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Traveller
01 Mar 14, 15:32
There is a school of Zen near me that shall remain nameless for the time being, I contemplated going to study with them but I was put off by the teacher calling himself a Bodhisattva.

I wondered what were your thoughts?

delaware
01 Mar 14, 17:24
I would think he/she certainly wasn't.

Aloka
01 Mar 14, 19:01
Does he say "I am a Bodhisattva".....or give himself a title similar to "Bodhisattva Bill" ? It does seem rather strange!

;D

Traveller
01 Mar 14, 19:04
He calls himself Bodhisattva teacher, personally it put me right off going, many people call Ajahn Chah an Arahant but I never heard him say I am an Arahant.

Aloka
01 Mar 14, 20:05
He calls himself Bodhisattva teacher, personally it put me right off going


Yes, that would put me off as well !

Snowmelt
01 Mar 14, 20:32
Is it not the case that the Mahayana definition of "bodhisattva" is sometimes a little more free than some other definitions? I do remember a story I once read by a Mahayana writer whose name I forget referring to anyone who helps you out without expecting anything in return as a bodhisattva. A little too loose a definition for my concepts.

Aloka
01 Mar 14, 21:39
I don't think there's any record in the Pali Canon of the Buddha telling his students to take bodhisattva vows (which I took myself when I was a Vajrayana practitioner), that idea is a later development.

This article by Bhikkhu Bodhi "Arahants, Bodhisattvas and Buddha's" is quite interesting.

Excerpt:



I. Competing Buddhist Ideals

The arahant ideal and the bodhisattva ideal are often considered the respective guiding ideals of Theravāda Buddhism and Mahāyāna Buddhism. This assumption is not entirely correct, for the Theravāda tradition has absorbed the bodhisattva ideal into its framework and thus recognizes the validity of both arahantship and Buddhahood as objects of aspiration. It would therefore be more accurate to say that the arahant ideal and the bodhisattva ideal are the respective guiding ideals of Early Buddhism and Mahāyāna Buddhism.

By "Early Buddhism" I do not mean the same thing as Theravāda Buddhism that exists in the countries of southern Asia. I mean the type of Buddhism embodied in the archaic Nikāyas of Theravāda Buddhism and in the corresponding texts of other schools of Indian Buddhism that did not survive the general destruction of Buddhism in India.

It is important to recognize that these ideals, in the forms that they have come down to us, originate from different bodies of literature stemming from different periods in the historical development of Buddhism. If we don't take this fact into account and simply compare these two ideals as described in Buddhist canonical texts, we might assume that the two were originally expounded by the historical Buddha himself, and we might then suppose that the Buddha — living and teaching in the Ganges plain in the 5th century B.C. — offered his followers a choice between them, as if to say: "This is the arahant ideal, which has such and such features; and that is the bodhisattva ideal, which has such and such features. Choose whichever one you like."[1]

The Mahāyāna sūtras, such as the Mahāprajñā-pāramitā Sūtra and the Saddharmapuṇḍarīka Sūtra (the Lotus Sūtra), give the impression that the Buddha did teach both ideals. Such sūtras, however, certainly are not archaic. To the contrary, they are relatively late attempts to schematize the different types of Buddhist practice that had evolved over a period of roughly four hundred years after the Buddha's parinirvāṇa.


Continued here (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/arahantsbodhisattvas.html)





:hands:

Aloka
01 Mar 14, 23:12
I've always liked this comment from Ajahn Chah:


Someone once asked about the relative merits of arahants and bodhisattvas. He answered: "Don't be an arahant, don't be a bodhisattva, don't be anything at all. If you are an arahant you will suffer, if you are bodhisattva you will suffer, if you are anything at all you will suffer.

http://www.fsnewsletter.amaravati.org/html/09/9.htm



:up2:

clw_uk
01 Mar 14, 23:53
I've always liked this comment from Ajahn Chah:



:up2:

Reminds me of when ajahn sumedho said that our personality would never be enlightened ;)

Trilaksana
02 Mar 14, 00:51
I definitely wouldn't be impressed. I've never heard my teacher claim any attainments.

SeeknShinjin
02 Mar 14, 04:09
I don't think it matters if he calls himself a bodhisattva, but you have the decision to agree with him or not. I would think as long as you are studying the teachings and gaining something from them it probably doesn't matter at all what he calls himself Imo.

