The Bodhisattva Ideal in Mahayana Buddhism

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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binocular
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Mahayana Buddhism

Post by binocular » Sat May 27, 2017 5:42 am

Santi253 wrote:
binocular wrote:Have you ever wondered what it is like to be on the receiving end of what you call "help"?
Bodhisattva deeds are nothing special. Just be kind and compassionate in all your dealings with others, no matter the situation:
https://dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=10_Paramitas
That is the Bodhisattva Way.
10Concepts and Implications of Altruism Bias and Pathological Altruism
BARBARA A. OAKLEY.

The profound benefits of altruism in modern society are self-evident. However, the potential hurtful aspects of altruism have gone largely unrecognized in scientific inquiry. This is despite the fact that virtually all forms of altruism are associated with tradeoffs—some of enormous importance and sensitivity—and notwithstanding that examples of pathologies of altruism abound.
/.../
Our eyes can be powerless against visual illusions, with our underlying neural machinery leading us to predictably erroneous conclusions about the size or shape of an object (Shepard, 1990). In a similar fashion, our empathic feelings for others, coupled with a desire to be liked, parochial feelings for our in-group, emotional contagion, motivated reasoning, selective exposure, confirmation bias, discounting, allegiance bias, the Einstellung (“set”) effect, and even an egocentric belief that we know what is best for others, can lead us into powerful and often irrational illusions of helping (Oakley et al., 2012a). In other words, people's own good intentions, coupled with a variety of cognitive biases, can sometimes blind them to the deleterious consequences of their actions. This dynamic of pathological altruism involves subjectively prosocial acts that are objectively antisocial.
/.../
At the core of pathological altruism are actions or reactions based on incomplete access to, or inability to process, the wide range of information necessary to make prudent decisions that align with cultural values associated with altruistic behavior. Various psychological, religious, philosophical, biological, or ideological biases could lead a person or group to misinterpret, selectively discount, or overly emphasize certain aspects of relevant information. Thus, pathologically altruistic behavior can emerge from a mix of accidental, subconscious, or deliberate causes. [“Altruism,” in the context of this chapter, is used to signify well-meaning behavior intended to promote the welfare of another; thus altruistic behavior may be motivated by concern for the other, egoistic concerns for the self, or both (e.g., “it makes me feel good to help them”) (Batson, 2012). “Pathological” is used in the sense of being excessive or abnormal, without implying any clinical diagnosis.]

Pathological altruism can be conceived as behavior in which attempts to promote the welfare of another, or others, results instead in harm that an external observer would conclude was reasonably foreseeable. More precisely, this chapter defines pathological altruism as an observable behavior or personal tendency in which the explicit or implicit subjective motivation is intentionally to promote the welfare of another, but instead of overall beneficial outcomes, the altruism instead has unreasonable (from the relative perspective of an outside observer) negative consequences to the other or even to the self. This definition does not suggest that there are absolutes but instead suggests that, within a particular context, pathological altruism is the situation in which intended outcomes and actual outcomes (within the framework of how the relative values of “negative” and “positive” are conceptualized), do not mesh.

A working definition of a pathological altruist then might be a person who sincerely engages in what he or she intends to be altruistic acts but who (in a fashion that can be reasonably anticipated) harms the very person or group he or she is trying to help; or a person who, in the course of helping one person or group, inflicts reasonably foreseeable harm to others beyond the person or group being helped; or a person who in reasonably anticipatory way becomes a victim of his or her own altruistic actions (Oakley et al., 2012a).
/.../
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK231631/
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

Santi253
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Santi253 » Sat May 27, 2017 5:51 am

How can a person who follows the Buddha's teachings be a pathological altruist? That doesn't seem to be what the Buddha taught.
The book comprises a collection of essays which discuss negative aspects of altruism and empathy towards others, such as when altruism hurts the altruist, is taken to an unhealthy extreme, or causes more harm than good. Examples given include depression and burnout seen in healthcare professionals, an unhealthy focus on others to the detriment of one's own needs, hoarding of animals, and ineffective philanthropic and social programs that ultimately worsen the situations they are meant to aid. It is considered the first book to explore negative aspects of altruism and empathy.[2]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pathological_Altruism
Practicing loving-kindness and compassion are essential to the Theravadin path of enlightenment. Please forgive me if I'm wrong.
Non-violence is the greatest virtue, cowardice the greatest vice. - Mahatma Gandhi

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Aloka
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Aloka » Sat May 27, 2017 6:00 am

.

