Lesson
1

The Bodhisattva Ideal

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Bodhisattvas as archetypes

We will be looking at the lives of seven bodhisattva figures as psychological and spiritual models in order to see how we can live wholeheartedly. The bodhisattvas presented here are considered as archetypes, models of psychic aspects of the enlightening being.

These bodhisattvas overlap in their qualities, but each one emphasizes particular aspects of awakening, and each one reveals a character and style that practitioners may align with at different phases in their practice. They exist as external forces to provide encouragement and support, as internal energies to be fostered, and as examples of awakened practice to emulate. They are forces in the world and in us; we couldn't see them out there if they didn't resonate with something inside.

Although for historical reasons most of the bodhisattvas are depicted as male, all the archetypes are manifested by both women and men. As the bodhisattvas enter our culture, they will find new guises and evolving qualities. Each of us may bring them to life in our own way.