7 Signs You’re on Your Way to Becoming a Bodhisattva
Here’s the thing: the world needs more Bodhisattvas, not Buddhas.
If you want to follow a spiritual path or philosophy, I think the path of the Bodhisattva is the best one for you.
It’s simple to imagine yourself as a Buddha, sitting in a detached state of ecstatic elevation above the world. We already have plenty of people like that.
But what about the path of the Bodhisattva? It is a journey of commitment and compassion from the heart. It’s a road of bravely facing life’s shitstorms and existential holes. It is the way of soul-embodied Love and Oneness.
While the Buddha is non-dual consciousness that is pure, detached, and cleansed, the Bodhisattva is a tantric, fleshly, wild-divine creature that understands how to deal with life’s blood, agony, and dirt.
So, my friend, I beseech you to understand that in order to embody your soul’s mission, you must follow the Bodhisattva path. Our society’s survival, our own existence as a species, and the survival of our planet are all dependent on it. I’ll explain why in a moment.
But first, let me explain the term “bodhisattva.”
What exactly is a Bodhisattva?
A Bodhisattva is a Buddhist who postpones enlightenment in order to assist all sentient creatures in achieving freedom (Nirvana). The term is derived from the Sanskrit terms “bodhi,” which means “enlightenment, waking,” and “sattva,” which means “essence, being.” A Bodhisattva is a Sanskrit term that means “one whose essence is enlightenment.”
And do you know what’s so lovely about this phrase? What I like most about it is how inclusive and universal it is. Enlightenment is the essence of everyone. We are all unique manifestations of the Divine. As a result, if we do want, we may all become Bodhisattvas.
However, do you have to be a Buddhist to be a Bodhisattva? “You may think.” Not at all. This is a way to talk about the thing inside of us that is the same for everyone, even though we have different religions and names.
Do I have to be exceptional or spiritually advanced to be a Bodhisattva? “you may wonder. No, once again. This is a route for ordinary people living ordinary lives, not for the “spiritual elite” (which, by the way, does not exist!).
According to a Buddhist monk and spiritual master Thich Nhat Hanh,
A bodhisattva is someone who has compassion inside themselves and is capable of making another person happy or making someone suffer less. This is something that every one of us is capable of.
See? No need for an Elite-Spiritual-Person badge!
7 Signs You’re on Your Way to Becoming a Bodhisattva
Not everyone is fit or drawn to the path of a Bodhisattva. This is a route for extraordinary people who desire to make a significant and permanent difference not just in their own lives, but also in the lives of others.
Can you identify any of the following signs?
1. You have a strong desire to help, guide, and/or elevate others.
2. You often experience profound sorrow for the planet’s suffering (including plants, animals, ecosystems, and humanity at large).
3. You are a very sensitive and/or empathic person.
4. You prefer the road of heartfulness over the path of mindfulness.
5. You have a strong connection with the Wounded Healer archetype.
6. You’re a naturally generous and devout person (your greatest joy derives from serving others).
7. You’ve had some form of spiritual epiphany.
Bodhisattvas are likewise concerned with the long-term effects of their deeds and the eagle’s eye perspective (as opposed to the worm’s vision) of existence. They prefer a “we-centered” life philosophy to a “me-centered” approach to living.
“How will my deeds radiate out into the world and affect others?” is one of the fundamental concerns of Bodhisattvas.
If you see that you are not at the center of the universe, but rather a part of the Web of Life, you are already on the Bodhisattva road!
The Planetary Crisis, Bodhisattvas, and Soul Purpose
On a broad scale, it is clearly apparent that mankind is heading in the wrong direction.
In the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth, everything from global warming to overpopulation to large-scale ecocide and social decline is to blame.
Worse, most people either deny it, are “too busy,” or are apathetic about the planet’s deteriorating status. We’re like frogs sitting in a pot of gently heating water. Nothing stands out at first; it’s “business as usual.”
Finally, when we do notice and decide to act, it is too late. Unbeknownst to the frog, it has slowly cooked to death.
Simply because something is unnoticeable does not mean it is not real or eventually harmful.
So, where does the Bodhisattva come into play?
That’s the thing: the road of Bodhisattvahood, of giving your soul’s purpose (i.e., your unique abilities) for the benefit of the Earth as a whole, is the only conceivable way ahead. It’s our only chance. It is, once again, our only hope.
True transformation can never be externalized. We gave it a go. It has been a colossal failure. True long-term change cannot be achieved via bullying, coercion, protest, manipulation, rearrangement, or vocalization.
Change must come from the inside. Yes, you may create superficial outward modifications that will persist for a short time. You may bribe, threaten, humiliate, or push someone to alter their ways. They won’t stay long, however, since they’re merely on the surface and don’t emanate from deep inside.
True transformation must begin on an individual level before spreading out and enacting true transformation. If you toss a single pebble into a pond, it will cause ripples that spread far and wide. The same logic applies to us.
Five Ways to Live Your Soul’s Purpose as a Bodhisattva
Walking the path of the Bodhisattva does not imply conforming to a particular stereotype.
You don’t have to go around with mala beads, have sculptures of Buddhist deities in your home, or recite in Sanskrit every day.
Bodhisattvas exist in a variety of forms and sizes.
Some Bodhisattvas choose to raise environmentally mindful offspring. Others choose to start enterprises that benefit others. Others may opt to be of assistance to animals, plants, or the ecosystem as a whole. There are social professionals, scientists, nurses, and government employees who are Bodhisattvas. The options are limitless.
Your Bodhisattva path might be spiritual, religious, or secular-it is ultimately up to you and what resonates with you on a gut level.