An article which might be of interest in this topic is "Between Arhat and Bodhisattva" by Ajahn Amaro.

Ajahn Amaro examines the arguments for and against the arhat and bodhisattva ideals that define and too often divide the Buddhist traditions. He suggests a way out of the polarizing debate.

https://www.lionsroar.com/between-arhat ... dhisattva/
:anjali:

binocular
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Mahayana Buddhism

Post by binocular » Sat May 27, 2017 6:01 am

Santi253 wrote:How can a person who follows the Buddha's teachings be a pathological altruist? That doesn't seem to be what the Buddha taught.

All kinds of people call themselves "Buddhists" and believe they are following the Buddha's teachings.
Practicing loving-kindness and compassion are essential to the Theravadin path of enlightenment. Please forgive me if I'm wrong.
But so often, you can see people who claim to be practicing loving-kindness and compassion, but who actually have little or no regard for others, especially not for those whom they claim to be helping or for whom they claim to have loving-kindness and compassion.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Aloka
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Aloka » Sat May 27, 2017 6:19 am

binocular wrote: But so often, you can see people who claim to be practicing loving-kindness and compassion, but who actually have little or no regard for others, especially not for those whom they claim to be helping or for whom they claim to have loving-kindness and compassion
.

So where exactly are you seeing these people who make those claims about their practice and yet have little or no regard for others , binocular?

I 've been to a lot of Buddhist centres over the years and have usually encountered people who try their best with their practice, without making any extravagant claims, - and who are also willing to admit that sometimes they struggle with it.




.

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Mkoll
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Mkoll » Sat May 27, 2017 7:31 am

binocular wrote:
Practicing loving-kindness and compassion are essential to the Theravadin path of enlightenment. Please forgive me if I'm wrong.
But so often, you can see people who claim to be practicing loving-kindness and compassion, but who actually have little or no regard for others, especially not for those whom they claim to be helping or for whom they claim to have loving-kindness and compassion.
Practice entails failure. You seem to be expecting mastery from those who are not masters. And that's virtually everybody.

I think you also have to accept the possibility that the chip on your shoulder, which I'm guessing is due to a short unpleasant interaction with a few Buddhists, colors how you perceive all Buddhists. It's never too late to practice letting that resentment go. You'll fail sometimes and succeed other times, just like everybody else. What's important is setting that intention and practicing in accordance with it.
Dhp wrote:“He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me.” Those who harbor such thoughts do not still their hatred.

“He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me.” Those who do not harbor such thoughts still their hatred.

Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat May 27, 2017 7:51 am

Santi253 wrote:What if a teacher and a disciple don't like each other as people? Can it still be a beneficial relationship? Can a Dharma relationship transcend personal likes and dislikes? How concerned should we be over whether our teacher likes us or not?
Dhamma practitioners should soon be able to transcend such concepts and stop projecting their defilements onto others. The perceptions of "Me," or "You," "He," or "She," "Like," or "Dislike," should be seen for what they truly are: mental formations, that are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not a self.

As long as we are seeking to be liked, it will hardly be possible to either teach or study the Dhamma.
M.iii.110 wrote:The Blessed One went to the dwelling of Ghāṭā the Sakyan, where Venerable Ānanda and the monks were busy making robes. He said, “Ānanda, a bhikkhu does not shine by delighting in company, he cannot be expected to attain bliss while delighting in society. I do not see any form, the alteration of which, would not give rise to grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair in one who delights in it. However, there is this abiding discovered by the Tathāgata: the abiding in voidness internally by giving no attention to signs. Thus, if I visit disciples, with my mind inclined towards seclusion, I invariably talk to them in a way dismissing them.

“Therefore, Ānanda, if a bhikkhu wishes to abide in voidness he should focus his mind by entering the jhānas, then give attention to voidness. If he inclines to walking, he walks thinking ‘No unwholesome states will beset me.’ Likewise when he inclines to sitting, standing, or lying down. If he inclines to talking, he resolves, ‘I will avoid unbeneficial talk, and talk only about effacement and disenchantment.’ A bhikkhu should constantly review his mind to see if sensual excitement still arises, and he is aware of that. When he contemplates the rise and fall of the aggregates, the conceit ‘I am’ is abandoned.

“What good, Ānanda, does a disciple see that he should seek the Teacher’s company even if he is told to go away?”

“It would be good if the Blessed One would explain.”

