Friday, 8 May 2009


Bodhisattvas are individuals who exhibit an unusually strong and instinctive tendency to relinquish their own apparent gain and self-interest in order to help others, even if it requires a great deal of effort or abandonment of their own personal agenda. Sometimes they act with exceptional generosity. Other times they demonstrate great patience, profound wisdom, or unimpeachable moral character and ethical integrity. Sometimes it can be just a little unexpected kindness, helpful word, or a smile that expresses the hidden bodhisattva deep within, coming at precisely the right time and place when one is truly in need of a boost. In every case, they inspire us by the extent to which they apply these qualities for the benefit of others rather than themselves.
Although the self-sacrifice of these bodhisattvas may be illogical from a worldly point of view, it's clearly not pathological—in other words, it doesn't show any signs of coming from sheer madness or any neurotic or psychotic need for approval or self-flagellation. Nor does it stem from codependent, would-be healer behavior or a savior complex, which can lead to burnout, bitterness, and feelings of martyrdom. Instead, these individuals radiate a sense of peace, joy, fulfillment, and naturalness in accomplishing the good things they do. Whatever their external appearance or life situation may be, they seem more deeply in touch with, and empowered by, universal values than their more self-oriented peers are. Doing the right thing is the only reward they need.

Christians sometimes call such people saints or knights, people of honor, and guardian angels. Jews often refer to them as mensches. In every culture, humans consider them heroes, not necessarily in a physically mighty way but certainly in a spiritually effective one. They are the individuals who save us in countless different ways just by being who they are. I'm sure if you take a quiet moment of reflection, you can call to mind special benefactors who have functioned as bodhisattvas in your life. This recalling of benefactors and their selfless kindnesses is a traditional Buddhist practice to help us open up, soften our hearts, cultivate gratitude, and develop lovingkindness for others.
- Lama Surya Das


Nica said...


Nicole said...

Have you started to read some of his books Zoe? They're fabulous!

proudprogressive said...

Robert Aiken and Joko Beck' Nothing Special . Suzuki's Beginners Mind , and the foundation for me, Roshi Philip Kapleau's classic The Three Pilars of Zen.

All of the books were very informative for me towards learning, practice and working to kindle Buddhichita , the currency of the Buddichisatva who choses to stay behind until all sentient being achieve englightment.( talk about riddle , within a mystery wrapped in a enigma ..and the punch line is there is nothing to solve !!!

when i emersed myself in buddhism - There was a Diamond Sanga the Sanga Robert Aitkin and his wife founded originally in Hawaii,near where i lived at the time in the southwest, so and thats where i sat Zazan first and later on also in the Berkeley Zen Center.

Not practicing formally anymore however even some breath counting , can count. Being here now. being mindful - anyhow rambling now..

great post !

Mayahana or middle way path a mixture of rinzi and soto zen i guess. I read so many Books back then. and those books was really inspiring to me at the time. One can get lost in it. Often life transforming..quantumly in my case - really was not a waste of time. at all.

Anonymous said...

Then there is the Bilderberg group.

Le visage d'avril said...

I like this post. We are all Bodhisattvas of the earth. It is inspiring to read about people helping others.

I follow Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism. The link is from our San Francisco temple explaining our practice.

Anonymous said...

"sometimes call such people saints or knights, people of honor, and guardian angels", etc.

Or sometimes we call them "nothing special, just doing what they're supposed to do" :-) Not to us, O Lord, but to Your Name be glory.

--mere Xian

Zoe Brain said...

Mere Xian - ah. One of the real ones. There's more of you than many believe. I just wish there were more still.

And although I'm not a Christian, if my boy grows up to be someone like you, I'll be content.

Someone who does the right thing because they're constitutionally incapable of not doing anything else. It's unthinkable to them, and they really can't understand how anyone could be any different.

But they accept that they themselves, as others, have human failings, and forgive others's failings because they're unable not to and still forgive themselves.

Some of my dearest friends are like that, and I try to follow their example.

Zoe Brain said...

April - I'm an agnostic, with only a tendency to commit Buddhism. I try to follow the example of Guan Yin, and the four Zen vows of the Bodhisattva.

In my own words:

There's too many sins not to commit some - but I'll try not to anyway.

There's too many people to help them all - but I'll try to help them anyway.

There's too many virtues to attain them all - but I'll try to attain them anyway.

Perfection is impossible - But I'll try to perfect everything anyway.

The core of Christian teaching is "Love God: Be Kind". In my philosophy, by doing the second, the first becomes either irrelevant, or an inescapable consequence.

And while a single person is drowning, how can one leave the pool?