SeekN,

Taoman
30 Sep 14, 12:34
There is a school of Zen near me that shall remain nameless for the time being, I contemplated going to study with them but I was put off by the teacher calling himself a Bodhisattva.

I wondered what were your thoughts?

# # # #

Hi Traveller,

Good question.

The term "bodhisattva" is often mystified. The problem is that people use the term to mean many different things. For some people, a bodhisattva is an enlightened being who has superhuman power, almost a god or goddess. I, on the other hand, take the term to mean something more mundane. Whoever takes the bodhisattva vow is a bodhisattva. It does not necessarily mean that such a person is enlightened, or won't behave badly.

I would say check out this Zen school first. Find out what they teach about the dharma. Then decide whether you want to be associated with them.

Best,

Traveller
30 Sep 14, 22:56
Thanks for the clarification Taoman.

There classes start up again this week so I may venture along.

Doshin
01 Oct 14, 11:29
Remember Zen is a Mahayana tradition.

From wikipedia I found:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhisattva#In_Mah.C4.81y.C4.81na_Buddhism

... The Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra contains a simple and brief definition for the term bodhisattva, which is also the earliest known Mahāyāna definition.[14][15] This definition is given as the following.[16]

Because he has enlightenment as his aim, a bodhisattva-mahāsattva is so called.

Mahāyāna Buddhism encourages everyone to become bodhisattvas and to take the bodhisattva vows. ...

I.e. a Bodhisattva is someone, who has enlightenment as his/her aim.

_/\_
Doshin

Aloka
01 Oct 14, 11:57
Whoever takes the bodhisattva vow is a bodhisattva. It does not necessarily mean that such a person is enlightened, or won't behave badly.


As I already mentioned briefly, when I was involved with Vajrayana I took formal Bodhisattva Vows in a ceremony with a group of other people and a Tibetan teacher. However I've actually never thought of myself as "a Bodhisattva"

A description is :




"the commitment to become a bodhisattva, one who works to lead all sentient beings to perfect enlightenment"

http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Bodhisattva_vow



Note it says " to become"


I found some information about the Zen Bodhisattva vows at this website:

http://sarasotazen.org/four-bodhisattva-vows/

Excerpt:




Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to save them all.
Desires are inexhaustible; I vow to put an end to them.
The dharmas are boundless; I vow to master them.
The Buddha’s Way is unsurpassable; I vow to attain it.

Just as all the previous Sugatas, the Buddhas
Generated the mind of enlightenment
And accomplished all the stages
Of the Bodhisattva training,
So will I too, for the sake of all beings,
Generate the mind of enlightenment
And accomplish all the stages
Of the Bodhisattva training.




and:




We recite the Four Great Bodhisattva Vows to encourage us in our study and pursuit of the Enlightement of the Buddha.

These great vows express the infinite Compassion of the Buddhas, and, in chanting them we express our desire to become as the Great Bodhisattvas and Buddhas.

The Bodhisattva is an enlightened being who, deferring his/her own full Buddhahood, dedicates his/herself to helping others attain Liberation.

(More at the link above)

Zen Free
25 Oct 14, 16:21
There is a school of Zen near me that shall remain nameless for the time being, I contemplated going to study with them but I was put off by the teacher calling himself a Bodhisattva.

I wondered what were your thoughts?

A Zen practitioner who has freed their mind (liberation) has a beginners mind: the true self or natural mind is revealed......
A zen master or bodhisattva has not 'descended from the realm of the Gods' and thinks he IS a living God.

I wouldn't like to mention any names of famous people who think thus.....:biglol:

John Marder
26 Oct 14, 00:12
An important question here for me is 'do I believe I can become awakened in this lifetime?' My answer is yes. Does anyone reading this also think it is possible to become enlightened in this lifetime?

My point is that if it is possible to be enlightened in this lifetime then of course it must possible to be a Bodhisattva as well. Just because someone calls themself a Bodhisattva doesn't mean necessarily that they are boasting of their attainment. It might just mean they are able to refer to themselves objectively using the terminology of their particular tradition.

It is the case I believe that in Mahayana traditions that subscribe to the attainment of enlightenment in this lifetime ( e.g the Tien Tai tradition, Nichiren and I believe also Zen?) that the life conditions of Bodhisattva and Buddhahood are integral parts of being a human; nothing extraordinary.

I would go and meet the teacher with an open mind. He may well be a Bodhisattva. I do hope so because if he isn't he is deluding himself and his students.
How would you judge whether he is a Bodhisattva or not?

