada lands, possibly due to the influence of Mahayana. The Theravada Abhayagiri tradition of Sri Lanka practiced Mahayana Buddhism and was very influential until the 12th century.[7] Kings of Sri Lanka were often described as bodhisattvas, starting at least as early as Sirisanghabodhi (r. 247-249), who was renowned for his compassion, took vows for the welfare of the citizens, and was regarded as a mahāsatta (Sanskrit mahāsattva), an epithet used almost exclusively in Mahayana Buddhism.[8] Many other Sri Lankan kings from the 3rd until the 15th century were also described as bodhisattvas and their royal duties were sometimes clearly associated with the practice of the Ten Pāramitās.[9] In some cases, they explicitly claimed to have received predictions of Buddhahood in past lives.[2]

Theravadin bhikkhu and scholar Walpola Rahula stated that the bodhisattva ideal has traditionally been held to be higher than the state of a śrāvaka not only in Mahayana but also in Theravada Buddhism. He also quotes the 10th century king of Sri Lanka, Mahinda IV (956-972 CE), who had the words inscribed "none but the bodhisattvas will become kings of a prosperous Lanka," among other examples.[10]

But the fact is that both the Theravada and the Mahayana unanimously accept the Bodhisattva ideal as the highest...Although the Theravada holds that anybody can be a Bodhisattva, it does not stipulate or insist that all must be Bodhisattva which is considered not practical.

— Walpola Rahula, Bodhisattva Ideal in Buddhism[11]

Jeffrey Samuels echoes this perspective, noting that while in Mahayana Buddhism the bodhisattva path is held to be universal and for everyone, in Theravada it is "reserved for and appropriated by certain exceptional people."[12] Paul Williams writes that some modern Theravada meditation masters in Thailand are popularly regarded as bodhisattvas.[13]

In Mahāyāna Buddhism

Liao Dynasty Avalokitesvara Statue Clear.jpeg
Wood carving of Avalokiteśvara. Liao China, 907-1125
Ajanta Padmapani
Mural of Padmapani in Ajanta Caves. India, 5th century
Bodhisattva Ghorband Musée Guimet 2418
Clay sculpture of a bodhisattva. Afghanistan, 7th century

Early Mahāyāna

Twenty-Five Bodhisattvas Descending from Heaven, c. 1300
Twenty-five Bodhisattvas Descending from Heaven. Japanese painting, c. 1300

Mahāyāna Buddhism (often also called Bodhisattvayāna, or the "Bodhisattva Vehicle") is based principally upon the path of a bodhisattva.[14] This path was seen as nobler than becoming an arhat or a solitary Buddha. According to David Drewes, "Mahayana sutras unanimously depict the path beginning with the first arising of the thought of becoming a Buddha (prathamacittotpāda), or the initial arising of bodhicitta, typically aeons before one first receives a Buddha’s prediction, and apply the term bodhisattva from this point."[2]

The Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra, one of the earliest known Mahayana texts, contains a simple and brief definition for the term bodhisattva, which is also the earliest known Mahāyāna definition.[15][16] This definition is given as the following: "Because he has bodhi as his aim, a bodhisattva-mahāsattva is so called."[17]

The Aṣṭasāhasrikā, also divides the path into three stages. The first stage is that of bodhisattvas who “first set out in the vehicle” (prathamayānasaṃprasthita), then there is the “irreversible” (avinivartanīya) stage, and finally the third “bound by one more birth” (ekajātipratibaddha), as in, destined to become a Buddha in the next life.[2] Drewes also notes that:

When Mahāyāna sūtras present stories of Buddhas and bodhisattvas’ first arising of the thought of attaining Buddhahood, they invariably depict it as taking place in the presence of a Buddha, suggesting that they shared with all known nikāya traditions the understanding that this is a necessary condition for entering the path. In addition, though this key fact is often obscured in scholarship, they apparently never encourage anyone to become a bodhisattva or present any ritual or other means of doing so. Like nikāya texts, they also regard the status of new or recent bodhisattvas as largely meaningless. The Aṣṭasāhasrikā, for instance, states that as many bodhisattvas as there grains of sand in the Ganges turn back from the pursuit of Buddhahood and that out of innumerable beings who give rise to bodhicitta and progress toward Buddhahood, only one or two will reach the point of becoming irreversible.[2]

Drewes also adds that early texts like the Aṣṭasāhasrikā treat bodhisattvas who are beginners (ādikarmika) or "not long set out in the [great] vehicle" with scorn, describing them as "blind", "unintelligent", "lazy" and "weak". Early Mahayana works identify them with those who reject Mahayana or who abandon Mahayana, and they are seen as likely to become śrāvakas (those on the arhat path). Rather than encouraging them to become bodhisattvas, what early Mahayana sutras like the Aṣṭa do is to help individuals determine if they have already received a prediction in a past life, or if they are close to this point.[2] The Aṣṭa provides a variety of methods, including forms of ritual or divination, methods dealing with dreams and various tests, especially tests based on one's reaction to the hearing of the content in the Aṣṭasāhasrikā itself. The text states that encountering and accepting its teachings mean one is close to being given a prediction and that if one does not "shrink back, cower or despair" from the text, but "firmly believes it", one is irreversible. Many other Mahayana sutras such as the Akṣobhyavyūha and the Śūraṃgamasamādhi Sūtra present textual approaches to determine one's status as an advanced bodhisattva. These mainly consist in one's attitude towards listening to, believing, preaching, proclaiming, copying or memorizing and reciting the sutra.[2] According to Drewes, this claim that merely having faith in Mahāyāna sūtras meant that one was an advanced bodhisattva, was a departure from previous Nikaya views about bodhisattvas. It created new groups of Buddhists who accepted each other's bodhisattva status.[2]

