The Path of the Bodhisattva
Some of the specific practices of the bodhisattva include:
Observing the bodhisattva precepts
In addition to the five basic precepts, undertaking the additional precepts of the bodhisattva enables one to ascertain the path and establish oneself on the path. The precepts are not "commandments" as much as they are "protectors" against wayward mind and delusive and unwholesome habits. For the bodhisattva the precepts are like a roadmap to virtue and to bodhi-mind. The bodhisattva precepts consist of the Three Cumulative Pure Precepts and the Ten Virtuous Precepts
The Three Cumulative Pure Precepts are the precepts to
- regulate one's personal behavior.
- practice and cultivate virtue
- practice leniency and benevolence to all sentient beings.
The precepts are cumulative in the sense that one practices them through one's successive life cycles.
The Ten Virtuous Precepts include the five basic precepts not
to kill, steal, engage in sexual misconduct,
lie, or indulge in intoxicants, along with, for those taking
the bodhisattva vows, precepts not to
slander monastic or lay bodhisattvas, praise oneself
and defame others, be miserly, give rise
to aversion, or slander the Three Jewels.
Taking the Four Bodhisattva Vows
Along with these bodhisattva precepts, one may also take the bodhisattva vows.
- Sentient begins without limit I vow to deliver.
- Afflictions without end I vow to sever.
- Approaches to Dharma without number I vow to master.
- The unexcelled enlightenment of a Buddha I vow to attain.
This means one has given rise to bodhicitta ("mind of awakening") and has aroused the ultimate aspiration towards buddhahood.
Practicing the Six Paramitas
The paramitas, or perfections, are to be practiced:
In addition to the basic Six Paramitas, bodhisattvas may also practice an additional four: skillful means, determination, spiritual power, and equanimity.
A consequence of practicing the paramitas is the spontaneous nurturing of loving-kindness and compassion.The means for reaching "the other shore" (the meaning of paramita) thus becomes precisely through serving others out of compassion.
The path of the bodhisattva is inseparable from the true practice
of Chan. While actively cultivating the methods of dhyana, the
Chan practitioner follows the bodhisattva path as the most effective
way of lessening vexation, alleviating karma and helping sentient
beings. When all the practices of the bodhisattva are harmonious
and perfect, one is then practicing the One Buddha Vehicle.