We talked about Jay & Ilene’s pilgrimage in Japan. One topic was the idea of a Bodhisattva you “pray to” for help. In the first turning of the wheel of Buddhism, the cultural traditions around the Theravada typically have lay persons thinking they don’t have a chance to reach enlightenment this life so at least they can support the monastics who do. The second turning of the wheel started at the second Buddhist Council around 300-200BC where there was disagreement (eventually) over whether enlightenment could be attained by a person who was not a monastic and instead worked, married, and had a family. This later grew with Nargarjuna’s concept of emptiness in the Madhyamaka school around 200AD. By the time it reached China and NE Asia, the cultural practice of asking for help of those persons who have transcended the physical (no more rebirths), have almost reached final nirvana (cessation), but remain existing because they want to help others. They are the transcendent Bodhisattvas such as Quan Yin, Manjusri, Jizo, etc. When a person reaches full enlightenment they are a Buddha (awakened person), and a transcendent Bodhisattva has one last attachment – to help others. I hold to the idea that each of us has the ability to be perfectly content in the moment (jhana) and the chance to be perfectly content in our life (enlightenment), regardless of things like occupation, marital status, sex, health conditions. Although we can always ask for help – from transcendent Bodhisattvas, and other bodhisattvas (any compassionate person aspiring to help others), eventually we have to face and know our self in order to better know how to be content.

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