“Ānanda, a disciple should not seek the Teacher’s company for the sake of discourses, stanzas, and expositions. Why is that? For a long time, Ānanda, you have learned the teachings, memorised them, examined them, and penetrated them with right view. But such talk as leads to disenchantment and nibbāna, that is talk on wanting little, contentment, seclusion, energy, virtue, concentration, wisdom, deliverance, knowledge and vision of deliverance, for such talk a disciple should seek the Teacher’s company even if he is sent away.

“So, Ānanda, be friendly towards me, not hostile. When I teach Dhamma seeking your welfare, give ear and exert your mind to understand. This will lead to your welfare and happiness for a long time. I shall not treat you as the potter treats the unbaked pot. Repeatedly restraining you, I will speak to you Ānanda. Repeatedly admonishing you, I will speak to you Ānanda. The sound core will stand the test.”
BlogPāli FontsIn This Very LifeBuddhist ChroniclesSoftware (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

binocular
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Mahayana Buddhism

Post by binocular » Sat May 27, 2017 7:57 am

Mkoll wrote:Practice entails failure. You seem to be expecting mastery from those who are not masters.
Not at all. I simply take people at their word, their words at face value. When people talk like omnipotent, omniscient popes, well, I give them the benefit of the doubt and see whether they can hold up their end.
I think you also have to accept the possibility that the chip on your shoulder, which I'm guessing is due to a short unpleasant interaction with a few Buddhists, colors how you perceive all Buddhists. It's never too late to practice letting that resentment go.
Nonsense. I have no such resentment. Oh Christ. It's so convenient to single me out and blame me, instead of admitting and discussing the actual merits of Social Darwinism, that elephant in the room.
Dhp wrote:“He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me.” Those who harbor such thoughts do not still their hatred.
“He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me.” Those who do not harbor such thoughts still their hatred.
Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.
Way to miss the point by quoting this here.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat May 27, 2017 9:36 am

binocular wrote:But did Potthila see himself as exalted over others and believed that others owed it to him to subject themselves to him?
Where do comments like this come from? Why do you react in this way to a simple example of a monk who could teach others to attain the Path without actually having fully practised it himself.

Where do you find people talking like omnipotent, omniscient popes?

Your posting history is actually less voluminous than mine and a lot less than Mkoll's over our membership of this forum, but that's not the case for the last six months.

Do try to find and remove the toad that swells up It has nothing to do with Darwin.
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Santi253
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Santi253 » Sat May 27, 2017 9:58 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Santi253 wrote:What if a teacher and a disciple don't like each other as people? Can it still be a beneficial relationship? Can a Dharma relationship transcend personal likes and dislikes? How concerned should we be over whether our teacher likes us or not?
Dhamma practitioners should soon be able to transcend such concepts and stop projecting their defilements onto others. The perceptions of "Me," or "You," "He," or "She," "Like," or "Dislike," should be seen for what they truly are: mental formations, that are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not a self.
Thank you for your helpful advice. I really appreciate it.
Non-violence is the greatest virtue, cowardice the greatest vice. - Mahatma Gandhi

http://www.matthewsatori.tumblr.com

Santi253
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Santi253 » Sat May 27, 2017 10:02 am

What I get the most from the Bodhisattva ideal is this: Since it might take innumerable lifetimes before I attain Buddhahood, I should focus on becoming a more peaceful, kind, and compassionate person here and now. The Bodhisattva path is about the path as much as it's about the destination.

This focus on working to be more compassionate and peaceful here and now, rather than worrying about our future attainments, is what I like about this video from Ajahn Brahm:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpFwlHmG224
Non-violence is the greatest virtue, cowardice the greatest vice. - Mahatma Gandhi

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freedom
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Mahayana Buddhism

Post by freedom » Sat May 27, 2017 3:10 pm

There is nothing wrong with compassion and helping or teaching others.

The problem is that one who does not understand the Dhamma, not seeing the hidden dangers, not understand suffering and the way to end suffering, looking for attainment can help or teach others out of suffering. This is impossible.

The problem is that one thinks he/she can attain final enlightenment then come back and help others. This is impossible.

The problem is that one thinks he/she can postpone enlightenment. This shows that one thinks enlightenment is something to achieve/get.

The problem is that one thinks he/she can save all beings. This is impossible.

The problem is that one thinks he/she will stay in samsara until all beings are enlightened then he/she will attain enlightenment at the same time. This will never happen.

Compassion should be developed and cultivated but wisdom is what we need to end all sufferings and reach final goal.
One should not be negligent of discernment, should guard the truth, be devoted to relinquishment, and train only for calm - MN 140.