Some of early depictions of the Bodhisattva path in texts such as the Ugraparipṛcchā Sūtra describe it as an arduous, difficult monastic path suited only for the few which is nevertheless the most glorious path one can take. Three kinds of bodhisattvas are mentioned: the forest, city, and monastery bodhisattvas - with forest dwelling being promoted a superior, even necessary path in sutras such as the Ugraparipṛcchā and the Samadhiraja sutras.[18] The early Rastrapalapariprccha sutra also promotes a solitary life of meditation in the forests, far away from the distractions of the householder life. The Rastrapala is also highly critical of monks living in monasteries and in cities who are seen as not practicing meditation and morality.[19] The Ratnagunasamcayagatha also says the bodhisattva should undertake ascetic practices (dhutanga), "wander freely without a home", practice the paramitas and train under a guru in order to perfect his meditation practice and realization of prajñaparamita.[20] Some scholars have used these texts to argue for "the forest hypothesis", the theory that the initial Bodhisattva ideal was associated with a strict forest asceticism. But other scholars point out that many other Mahayana sutras do not promote this ideal, focusing on sutra based practices.[21]

Some Mahayana sutras promoted another revolutionary doctrinal turn, claiming that the three vehicles of the Śrāvakayāna, Pratyekabuddhayāna and the Bodhisattvayāna were really just one vehicle (ekayana). This is most famously promoted in the Lotus Sūtra which claims that the very idea of three separate vehicles is just an upaya, a skillful device invented by the Buddha to get beings of various abilities on the path. But ultimately, it will be revealed to them that there is only one vehicle, the ekayana, which ends in Buddhahood.[22]

Mature Mahāyāna

Over time, Mahayana Buddhists developed mature systematized doctrines about the bodhisattva path. The authors of the various Madhyamaka shastras (treatises) often presented the view of the ekayana. The texts and sutras associated with the Yogacara school developed a different theory of three separate gotras or lineages, that inherently predisposed a person to either the vehicle of the arhat, pratyekabuddha or samyak-saṃbuddha (fully self awakened one).[21] However, the term was also used in a broader sense. According to the eight century Mahāyāna philosopher Haribhadra, the term "bodhisattva" can refer to those who follow any of the three vehicles, since all are working towards bodhi (awakening). Therefore, the specific term for a Mahāyāna bodhisattva is a mahāsattva (great being) bodhisattva.[23] According to Atiśa's 11th century Bodhipathapradīpa, the central defining feature of a Mahāyāna bodhisattva is the universal aspiration to end suffering for all sentient beings, which is termed bodhicitta (the heart set on awakening).[24] Later Sanskrit Mahayana Buddhists also developed specific rituals and devotional acts for the arising of this absolutely central quality of bodhicitta, such as the "seven part worship" (Saptāṇgapūjā or Saptavidhā Anuttarapūjā). This ritual form is visible in the works of Shantideva (8th century) and includes:[25]

  • Vandana (obeisance, bowing down)
  • Puja (worship of the Buddhas)
  • Sarana-gamana (going for refuge)
  • Papadesana (confession of bad deeds)
  • Punyanumodana (rejoicing in merit of the good deeds of oneself and others)
  • Adhyesana (prayer, entreaty) and yacana (supplication) - request to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to continue preaching Dharma
  • Atmabhavadi-parityagah (surrender)

Contemporary Mahāyāna Buddhism follows this model and encourages everyone to give rise to bodhicitta and ceremonially take bodhisattva vows. With these vows, one makes the promise to work for the complete enlightenment of all sentient beings by practicing the transcendent virtues or paramitas.[26]

Related to the different views on the different types of yanas or vehicles is the question of a bodhisattva's relationship to nirvāṇa. In the various Mahāyāna texts, two theories can be discerned. One view is the idea that a bodhisattva must postpone their awakening until full Buddhahood is attained (at which point one ceases to be reborn, which is the classical view of nirvāṇa). This view is promoted in some sutras like the Pañcavimsatisahasrika-prajñaparamita-sutra.[27] The second theory is the idea that there are two kinds of nirvāṇa, the nirvāṇa of an arhat and a superior type of nirvāṇa called apratiṣṭhita (non-abiding) that allows a Buddha to remain engaged in the world. This doctrine developed in Yogacara. As noted by Paul Williams, the idea of apratiṣṭhita nirvāṇa may have taken some time to develop and is not obvious in some of the early Mahāyāna literature, therefore while earlier sutras may sometimes speak of "postponement", later texts saw no need to postpone the "superior" apratiṣṭhita nirvāṇa.[27]

