The Bodhisattva Ideal
‘The Bodhisattva ideal is a vast subject. It is the major distinctive emphasis of the phase of the development of Buddhism known as the Mahāyāna, which had its flowering for a period of around 500 years (0–500CE), but is still practised today in many different forms, from Tibetan Buddhism to Zen. To consider this topic is to place one’s hand on the very heart of Buddhism, and feel the beating of that heart.’
Thus Sangharakshita introduces his theme. The first part of this volume describes the arising of the bodhicitta and the bodhisattva’s path to Enlightenment in a weaving together of the sublime and the inspiringly practical, and the second part is a commentary on Śāntideva’s classic 8th-century text, the Bodhicaryāvatara, based on a seminar given in 1973, in the very early days of Triratna, thus shaping the newly emerging Buddhist movement. The seminar was titled The Endlessly Fascinating Cry, echoing Śāntideva’s fervent prayer: ‘In order to grasp this jewel of the mind, I offer … the endlessly fascinating cry of wild geese …’
The volume ends with ‘The Bodhisattva Principle’, a talk given in 1983 to a conference of scientists and mystics in which Sangharakshita presents a vision of the bodhisattva as an embodiment of the key to the evolution of consciousness, individual and collective.
The subject of this book may be an ideal, but it offers many ways to take the first real steps on this most significant of all journeys, and much nourishment for the heart and mind of the would-be bodhisattva.
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