The Bodhisattva is the Hero: The Path to Spiritual Heroism – part 2

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Since birth, we learn that we live and die as humans and are here only to study, work, travel, and have fun. We learn we exist only to get married, have pets, start a family, retire, and have grandchildren. And that’s it, the end.

But believing we can only be human is a waste of time, energy, and life. With this body, this mind, and with the right tools, we can be more. Much more. You just have to transcend this self-imposed limit.

The idea of going beyond your limiting beliefs is not new. The pseudo-gurus of spirituality promote and sell it whenever they can. And it is a good idea. Leaving behind beliefs, such as thinking you are “mediocre” or “only good at one thing,” is liberating and beneficial. But you rarely hear these pseudo-gurus talk about “humanity” being a limiting belief.

“Human being” is merely a label.

If we eliminate that limiting belief, the possibilities are endless. For example, we can become released virtue that achieves things we thought were impossible. When humans forget their limited condition, they make sublime art, sacred architecture, revolutionary inventions, or even scientifically verify theories that question the laws of physics.

We can become heroic perseverance that erodes harmful habits with which we’ve done untold damage. We can become supernatural compassion that is not afraid of the monumental work it needs to do to change the life of another living being for the better. We can transform ourselves into transcendental patience that remains immovable in the face of recurring failures and outbreaks of neurosis from those who have not yet freed themselves, or we can become sacred creativity that alters reality beyond what we think possible.

And how do we get rid of that mental limitation? Not through human development programs. Not through years of therapy nor under the guidance of a life coach. It is not gained by being disciplined within the system nor by being ideologically radical. Reading books liberates to a certain extent, but words will always fall short compared to the freedom of mind we can achieve through more skillful methods.

Of course, all of the above works if your goal is to be a better human. But to be free from human limitations, the above is not enough. A genuine and diligent spiritual practice is the only thing that allows us to transcend the human condition and become extraordinary.

The unsurpassed method that leads to heroism

Can the practice be from any spiritual tradition? I do not know. I trust those that focus on consistently applying spirituality to daily life. It can be a recent tradition like self-help groups or an ancient one like the Dharma or the teaching of the Buddha. I can vouch for their effectiveness.

The Buddhadharma arose 2,500 years ago. Its goal is to help beings to be free from suffering. Studying and practicing the Buddhadharma with diligence will undoubtedly dissolve the conditions leading to anxiety, anguish, lamentation, addictions of all kinds, and misery. In addition, the Buddhadharma removes the emotional and cognitive blindness in which we live and reveals a peace that does not depend on conditions.

But practicing the Buddha Dharma just to stop suffering is a limited goal. This teaching has the power to take us beyond the eradication of suffering. As I said in the previous post, it can make us the hero incarnate.

But before describing that process, first, we need to ask ourselves: what is a hero?

I found these definitions in the Royal Spanish Academy and the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

Hero

  • A person who performs a very selfless action for the benefit of a noble cause.
  • An illustrious and famous person for his exploits or virtues.
  • A mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability.
  • An illustrious warrior.
  • A person admired for his achievements and noble qualities.
  • The one who shows great courage.

The bodhisattva is the Buddhist Hero.

In the Buddhadharma, these aspects are undoubtedly present in the Buddha. But the other Buddhist figure that manifests them is the Bodhisattva: the being destined to become a Buddha for the benefit of all beings.

Bodhi means enlightenment or awakening. Sattva means existence or being. Therefore, the Bodhisattva is the awakened existence on the way to Buddhahood.

Most Buddhist communities present Bodhisattvas as extraordinarily calm and compassionate, almost like Buddhas. But although they also recognize them as the ones who put aside their liberation to ensure that all beings become enlightened before themselves, they don’t say much about their heroic quality.

Bodhisattvas must be virtuous, noble, and courageous to benefit all beings. They have to be warriors. As one of the definitions says, they have to be a hero with “divine descent.” Why? Because the human condition is not paradise. On the contrary. In many ways, it is hell on Earth. It is a severe problem. 

We humans are, by nature, disproportionately and selfishly degenerated, leading us to become entangled in conflict after conflict and forcing us to corrupt everything we touch. For the same reason, exerting genuine benefit in a world full of sick humans requires a superhuman will. Faced with humanity’s ignorance and the resulting suffering, the easiest thing for one to do is to lose one’s head and react ignorantly. Bodhisattvas are not subject to that conditioning; therefore, they can act heroically and wisely.

Their patience is not negotiable. Their sacrifice is spontaneous. Their discipline is immovable, and their compassion is vast as space.

Can a human being become a Bodhisattva?

Yes. But conducive conditions must be present.

To be continued.

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