In this Yogacara model, the bodhisattva definitely rejects and avoids the liberation of the śravaka and pratyekabuddha, described in Mahāyāna literature as either inferior or "Hina" (as in Asaṅga's fourth century Yogācārabhūmi) or as ultimately false or illusory (as in the Lotus Sūtra).[28] That a bodhisattva has the option to pursue such a lesser path, but instead chooses the long path towards Buddhahood is one of the five criteria for one to be considered a bodhisattva. The other four are: being human, being a man, making a vow to become a Buddha in the presence of a previous Buddha, and receiving a prophecy from that Buddha.

Over time, a more varied analysis of bodhisattva careers developed focused on one's motivation. This can be seen in the Tibetan Buddhist teaching on three types of motivation for generating bodhicitta. According to Patrul Rinpoche's 19th century Words of My Perfect Teacher (Kun bzang bla ma'i gzhal lung), a bodhisattva might be motivated in one of three ways. They are:

  1. King-like bodhicitta - To aspire to become a Buddha first in order to then help sentient beings.
  2. Boatman-like bodhicitta - To aspire to become a Buddha at the same time as other sentient beings.
  3. Shepherd-like bodhicitta - To aspire to become a Buddha only after all other sentient beings have done so.

These three are not types of people, but rather types of motivation. According to Patrul Rinpoche, the third quality of intention is most noble though the mode by which Buddhahood actually occurs is the first; that is, it is only possible to teach others the path to enlightenment once one has attained enlightenment oneself.[29] The ritualized formulation of the bodhisattva vow also reflects this order (becoming a buddha so that one can then teach others to do the same). A bodhisattva vow ritual text attributed to Nāgārjuna, of the second-third century CE, states the vow as follows: "Just as the past tathāgata arhat samyaksambuddhas, when engaging in the behavior of a bodhisattva, generated the aspiration to unsurpassed complete enlightenment so that all beings be liberated, all beings be freed, all beings be relieved, all beings attain complete nirvana, all beings be placed in omniscient wisdom, in the same way, I whose name is so-and-so, from this time forward, generate the aspiration to unsurpassed complete enlightenment so that all beings be liberated, all beings be freed, all beings be relieved, all beings attain complete nirvana, all beings be placed in omniscient wisdom."[30]

The six perfections that constitute bodhisattva practice should not be confused with the actual acts of benefiting beings that the bodhisattva vows to accomplish once he or she is a buddha. The six perfections are a mental transformation and need not actually benefit anyone. This is seen in the story of Vessantara, an incarnation of Śākyamuni Buddha while he was still a bodhisattva, who commits the ultimate act of generosity by giving away his children to an evil man who mistreats them. Vessantara's generous act causes indirect harm, however, the merit from the perfection of his generosity fructifies when he attains complete enlightenment as Śākyamuni Buddha.[31]

Bodhisattva grounds or levels

According to many traditions within Mahāyāna Buddhism, on the way to becoming a Buddha, a bodhisattva proceeds through ten, or sometimes fourteen, grounds or bhūmis. Below is the list of the ten bhūmis and their descriptions according to the Avataṃsaka Sūtra and The Jewel Ornament of Liberation, a treatise by Gampopa, an influential teacher of the Tibetan Kagyu school. (Other schools give slightly variant descriptions.)

Before a bodhisattva arrives at the first ground, he or she first must travel the first two of five paths:

  1. the path of accumulation
  2. the path of preparation

The ten grounds of the bodhisattva then can be grouped into the next three paths:

  1. bhūmi 1 the path of insight
  2. bhūmis 2-7 the path of meditation
  3. bhūmis 8-10 the path of no more learning

The chapter of ten grounds in the Avataṃsaka Sūtra refers to 52 stages. The 10 grounds are:

  1. Great Joy: It is said that being close to enlightenment and seeing the benefit for all sentient beings, one achieves great joy, hence the name. In this bhūmi the bodhisattvas practice all perfections (pāramitās), but especially emphasizing generosity (dāna).
  2. Stainless: In accomplishing the second bhūmi, the bodhisattva is free from the stains of immorality, therefore, this bhūmi is named "stainless". The emphasized perfection is moral discipline (śīla).
  3. Luminous: The light of Dharma is said to radiate for others from the bodhisattva who accomplishes the third bhūmi. The emphasized perfection is patience (kṣānti).
  4. Radiant: This bhūmi it is said to be like a radiating light that fully burns that which opposes enlightenment. The emphasized perfection is vigor (vīrya).
  5. Very difficult to train: Bodhisattvas who attain this ground strive to help sentient beings attain maturity, and do not become emotionally involved when such beings respond negatively, both of which are difficult to do. The emphasized perfection is meditative concentration (dhyāna).
  6. Obviously Transcendent: By depending on the perfection of wisdom, [the bodhisattva] does not abide in either saṃsāra or nirvāṇa, so this state is "obviously transcendent". The emphasized perfection is wisdom (prajñā).
  7. Gone afar: Particular emphasis is on the perfection of skillful means (upāya), to help others.
  8. Immovable: The emphasized virtue is aspiration. This "immovable" bhūmi is where one becomes able to choose his place of rebirth.
  9. Good Discriminating Wisdom: The emphasized virtue is the understanding of self and non-self.
  10. Cloud of Dharma: The emphasized virtue is the practice of primordial wisdom.

