Updated: Mar 9, 2021
Mahayana talks a great deal about the bodhisattva (the 'enlightenment being') as being the ideal way for a Buddhist to live. In Mahayana Buddhism a bodhisattva refers to anyone who has generated bodhicitta, a spontaneous wish and compassionate mind to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.
Anyone can embark on the bodhisattva path. This is a way of life, a way of selflessness; it is a deep wish for all beings, no matter who they are, to be liberated from suffering.
Six ways to cultivate Bodhisattva
Generosity (Dana paramita)
Generosity - the wish to share your knowledge/time/love. Give protection to all sentient being. Willingness to give to others what they need, whether that be time, possessions or skills. Willingness to give without regret and with joy, and to give without expectation of reward.
Morality (Sila paramita)
Morality/Ethics - the wish to avoid causing harm. Commit actions that will benefit others, keeping vows of not killing, stealing, lying, committing sexual misconduct and talking any kinds of intoxication.
Following the Dhamma (or Dharma) in all aspects, but not without thinking. Working the Dhamma into one’s daily life with intelligence and understanding.
Patience (Ksanti paramita)
Patience - the wish not to harm back, having undisturbed calm mind. Practice of learning new things, no frustration if something is not going your way. Being able to endure our problems. Also translated as ‘tolerance’ or ‘endurance’. Being patient with others, enduring hardship and accepting the truth of life’s unsatisfactoriness (or dukkha).
Diligence (Virya paramita)
Diligence - being happy to do good actions. Laziness is the biggest obstacle to be able to do good actions. 3 types of laziness: 1. Attachment to meaningless activities 2. Procrastination 3. Discouragement “I can’t do it! Without effort we won’t be able to improve! In order to overcome laziness we have to cherish ourselves and others: aspiration - the wish to do things. Continuity of doing things. Complete actions we begin. Joy of doing good actions. Rest - don’t forget about yourself. It’s okay to sleep in, take a bubble bath, relax ad enjoy life.
Dedication to attaining Buddhahood.
Meditation (Dhyana paramita)
Meditation - focused and positive mind, the mind that is able to stay undisturbed. We have to practice meditation in order to achieve continuous concentration.
Meditation is the foundation of wisdom. Inner focus and calm are essential for the deep understanding required for Buddhahood.
Wisdom (Prajna paramita)
Wisdom - the wisdom of realizing emptiness, wisdom of distinguishing between good and bad actions.
Wisdom consists of understanding that all of existence is emptiness (sunyata). This idea is the foundation of all of the paramitas. Wisdom, which means awareness of sunyata, is achieved through the previous five paramitas.