Bodhisattvas, Soul Purpose, and the Planetary Crisis
By now it’s quite clear that, on a large scale, humanity is headed toward a pretty dark destination.
Global pandemics, climate change, pollution, deforestation, overpopulation, large-scale ecocide, and societal degradation all move us further toward the sixth mass extinction of life on this earth.
Perhaps what is worse is that most people either deny, are “too busy,” or are indifferent to the progressively worsening state of the planet. We’re like frogs sitting in a pot of water that is slowly boiling. At first we notice nothing, it’s ‘business as usual.’ But finally, when we do notice and decide to do something, it’s too late. The frog, unbeknownst to itself, has gradually boiled to death.
Just because something is seemingly imperceptible, doesn’t mean it’s not real or ultimately lethal.
So where does the Bodhisattva come into all of this?
Well, that’s the thing: the path of Bodhisattvahood, the path of sharing your Soul’s Purpose (i.e., your unique gifts) for the benefit of the planet at large is the only plausible path forward. It is our only hope. I repeat: it’s our ONLY hope.
True change can NEVER be an external thing. We’ve tried it. It has failed miserably. You can’t bully, coerce, protest, manipulate, rearrange, or vocalize your way to true long-lasting change. Change must come from the heart. Sure, you can make superficial external changes that last for a while. You can bribe, threaten, shame, or pressure people to make changes. But they won’t last long because they’re only surface, they don’t come from deep inside.
True change must be an internal thing – it must start individually for it to spread out and enact authentic transformation. If you throw a single rock into a pond, that rock will create ripple upon ripple that spreads far and wide. The same principle applies to us.
5 Ways to Embody Your Soul’s Purpose as a Bodhisattva
Walking the path of the Bodhisattva doesn’t mean trying to fit yourself into a narrow stereotype.
No, you don’t need to walk around carrying mala beads, put statues of Buddhist deities in your house, or chant in Sanskrit every day.
Bodhisattvas come in all shapes and sizes.
Some Bodhisattvas decide to raise ecologically-conscious children. Others decide to run businesses that help others. And still, others may choose a path of service to animals, plants, or the environment at large. There are Bodhisattva social workers, scientists, nurses, and government workers. The possibilities are endless.
Your Bodhisattva path may be spiritual, religious, or secular – it is essentially up to you and what resonates at a core gut level.
So with that being said, how do we embody our Soul’s purpose (whatever that may be) as a Bodhisattva? Put differently, how can we authentically live from the heart in a way that helps the planet?
Here are some ideas:
1. Be self-compassionate, realizing that how you treat yourself spreads into the outer world
Yes, you heard me: start first with yourself. Contemplate the question, What is my relationship with myself like? Do you have healthy self-worth and self-respect? Do you cherish yourself?
Sure, it’s normal to carry insecurities and mistreat yourself from time to time. But can you soothe this self-flagellation with the balm of compassion?
Practicing self-love is the core medicine in the Bodhisattva’s medicine bag. One gentle but powerful way of increasing this self-compassionate attitude is through the practice of Metta or loving-kindness meditation. You can also try mantra meditations that focus on the vibration of love (such as the Heart Sutra meditation: Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!)
2. Acts of kindness create small external ripples but big internal changes
Dedicate yourself to doing one small intentional act of kindness each day. The keyword here is intentional. By being conscious of this little devotion to life, you’re reaffirming your path and purpose each day.