After the ten bhūmis, according to Mahāyāna Buddhism, one attains complete enlightenment and becomes a Buddha.

With the 52 stages, the Śūraṅgama Sūtra recognizes 57 stages. With the 10 grounds, various Vajrayāna schools recognize 3–10 additional grounds, mostly 6 more grounds with variant descriptions.[32][33]

A bodhisattva above the 7th ground is called a mahāsattva. Some bodhisattvas such as Samantabhadra are also said to have already attained buddhahood.[34]

School doctrines

Some sutras said a beginner would take 3–22 countless eons (mahāsaṃkhyeya kalpas) to become a buddha.[35][36][37] Pure Land Buddhism suggests buddhists go to the pure lands to practice as bodhisattvas. Tiantai, Huayan, Zen and Vajrayāna schools say they teach ways to attain buddhahood within one karmic cycle.[38][39]

Various traditions within Buddhism believe in specific bodhisattvas. Some bodhisattvas appear across traditions, but due to language barriers may be seen as separate entities. For example, Tibetan Buddhists believe in various forms of Chenrezig, who is Avalokiteśvara in Sanskrit, Guanyin in China, Gwan-eum in Korea, Quan Am in Vietnam, and Kannon in Japan. Followers of Tibetan Buddhism consider the Dalai Lamas and the Karmapas to be an emanation of Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

The place of a bodhisattva's earthly deeds, such as the achievement of enlightenment or the acts of Dharma, is known as a bodhimaṇḍa, and may be a site of pilgrimage. Many temples and monasteries are famous as bodhimaṇḍas. Perhaps the most famous bodhimaṇḍa of all is the Bodhi Tree under which Śākyamuṇi achieved buddhahood. In the tradition of Chinese Buddhism, there are four mountains that are regarded as bodhimaṇḍas for bodhisattvas, with each site having major monasteries and being popular for pilgrimages by both monastics and laypeople. These four bodhimandas are:

Gallery

Standing bodhisattva. Gandhāra, 2nd-3rd century.

Museum für Indische Kunst Dahlem Berlin Mai 2006 006

Standing bodhisattva. Gandhāra, 2nd-3rd century.

Mural Worshipping Bodhisattva

Gathering of bodhisattvas. China, 6th century.

Mural Avolokitesvara

Mural of bodhisattvas. China, Tang Dynasty, 7th-9th century.

COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Boeddhistisch beeld van mogelijk acoliet in de tempel Tjandi Mendoet rechts. TMnr 60004721

Boddhisattva Vajrapani. Mendut near Borobudur, Central Java, Indonesia. Sailendran art c. 8th century.

Maitreya Komering Srivijaya Front

A bronze boddhisattva Maitreya. Komering, Palembang, Indonesia. Srivijayan art c. 9th-10th century.

Kokūzō Bosatsu

Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva. Japan, 9th century.

Chinese mural of a bodhisattva, ink and color on plaster, c. 952, Honolulu Academy of Arts

Mural of a bodhisattva. China, 10th century.

Bangkok National Museum - 2017-04-22 (053)

9th century CE Srivijayan art, Chaiya, Surat Thani, Southern Thailand.

Guanyin 00

Seated Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Guanyin), wood and pigment, 11th century, Chinese Northern Song dynasty, St. Louis Art Museum.

WLA brooklynmuseum Seated Avalokitesvara black chlorite

Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva. India, 11th-12th century.

Avalokiteçvara, Malayu Srivijaya style

Gold coated bronze statue of Avalokitesvara in Malayu-Srivijayan style c. 11th century, Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

Mahasthamaprapta

Mahāsthāmaprāpta Bodhisattva. China, 13th century.

COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Zilveren Manjusri beeld afkomstig uit Ngemplak Semongan TMnr 10016132

Youthful Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva silver statue. Java, 9th century Indonesia.

Monju crossing the sea

Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva crossing the sea. Japan, 14th century.

Jizo, the Bodhisattva of the Earth Matrix

Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva. Japan, 15th century.

Samantabhadra

Samantabhadra Bodhisattva. Japan.

Maitreya Buddha the next Buddha

Maitreya Bodhisattva. Thiksey Monastery, Ladakh, India.

"Standing Bodhisattva" in Brooklyn Museum IMG 3868

"Standing Bodhisattva" (pre-1234). Brooklyn Museum, New York City.

Daizuigu Mahapratisara

Daizuigu Mahapratisara Bodhisattva. Guimet Museum.

