Bodhisattvayana (Nyingma school)

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In the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, the bodhisattvayana is the third of the nine yanas.

Alak Zenkar Rinpoche explains bodhisattvayana from the Nyingma point of view as follows:

The bodhisattva vehicle is the part of the mahāyāna that belongs to the vehicle of characteristics. It is called the vehicle of bodhisattvas because once it has been entered it has the power to lead someone to great enlightenment, because its domain of experience is vast, in terms of its extensive skilful methods and its profound wisdom, because it brings about benefit and happiness, in the higher realms in the short term, and ultimately at the stage of definitive good, and because it carries one to greater and greater qualities as one progresses along the paths and stages. It is called a vehicle of characteristics because it has all the characteristics of a path that is a direct cause for bringing about the ultimate fruition, the level of buddhahood.

I will now a give a brief outline of its initial entry point, view, meditation, conduct and results.

i. Entry Point

The bodhisattvas practise on the basis of their wish to benefit others. They are motivated by bodhicitta, 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.

ii. View

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.[7] 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.

iii. Meditation

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 śamatha and vipaśyanā, meditate sequentially on the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment while on the path of training.

iv. Conduct

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

v. Results

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 dharmakāya for their own benefit and the two types of rūpakāya for the benefit of others.[1]


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