So, how can we embody our soul’s mission (whatever it may be) as a Bodhisattva? To put it another way, how can we live truly from the heart in ways that benefit the planet?
Here are some suggestions:
1. Be self-compassionate, understanding that how you treat yourself has an impact on the rest of the world
Yes, you read that correctly: start with yourself. Consider the question, “How is my connection with myself?” Do you have a strong sense of self-worth and self-respect? Do you value yourself?
Sure, it’s acceptable to have doubts and abuse oneself on occasion. But can the salve of compassion cure this self-flagellation?
The essential medication in the Bodhisattva’s medical bag is self-love practice.
Metta, or loving-kindness meditation, is a gentle yet effective approach to cultivating this self-compassionate attitude. Mantra meditations that concentrate on the vibration of love (such as the Heart Sutra meditation: Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!) may also be tried.
2. Acts of kindness have a tiny exterior impact but a large interior impact
Commit to performing one small, intentional act of kindness every day.Intentional is the crucial word here. Every day, you reinforce your path and purpose by being cognizant of this small dedication to life.
Giving water or (suitable) food to local animals, lending a listening ear to someone in need, smiling at a stranger, showing additional attention to your kid, embracing your spouse, assisting someone online, and so on are all examples. The inner spiritual alchemy that might happen as a result of these small acts of kindness is important.
Remember that being a Bodhisattva does not imply being a martyr or a doormat. Yes, it is necessary to establish limits. Don’t push yourself too far if it may injure you. It’s not about being the next Jesus or Buddha. The goal is to allow your heart to expand and express your inner being. This may provide people with warmth, optimism, pleasure, and consolation.
3. Make up your own Bodhisattva oath
If being of service to the world and easing the pain of other living things is important to you, make a promise to do that.
Shantideva was an 8th-century Buddhist monk and sage. The Dalai Lama says a vow that was inspired by his words.
May I be a protector for those in need and a guide for those on the way?
A raft, a boat, and a bridge for people who want to cross the flood.
I’d want to be a light in the darkness.
A rest stop for the tired
A curative remedy for those who are ill
A vase of plenty, a tree of wonders
And may I supply nutrition and enlightenment to an infinite number of living creatures.
In the same way that the land and sky keep going until all creatures are free of pain and awakened.
Another popular Bodhisattva vow utilized by numerous Buddhist schools is the following:
I swear to rescue all beings, no matter how many there are.
Desires are limitless, and I swear to put a stop to them.
The Dharma gates are limitless, and I promise to enter them.
I swear to follow Buddha’s path since it is unrivaled.
Of course, you don’t have to officially follow the above vows—you’re allowed to create your own that comes from the heart.
However, consider this exercise to be a way of reinforcing your soul’s mission in this world (whatever it may be).
Consider it a precious tribute to life and the earth. Put your Bodhisattva vow wherever you can see it every day so that it sinks deep into your consciousness (like on your work desk or bathroom mirror).
4. Inquire, “Where are my actions out of sync with my heart’s desire?”
Nobody is without flaws. We all do questionable things from time to time. Sometimes we just get into bad habits that continue for years.
Being a Bodhisattva does not exempt you from the difficult inner process of addressing your shadows. Everyone has a shadow self, sometimes known as a “dark side,” and it is this hidden energy that tends to undermine our best efforts.
You won’t suffer from impostor syndrome (the uncomfortable inner sensation of being a “fraud”) if you recognize and address dark inconsistencies. You’ll have greater inner clarity, access deeper levels of love and inner serenity, and feel more connected to your soul’s mission.
It’s important to note that this introspective exercise isn’t about humiliating oneself. It’s not about striving for perfection. We need to be honest and straightforward on the Bodhisattva path and all through our spiritual journey.
The simple act of writing is an excellent place to begin your shadow work.
5. Develop loving-kindness for mankind (note: having a role model helps)
At your core, you are infinitely loving and compassionate—traits that are inherent in your true nature. However, owing to the stresses of contemporary life, it might be difficult to tap into this innate spring of loving-kindness at times.
There are two strong techniques to open your heart and thereby embody your soul’s purpose:
1. Show appreciation
2. Seek out a role model who is heart-centered.
To begin with, thankfulness is a basic Bodhisattva practice that you may engage in every day. To help remind me of this habit, I keep a stone by my bed that reminds me to be thankful every night. This “gratitude stone” allows me to spend a few seconds each day saying thank you to life – and I’ve observed that this one minute has considerably increased my open-heartedness.
You may use the same method to locate a “gratitude” stone or rock and put it near your bed. Alternatively, you may keep a gratitude diary and write down the top 10 things you’re grateful for every day. Gratitude is a scientific habit, so don’t dismiss it as simply wishful thinking!
Second, locate a heart-centered role model to keep you motivated and inspired. Who motivates you? What mythical or non-mythological figure inspires you to love and respect? Maitreya, Tara, Quan Yin, Anandamayi Ma, Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Jesus, Thich Nhat Hanh, and others spring to mind-there are many, both recognized and unknown!
Consider the person or entity you are drawn to as your Bodhisattva role model. Most importantly, recognize how these attributes are already present inside you. How else could you notice and appreciate them if they weren’t? What a priceless present!
When we recognize that our own soul’s mission is inextricably linked to the health of the Earth, everything we do takes on more meaning and significance.
This isn’t wishful thinking. The truth is that the world is in a dreadful and precarious state. Humanity is on the verge of self-destruction. When we travel the path of the Bodhisattva, we produce the waves of change that our planet sorely needs.
What does it mean to you to be a Bodhisattva on your path? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.