Bodhi: The Essence of Realization

We have completed the first four Vajra-points. Now is time to describe in Chapter Two the fifth Vajra-point, Bodhi:

提/ 覺). In Sanskrit and Pāli, “awakening,” “enlightenment”; the consummate knowledge that catalyzes the experience of liberation (VIMOKṢA) from the cycle rebirth.

Buswell  Jr., Robert E.; Donald S., Jr. Lopez. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Kindle Locations 10443-10446). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Another good definition is:

Enlightenment (bodhi) or Buddhahood is variously defined in different schools of Buddhism but it is nevertheless accepted to be beyond verbal definition. It involves the transcendence of the normal condition of humanity (the cycle of rebirth or samsara), thus reaching the state of freedom from suffering referred to as nirvana, and the attainment of a condition beyond any mental or physical limitation, accompanied by omniscience and immense magical power.

Geoffrey Samuel, Civilized Shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan societies, pg.13

Within Unborn Mind Zen it is the Ultimate Realization and is characterized as such:

Ordinary perception pales when contrasted by being instilled with the Mind of Bodhi that soars like an eagle above the landscape of the composed. The composed is littered with those “habits of perception” that overwhelm the non-recollected mind and spirit. Whereas being Mindfully-Recollected affords one the advantage of steering well-clear from all those adventitious defilements that keep one chained to what one falsely perceives and prefers to be normality. These old Ch’an Masters, like Huihai, point to a higher horizon. The Bodhimind is vast, boundless, and well beyond ordinary comprehension. Being imbued with IT one awakens to the Vivifying Source of their being, never descending again into those dark valleys of woefully wrong perceptions that only lead to further distress and dukkha. As Bankei once instructed, “Put on the Unborn Buddha Mind and come to know ITS marvelously Illuminating quality;” once faithfully done, one will never identify with the illusion of passing phenomena and its [mindless] perceptions ever again.

Bodhi (power) is the Absolute Insight into the True Nature of things—it is the Supreme Buddhagnosis THAT arises as a direct-concentration (biguan) of mind (samādhi). There are also two superlative adjectives used in conjunction with Bodhi: samyak and anuttara. Samyak means Right-Perfection and anuttara means nothing-higher, incomparable and unsurpassed—Supreme:

In Sanskrit, “unsurpassed (anuttara), complete (samyak), and perfect enlightenment (SAṂBODHI)”; the enlightenment (BODHI) of a buddha, superior to all other forms of enlightenment. The term is often used to distinguish the enlightenment of a buddha from that of an ARHAT, with the former deemed superior because it is the result of the sustained practice of the BODHISATTVA path over the course of many eons (KALPA) of lifetimes. According to Mahāyāna schools, in anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi, both of the two kinds of obstructions, the afflictive obstructions (KLEŚĀVARAṆA) and the obstructions to omniscience (JÑEYĀVARAṆA), have been completely overcome. Although ARHATS also achieve enlightenment (BODHI), they have overcome only the first of the obstructions, not the second, and thus have still not realized anuttara-samyaksaṃbodhi. This enlightenment, which is unique to the buddhas, surpasses all other types of realization and is thus unsurpassed, complete, and perfect.

Buswell  Jr., Robert E.; Donald S., Jr. Lopez. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Kindle Locations 4797-4808). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

The text of the Ratna also refers to Bodhi as nirmalā tathatā, which was described earlier in our series as the Undefiled-Suchness, or the “Immaculate Tathagata-garbha with the fundamental transformation (āśrayaparivrtti/parāvrtti)”. This is a merging into the anāsrava-dhātu, or undefiled Absolute Essence of Buddhas.

We also have Bodhicitta, or Enlightened Consciousness:

In Sanskrit, “thought of enlightenment” or “aspiration to enlightenment”; the intention to reach the complete, perfect enlightenment (ANUTTARA-SAMYAKSAṂBODHI) of the buddhas, in order to liberate all sentient beings in the universe from suffering. As the generative cause that leads to the eventual achievement of buddhahood and all that it represents, bodhicitta is one of the most crucial terms in MAHĀYĀNA Buddhism. The achievement of bodhicitta marks the beginning of the BODHISATTVA path: bodhicitta refers to the aspiration that inspires the bodhisattva, the being who seeks buddhahood.

Buswell  Jr., Robert E.; Donald S., Jr. Lopez. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Kindle Locations 10512-10518). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

* Also Bodhicittotpada:

In Sanskrit, “generating the aspiration for enlightenment,” “creating (utpāda) the thought (CITTA) of enlightenment (BODHI)”; a term used to describe both the process of developing BODHICITTA, the aspiration to achieve buddhahood, as well as the state achieved through such development. The MAHĀYĀNA tradition treats this aspiration as having great significance in one’s spiritual career, since it marks the entry into the Mahāyāna and the beginning of the BODHISATTVA path. The process by which this “thought of enlightenment” (bodhicitta) is developed and sustained is bodhicittotpāda.

Buswell  Jr., Robert E.; Donald S., Jr. Lopez. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Kindle Locations 10593-10600). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Mahabodhicitta is the great and Enlightened Mind Stream of the Tathagatas; in this sense the Mahabodhisattva becomes a True-Stream-Enterer by becoming perfumed with this very essence of the Tathagatas.

The Ratna refers to “eight-points” under which Bodhi is further developed. They are as follows:

The topic “essence” describes the fact that it possesses the two types of purity: in addition to the sphere being by nature completely pure it is free from the adventitious stains, from anything to be abandoned.

The topic “cause” describes the means to attain this [enlightenment] as being the practice of the path of the meditative and post-meditative phases.

The topic “fruit” describes the fact that due to the practice of the path it is free from the pollution of the two veils.

The topic “function” describes the fact that due to the veils being abandoned it accomplishes two benefits: benefit for oneself and others.

The topic “endowment” describes the fact that it possesses inconceivable qualities providing the basis for these two benefits.

The topic “manifestation” describes the fact that these qualities manifest through the division of the three kayas: the svabhavikakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya.

The topic “permanence” describes the fact that [of] these kayas [the first] will last as long as there is space and [the latter two] as long as there are sentient beings.

The topic “inconceivability” describes the way the final ultimate [fruit] actually is as being inconceivable to ordinary beings. (From The Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra, by Arya Maitreya, translated by Rosemarie Fuchs)

Our next blog will develop these eight-points in further detail.

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