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This ideal of a spiritualized worldly life on the part of an illuminate is held even where it might be thought the last place to be found--in Buddhism. For of the three Goals it sets before men, the last is that of the Bodhisattva. Linguistically, the term means one who is bent upon wisdom but technically the term means one who is destined to become a Buddha. Practically, it means one who stands on the very threshold, as it were, of Nirvana, but refuses to enter because he wishes to remain behind and relieve suffering humanity. This tremendous self-sacrifice indicates the tremendous spirit of compassion which actuates him. "I cannot have pleasure while another grieves and I have the power to help," said Gautama while yet a Bodhisattva. He has all the capacities and qualities, all the mental and ethical advancement to render him quite capable of swiftly attaining the Goal but prefers to use them only as far as its threshold and no farther. Hence, we find that Bodhisattvas are historically persons who practise pity, kindness, and charity to an incredible extent, but do not forget to use discrimination at the same time. He is soft-hearted but not a soft-hearted fool. Thus, he renounces the ego but he does not renounce the world. He may marry, as Gautama when a Bodhisattva sought to marry the princess Pabhavati (Jataka 531); he may live in luxury, ease, and comfort and say, as the same Gautama-Bodhisattva said: "Infatuated, bound and deeply stained am I with pleasures, fearful though they be, but I love life and cannot them deny. Good works I undertake continually." (Jataka 378) With all this, however, he does not drop his wisdom but holds perpetually to the meditation on the world's transience, suffering, and illusion but he does not hold to it to such an extent that he would fully realize Nirvana; here again, he pauses at its threshold. For he refuses to break his ties with common humanity. Thus, he is reborn in the most diverse bodies, environments, and ranks and undergoes the most varied vicissitudes, thus giving the benefit of his altruistic presence on the most universal and large-hearted scale.

Consequently, if we meet him in the flesh, we meet a citizen of the world, a man utterly free from all racial, colour, or class prejudice. He is ready to live in the world, therefore, even as a worldly person. He loves knowledge and will not disdain it when it deals with the things of earth alone; nothing that is human is unfit for him to learn. He will foster brains, practicality, self-reliance, strength, resolution, perseverance. He considers his word sacred and unfailingly keeps a promise and throughout the entire course of his worldly life he never cherishes ill will to anyone, not even to enemies who have insulted, injured, betrayed, or burnt him with their hate. For he remembers that he is a Bodhisattva--one who intends loving-kindness to all.


-- Notebooks Category 20: What Is Philosophy? > Chapter 4: Its Realization Beyond Ecstasy > # 233






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