This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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The ideal of the Bodhisattva

When it comes to doctrine, the distinguishing characteristic of the Mahayana is the primacy of the Bodhisattva ideal over and above the ideal of the Arahatta. The Arahatta, we recall, pursues Nibbana or realization by knowledge; but he in whom the Bodhicitta (heart of wisdom) is fully realized seeks above all else the salvation of all sentient life. Whereas in the Hinayana the Buddha is the exemplary teacher, a conveyor of the highest knowledge, in the Mahayana he is the epitome of selfless love, who would give up not only his life, but all previous and future lives, that all could be saved. In fact, it is not said that he would, but that he in fact already has made this sacrifice an indeterminate number of times:

“As I observe the three thousand worlds, there is no place, not even one the size of a mustard seed, where as a Bodhisattva he did not renounce his life for the sake of living beings.”[1]

Each has the potential to become the expression of this ideal, if only ignorance and vice could be overcome by love. The Mahayana is the call to such a love, and its Gospel of this love. The Bodhisattva takes upon himself the sin of the world in a kind of cosmic empathy and refuses even the opportunity for escape from its trials in order that none are abandoned to this suffering.

While the primitive order, by necessity, teaches that the Way is shown but must be pursued by each of us alone and according to the individual’s ability, the Mahayana makes the salvation of others the concern of all adherents, and in fact the greater the merits of the adept, the more their loves necessarily overflows into the world.

[1] Saddharma-pundarika-sutra, ch. 12.

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