The Path of the Bodhisattva
According to Anne Klein (the Buddhist teacher, not the fashion designer :), “A bodhisattva is someone whose purpose is to benefit others in every possible way, especially to free them from ignorance and from bondage to a sense of self…You’re a bodhisattva when you never waiver from your powerful aspiration to be of benefit to everyone, not just in meditation but throughout daily life.”
The Buddhists believe that sitting in meditation is an activity that benefits everything and everyone, but to actively look for ways to benefit the world makes you kindred to the bodhisattva tradition.
Think about being so mindful that you are in active pursuit of alleviating suffering. This doesn’t mean that we need to be saints. It only means that at very least, we don’t add to the cauldron of suffering which already bubbles in the world today. We add to suffering with negative thoughts, ignorance and selfishness.
Maybe our opportunities are small, like letting someone into the flow of traffic. Or maybe it’s a one dollar contribution to an animal shelter. Perhaps you pick up a bottle someone threw on the ground and recycle it. Maybe your aspirations allow you to teach with an open heart, or volunteer.
To even notice these as opportunities you have to be mindful of the fact that there is such a thing as a bodhisattva. You will know in your heart that as long as there is suffering in the world, you must look for opportunities to give a little something somewhere.
The aggregate of many people feeling this way would be huge. The wave of kindness would wash away cynicism and negativity. As of now, many of us are justifying our own selfishness by that of others. As fear driven and self-absorbed “individuals,” we separate ourselves from universal healing.
I wonder as you read this whether it sounds New Age? There is nothing new about positivity and open-heartedness. It has existed always. Each of us has to decide whether we choose to live from that platform or whether we want to follow the herd and remain in the company of bankrupt souls.
There is never enough kindness. There is never enough self-forgiveness and compassion for others. We will all experience hurt and unfairness, but it has never been, nor will it ever be, an excuse to hurt others, even with our thoughts.
For one day, let’s all try on the bodhisattva suit and see how it feels. I think it will fit very well.