Buddhist Audio Books

Bodhisattva Ideal
Wisdom and Compassion in Buddhism
By Sangharakshita
ISBN: 978189957920
Read by Vidyakaya

How can we be happy and at the same time responsive to the suffering of others? It can be done: this is the message of the Bodhisattva ideal. The image of the Bodhisattva, one who wishes to gain Enlightenment for the sake of all beings, lies at the heart of much of Indian, Tibetan and Chinese Buddhism. For one wishing to follow this path, the development of inner calm and positivity that leads to true wisdom is balanced by a genuine and active concern for others which flowers into great compassion. Sustained by a deep understanding gained through meditation and reflection, the Bodhisattva is able to work tirelessly for the benefit of all. Sangharakshita places the ideal of the Bodhisattva within the context of the entire Buddhist tradition. Unfolding this vision of our potential, he demonstrates how we ourselves can move towards this ideal.

An Extract from: Bodhisattva Ideal
From chapter 4: Altruism and Individualism in the Spiritual Life

One can give a person material things, psychological security, education and culture. One can sacrifice one's life and limbs, or even share one's precious merit. But the best gift of all is to share the truth that one has understood, perhaps after much effort, pain, and difficulty. This giving of the gift of the teaching, by word, precept, or example, is traditionally the special duty of monks, lamas, and so on. But the Mahayana emphasizes that we can all participate in this great responsibility. In fact, we can't help it. We are giving all the time: something is coming from us, radiating from us, all the time. If one has imbibed anything of Buddhism, one must inevitably express it in one's dealings with other people.

This doesn't mean dragging in Buddhism on every possible - or impossible - occasion. One should be careful not to become a heavy-handed Buddhist bore. There's no need to be like the ardent Roman Catholic in one of G.K. Chesterton's stories who would manage to bring the Church into whatever conversation was started, so that a chat about fishing would inevitably lead to a consideration of the merits of that famous fisherman Saint Peter. One can communicate one's spiritual sensibility much more subtly and naturally than that.

If one is involved in teaching the Dharma, one should constantly be investigating whether the methods being recommended as means of personal development are actually working for the people to whom one is recommending them. One shouldn't settle down into a programme of meditation courses, pujas, and lectures and take it for granted that they must be helping people to grow spiritually. One must keep assessing whether the methods being used are having that effect. Nothing should become a matter of course.

When people say they are interested in Buddhism, very often they are not really interested in spiritual development but are seeking something else: solutions to psychological problems, or companionship, or just somewhere to go. On the other hand, some people who declare themselves uninterested in Buddhism might well become interested in what Buddhism really is. A would-be Bodhisattva intent upon giving the Dharma would go out of his way to spend time with such people, even though they are saying, 'No, I'm not interested in Buddhism.' Not everybody who says 'I want Buddhism' really wants it; equally, not everybody who says 'I'm not interested in Buddhism' is really not interested in it. So the giving of this gift requires great sensitivity and discernment.


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