Narrated by: Jack Kornfield
Playlists: Buddhist Psychology by Jack Kornfield
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva or bodhisatva is a person who is on the path towards bodhi (‘awakening’) or Buddhahood.
In the Early Buddhist schools as well as modern Theravada Buddhism, a bodhisattva (Pali: bodhisatta) refers to someone who has made a resolution to become a Buddha and has also received a confirmation or prediction from a living Buddha that this will be so.
In Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva refers to anyone who has generated bodhicitta, a spontaneous wish and compassionate mind to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. Mahayana bodhisattvas are spiritually heroic persons that work to attain awakening and are driven by a great compassion (mahakaruṇā). These beings are exemplified by important spiritual qualities such as the “four divine abodes” (brahmaviharas) of loving-kindness (metta), compassion (karuṇā), empathetic joy (mudita) and equanimity (upekkha) as well as the various bodhisattva “perfections” (pāramitās) which include prajñāpāramitā (“transcendent knowledge” or “perfection of wisdom”) and skillful means (upaya).
In Theravada Buddhism, the bodhisattva is mainly seen as an exceptional and rare individual. Only a few select individuals are ultimately able to become bodhisattvas (such as Maitreya). Mahayana Buddhism generally understands the bodhisattva path as being open to everyone and Mahayanists encourage all individuals to become bodhisattvas. Spiritually advanced bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, Maitreya and Manjushri are also widely venerated across the Mahayana Buddhist world and are believed to possess great magical power which they employ to help all living beings.