Thursday, May 25, 2017

Four Bodhisattva Vows

In Mahayana Buddhism, bodhisattva is the Sanskrit term for anyone who, motivated by great compassion, has generated bodhicitta, which is a spontaneous wish and a compassionate mind to attain buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings

At the beginning of their journey to enlightenment, anybody wishing to follow the Buddhist path takes these “Four Bodhisattva Vows”

“There are innumerable sentient beings in the universe. I vow to help them all to awaken
 My imperfections are inexhaustible. I vow to overcome them all.
The Dharma is unknowable. I vow to know it.
The way of the Awakening is unattainable. I vow to attain it.”

For the non-initiated, the vows seem paradoxical and unattainable.
The vows are a challenge to accomplish things that no human can accomplish.
The misunderstanding arises both from the limitations of language translation and the Eastern –  Western philosophical differences.

In the Western philosophy, the human is born in a state of imperfection that cannot be overcome.  Only by divine intervention can we be absolved of our sins.
In the Eastern philosophy, the human imperfection is relegated to the Ego and it can be overcome by attaining enlightenment, or the state of No-Ego.

A regular person, the “Ego” cannot and will not accomplish any of the vows.
Only by becoming a buddha can a bodhisattva overcome the paradoxical impossibilities of the vows tasks.

Attaining enlightenment is like falling in love. It cannot be done purposely but millions of people fall in love each year.
You have to look at the world and fall in love with it.
The path to impossible starts in infinite compassion.

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