Thursday, September 06, 2007

byang chub sems dpa' - Bodhisattva

Those who are in the Mahayana path are called byang chub sems dpa', or bodhisattva in Sanskrit. If there's a word you see over and over again in Tibetan Buddhist literature, this is it. There are other short forms of this, too, such as byang sems dpa'.

byang chub is enlightenment, bodhi.

sems dpa' is spiritual warrior, sattva. The interesting part here is that sems is mind, so it's like someone who is doing a battle against one's own mind, and has conquered it, far more difficult than conquering external enemies.

To be very technical, only someone who has developed ultimate compassion, or bodhichitta, is considered a byang chub sems dpa', and is on the Mahayana path. So again, it has nothing to do with tradition, monastery, and so forth.

We will go through sa lam (stages and paths) later in this series, and we will use the byang chub sems dpa' spiritual path for this purpose. Buddhist texts also cover the shravaka and pratyekabuddha paths, but it's auspicious to take this one as the main path when describing the various levels a practitioner will go through.

Anyway, according to the lower Middle way school, those who have developed bodhichitta, and later experience emptiness directly, they will get the seeds to not only having a realization of no self, and no subject-object differentiation, they also get the realizations of all phenomena lacking any self-existence. This is needed, as the goal is to help all sentient beings, and only an omniscient being could properly do that. The higher Middle Way school do not disagree about the result, but they still insist on the futility to classify emptinesses as self-existent boundaries.

No comments: