What is a Bodhisattva?
A bodhisattva is someone who develops a continual and spontaneous wish to attain enlightenment in order to benefit each and every living being every day. This wish is bodhichitta. Actual bodhisattvas have this wish in their mind all the time and it protects them from unhappiness, negativity and so forth and motivates them to perfect all their good qualities.
Why should I train to become a bodhisattva? Because the world needs bodhisattvas!
The world needs people:
- who are thinking about others and wishing to benefit them
- who are trying to develop their virtuous minds, such as love, wisdom and compassion.
- who want to get rid of the delusions in their mind, such as anger, jealousy and attachment.
- who want to alleviate the suffering of others, finding it unbearable
- who wish to experience the joy of an altruistic life
- who wish to fulfill the meaning of human life, the attainment of enlightenment.
If we decide to use our life to aim for this goal, we will find deep meaning, purpose and peace in this life and will also create causes for future happiness. Ultimately, we will attain the enlightened mind, that is not obstructed in any way from helping others and guiding them to find lasting mental peace or happiness for themselves.
We cannot instantly develop this mind – we first need to develop and deepen our wish for bodhichitta by reflecting again and again on its many benefits and then train in the methods to develop it, protect it and increase it. No matter who we are and what level of meditation experience we have, training in the steps to develop bodhichitta will move us each day farther and farther away from a self-centered mind and closer and closer to an altruistic mind of a Bodhisattva and finally to the enlightened mind of a Buddha
Training in this path does not require that we quit our job, leave our family or make any other dramatic changes in our life. It is an attitude, a view, a way of being that we will take with us wherever we are, with whomever we’re with, in whatever we’re doing. Focus this year really finding joy and meaning in developing this precious mind of service and altruism.
At Odiyana Kadampa Buddhist Center, there will be many special opportunities to learn about and train in the Bodhisattva’s way of living. The center itself, we can say, is a Bodhisattva community, that is here to support the development and growth of inner peace in everyone in order to bring benefit to the world around us – our family, friends, workplace and communities locally and globally.
Although all of the classes, meditations and retreats are for this aim of cultivating inner peace, there will be some specific classes and retreats especially tailored for this Bodhisattva focus.
Each month there will be a Saturday class on a particular aspect of a Bodhisattva’s training. We will specifically be looking at the main practices of a Bodhisattva: The Six Perfections. In order to attain Enlightenment, we use the “vehicle” of Bodhichitta. This vehicle travels to enlightenment in dependence upon six “wheels”, the six perfections.
In addition to these classes, there will be an opportunity to take the Bodhisattva challenge each month by engaging in four guided meditations over a period of four days, helping us to gain experience with each of these six perfections, as well as other helpful meditations to move us forward in our journey to becoming a Bodhisattva.
During the General Program classes (ie on Sundays and Wednesdays) we will be learning to enjoy and improve our meditation skills and deepen our ability to help others. After class, there is always an opportunity to discuss with like-minded people, to support each other in this profound process of training the mind and ask questions to help you on your spiritual path. Everyone wants to be happy all the time. Everyone wants to be free from suffering all the time. In this way, we are all alike. We all have countless situations throughout the day and throughout our life that help us to “train” by giving us a chance to put Buddha’s teachings into practice, to make progress in the spiritual path.
Through gaining experience in meditation and integrating our determinations, insights and compassion into our daily life, we will begin to increase the capacity of our mind, increase our own peace and joy and have the ability to be there for others.
Recommended Texts for Reading
Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life
Meaningful to Behold
How to Understand the Mind
The Mirror of Dharma with Additions
Other Supplemental Texts
Modern Buddhism (free download)
How to Transform Your Life (free download)