Aloka
26 Oct 14, 01:35
Just because someone calls themself a Bodhisattva doesn't mean necessarily that they are boasting of their attainment. It might just mean they are able to refer to themselves objectively using the terminology of their particular tradition.


Interestingly, in Theravada its not permissable for monks to claim they have attainments. I'm not sure if that's the case with ordained Mahayana & Vajrayana people or not.

Anyone could say they have attainments or a fanciful title - so I think it's better to use some common sense and decide whether a teacher is worthwhile or not from their general behaviour and their teaching methods.

There have been quite a few scandals in Mahayana & Vajrayana concerning charismatic teachers who have had inappropriate sexual relationships with their students, so its certainly best to be cautious if one is impressionable by nature.

Personally I wouldn't go near any teacher who made personal claims, whatever their tradition.

Anyway, it was almost a month ago when Traveller last posted in this thread, so he has probably made a decision one way or the other by now.

:hands:

John Marder
26 Oct 14, 09:01
Regarding the quote from Aloka above

. Interestingly, in Theravada its not permissable for monks to claim they have attainments. I'm not sure if that's the case with ordained Mahayana & Vajrayana people or not.

I also don't know about how that is for ordained Mahayana/Vajrayana priests/monks. I guess it would probably depend on the culture/ tradition that they are in.

However, I thought it may be of interest to note that in my own Mahayana tradition, the terms Bodhisattva and Buddha are not applied to 'people' as such but are considered conditions of life inherent in all people.

The Lotus Sutra, in the 'Emerging from the Earth' chapter, does describe countless Bodhisattvas emerging from the earth but we read that as a metaphor for the view that all ordinary people ( of the earth) have inherent within them these Bodhisattva and Buddha states as well as of course other states like greed and anger.


. Anyone could say they have attainments or a fanciful title, so I think it's better to use some common sense and decide whether a teacher is worthwhile or not from their general behaviour and their teaching methods.

On the basis of what I have said above, I would entirely agree with your comment here Aloka. From my perspective I would be interested in whether or not they are displaying through their behaviour, the kind of characteristics one could expect from somebody who is realising the ' Bodhisattva potential' within them. I would suggest sincerity, selflessness, caring action, fearlessness and things like that.

As an example, I would refer to many of the nurses etc, working voluntarily in Ebola stricken African countries, to be Bodhisattvas; they are manifesting outwardly the 'Bodhisattva' condition within them.:hands:

Aloka
26 Oct 14, 09:29
Thank you for your response to my post, John, and also for your comments about some of the teachings of the Mahayana organisation you're involved with.

However, I think maybe we're getting off topic now, because this is our Zen sub-forum and the query was about a Zen teacher (who's actual school/tradition of Zen hasn't been mentioned.)

Perhaps some of our members who are Zen practitioners who attend Zen centres might be able to make further comments.

I found this article on the Patheos website:

"Monks, Nuns & Priests in Western Zen"

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/monkeymind/2009/03/monks-nuns-priests-in-western-zen.html

:hands:

Aloka
26 Oct 14, 15:49
I've been doing some research since my last post, and a Zen friend gave me a link to this information about the Kwan Um School of Zen, which has something different to Soto Zen:




Becoming a bodhisattva teacher


Bodhisattva teachers make an increased and visible commitment to the teachings and practices of the Kwan Um School of Zen. Many people who become bodhisattva teachers feel a connection to traditional monks and nuns, but because of their current life situations are not able to take that path.

To become a bodhisattva teacher, you must have been a senior dharma teacher for at least twelve months; you must desire to help your Zen Center by volunteering there; and you must have the approval of your Zen Center’s guiding teacher. You must be in good standing by being current both on your Zen Center full membership dues, and on your dharma teacher training dues.

Bodhisattva teachers take an additional forty-eight precepts:

(Continued on page 10)

http://www.kwanumzen.org/wp-content/uploads/Precepts-Application-Booklet-2014.pdf




:hands:

Traveller
27 Oct 14, 13:38
Curiously enough Aloka it is the Kwan Um school of Zen and that explains a lot.

Thanks for the input.

Aloka
27 Oct 14, 14:36
Curiously enough Aloka it is the Kwan Um school of Zen and that explains a lot.

Thanks for the input.

Good to see you again, Traveller, I'll close the thread now that your query has been resolved.

New topics always welcome!


:hands: