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journal contribution
posted on 2022-08-24, 09:52 authored by John PowersJohn Powers

The Sanskrit term bodhicitta (mind of awakening) refers to the state of mind of a bodhisattva, who pursues buddhahood in order to benefit others. There are two primary aspects: (1) a conventional aspect of a bodhisattva who aspires to buddhahood; and (2) an ultimate aspect, which is actualized when the nature of mind of a bodhisattva awakens. The conventional aspect also has two levels: (1) aspirational (praṇidhāna) bodhicitta, in which the bodhisattva takes a vow to attain buddhahood for the benefit of others; and (2) practical bodhicitta, which refers to actual practice on the path. Bodhicitta is the key concept that separates the two main traditions of Indian Buddhism, Mahayana (“Greater Vehicle”) and Hinayana (“Lesser Vehicle”). The latter is a polemical term (rejected by those to whom it is applied) coined by their Mahayana rivals. Mahayanists characterize the Hinayana pursuit of personal liberation as selfish and valorize the universal compassion of bodhisattvas, who are portrayed as mighty heroes who pursue the supreme religious goal because of their universal compassion. Note that, in Tibetan, the term bodhicitta is byang chub kyi sems. In East Asia, the term is written as 菩提心 and pronounced in Mandarin as pútí xīn; in Japanese as bodaishin; in Korean as pori sim; and in Vietnamese as bồ đề tâm.



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