Bodhi (Pali and Sanskrit. Lit. awakening. Trans. enlightenment) is a title given in Buddhism to the specific awakening experience attained by the Indian spiritual teacher Gautama Buddha and his disciples. It is sometimes described as complete and perfect sanity, or awareness of the true nature of the universe. After attainment, it is believed one is freed from the cycle of Samsāra; birth, suffering, death and rebirth.
Bodhi is attained only by the accomplishment of the Paramitas (perfections), when the Four Noble Truths are fully grasped, and when all karma has reached cessation. At this moment, all greed (lobha), aversion (dosa), delusion (moha), ignorance (avijjā), craving (tanha) and ego-centered consciousness (attā) are extinguished. Bodhi thus includes anattā, the absence of ego-centeredness.
The Bodhi tree is a specimen of the Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa) in what is now the town of Bodhgaya. It was while sitting in meditation under this tree that Siddhartha Gautama became enlightened. In the legends of Mahayana Buddhism, it was said that Queen Maya held a branch of one of these trees while resting in Lumbini Garden and her son, Siddhartha, was born.
Modes of Enlightenment
Those who obtain enlightenment through self-realisation, without the aid of spiritual guides and teachers, are known as pratyekabuddhas. According to the Tripitaka, such beings only arise in ages where the dhamma has been lost. Their skill in helping others to obtain enlightenment is inferior to that of the arhats. Many pratyekas may arise at a single time.
Those who study under spiritual teachers and achieve enlightenment in this world are known as Arhats. Such beings are skilled at helping others to reach enlightenment as they may draw on personal experience.
Sammā-Sambodhi (supreme Buddha)
These are perfect, most developed, most compassionate, most loving, all knowing beings who fully comprehend the dhamma by their own efforts and wisdom and teach it skillfully to others, freeing them from Samsāra.
See also: Buddhism and Nirvana
Last updated: 08-16-2005 15:08:34