How do bodhisattvas help people ?

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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How do bodhisattvas help people ?

Postby Bohemian Seeker » Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:20 am

Hi Folks,

How do bodhisattvas help people ? Do they help people to be more enlightened ? Do they offer help in life ? Why do we need them ?

What is their range of help in our lives ?

Thanks for helping me to explore Buddhism.

Mike

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Re: How do bodhisattvas help people ?

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:55 am

Well, you could answer in many ways. I daresay a lot of people would talk in terms of heroic tasks and selfless deeds, which is certainly true. But another answer would be, by doing what needs to be done, on behalf of anyone who needs help, at that time, and in that place.

The problem with romanticizing the Bodhisattva is that by picturing them as an exceptional being who is capable of superhuman acts of compassion, we may be creating a division between the Bodhisattva and our human nature, which doesn't seem so capable of such acts. This then becomes a way to actually negate the meaning of the Bodhisattva's intention.

I imagine there are people, like those who serve charities in war-zones, who do actually undertake what we would all consider heroic acts of compassion. But we can also emulate the Bodhisattva's way of life, simply by being helpful, considerate and compassionate to anyone we meet, in any circumstances. And without romancing the idea too much.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: How do bodhisattvas help people ?

Postby Bohemian Seeker » Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:27 pm


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Re: How do bodhisattvas help people ?

Postby DGA » Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:05 pm

Here's the place to start.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Way-Bodhisatt ... =santideva

you can do it too.

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Re: How do bodhisattvas help people ?

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Re: How do bodhisattvas help people ?

Postby Bohemian Seeker » Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:25 pm

Thanks Guys, much appreciated.

Mike

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Re: How do bodhisattvas help people ?

Postby Nicholas Weeks » Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:34 pm

Helpful people who have not taken a vow to bring to buddhahood all beings over countless lifetimes are only that, helpful people.

Bodhisattvas can do many ordinary helpful tasks, but their main focus is on encouraging the selfless nature of our minds to come forth and control our selfish tendencies.
A bodhisattva does not become weary of evil beings nor does he commit the error of bringing forth thoughts inclined to reject them and cast them aside. Avatamsaka Sutra, ch. 25

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Re: How do bodhisattvas help people ?

Postby Bohemian Seeker » Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:32 pm


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Re: How do bodhisattvas help people ?

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Re: How do bodhisattvas help people ?

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:46 pm

Good observation on Will's part - my interpretation was very 'naturalistic', that is, interpreting the Bodhisattva idea in naturalistic terms as 'altrusitic action' exemplified in many different types of people and ways of life. However the traditional teachings do of course interpret it more formally in line with the Buddhist understanding of the Bodhisattva. But I do see examples of people who, whilst they may not have any connection with Buddhism, act altruistically or selflessly to benefit other - even animal welfare workers! - and I can't help but think of them in those terms.

(Which reminds me - there was a very moving story last year of a man by the name of Lawrence Anthony, known as 'The Elephant Whisperer", who had helped African elephants, and also helped elephants stranded in the Baghdad zoo during the Iraq war. He was said to have extraordinary empathy with elephants. When he died in March 2012, elephants turned up outside his house in Africa to mourn him. Nobody could explain how they knew about his death, as many had trekked for long kilometers to stand there in vigil outside of his house for two days. There's an account .)
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: How do bodhisattvas help people ?

Postby Quiet Heart » Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:13 am

:smile:
How do they help?
Sometimes the same way a father helps his son learn to ride a bike.
The child keeps falling down, but the father picks him back up, gets him back on that bike, and steadys him until he starts off again.
That's what wise mothers and fathers do for their children.
And that's what wise teachers due for their students.
And maybe, just maybe, Bodhisattvas.
Do you see?
:smile:
Shame on you Shakyamuni for setting the precedent of leaving home.
Did you think it was not there--
in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
from - Judyth Collin
The Layman's Lament
From What Book, 1998, p. 52
Edited by Gary Gach

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Re: How do bodhisattvas help people ?

Postby Techno Yogi » Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:35 am


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Re: How do bodhisattvas help people ?

Postby lobster » Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:46 am


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Re: How do bodhisattvas help people ?

Postby Nicholas Weeks » Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:49 am

While there are bodhisattvas in the flesh, the greatest are not. Here is a little about these Eight Great bodhisattvas:

http://www.lionsroar.name/the_8_bodhisattvas.htm
A bodhisattva does not become weary of evil beings nor does he commit the error of bringing forth thoughts inclined to reject them and cast them aside. Avatamsaka Sutra, ch. 25

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Re: How do bodhisattvas help people ?

Postby Bohemian Seeker » Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:58 am

Thanks Guys, that is food for thought.

:smile:

:namaste:

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Re: How do bodhisattvas help people ?

Postby dude » Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:40 pm

Bodhisattvas help people (and other living beings). That's all there is to it. When you save a person from drowning or rescue an injured animal, you are acting as a Bodhisattva, and your state of life is that of a Bodhisattva. These are called provisional Bodhisattvas.
Bodhisattvas of the Law, or mahasattvas, are living beings who have accumulated merit in past lives by performing acts of loving kindness for other living beings in past lives. They (we) have gained enough to merit to hear the Law in this life, and the capacity to understand and accept it.

jeeprs comments are instructive and much appreciated. I concur with everything said above.
"The problem with romanticizing the Bodhisattva is that by picturing them as an exceptional being who is capable of superhuman acts of compassion, we may be creating a division between the Bodhisattva and our human nature, which doesn't seem so capable of such acts. This then becomes a way to actually negate the meaning of the Bodhisattva's intention."
This is right on the money. There is no essential difference between an ordinary human being and a buddha, or for that matter, a bodhisattva, a god, or a living being in the hell realms. We are all manifestations of the All in All, expressions of the life force of the universe. From the perspective of "things as they really are," there is no difference or separation between an individual living being, the buddhas, or other manifestations of life.
Will's comments about the One Vehicle, which reveal the means for making the final step from the Bodhisattva to Buddha, are even more important, and also greatly appreciated. This is the true intention of all the teachings of all the Buddhas in the universe.
The Buddhas, the world-honored ones, wish to open the door of the buddha-wisdom to all living beings, to allow them to attain purity. That is why they appear in this world. They wish to show the buddha-wisdom to living beings, and therefore they appear in the world.
- Lotus Sutra
Kudos also to lobster, who has concisely explained the way of practice :
"You should align with the obvious level, which may develop a perception of the more subtle."
By contemplating what is right in front of us in the light of the Buddha's teachings and deepening our understanding, we develop the capacity to perceive progressively higher truths.
I am greatly encouraged by such a sincere question, and renewed in my determination. You have inspired me to redouble my efforts.
May all living beings know happiness and the causes of happiness
- Metta Sutra


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