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Bodhisattva (Skt.; Tib. བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་དཔའ་, chang chub sempa; Wyl. byang chub sems dpa' ) — someone who has aroused bodhichitta, the compassionate wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings and also wishes to bring them to that state. It also refers to a sublime bodhisattva who has attained one of the ten stages of the bodhisattva path.

The Bodhisattva Path

Entry Point

The bodhisattvas practise on the basis of their wish to benefit others. They are motivated by bodhichitta, which has as its focus all sentient beings and is characterized by the wish to establish them all at the level of perfect buddhahood, free from the causes and effects of suffering and endowed with all the causes and effects of happiness. With this motivation, they take the bodhisattva vows of aspiration and application in the proper way, through the ritual of either the tradition of Profound View or Vast Conduct. They then observe the points of discipline concerning what should be adopted and abandoned, and heal and purify any impairments.


Concerning the basis of their path, how they determine the view, if we speak in terms of philosophical tenets, the approach of Mind Only is to assert that outer objects are not real and all phenomena are but the inner mind, and to claim that the self-aware, self-knowing consciousness devoid of dualistic perception is truly real. The approach of the Middle Way is to realize that all phenomena appear in the manner of dependent origination, but are in reality emptiness, beyond the eight extremes of conceptual elaboration. Through these approaches, on the basis of the explanation of the two levels of reality, they realize completely the absence of any personal self or phenomenal identity.


Concerning their path and how they practise meditation, the bodhisattvas realize and train in developing their familiarity with the indivisibility of the two levels of reality, and, on the basis of the yogic meditation that unites shamatha and vipashyana, meditate sequentially on the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment while on the path of training.


They practise the six transcendent perfections for their own benefit and the four means of attraction for the sake of others.


They attain the level of buddhahood, which is the ultimate attainment in terms of both abandonment and realization since it means abandoning all that has to be eliminated, the two obscurations including habitual traces, and realizing everything that must be realized, included within the knowledge of all that there is and the knowledge of its nature. They accomplish the two types of dharmakaya for their own benefit and the two types of rupakaya for the benefit of others.

Famous bodhisattvas

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