Shrine with an Image of a Bodhisattva

Shrine with an Image of a Bodhisattva. Brooklyn Museum.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "Bodhisattva". Collins English Dictionary.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Drewes, David, Mahāyāna Sūtras and Opening of the Bodhisattva Path, Paper presented at the XVIII the IABS Congress, Toronto 2017, Updated 2019.
  3. ^ The Bodhisattva Vow: A Practical Guide to Helping Others, page 1, Tharpa Publications (2nd. ed., 1995) ISBN 978-0-948006-50-0
  4. ^ "The crossroads of Asia", edited by Ellizabeth Errington and Joe Cribb, The ancient India and Iran Trust, 1992, ISBN 0951839918, p.189-190
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  29. ^ Words of My Perfect Teacher: A Complete Translation of A Classic Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism. Translated by The Padmakara Translation Group. (Walnut Creek: Altamira, 1994), 218.
  30. ^ Nagārjuna. Byang chub mchog tu sems bskyed pa'i cho ga (Bodhicittotpadaviddhi, Ritual for Generating the Intention for Supreme Buddhahood). Toh. 3966 Tengyur, mdo, gi. (sems can thams cad bsgral ba dang/ sems can thams cad dgrol ba dang/ sems can thams cad dbugs dbyung ba dang/ sems can thams cad yongs su mya ngan las 'da' ba dang/ sems can thams cad thams cad mkhyen pa'i ye shes la dgod pa'i slad du ci ltar bla na med pa yang dag par rdzogs pa'i byang chub tu thugs bskyed pa de bzhin du bdag ming 'di zhes bgyi ba yang dus 'di nas bzung)
  31. ^ "Vessantara" In The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013), 965.
  32. ^ "ԲϢ - Ŀ ļ". Archived from the original on 8 September 2015. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  33. ^ 鄔金旺度. "吉祥鄔金密嚴寺". Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  34. ^ 459 因地菩薩和果地菩薩
  35. ^ 三大阿僧祇劫 Archived November 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ 成佛的目的是到每一個世界去度眾生. Archived April 11, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ 即身成就與三大阿僧祇劫之修行 Archived May 26, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ "顯教與密教". Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  39. ^ 「無諍之辯」導讀

References

External links

Arhat

Arhat is defined in Theravada Buddhism as one who has gained insight into the true nature of existence and has achieved nirvana. Other Buddhist traditions have used the term for people far advanced along the path of Enlightenment, but who may not have reached full Buddhahood.The understanding of the concept has changed over the centuries, and varies between different schools of Buddhism and different regions. A range of views on the attainment of arhats existed in the early Buddhist schools. The Sarvāstivāda, Kāśyapīya, Mahāsāṃghika, Ekavyāvahārika, Lokottaravāda, Bahuśrutīya, Prajñaptivāda, and Caitika schools all regarded arhats as imperfect in their attainments compared to buddhas.Mahayana Buddhist teachings urge followers to take up the path of a bodhisattva, and to not fall back to the level of arhats and śrāvakas. The arhats, or at least the senior arhats, came to be widely regarded as "moving beyond the state of personal freedom to join the Bodhisattva enterprise in their own way".Mahayana Buddhism regarded a group of Eighteen Arhats (with names and personalities) as awaiting the return of the Buddha as Maitreya, and other groupings of 6, 8, 16, 100, and 500 also appear in tradition and Buddhist art, especially in East Asia. They can be seen as the Buddhist equivalents of the Christian saints, apostles or early disciples and leaders of the faith.

Asanga

Asaṅga (Tibetan: ཐོགས་མེད།, Wylie: thogs med, traditional Chinese: 無著; ; pinyin: Wúzhuó; Romaji: Mujaku) (fl. 4th century C.E.) was "one of the most important spiritual figures" of Mahayana Buddhism and the "founder of the Yogacara school". Traditionally, he and his half-brother Vasubandhu are regarded as the major classical Indian Sanskrit exponents of Mahayana Abhidharma, Vijñanavada (awareness only) thought and Mahayana teachings on the bodhisattva path.

Avalokiteśvara

Avalokiteśvara or Padmapani ( UV-əl-oh-kih-TAY-shvər-ə; Sanskrit: अवलोकितेश्वर) is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. This bodhisattva is variably depicted, described and portrayed in different cultures as either male or female. In Tibet, he is known as Chenrezik, and in Cambodia as Avloketesvar. In Chinese Buddhism, Avalokiteśvara has evolved into the somewhat different female figure Guanyin, also known in Japan as Kanzeon or Kannon. In Nepal Mandal this figure is known as Jana Baha Dyah, Karunamaya, Seto Machindranath.

Bodhicitta

In Buddhism, bodhicitta, "enlightenment-mind", is the mind that strives toward awakening, empathy, and compassion for the benefit of all sentient beings.

Bodhisattva vow

The Bodhisattva vow is the vow taken by Mahayana Buddhists to liberate all sentient beings. One who has taken the vow is nominally known as a Bodhisattva. This can be done by venerating all Buddhas and by cultivating supreme moral and spiritual perfection, to be placed in the service of others. In particular, Bodhisattvas promise to practice the six perfections of giving, moral discipline, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom in order to fulfill their bodhicitta aim of attaining enlightenment for the sake of all beings. Whereas the Prātimokṣa vows cease at death, the Bodhisattva vow extends into future lives.

