Audio: The Bodhisattva Dharma Talk
Bodhisattva is the Sanskrit word for a being who is devoted to awakening and to acting for the benefit of all that lives. The way of the bodhisattva is one of the most radical and powerful of all Buddhist forms of practice. It is radical because it states that the deep fulfillment of happiness comes from serving the welfare of others as well as ourself. Our highest happiness is connected with the wellbeing of others.
Psychologically this is an astonishing thing to say. Does this mean that I am personally going to save seven billion humans and trillions of other beings? How can I do so? When we think about it from our limited sense of self, it is impossible. But when we understand that it is a deep intention of the heart, we can begin to fulfill it. To take such a vow is to set a direction, a sacred purpose, a statement of wisdom, an offering, a blessing. “We are not separate, we are interdependent,” declared the Buddha. Without understanding this, we are split between caring for ourselves or caring for the troubles of the world. When the world is seen with the eyes of a bodhisattva, there is no I and other—there is just us.