I have questions about the Bodhisattva ideal, based on the 37 practices of the Bodhisattva. I’m also curious about how this practice is for one with the aspiration of becoming an Arhat.
The general Bodhisattva ideal seems to be that you are supposed to have compassion and take everything upon you no matter what happens. But isn’t this sometimes going to make things worse – for everyone - the perpetrator included?
And I wonder if you people have any reflections on how this is for someone with the aspiration to become an Arhat? Is s/he equally supposed to have compassion and take everything upon him/her self – no matter what happens?
What are the differences and similarities here between the two?
In “the 37 practices of the Bodhisattva” there are some passages about how a Bodhisattva reacts to different situations. Some situations described are quite extreme, and too much for someone on my level! But many of them are such that I try to practice them, and here is an example (verse 15):
“Though someone may deride and speak bad words About you in a public gathering, Looking on her as a spiritual teacher, Bow to her with respect— This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.”
This is a situation I come upon very often at work. We have had some big problems with calumny, people saying bad things about each other. I find it quite difficult to see someone doing this as “a spiritual teacher”. But, more disturbingly, I think it might be counterproductive. If a person keeps saying bad things about the others, and we all look upon that person as “a spiritual teacher”, how is the situation going to get better?
Violence is another example. If a woman is about to be raped, is she not going to fight back? Is she supposed to take the misdeed upon herself? How is not fighting back going to make the situation better? Isn't this just going to produce more rapists? I’m thinking here about verse 13:
Even if someone tries to cut off your head When you haven’t done the slightest thing wrong, Out of compassion take all her misdeeds Upon yourself— This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.