AlaskanDhamma wrote:To me it always seemed that when Mahayana buddhists talk about bodhisattvas and saving the world,etc., it just meant that by working towards reaching enlightenment they would eventually be helping others someday. Does that make sense? But don't worry, I have met plenty Mahayana buddhists who, despite it being harmful to them, have seemed very egotistical.
Buddhists on ego trips? Sure. That's a trap everywhere, and Mahayana Buddhists can fall into that just as easily as anyone else. But I don't see that as a problem with the path of Zen, or the ideals of bodhisattva, as much as the usual games the mind plays. As for saving the world, and helping others I've never heard anyone phrase it in terms of something we'll do "someday."
There is no someday. There is only today, right now, the flow of moments. You have an opportunity to help someone, you do it now or you've missed that opportunity. Beginner bodhisattvas have to practice "helping" others every single day. Small acts. Many of us actually view this as being less about "me" as about everyone
being bodhisattvas. You may not call yourself that, but if you are constantly doing things for the benefit of others (as most folks in this forum are) then from one perspective you are already walking the bodhisattva path.
BUT, there are many different views on this. We've been having a couple of different discussions on the topic over at ZFI, such as this one here
. Some view the bodhisattvas as real, some as metaphors, some as ideals and role models. The vow to save all beings is a kinda koan, imo. There is no way you or I is going to save all beings. Right there is an opportunity to break through, questioning who are "you," who am "I," who are "all beings"? The diamond sutra teaches that if you believe there actually are real beings that need saving one is not viewing things as a bodhisattva.The Bodhisattva's Vow
The Buddha said to Subhūti: "The bodhisattvas and mahāsattvas should subdue their thoughts like this: All the different types of sentient beings, whether they be born from eggs, born from a womb, born from moisture or born spontaneously; whether or not they have form; whether they abide in perceptions or no perceptions; or without either perceptions or non-perceptions, I save them by causing them to enter nirvana without remainder. And when these immeasurable, countless, infinite number of sentient beings have been liberated, in actuality, no sentient being has attained liberation. Why is this so? Subhūti, If a bodhisattva abides in the signs of self, person, sentient being, or life-span, she or he is not a bodhisattva."