What seems to be a difference if held to be literal is the idea that a Bodhisattva can somehow postpone their Buddhahood.
Dmytro wrote:It's interesting that in early Mahayana people would intentionally refrain from practices that could lead to stream-entry, with the ambition to develop parami for much more that seven lifetimes.
Isn't the Theravada position also that Gotama Buddha did this? I.e. he could have become an Arahant when he met Dipankara Buddha, but chose the Buddha route...
Sumedha. The Bodhisatta in the time of Dīpankara Buddha. He was a very rich brahmin of Amaravatī, and, having left the world, became an ascetic of great power in the Himālaya. While on a visit to Rammma-nagara, he saw people decorating the road for Dīpankara Buddha, and undertook to do one portion of the road himself. The Buddha arrived before his work was finished, and Sumedha lay down on a rut for the Buddha to walk over him. He resolved that he, too, would become a Buddha, and Dīpankara, looking into the future, saw that his wish would come true. This was the beginning of Gotama Buddha's qualification for Enlightenment. J.i.2ff.; DhA.i.68; Bu.ii.5ff.; SNA.i.49;
http://www.palikanon.com/english/pali_n ... umedha.htm
Dan74 wrote:I hope Pannasikhara weighs in, but it is certainly true that the notion of a Bodhisattva deliberately delaying enlightenment is not universally accepted in Mahayana.
Rather the Bodhisattva from his/her infinite compassion, resolves to re-enter this realm but is not "stained" by it. "In the world, but not of the world" to borrow a Christian phrasing.
I think it is clear from many Mahayana scriptures that advanced Bodhisattvas (like Vimalakirti) have eliminated defilements and passed the arahat stage.
PS The Bodhisattva Vows is just one of the differences. It's significant because of the strong orientation towards others, but to me perhaps a more visible day-to-day practice difference is in upaya - the various skillful means in letting go of defilements and realizing the nirvana, as well as a close contact with a teacher on this journey.
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