Ordinary Bodhisattva

My favorite image of Guan Yin, Bodhisattva of Compassion

I am reading Taigen Daniel Leighton’s Bodhisattva Archetypes. There is much wisdom and beauty in this! I recommend it to anyone with an interest in archetypes or Eastern philosophy. I share some highlighted bits:

“Bodhisattva’s usually are unknown and anonymous, rather than celebrities, and function humbly and invisibly all around us, expressing kindness and generosity in simple, quiet gestures.”

I also really like The Four Inconceivable Vows:

Living beings are infinite, I vow to free them.

Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to cut through them.

Dharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter them.

The Buddha Way is unsurpassable, I vow to realize it. 

He goes on to break these vows down, which may seem impossible from a conventional human viewpoint, however the bodhisattva viewpoint requires “a thorough, universal level of commitment,” that encompasses all our everyday kindnesses.

I’m comforted by words like these. I would love to live up to this ideal.. I’ve often felt it makes no difference what I do other just being kind and helpful where necessary. There are some really deep ideas that come from these concepts broken down.

One way of looking at things in reading this so far, that just blew my mind, is one on the concept of Buddhist rebirth. Buddhists don’t believe in a personal soul that reincarnates- rather, this thought relates to the culmination of all our actions and intentions as having a cause and effect and at the moment of death sending this out to be picked up and continued by another similar life.

He also shares an illuminating thought from an old friend of his who said, “Our past lives in the “next life,” may well be different from our past lives in the current life.” (!)

I love this concept of thinking about our lives in the terms of the continuation of our actions and intentions in the world. This is something I would like to share with my daughter. It gives an image of a cycle, a continuum, and makes you feel accountable.

The world we leave is not just for our children, but also (potentially) for ourselves. That would make all children our children. This also goes for everything, animals, the natural world.. When I think that I am currently a part of it, and of the possibility that I have been a part of it, will be a part of it, that it is not separate from myself, it makes me want to take care of it.

I am paraphrasing, and the author articulates all this much better than I. There is a lot that goes into it, so if you are into this kind of thing, you might check it out.


About Beauty and Dreams

I'm just a lady in Portland, OR. Check out my blog! Drawings, collage and more!
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6 Responses to Ordinary Bodhisattva

  1. cgregory says:

    Love love love this!

  2. orples says:

    Nice share. Beautiful painting.

  3. lesleehare says:

    What wonderful ways of expressing these concepts! Thank you, Chrissie! And I love Guan Yin’s thoughtful gaze…

  4. zeuslyone says:

    Thank you for sharing! Beautiful stuff! I love the picture, and I too, love the four inconceivable vows.

  5. This reminds me, I now know who painted this! His name is Zeng Hao and he did all the art for Alana Fairchild’s Kuan Yin Oracle which is a really lovely deck.

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