This paper presents two dimensions of a bodhisattva, the ideal of Maha- ya- na Buddhism. One dimension involves contemplative practices that disclose a pure nature that is always already present; this reality is unveiled after the obscurations that cloud it are removed. I refer to this as a “top-down” approach because it is based on qualities of awakening that are already there, yet lie beyond an ordinary being’s comprehension. The second dimension, which I refer to as a “bottom-up” approach, involves directed training and discipline. Unlike the top-down approach, this is not about “going with the flow” or simply letting the innate qualities of mind express themselves. In contrast, the bottom-up approach is better described as “breaking the cycle” of suffering. That is to say, this orientation toward a bodhisattva’s practice involves restraint and discipline to train the mind by turning it away from habitual, destructive patterns to shape it into spontaneous and skillful responses and expressions. This paper will discuss both of these orientations and will show how they are complementary aspects of a bodhisattva’s practice.
Duckworth, Douglas, "Two Dimensions of a Bodhisattva" (2023). International Journal of Transpersonal Studies Advance Publication Archive. 56.
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