Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Future Buddhas: Bodhisattvas

Seth Auberon and Ashley Wells (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly; G.P. Malalasekera
Maitreya Buddha of the future is currently a transcendent bodhisattva who will be the universal Teaching-Buddha on Earth in a future age (500px/Devon Pucel/flickr.com)

Hindu-Mahayana fuse: Maitreya Kwan Yin (YG Low/flickr)
A bodhisattva like "friend" (maitrī, metta) Maitreya/Metteyya is an "enlightenment being," one destined for buddhahood, a future buddha, that is, a supremely enlightened teacher and establisher of the Dharma in this world system
According to the traditional belief a bodhisattva (Pāli bodhisatta), before reaching his final rebirth as and becoming a buddha on the human plane (manusya loka), is reborn and lives in the contented deva world of Tusita-heaven, a celestial space world of bliss (cf. A. IV, 127; VIII, 70).
In the Pāli canon -- a collection in the ancient exclusively Buddhist language related to Sanskrit, from the word pali, which means "text" -- and its commentaries, the designation "Bodhisatta" is given only to Prince Siddhartha before his enlightenment and as a reference to his former births. 
The Buddha himself uses this term when speaking of his life prior to enlightenment (e.g., MN 4, MN 26). 
On the shores of samsara (Intercept)
Bodhisattahood is neither mentioned nor recommended as an "ideal" higher than or alternative to full enlightenment (arhatship) nor is there any record in the Pāli scriptures of a disciple declaring it as his aspiration other than the Bodhisatta doing so long ago -- aeons ago -- in front of Kassapa Buddha, who then foresaw his future and firmly declared his eventual success if he persisted.

See bodhi for a fuller discussion of enlightenment.

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