Guanyin

Guanyin or Guan Yin () is the most commonly used Chinese translation of the bodhisattva known as Avalokiteśvara. In English usage, Guanyin is the Buddhist bodhisattva associated with compassion and venerated chiefly by followers of Mahayana Buddhist schools as practiced in the sinosphere. From the Buddhist perspective, the term Guanyin encompasses the entire spectrum of Mahayana Buddhist practices related to Avalokitesvara ranging from the Lotus Sutra and extending towards Shingon as well as Tibetan Vajrayana. It also includes localized practices different from other regions; localizations are however found throughout the Buddhist world. Guanyin also refers to the bodhisattva as adopted by other Eastern religions such as Taoism, where she is revered as an immortal, as well as Chinese folk religions, Japanese Shinto, Korean blending of Guanyin worship with native beliefs and in Vietnam the adoption of Guanyin by Cao Daism. In western languages, she was first given the appellation of "Goddess of Mercy" or the Mercy Goddess by Jesuit missionaries in China. The Chinese name Guanyin, is short for Guanshiyin, which means "[The One Who] Perceives the Sounds of the World".Some Buddhists believe that when one of their adherents departs from this world, they are placed by Guanyin in the heart of a lotus, and then sent to the western Pure Land of Sukhāvatī. Guanyin is often referred to as the "most widely beloved Buddhist Divinity" with miraculous powers to assist all those who pray to her, as is said in the Lotus Sutra and Karandavyuha Sutra.

Several large temples in East Asia are dedicated to Guanyin including Shitennō-ji, Sensō-ji, Kiyomizu-dera, Sanjūsangen-dō, Shaolin, Dharma Drum Mountain and many others. Guanyin's abode and bodhimanda in India is recorded as being on Mount Potalaka. With the localization of the belief in Guanyin, each area adopted their own Potalaka. In China, Putuoshan is considered the bodhimanda of Guanyin. Naksansa is considered to be the Potalaka of Guanyin in Korea. Japan's Potalaka is located at Fudarakusan-ji. Tibet's Potalaka is the Potala Palace. There are several pilgrimage centers for Guanyin in East Asia. Putuoshan is the main pilgrimage site in China. There is a 33 temple Guanyin pilgrimage in Korea which includes Naksansa. In Japan there are several pilgrimages associated with Guanyin. The oldest one of them is the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage, a pilgrimage through 33 temples with Guanyin shrines. Guanyin is beloved by all Buddhist traditions in a non-denominational way and found in most Tibetan temples under the name Chenrezig. Guanyin is also beloved and worshiped in the temples in Nepal. The Hiranya Varna Mahavihar located in Patan is one example. Guanyin is also found in some influential Theravada temples such as Gangaramaya, Kelaniya and Natha Devale nearby Sri Dalada Maligawa in Sri Lanka; Guanyin can also be found in Thailand's Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Burma's Shwedagon Pagoda. Statues of Guanyin are a widely depicted subject of Asian art and found in the Asian art sections of most museums in the world.

Ill Communication

Ill Communication is the fourth studio album by American hip hop group Beastie Boys. It was released on May 31, 1994 by Grand Royal Records. Co-produced by Beastie Boys and Mario C., the album is among the band's most varied releases, drawing from hip hop, punk rock, jazz and funk. As with their prior release Check Your Head, this album continues the band's trend away from sampling and towards live instruments.

It features musical contributions from Money Mark, Eric Bobo and Amery "AWOL" Smith and vocal contributions from Q-Tip and Biz Markie. The Beastie Boys were influenced by Miles Davis' jazz rock albums Agharta and On the Corner while recording Ill Communication.Ill Communication became the band's second number-one album on the US Billboard 200 albums chart and their second triple platinum album. The album was supported by the single "Sabotage", which was accompanied by a music video directed by Spike Jonze that parodied 1970s cop shows.

Karuṇā

Karuṇā (in both Sanskrit and Pali) is generally translated as compassion and self-compassion. It is part of the spiritual path of both Buddhism and Jainism.

Ksitigarbha bodhisattva

Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva (Jizō Bosatsu, 地蔵菩薩), is a Japanese wood and bronze statue of about 1175 in the late Heian period, which is now in the permanent Asian collection at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The statue depicts Jizō (Ksitigarbha in Sanskrit), who in Japanese Buddhism is the bodhisattva of the earth, and is considered a protector of children and travelers. He is also a rescuer of beings in hell and is considered a guardian of souls for children that have died before their parents.

