Author Topic: bodhisattvas/spirit guides?  (Read 2937 times)


bodhisattvas/spirit guides?
« on: October 02, 2012, 09:52:00 PM »
         I have heard a few people describe moments of awakening and near death experiences. One similarity is that at these moments people describe hearing a voice, a very peaceful internal voice telling them to relax, surrender, let go, not to worry, all is well etc... In Tibetan buddhism there is the bodhisattva, is it possible these voices are bodhisattvas traversing samsara guiding us? :angel: Is there an equivalent to the bodhisattva in Theravada buddhism?


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Re: bodhisattvas/spirit guides?
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2012, 10:14:56 AM »
Hello redalert,

I am convinced that there is some interaction between how we see reality on the one hand, and how reality manifests to us on the other hand.
A lady once told me, that in Christian groups she would see Christ as a symbol for some specific high energy, and in Buddhist groups she would see a picture of a Buddha. She was convinced that in fact it was the same energy (or state of being) that used these two different pictures.

So if someone is a Catholic Christian and is touched by something very holy, that person might see a vision of the Holy Mother Mary. In my view, someone with a different cultural background might feel Kuan Yin.

So - when hearing "a very peaceful internal voice" the main thing is to be pure in heart and have a still mind, so that you can trust. Later it will become clear if it is best to know this voice as the voice of a bodhisattva, or as the voice of an ancestor that died long ago, or of a spirit guide, or   . . .    .

Well, that is my two cents


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Re: bodhisattvas/spirit guides?
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2012, 11:58:40 AM »
Dear Red,

..... In Tibetan buddhism there is the bodhisattva, is it possible these voices are bodhisattvas traversing samsara guiding us? :angel:

Anything is possible but rather than speculative views I would suggest continuing with your practice and not reifying or deifying your meditative experiences. Such beliefs are not conducive to the processes of cultivating calm, concentration, insight and compassion but risk being dead-end mind-numbing phantasms.

Is there an equivalent to the bodhisattva in Theravada buddhism?

Have you tried googling Bodhisattva? From the first result: Wikipedia:

In Theravāda Buddhism

The term "bodhisatta" (Pāli language) was used by the Buddha in the Pāli canon to refer to himself both in his previous lives and as a young man in his current life, prior to his enlightenment, in the period during which he was working towards his own liberation. When, during his discourses, he recounts his experiences as a young aspirant, he regularly uses the phrase "When I was an unenlightened bodhisatta..." The term therefore connotes a being who is "bound for enlightenment", in other words, a person whose aim is to become fully enlightened. In the Pāli canon, the bodhisatta is also described as someone who is still subject to birth, illness, death, sorrow, defilement, and delusion. Some of the previous lives of the Buddha as a bodhisattva are featured in the Jātaka tales.

In the Pāli canon, the bodhisatta Siddhartha Gotama is described thus:[4]

    before my Awakening, when I was an unawakened bodhisatta, being subject myself to birth, sought what was likewise subject to birth. Being subject myself to aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, I sought [happiness in] what was likewise subject to illness... death... sorrow... defilement.
    —Ariyapariyesana Sutta

While Maitreya (Pāli: Metteya) is mentioned in the Pāli canon, he is not referred to as a bodhisattva, but simply the next fully awakened Buddha to come into existence long after the current teachings of the Buddha are lost.

In later Theravāda literature, the term "bodhisatta" is used fairly frequently in the sense of someone on the path to liberation. The later tradition of commentary also recognizes the existence of two additional types of bodhisattas: the paccekabodhisatta who will attain Paccekabuddhahood, and the savakabodhisatta who will attain enlightenment as a disciple of a Buddha. According to the Theravāda teacher Bhikkhu Bodhi the bodhisattva path was not taught by Buddha [1].

Theravadin bhikku and scholar Walpola Rahula (Sri Rahula Maha Thera) has stated that the bodhisattva ideal has traditionally been held to be higher than the state of a śrāvaka not only in Mahāyāna, but also in Theravāda Buddhism. He also quotes an inscription from the 10th Century king of Sri Lanka, Mahinda IV (956-972 CE) who had the words inscribed "none but the bodhisattvas would become kings of Sri Lanka", among other examples.[5]

    There is a wide-spread belief, particularly in the West, that the ideal of the Theravada, which they conveniently identify with Hinayana, is to become an Arahant while that of the Mahayana is to become a Bodhisattva and finally to attain the state of a Buddha. It must be categorically stated that this is incorrect. This idea was spread by some early Orientalists at a time when Buddhist studies were beginning in the West, and the others who followed them accepted it without taking the trouble to go into the problem by examining the texts and living traditions in Buddhist countries. But the fact is that both the Theravada and the Mahayana unanimously accept the Bodhisattva ideal as the highest.
    —Walpola Rahula, Bodhisattva Ideal in Buddhism

Paul Williams writes that some modern Theravada meditation masters in Thailand are popularly regarded as bodhisattvas.[6]

    Cholvijarn observes that prominent figures associated with the Self perspective in Thailand have often been famous outside scholarly circles as well, among the wider populace, as Buddhist meditation masters and sources of miracles and sacred amulets. Like perhaps some of the early Mahāyāna forest hermit monks, or the later Buddhist Tantrics, they have become people of power through their meditative achievements. They are widely revered, worshipped, and held to be arhats or (note!) bodhisattvas.

Emphasis mine. - Rahula hits the nail nicely on the head.

Kind regards,

~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~


Re: bodhisattvas/spirit guides?
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2012, 09:54:06 PM »
  Thanks for the replies, perhaps bodisattva was not a very good example. The angel on one shoulder and devil on the other is another way to look at it.

   After her husband died in 1957, and her only surviving child, daughter Dipa was 7 yrs. old Nani "Dipa Ma" was drowning in sorrow and at the lowest point in her life. One day a doctor said to her " you know you are actually going to die of a broken heart unless you do something about the state of your mind."
   Because she was living in Burma, a buddhist country he suggested she learn to meditate. It was then she had a dream in which the buddha appeared to her as a luminous presence and softly chanted a verse from the dhammapada.

    Clinging to what is dear brings sorrow, clinging to what is dear brings fear, to one who is entirely free from endearment there is no sorrow or fear.

    Dipa Ma went on to become a vipassana master.

     When we meditate we come in contact with other planes of existence, our thoughts are not our own. Is it not possible that our stream of thought  is a message from a particular plane. People with depression have constant thoughts like, I'm not worthy, I'm worthless, I'm not good enough. Because we cling to these thoughts and identify with them we get stuck in that plane and suffer the corresponding bodily sensations. For some these thoughts are unbearable and extremely painful and as they sink to lower planes the thoughts may change to hurt yourself or hurt others.
     As we practice properly we rise to loftier planes and the thoughts become more pleasant and helpful, in one plane there exists a brahman who begs the buddha to teach the dhamma, I am thankful they listened.
     Should we not train to listen to the loftier planes(angels) and do good, and ignore the lower planes(devils), is this not the noble path?


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