The word bodhisattva means enlightenment being. Bodhisattvas are beings who work for the enlightenment of all beings, not just themselves. They vow not to enter nirvana until all beings enter it together.\
May I attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.
– Bodhisattva Vow
There are 3 paths to help sentient beings in the process of achieving buddhahood:
- King-like Bodhisattva – one who aspires to become buddha as soon as possible and then help sentient beings in full fledge.
- Boatman-like Bodhisattva – one who aspires to achieve buddhahood along with other sentient beings.
- Shepherd-like Bodhisattva – one who aspires to delay buddhahood until all other sentient beings achieve buddhahood.
Certain Tibetan schools believe that King-like is the only path because you cannot help others unless you first become a buddha, however the Nyingma school teaches that Shepherd-like is the best path because it’s less selfish.
The Four Great Bodhisattva Vows
- Beings are numberless, I vow to save them
- Desires are inexhaustible, I vow to end them
- Dharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter them
- Buddha’s way is unsurpassable, I vow to become it.