The Bodhisattva Ideal and Socially Engaged Buddhism: A Progressive Approach

Priyasen Singh


Apart from being a religious order, Buddhism is also a set of ideas and ideals and, above all, a time tested way of life. This fact has been vividly exemplified and profusely illustrated centuries after centuries in the form of the Buddhist precepts and ideals like Sikkhapada-s, stages of Purisa-puggala-hood, Brahmavihara-s, Bodhisattva-cariya-s, Bodhisattva-bhumi-s, and so on. A newer and contemporary incarnation of all these elements has come up in the form of Socially Engaged Buddhism. In terms of Buddhist teachings, socially engaged Buddhism is an embodiment of the Bodhisattva. The Bodhisattva literally a “being” (sattva) oriented to “awakening” or “enlightenment” (bodhi), is a great vow and archetypal figure found particularly in Mahayana Buddhism. The Bodhisattva ideal has roots in the original teachings of the Buddha, who was himself described as a bodhisattva, understood at that time as one on the way to becoming a Buddha, a fully awakened one.

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