Kṣitigarbha

Kṣitigarbha (Sanskrit: क्षितिगर्भ, Chinese: 地藏; pinyin: Dìzàng; Japanese: 地蔵; rōmaji: Jizō; Korean: 지장(地藏); romaja: Jijang; Vietnamese: Địa Tạng) is a bodhisattva primarily revered in East Asian Buddhism and usually depicted as a Buddhist monk. His name may be translated as "Earth Treasury", "Earth Store", "Earth Matrix", or "Earth Womb". Kṣitigarbha is known for his vow to take responsibility for the instruction of all beings in the six worlds between the death of Gautama Buddha and the rise of Maitreya, as well as his vow not to achieve Buddhahood until all hells are emptied. He is therefore often regarded as the bodhisattva of hell-beings, as well as the guardian of children and patron deity of deceased children and aborted fetuses in Japanese culture, where he is known as Jizō or Ojizō-sama.

Usually depicted as a monk with a halo around his shaved head, he carries a staff to force open the gates of hell and a wish-fulfilling jewel to light up the darkness.

List of bodhisattvas

In Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist thought, a bodhisattva (Chinese: 菩薩; pinyin: púsà; Japanese pronunciation: bosatsu; Korean pronunciation: bosal) is a being who is dedicated to achieving complete Buddhahood. Conventionally, the term is applied to beings with a high degree of enlightenment. Bodhisattva literally means a "bodhi (enlightenment) being" in Sanskrit. Mahayana practitioners have historically lived in many other countries that are now predominantly Hindu, Muslim or Theravada Buddhist; remnants of reverence for bodhisattvas has continued in some of these regions.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of bodhisattvas primarily respected in Indian, Tibetan Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism.

Mahayana

Mahāyāna (English: ; Sanskrit: महायान for "Great Vehicle") is one of two main existing branches of Buddhism (the other being Theravada) and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice. This movement added a further set of discourses, and although it was initially small in India, it had long-term historical significance. The Buddhist tradition of Vajrayana is sometimes classified as a part of Mahāyāna Buddhism, but some scholars consider it to be a different branch altogether."Mahāyāna" also refers to the path of the Bodhisattva seeking complete enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, also called "Bodhisattvayāna", or the "Bodhisattva Vehicle". A bodhisattva who has accomplished this goal is called a samyaksaṃbuddha (सम्यक्सम्बुद्ध), or "fully enlightened Buddha". A samyaksaṃbuddha can establish the Dharma and lead disciples to enlightenment. Mahāyāna Buddhists teach that enlightenment can be attained in a single lifetime, and this can be accomplished even by a layperson.The Mahāyāna tradition is the largest major tradition of Buddhism existing today, with 53% of practitioners, compared to 36% for Theravada and 6% for Vajrayana in 2010.In the course of its history, Mahāyāna Buddhism spread from India to various other South, East and Southeast Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Taiwan, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Mahayana Buddhism also spread to other South and Southeast Asian countries, such as Afghanistan, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, the Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Iran and other Central Asian countries before being replaced by Theravada Buddhism, Islam, or other religions.Large Mahāyāna scholastic centers such as Nalanda thrived during the latter period of Buddhism in India, between the seventh and twelfth centuries. Major traditions of Mahāyāna Buddhism today include Chan Buddhism, Korean Seon, Japanese Zen, Pure Land Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism and Vietnamese Buddhism. It may also include the Vajrayana traditions of Tiantai, Tendai, Shingon Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism, which add esoteric teachings to the Mahāyāna tradition.

Maitreya

Maitreya (Sanskrit), Metteyya (Pali), is regarded as a future Buddha of this world in Buddhist eschatology. In some Buddhist literature, such as the Amitabha Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, he is referred to as Ajita.

According to Buddhist tradition, Maitreya is a bodhisattva who will appear on Earth in the future, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma. According to scriptures, Maitreya will be a successor to the present Buddha, Gautama Buddha (also known as Śākyamuni Buddha). The prophecy of the arrival of Maitreya refers to a time in the future when the dharma will have been forgotten by most on the terrestrial world.

Maitreya has also been adopted for his millenarian role by many non-Buddhist religions in the past, such as the White Lotus, as well as by modern new religious movements, such as Yiguandao.

Physical characteristics of the Buddha

There are no extant representations of the Buddha represented in artistic form until roughly the 2nd century CE, partly due to the prominence of aniconism in the earliest extant period of Buddhist devotional statuary and bas reliefs. A number of early discourses describe the appearance of the Buddha, and are believed to have served as a model for early depictions. In particular, the "32 signs of a Great Man" are described throughout the Pali Canon, and these are believed to have formed the basis for early representations of the Buddha. These 32 major characteristics are also supplemented by another 80 secondary characteristics (Pali:Anubyanjana).

In Mahāyāna Buddhism, including the traditions of Esoteric Buddhism, the 32 major characteristics and 80 minor characteristics are understood to be present in a buddha's sambhogakāya, or reward-body. In contrast, a buddha's physical form is understood to be a nirmāṇakāya, or transformation-body.

Prajnaparamita

Prajñāpāramitā means "the Perfection of (Transcendent) Wisdom" in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Prajñāpāramitā refers to this perfected way of seeing the nature of reality, as well as to a particular body of sutras and to the personification of the concept in the Bodhisattva known as the "Great Mother" (Tibetan: Yum Chenmo). The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā "wisdom" with pāramitā "perfection". Prajñāpāramitā is a central concept in Mahāyāna Buddhism and is generally associated with the doctrine of emptiness (Shunyata) or 'lack of Svabhava' (essence) and the works of Nagarjuna. Its practice and understanding are taken to be indispensable elements of the Bodhisattva path.

