(1.31) If even someone who repays a kindness
Is worthy of some praise,
What can be said of the Bodhisattva who helps others
Regardless of whether or not they help him?
(1.32) If someone regularly, or even just once,
Gives food in a disdainful manner,
Which satisfies a few beings for only half a day,
People honour him or her as virtuous;
(1.33) So what can be said of one who eternally gives
To countless living beings
The everlasting, unsurpassed bliss of the Sugatas,
Fulfilling all their wishes?
A Bodhisattva doesn’t need nor chase after praise or being honored. But they are nonetheless worthy of the highest praise and the highest honor. Indeed, there are none more worthy in this world.
In the Middle Ages, the Church placed itself higher than the kings because it viewed all kingdoms as belonging to God. The nobility went along with this because the Church would then bless their crowns as being ordained by God, and thus beyond reproach. While such an arrangement reeks of symbiotic corruption, it does reveal why we can validly say the Bodhisattva is more worthy of praise and high honor than even the highest kings.
Samsara is an open air prison built on a foundation of bones and excrement. What honor is there to be had in ruling over a mountain of dung? The Bodhisattva, in contrast, seeks to lead all beings to the eternal and supreme happiness that lies beyond. At most, the leaders of this world, be they in government, business or entertainment, can only make samsara slightly more comfortable and tolerable; but only the Bodhisattva can lead us to lasting freedom.
When we engage in some virtue or repay some kindness, there is part of our mind that seeks some recognition or appreciation for what we have done. The Bodhisattva seeks none. When we provide service to others, we usually limit ourselves to our friends, families or those from whom we seek some favor. The Bodhisattva helps all equally without the slightest desire for anything in return. People correctly praise and honor those who shelter the homeless, feed the hungry and provide for the needy. What need is there to say of the praise and honor owed the Bodhisattva who brings all into the shelter of his celestial palace in the pure land, satiates all spiritual hunger with his blessings and provides a path to those in need of permanent freedom?
Most human aspiration comes down to wishing to emulate certain role models. Trying to play like Michael Jordon, innovate like Steve Jobs, or lead like Jack Kennedy brings out the best in us. But why stop there? Surely the Bodhisattva is the greatest role model of all. Who else dedicates not only this life, but all of their future lives, to patiently help all beings solve all of their problems for all of eternity? Who else strives to attain every good quality and every necessary ability to realize that goal? No one is more worthy of being held up as the supreme role model than the courageous bodhisattva who seeks to permanently vanquish the real devils of self-cherishing and self-grasping that have enslaved us all. It is one thing to declare war on your enemies, it is quite another to declare war on the foundations of samsara itself.
It is frankly impossible to adequately extol the worthiness of a Bodhisattva. It is quite literally beyond words, thoughts and conceptions. There is quite simply nothing higher. In terms of being worthy of praise and honor, a Bodhisattva is even higher than all of the Buddhas. Just as we prostrate to the new moon and not the full moon, so too we hold highest the Bodhisattva who is the cause of which Buddhahood and all that follow is the effect.
We should consider again and again the many qualities of the Bodhisattva, and in our heart of hearts long day and night to become one ourself. There is no higher goal, no more noble calling, no more meaningful purpose.
One thought on “Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: No higher goal, no more noble calling, no more meaningful purpose”
Shantideva says: All the happiness there is in this world. Arises from wishing others to be happy, … This is the station that I’m working on for now… But you have just given me a new job… Thank you very much…