What Is Bodhisattva?

A Lesson from My Friend Sabrina.

I had never heard this word before in my life until my high school class mate Sabrina called me from India about three years ago and said:

“May do you know the meaning of the Quan Yin’s chant Om Ma Ne Pad Me Hon, I am in India take a pen and write it down. It means Lotus jewel, grant me omniscience, manifest compassion effortlessly, fulfilling all wishes. I am reading this from a book written by Osho and why don’t you go and buy all his books. I like to be a Bodhisattva.”

I thought, what does all this mean? She did not need to call me all the way from India just to tell me this.

My friend died prematurely last year from a fall in a shower. Ever since that time I have been thinking about her and really miss her soul. Yes her life was short, yet I had been influenced by her greatly. We had gone to a retreat together that was run by her guru Rinpoche in San Francisco and I had started to understand her spiritual path when I was introduced to the Buddhist path of compassion.

The word is Sanskrit and translates literally as “enlightenment” (Bodhi) and “being”or “existence’ (sattva). Buddhists believe that a bodhisattva is a particular kind of enlightened being. He or she will continue to reincarnate in unenlightened worlds, at great personal risk and at times with considerable agony, in order to serve as a beacon of light, guiding seekers to higher consciousness and hopefully, ultimate freedom.

“Modern Bodhisattva need the daily necessities such as furniture, pay their taxes, sit in traffic and shop for groceries- and yet they must remain serene and compassionate”

said Nicole Grace, a Buddhist monk, teacher of Buddhism and author of Bodhisattva: How to be Free/Teachings to guide You Home.

Ever since the telephone call from my friend Sabrina and her subsequent death I had been trying to understand her spiritual path. I thought it was not fair that she should die prematurely. Her path had influenced me greatly—before that call I was clueless about Buddhism because of my Western influence, as well as my religious up bringing, which did not allow me to pursue these concepts.

Nicole Grace also said, “When some of us think about the extraordinary compassion, generosity and bravery of these beings, it becomes an all-consuming pursuit to dedicate ourselves to the advanced practices necessary to become a heroic spiritual servant as they have.”

All these teaching were foreign and too profound for me at the time. I saw Sabrina struggle with pain and suffering for years. About five years ago I visited her in Hong Kong and she had become very calm and very serene . Now that I look back at the events that happened to her I realized she had become enlightened and she was a Bodhisattvas.

Two years ago she called me again from Taiwan and said: “I had just bought many fish to let them swim back to the ocean, and they symbolized the ritual of freeing their lives. I bought some for your sake and also for the mission you are going to do for the rest of your life.” I was so touched by her action and the care and thought she had about my work in this life. “Wow!” I thought, “this is the first time someone bought some fish and freed their lives for my sake.” Since then I started reading on Bodhisattva’s Path. I definitely believe she lived a Bodhisattva path and she had influence me to also pursue this path. I am only a beginner and hopefully her spirit will guide me.

When I chant “Calling all souls and my beloved soul” I call on Sabrina in particular to help and guide me to pursue my path and (hopefully) continue and learn her Bodhisattvas path.”

May we all live life with passion and be in charge of our health. Ignite the beauty from within us.


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