A close friend shared with me her Bodhisattva moment. That's not what she called it, she's not a Buddhist, but I'll refer to it as such for context.
She was in meditation and experienced a profound personal moment when the suffering of others touched her soul. She is now more motivated than ever to help others through her vocations.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary: a Bodhisattva is an enlightened being who, out of compassion, forgoes nirvana in order to save others.
This term, Bodhisattva, is sometimes used as an adjective to describe our compassionate nature.
Our culture has a difficult time encouraging our compassionate nature. Some would say it does the opposite, that it promotes unadulterated self-cherishing! I suppose that is where a personal spiritual paths comes in: church, meditation, temple, mosque, humanitarian vocation, self-improvement, simply being nice, etc.
With so much suffering in the world, being open to realizing our compassionate nature is a profound and special blessing. That nature is what motivates us on this crazy path. Our talents and ambitions are ways to channel that compassionate nature. It may feel distant at times but we have that moment to reference when we feel lost and overwhelmed.
I go back to my Bodhisattva moment often.
Over time, that heartfelt moment, no matter how profound and life-changing, may get buried under life stuff but it's always there and we should create ways to rediscovered it in times of discouragement and disillusionment. We may even be tempted to dismiss it a fluke, irrelevant, silly, naive, or impractical.
Worse, many have no context for what they experienced and may never have told a soul about it thinking they were losing their mind. Well, they WERE losing their mind, their self-cherishing mind!
Mother nature created seasons. Our spiritual path experiences seasons too, seasons of bliss, doubt, disillusionment, inspiration, etc. We can learn to adapt to these seasons like changing our wardrobe to fit the weather. Our Bodhisattva moment may be another blessed tool in our spiritual tool box or it may be the ground on which our path began.
How can we re-inspire our Bodhisattva?
Attempting to recreate that moment with an expectation of bliss is sure come up short. (The first time is always special!) Revisiting the source of the inspiration may help or it may simply pronounce the gulf of separation we feel from that moment. Revisiting our own creations born from that moment of bliss, such as a poem, journal writing, or painting, could feel like another person must have created that!
We tend to grasp as results, we want conventional validation and success, whether that is with our efforts to help people or with our own progress on the spiritual path. We think we must be doing something wrong if we can't generate the bliss in meditation or that we didn't handle that crisis as best as we thought we should. The disappointment and discouragement begins to feed on itself.
Is this where faith come in?
I don't particularly like that word, faith. Perseverance has more of a warrior ring to it. Yeah, perseverance!
If helping people was easy and profitable, we would surely be in the Pure Land!
In our darkest moments, sometimes, we can start with simple appreciation of our Bodhisattva nature because having recognized that compassionate nature is a profound result in itself. We know that hiding in self-cherishing will only perpetuate suffering, so we continue on, we must persevere.
Ok, sometimes it feels like I'm limping on!