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Bodhisattva Warrior

In Chapter 1 of The Bodhisattva's Brain Owen Flanagan offers a stirring (if technical) description of the ideal "twenty-first-century Socially Engaged Buddhism" as a bodhisattva:

... She is enlightened insofar as she understands the causal interdependence of everything (pratïtyasamutpāda), the impermanence of all things (annica), and the nature of herself as anatman as possessed of no immutable essence that is her self. She conscientiously stays on the Noble Eightfold Path, overcomes the common mental afflictions (egoism, avarice, hatred, and the like), eventually embodies the four divine abodes, the six perfections (incredible patience, great mental acuity, extremely subtle perceptual sensitivity to the needs of others, and so on). Armed with compassion, lovingkindness, sympathetic joy, and equanimity, she takes her battle for happiness and against suffering into the world. The bodhisattva is a courageous and virtuous moral activist, a warrior. She lives an active life of virtue, having become sufficiently enlightened to understand that in so doing she attempts to realize her full humanity and to achieve whatever excellence lies within the human range. She is flawed, incomplete, unsettled in her own skin and in her world in all the normal human ways. Being human, her being, her relations, her existence are fragile. She works to live without illusion, but like most persons is prone to comforting hopes, expectations, even beliefs.

Flanagan contrasts this "metaphysically minimalist conception" with a less-satisfying more-mystical vision of bodhisattva development over "innumerable eons" of rebirths, possession of super-powers, etc.

And then, alas, Flanagan continues to beat the poor horse for half a dozen more pages. Maybe that's just what philosophers do ...

(cf. Believing in Leprechauns, Misplaced Concreteness, ...) - ^z - 2013-08-01

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