During my cross-country driving adventure in September, I got to enjoy 29 miles in the state of Arizona—just a snippet. The only photograph I took during that brief segment was of this Joshua tree, part of the Yucca family.

I’m not sure why, but standing in the company of this tree brought to mind a quote that I’d read in my planner by the Dalai Lama:

Even those who do not know much about spiritual development can appreciate that those who possess an other-directed attitude have great power of mind. In Buddhism, such beings are called bodhisattvas—those who are heroically intent (sattva) on achieving enlightenment (bodhi) in order to help others more effectively.”

Pronounced boh-dee-SAHT-vah, this person has the wisdom to become a Buddha, but refrains from doing so in order to help others find salvation.

Do you know a bodhisattva?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
                — Laurie Buchanan and our Facebook page

© 2011 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

35 thoughts on “Bodhisattva

  1. Wow….I really never had seen a Joshua tree until now…..depiction of a desert, yet life giving.

    I have experienced quite a few of those that carry the light, the key is to see it and embrace it in all…..

    • Kim – You would really enjoy a first-hand encounter with a Joshua Tree. The next time you’re in Arizona I hope you’ll go on a road trip with your friend to seek one out 🙂

  2. Hi,
    It’s a very unusual tree the way the greenery seems to be “tuffed” at the edges, a nice photo.
    The Dalai Lama was in OZ a couple of years ago, I think some of his readings are spot on, and some really make you think.

    • Magsx2 – I, too, enjoy many words of wisdom that The Dalai Lama has to share. And while we’ve got Joshua Trees in certain parts of the U.S., you folks down in Australia, Brisbane in particular, probably have lots of botanical wonders that we don’t have 🙂

    • Kathy – I, too, believe that we’re all have the Bodhisattva within. Linda is a dear friend and just recently opened a Yoga studio. I actually put a link to it in my reply to her. I know you enjoy Yoga, so you may want to check it out — even though you’re a several day drive from here 🙂

  3. What a great picture – I think it had to be taken. Why else is that the only one you took? hmmm. I have studied Buddhism for years. I know many Bodhisattvas – most do not know they are one. I think that is secret to actually being one.

  4. So you were in my neck of the woods (ahem …desert) were ya! Arizona has so many diverse and beautiful ecosystems. From where I am in Phoenix I can travel less than 200 miles in any direction and find something wonderfully unqiue!

    Regarding Bodhisattva’s, I think this fits in nicely with Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, a.k.a., The Hero’s Journey. I’m of the opinion that every spirit that incarnates on the planet is on this kind of journey, knowingly or not.

    I appreciate your spirit Laurie!

    • Bob – It’s so good to hear from you. Yes, for 29 miles I was in your lovely state–Arizona. You are, indeed, ideally situated for a quick road trip to a wealth of beauty–basically in the palm of your hand. I like your thoughts about Bodhisattva’s and Joseph Campbell’s, “The Hero’s Journey.” Thank you for popping in today 🙂

  5. Perhaps my hemlock tree is a bodhisattva? Your post linking trees with spiritual development made me think of a quote I recently found:

    “Trees are the largest and most spiritually advanced plants on Earth. They are constantly in meditation. Subtle energy is their natural language.”
    ~ Mantak Chia

    Maybe the Joshua tree was sharing some of its wisdom with you.

  6. Yes this is a beauful post Laurie, that inspires deeper thought, aimed for teh common good. I do know a few people through my life who have fit the description here of the bodhisattva. But I also completely agree with you and others here that we have much of these aspects within us.

    • Sam – “…aimed for the common good.” Yes! And like you, I agree that each of us have many of the Bodhisattva aspects within. Thank you so much for your visit today 🙂

  7. My Word! What a question! I read the post this morning and have pondered it off and on today. Know one personally? Maybe. At times I would think so. I would never really nail anyone to my expectations, pedestals are so easy to fall off of. What I love, truly love about the Dalai Lama is that man laughs, he laughs at you, at me, at himself. In his own sweet, smiling way he radiates the joy of Life, touching all who care to warm their hearts with his Wisdom.
    I am a unashamed hugger and lover of trees. Having several yuccas in my own yard, I find it best to just pass the time of day politely and save the hugs for more embraceable trees.

    • Sandi – From one unashamed tree-hugger to another, here’s what I really admire about you, “I would never really nail anyone to my expectations…” I wish I could say the same thing, but I’m definitely working toward it.

  8. I know a number of Bodhisattva and I agree with Suzen that most of the true leaders and guides do not know that they are just so…

    …in my neck of the woods right now, this is the next thing to “wanna become” – I stopped going to my spiritual group because the new leader is a Bodhisattva counselor and a good leader…but she interprets the concepts and stories with Roman Catholic values, because she has not sorted those concepts out in her life – I find it so disruptive to what I have learned and to what I have set free, that I can not find meditation or advance my faith so I stand aside and let the group enjoy her sharing…

    It is the attitude that I am superior to you or entitled that I find folks have the most trouble giving up or reconciling and I just have the hardest time reconciling with “what’s in it for me”
    I just want to be a part of making the world a better place and we need lots of different minds and ideas in order to achieve this future. Model to me some compassion and actions that make a difference – not how many meditations one does per day or how many retreats attended.

    I have become intolerant of the radical conservatives intolerance too – maybe I am just an old dog!

    • Patricia – I applaud your comment, “I just want to be a part of making the world a btter place and we need lots of different minds and ideas in order to achieve this future.”

  9. Hmmm . . . do I know anyone who is Buddha material? No, sorry to say that I don’t. Not even close! Mostly, I know a lot of people just like me who are fumbling through life as best we can, helping ourselves when we remember, and helping others along the way.

  10. Great picture, idea, and quote. Lovely synergy, as always. I think Buddha would approve! Thanks for enlightening us with your work and ideas, Laurie. We can’t end the darkness of the world, but we can enhance the light. With heart, Daisy

  11. I’m with Linda and Bob on this one.

    It seems to me that we are all on our hero’s journey, and we all have our bodhisattva moments.

    There is another aspect too, that of being in a state where one can recognise such moments (both in one’s self and in others).

    For me, my objective is to increase the frequency and duration of both my bodhisattva generating and receiving (recognising) moments.

    One of the things that Landmark go on about quite a bit is the “space of listening” that we create for others to “be” and to “speak into”. I find these very useful ideas, even if internally I translate and restructure them into a systems paradigm.

    For some, such an endeavour appears to be naive, but it really isn’t (though it cam often appear so from the outside – as it is done in full knowledge of the probabilities of having that trust broken, and doing it anyway).

    • Ted – “…we all have our bodhisattva moments.” We’re in full agreement on that. And I really like your point of “recognizing” such moments, and increasing the frequency and duration. Excellent observation. Landmark’s “space of listening” sounds similarly wonderful to “Satsang” (sacred listening). I have no doubts that your translated/restructured version is extremely effective!

  12. Pingback: Bodhisattva | Ted Howard NZ's Blog

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