The Dharma class 4, held on 14th October 2016, was the second series of the Dharma Voices in Series. The Dharma Voices in Series is a series of Dharma Classes which covers three different traditions of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. In this Dharma Class, Venerable You Deng and Sis. Eliner gave some speech about Bodhisattva according to Mahayana tradition.
The speech started with the briefing about Maitreya. Maitreya is a Bodhisattva that will reach enlightenment and will become the successor of Buddha Gautama. Maitreya is symbolized by a smiling fat monk. Because of its figure, A lot of temples put Maitreya statue on the entrance because it symbolizes welcome and happiness.
At the beginning, Maitreya was not symbolized by the fat Buddha. Maitreya was symbolized by a very mighty figure. The tradition of the fat Buddha was a reference from a monk named Qi Ci (契此), who was also called the cloth bag monk because he carries a cloth bag anywhere. Qi Ci was recognized as Maitreya because before Qi Ci died, he uttered :
Maitreya, the true Maitreya
Has billions of incarnations.
Often he is shown to people at the time;
Other times they do not recognize him
Maitreya now lives in Tusita Heaven. According to Mahayana tradition, Tusita heaven is a heaven where the Bodhisattvas inside are destined to reach enlightenment in the next life.
The word bodhisattva comes from the word Bodhi and sattva. Bodhi means enlightenment, and sattva means sentient beings. In other words, all beings who has the will of enlightenment can be called a bodhisattva. It can be humans, it can be devas, and it can also be animals. In other words, everyone can be called a Bodhisattva. Bodhisattva is not really the same as Arahant. Arahant has only the willingness of reaching enlightenment, while Bodhisattva has the willingness to reach enlightenment and also teach it to all beings.
A bodhisattva has two qualities : Selflessness and Compassion. Selflessness means concerning about others. Compassion means having loving kindness and sympathy. These two qualities are interconnected. Compassion appears because of selflessness. When we start to think about others, we can love others and also sympathize with others. On the other hand, an act of compassion arises selflessness. When you start helping others, you start to put yourself on other people’s shoes and feel happy for them.
A great example about loving kindness is found in Buddha’s past life. Before Buddha Gautama was reborn as Prince Sattva, he was a monk trying to cultivate Bodhisattva Path. One day, while walking in the forest, he saw a tigress giving birth to five babies. After giving birth, the mom tigress became very weak and about to die. Meanwhile, all the babies are asking for food from their mother. Looking at the situation, The monk jumped over to the tiger and sacrifice himself to become the food of the tigress. Gautama had shown the quality of being a Bodhisattva : being selfless and also compassionate with others.
There are three acts of goodness: do good deeds, speak good words, and think good thought. In order for an act to be considered good, it should give people joy, convenience, hope, and confidence. By doing good acts in our daily life we can increase our selflessness and compassion. Furthermore, what goes around comes around. If we practise doing good acts, good things will come to us.
In conclusion, we need to reflect back to our daily lives. When was the last time we help others and happy with it? We can start practicing good things now and start reduce the thought of “I”. Because we are all Buddha yet enlightened.