In Dharma traditions, and especially those associated with the Mahayana, or Great Vehicle, ‘Engaged Buddhism’ is not a new trend, whether in its social or environmental manifestations, but has been always present.
The ideal of the Bodhisattva, the Noble Being, is to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all, human and non-human, and thus service is the supreme expression of bodhichitta, or the mind of enlightenment.
Service is the practical expression of the wish to benefit others and increase their happiness. The Four Great Vows of the Bodhisattva make this intention explicit:
- Beings are numberless. I vow to save them all.
- Delusions are inexhaustible. I vow to end them all.
- Dharma gates are boundless. I vow to open them all.
- The Great Middle Way is unsurpassable. I vow to become it for the benefit of all.