In Zen practice, the Bodhisattva is a person who vows to use their wisdom to help other beings awaken.
Traditionally, it is said that the Bodhisattva puts off his or her complete enlightenment until all beings have crossed over to the other shore.
When we consider the depth of this image, we see how it actually reflects the truth of our own life and the challenges which relationships present.
We might actually believe that we could all rest thoroughly in or as Nirvana if it weren’t for those pesky ones called “others” who keep disturbing our bliss.
You can participate live or listen to the recordings later, at any time, from anywhere in the world.
Join Diane Musho Hamilton and the iZen Sangha for our 10-week telecourse starting Saturday, September 11th at 8-9:30am PT, 9-10:30am MT, 11-12:30pm ET.
The willingness to work with the difficulty in ourselves and others is precisely the Bodhisattva’s commitment. But how to do this? According to the Mahayana tradition, the bodhisattva path shows us how to clarify our aspiration, practice the Six Perfections, and develop the skillful means to actually help others. In this ten-week journey, we will explore aspects of the Bodhisattva path, seeing how true awakening naturally leads to a living with an open and generous heart in the midst of all of our humanness.
What You’ll Learn During Our 10-Week Journey
Week One: Great Joy
It is said that that when one glimpses one’s true nature, one also sees how practicing the Buddha Way benefits all sentient beings. In other words, what is good for you is simultaneously good for others; there is no separation at all. This is cause for Great Joy.
Week Two: Practicing the Precepts
A Bodhisattva understands the importance of receiving the precepts, and frees him or herself from the complications, tedium, and suffering of unethical conduct. Learning moral discipline is the first expression of the Six Perfections, providing a container for practice and an example of being awake.
Week Three: The 3 Vehicles: Relative, Absolute, and Free-Functioning
Relative and absolute realities are like two arrows meeting in mid-air. How, then, do we view the precepts from the relative view as a practice, as the absolute reality, and the freely functioning expression of wisdom and compassion which is the Mahayana or the Great Vehicle?
Week Four: Causality, Karma, and Responsibility: Hakujo’s Fox
This koan depicts an encounter between a Zen Master and an old monk who is suffering his karmic predicament – he has been made to live as a fox. This koan invites us to consider the ways that we are bound by our conditioning and subject to the ripples of cause and effect throughout time. Ultimately, Zen master Hakujo correctly points to the need for taking 100% responsibility for our life.
Week Five: The Six Perfections: Generosity
Bodhisattvas practice all of the six perfections, especially generosity or dana. How is it that giving freely actually sustains and nourishes us? Is it possible to happily swing the bucket of our own life, inviting others to come and get it?
Week Six: Patience
The most important and least understood of the perfections, patience doesn’t arise from being old, worn-out, powerless, or tired. Patience arises from directly from zazen and the recognition of what is, indicating what and when things can happen.
Week Seven: Diligence
Like patience, diligence if often misinterpreted as willfulness. In our exploration of the Six Perfections, we will look at diligence not as willfulness, but as willingness. We will explore what happens to our energy when we trade self-will for staying curious, open, and available.
Week Eight: Meditation and Wisdom
Bodhidharma said that “When the wondrous stillness flourishes, and the body of reality appears, this is dhyana paramita, the perfection of meditation. When the wondrous stillness opens into illumination, changeless, eternally abiding, not attaching to anything, this is prajna paramita, the perfection of wisdom.”
Week Nine: The Four Vows
The Four Vows are recited and embraced each day in our practice, and they express the embodiment or manifestation of the Buddha Way. Bodhisattvas joyfully commit to others, helping them attain maturity and freedom, participating with them in wisdom and compassion.
Week Ten: Appreciate Your Life
Taizan Maezumi Roshi reminded us to “Appreciate Your Life.” In week ten, we will see how the expression of appreciation and gratitude is the pure reflection of the Bodhisattva’s Path, revealing and enhancing the beauty of life as we see, experience, and live it.