According to Edward Conze, the Prajñāpāramitā Sutras are "a collection of about forty texts ... composed somewhere around Indian subcontinent between approximately 100 BC and AD 600." Some Prajnāpāramitā sūtras are thought to be among the earliest Mahāyāna sūtras.One of the important features of the Prajñāpāramitā Sutras is anutpada (unborn, no origin).

Samantabhadra

Samantabhadra (Sanskrit: समन्तभद्र; lit. "Universal Worthy") is a bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism associated with practice and meditation. Together with Gautama Buddha and his fellow bodhisattva Mañjuśrī, he forms the Shakyamuni trinity in Buddhism. He is the patron of the Lotus Sutra and, according to the Avatamsaka Sutra, made the ten great vows which are the basis of a bodhisattva. In Chinese Buddhism, Samantabhadra is known as Pǔxián and is associated with action, whereas Mañjuśrī is associated with prajñā (transcendent wisdom). In Japan, this bodhisattva is known as Fugen, and is often venerated in Tendai and Shingon Buddhism, and as the protector of the Lotus Sutra by Nichiren Buddhism. In the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, Samantabhadra is also the name of the Adi-Buddha – in indivisible Yab-Yum with his consort, Samantabhadrī.

Skanda (Buddhism)

Skanda (Chinese:塞建陀, 室建陀), also known as Wei Tuo (Chinese: 韋馱) and Idaten (Japanese: 韋駄天) is a Mahayana bodhisattva regarded as a devoted guardian of Buddhist monasteries who protects the teachings of Buddhism. He is also sometimes called in the Chinese tradition "Hufa Weituo Zuntian Pusa", meaning "Honored Dharma Protector Skanda Bodhisattva", because he is the leader of the twenty-four celestial guardian deities mentioned in the Golden Light Sutra.

In Chinese temples, Skanda faces the statue of the Buddha in the main shrine. In others, he is on the far right of the main shrine, whereas on the left is his counterpart, Sangharama (personified as the historical general Guan Yu). In Chinese sutras, his image is found at the end of the sutra, a reminder of his vow to protect and preserve the teachings.

According to legends, Skanda was the son of a virtuous king who had complete faith in Buddha's teachings. When the Buddha entered nirvana, the Buddha instructed Skanda to guard the Dharma. It was his duty to protect members of the sangha when they are disturbed by Mara, the tempter, and also to resolve conflicts amongst members of the sangha. A few days after the Buddha's passing and cremation, evil demons stole his relics. Skanda's vow of protecting the faith and Dharma was proven when he managed to defeat the evil demons and returned the relics.

Tara (Buddhism)

Tara (Sanskrit: तारा, tārā; Tib. སྒྲོལ་མ, Dölma), Ārya Tārā, or White Tara, also known as Jetsun Dölma (Tibetan language: rje btsun sgrol ma) in Tibetan Buddhism, is an important figure in Buddhism. She appears as a female bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism, and as a female Buddha in Vajrayana Buddhism. She is known as the "mother of liberation", and represents the virtues of success in work and achievements. She is known as Tara Bosatsu (多羅菩薩) in Japan, and occasionally as Duōluó Púsà (多羅菩薩) in Chinese Buddhism.Tārā is a meditation deity worshiped by practitioners of the Tibetan branch of Vajrayana Buddhism to develop certain inner qualities and to understand outer, inner and secret teachings such as karuṇā (compassion), mettā (loving-kindness), and shunyata (emptiness). Tārā may more properly be understood as different aspects of the same quality, as bodhisattvas are often considered metaphors for Buddhist virtues.

There is also recognition in some schools of Buddhism of twenty-one Tārās. A practice text entitled Praises to the Twenty-One Taras, is the most important text on Tara in Tibetan Buddhism. Another key text is the Tantra Which is the Source for All the Functions of Tara, Mother of All the Tathagatas.The main Tārā mantra is the same for Buddhists and Hindus alike: oṃ tāre tuttāre ture svāhā. It is pronounced by Tibetans and Buddhists who follow the Tibetan traditions as oṃ tāre tu tāre ture soha. The literal translation would be “Oṃ O Tārā, I pray O Tārā, O Swift One, So Be It!”

Ākāśagarbha

Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva or Akasagarbha Bodhisattva (Chinese: 虛空藏菩薩; pinyin: Xūkōngzàng Púsà; Japanese pronunciation: Kokūzō Bosatsu; Korean: 허공장보살; romaja: Heogongjang Bosal, Standard Tibetan Namkha'i Nyingpo, Vietnamese Hư Không Tạng Bồ Tát) is a bodhisattva who is associated with the great element (mahābhūta) of space (ākāśa). He is also sometimes called Gaganagañja, which means "sky-jewel."

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