Translating might be a good process definition of “Bodhisattva-ing.” While this word made my spell check go wild, it helps make a point: willingness is defined by having done something.
This process is a central feature of Mahayana Buddhism: one whose compassion manifests in helping others before self. Odd isn’t it. There seems to be a protocol to help self to enable self to help others.
What if we have gotten this wrong all along? That is assuming we feel separated from others as the normal course of events and we have to bridge this gap to be of assistance. I suggest that we are all Bodhisattvas and we do our thing (helping) but the acts may not always register very high on the awareness meter. Loving kindness is the lubricate of interconnectedness and the reciprocal is gratitude– joy.
Sharon Salzberg in a wonderful article on interconnectedness says:
In the Buddhist tradition, bodhisattvas are those who, aspiring to enlightenment, make a resolve, “I vow to attain full enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings.” That is a pretty incredible vow! It means that we recognize our own liberation is intertwined with the liberation of all beings without exception. It means that, rather than seeing other beings as adversaries, we must see them as colleagues in this endeavor of freedom. Rather than viewing others with fear or contempt, which arises from a belief in separation, we see them as part of who we ourselves are. Seeing the truth of this fundamental interconnectedness is what is known in the Eightfold Path as right view.
One could say that Bodhisattva-ing is an awakened action, not awareness necessarily of the actor nor of the recipient in the moment. For example an act of support such as steadying someone who is about to fall seems innocuous enough. But later on the awareness of what happened is striking. It is in this condition that we experience a heartfelt sense of gratitude.
There is a public service announcement currently on television about anti semitism. In the short clip, a mother and daughter come out of their house on a beautiful day, smile and say good morning to a neighbor who is washing his car. The mother turns and sees a swastika and a hate message painted on the garage door. The daughter asks what it means as the neighbor also looks. Hurrying the daughter into the car, they drive away. Upon their return the neighbor is still washing his car. The garage door has been painted. The mother noticed paint on the neighbor’s shoes and mouth the words: thank you.
Tuesday night May 2, 2023 I will explore the article and the short video I described through Tokudo or the vows one takes in celebrating inter-are or Oneness.