The Ultimatum of Klaatu’caricature by Javier Martin
The two dynamics that invariably need to be borne in mind when considering Bodhisattvas are awakening and transforming. Once awakening, the Bodhisattva immediately sets out to transform the life of sentient beings so that they in turn will experience the fruits and liberation of that self-same awakening. Along the way of this most compassionate endeavor, they will experience the ten-stages of Bodhisattva-bhūmi but not without first extending that gift of transformation; hence their life is never an isolated affair but directly other-involved. It’s all about adhering to the Law of Maturation. Jens Braarvig writes:
“This is the time for maturing [all beings], this is no time for realization [of one’s own liberation]”, the bodhisattva reflects. Thus the bodhisattva does not realize his own liberation, since, understanding emptiness through insight (prajna), his concern is liberating all beings with expedient means (upaya), and accordingly his practice is the prajhopayayuga- naddhavahi margah. To realize the end of existence, then, would impede the liberation of other beings, as he would not then be able to mature them spiritually- the bodhisattva having the means for this which he has promised to do by virtue of his thought of awakening, his bodhicittotpada.” (The Aksayamatinirdesasutra Volume II The Tradition of Imperishability in Buddhist Thought.)
We also need to stress, however, the fullness of that term 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.
Hence, this is a two-pronged affair: The Bodhisattvas provide seeds of enlightenment but in so doing naturally gravitate to the absolute prize of Buddhahood along the way. Jens Braarvig does add afterwards that in the process of maturation, “by purifying living beings the bodhisattva purifies his own buddha-field.” In other words, the other matters for the sake of one’s own purification. The extraterrestrial, Bodhisattva Aksayamati, has proven to be such an emissary in this blog series on the Akṣayamatinirdeśasūtra. Perhaps akin in no small fashion to the space-emissary (and Bodhisattva) Klaatu in the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still. (see today’s accompanying image) Why? Both are emissaries of awakening and then transforming beings in saha-realms that are in dire need of a transformation in spirit. The warning is clear, particular in light of the present-day circumstances of our own saha-realm: Unless one matures and becomes transformed in spirit, then one faces the threat of total world destruction. Your choice is simple: join us [Bodhisattvas] and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration.
Would Klaatu barada nikto suffice as a suitable intergalactic mantra for our time?
Love that one Scott!