Bodhisattvahood, Part 1

These 40 days of spiritually sojourning with Vimalakirti have left an indelible imprint on my psyche. I have literally awoken daily with Vimalakirti, walked with Vimalakirti , meditated with Vimalakirti, absorbed Vimalakirti’s teaching and have received the auspicious gift of being afforded the grace to catch a tiny glimpse of just what constitutes Bodhisattvahood. The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti has been classified as the “Crowning-Jewel” of the Mahayana; as indicated earlier, the Mahayana was originally referred to as the Bodhisattva-yana—and this auspicious Sutra certainly highlights why that was so. The Vimalakirti Sutra is a wonderful blend of the Prajñāpāramitā, Mādhyamikas and Avatamsaka traditions. One can indeed see the influences of these in their respective chapters—like when embracing the six paramitas (Prajñāpāramitā), the total re-evaluation of all values wherein the Bodhisattva is both sinner and saint and neither (Mādhyamikas) and the absolute mind-blowing stanzas that relay Vimalakirti’s miraculous powers (in sundry universes and planes of realities) and manomayakāyaic-transformations (Avatamsaka). While my heart shall always be devoted to the Lanka first and foremost, the Vimalakirti Sutra as well shall forever hold a place of undivided reverence.

The magnanimous spirit of Bodhi (undivided awareness in perfect wisdom yoked with the Tathagata-kaya [luminous body of the Tathagata] ) is fully revealed in the propitious pages of this Sutra. Some scholars have wrongly aligned the Bodhisattva in the same vein as the saint of monotheist religions. While certain parallels can be gleamed from such devotional (bhakti) practices associated with Bodhisattvas like Avalokiteshvara –whose own offshoots are Kuan-Yin and Kannon, along with a great pantheon (due to Hellenistic influences) of bodhisattvas, the similarity ends there; a Bodhisattva is a Bodhi-being in the unparalleled sense of the term. As foreshadowed even within the ancient Pāli texts (Nikāyas), a Bodhi-being (Bodhisatta) is That which constitutes the very “Essence” of Bodhicitta—or the communal power of [coming to the] awakened-mind of the Tathagatas, thus [being] empowered to annuttara-samyak-sambodhi, or Sammā-Sambuddha (permanently enlightened—one-in-being with the Buddha in the Pāli). In this light, a Bodhisattva is not just a stand-alone being—some kind of an idol that can be prayed to and invoked during times of personal crisis. A Bodhi-being is linked with the Unborn Light of infinite Tathagatas and shares, through the mystical umbilical-cord [within the Tathagata-garbha] of the bodhichild, the very Source of Tathata (Suchness). Invoking the aid of Bodhisattvas is essentially calling upon that illuminative light of all Bodhi-beings since the beginningless past.

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