Santi253
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Santi253 » Sat May 27, 2017 6:25 pm

Here is something I realized only recently about the Bodhisattva vow: When we vow to "save them all," this is to save all beings from suffering.

It doesn't mean that we attempt to proselytize others into a particular religion. Vowing so save all beings from suffering instead means exercising loving-kindness and compassion.

And while it might seem like a tall order to save all beings from suffering, we are only expected to practice this with the people we encounter in our day-to-day life, to do the best we can at being kind and compassionate to them.
Non-violence is the greatest virtue, cowardice the greatest vice. - Mahatma Gandhi

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Aloka
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Aloka » Sat May 27, 2017 7:25 pm

.

Regarding the idea of 'saving all beings', its worth reading what was said by the Buddha in AN 10.98 Uttiya Sutta (which is also given the title : "Will All Beings Attain Liberation ? ")

Excerpt:
“Uttiya, having directly known it, I teach the Dhamma to my disciples for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of Unbinding.”

“And, Master Gotama, when having directly known it, you teach the Dhamma to your disciples for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of Unbinding, will all the cosmos be led [to release], or a half of it, or a third?”

When this was said, the Blessed One was silent.

Then the thought occurred to Ven. Ananda: “Don’t let Uttiya the wanderer acquire the evil viewpoint that, ‘When I asked him an all-encompassing question, Gotama the contemplative faltered and didn’t reply. Perhaps he was unable to.’ That would be for his long-term harm & suffering.” So he said to Uttiya, “In that case, my friend, I will give you an analogy, for there are cases where it is through the use of analogy that intelligent people can understand the meaning of what is being said.

“Uttiya, suppose that there were a royal frontier fortress with strong ramparts, strong walls & arches, and a single gate. In it would be a wise, competent, & knowledgeable gatekeeper to keep out those he didn’t know and to let in those he did. Patrolling the path around the city, he wouldn’t see a crack or an opening in the walls big enough for even a cat to slip through. Although he wouldn’t know that ‘So-and-so many creatures enter or leave the city,’ he would know this: ‘Whatever large creatures enter or leave the city all enter or leave it through this gate.’

“In the same way, the Tathagata isn’t concerned with whether all the cosmos or half of it or a third of it will be led to release by means of that [Dhamma]. But he does know this: ‘All those who have been led, are being led, or will be led [to release] from the cosmos have done so, are doing so, or will do so after having abandoned the five hindrances—those defilements of awareness that weaken discernment—having well-established their minds in the four frames of reference, and having developed, as they have come to be, the seven factors for Awakening. When you asked the Blessed One this question, you had already asked it in another way. That’s why he didn’t respond.”

https://suttacentral.net/en/an10.95
:anjali:

Santi253
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Santi253 » Sat May 27, 2017 8:28 pm

Aloka wrote:“In the same way, the Tathagata isn’t concerned with whether all the cosmos or half of it or a third of it will be led to release by means of that [Dhamma].
If the Buddha was unconcerned with the well-being of others, why did he decide to teach others how to abandon the five hindrances and develop the seven factors of awakening in the first place?

The second hindrance is ill-will. How can one reject ill-will without developing kindness and compassion?

The seventh factor of awakening is equanimity. How can one practice perfect equanimity without having compassion on all beings?
American Buddhist monk Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:
“The real meaning of upekkha is equanimity, not indifference in the sense of unconcern for others. As a spiritual virtue, upekkha means stability in the face of the fluctuations of worldly fortune. It is evenness of mind, unshakeable freedom of mind, a state of inner equipoise that cannot be upset by gain and loss, honor and dishonor, praise and blame, pleasure and pain. Upekkha is freedom from all points of self-reference; it is indifference only to the demands of the ego-self with its craving for pleasure and position, not to the well-being of one's fellow human beings. True equanimity is the pinnacle of the four social attitudes that the Buddhist texts call the 'divine abodes': boundless loving-kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, and equanimity. The last does not override and negate the preceding three, but perfects and consummates them.”[4]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upekkha
The Buddha, as the perfectly awakened one, doesn't need to be concerned as to whether or not all beings will attain enlightenment, because he already knows the end from the beginning. With his perfect knowledge, he knows the end from the beginning, he knows as a fact that all beings will ultimately attain enlightenment.

May you be happy and well. :anjali:
Non-violence is the greatest virtue, cowardice the greatest vice. - Mahatma Gandhi

http://www.matthewsatori.tumblr.com

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