Mahayana Buddhists do not aspire to enlightenment purely to free themselves from suffering; they do so out of compassion to liberate other sentient beings.
Adam Yauch on understanding Bodhisattva and having a path said: "I think, of the bodhisattva path is doing what most benefits the totality of the universe, of all that is. And when you put yourself out there in a way that you aren’t really functional, then that is not going to most benefit the universe. You know, it’s just trying to get a feel, in your heart, for what’s going to most benefit the interconnectedness of all that is."
That sounds interesting but what is bodhisattva?
There are three principle meanings of the term “bodhisattva,”
1. In early Buddhism, bodhisattva meant “the previous lives of a (or the) Buddha.” 2. In Mahayana Buddhism, bodhisattva refers to a human being committed to the attainment of enlightenment for the sake of others. Becoming a bodhisattva is the goal of Mahayana Buddhism.
3. Bodhisattva may also refer in Mahayana Buddhism to archetypal bodhisattvas: mythical beings such as Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri, who are objects of devotion.
As defined by Tricycle Magazine. "You can define a Bodhisattva as one who acts as a true adult. That is, most people in the world act like children. The word dainin means “true adult” or “bodhisattva.” Today most people who are called adults are only pseudoadults. Physically they grow up and become adult, but spiritually too many people never mature to adulthood. They don’t behave as adults in their daily lives. A bodhisattva is one who sees the world through adult eyes and whose actions are the actions of a true adult. That is really what a bodhisattva is."
Why does this all matter?
I think this practice can honestly take you (or the ego) out of the picture, to be a benefit to the people around you. We can sometimes focus on ourselves so much that we forget those people around us, like children, friends, spouses or significant others. The most joy we can get is when we acknowledge someone and show them the same focus we place on other less significant interests. This is not about Buddhism; this is not about religion or spirituality, it is about significance, human nature, to be kind, to be compassionate, to be empathetic and to be a human being.
Photo by Johannes Plenio