Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bodhisattva Revolutionaries and Social Alchemists

One of the ideas I've had is writing a book (or an article, or a manifesto, or whatever it turns out as) that I've been calling Bodhisattva Revolutionaries and Social Alchemists. It's basically my ideas for changing society and things I've learned over the years, some of which I'm hoping might be useful to other people trying to change things. I've been working on it for a while now and it's only a small bit done, but I figure I can take sections of it and incorporate it into this blog—and if I ever do get it completed, I'll only be borrowing stuff back from myself.

So, what is a Social Alchemist? There seems to be a bunch of people on the 'net using the term Social Alchemy and each has a different definition. Alchemy according to Merriam-Webster is: "a power or process of transforming something common into something special, an inexplicable or mysterious transmuting". From Webster's Dictionary (1913): the "Miraculous power of transmuting something common into something precious." The American Heritage Dictionary says that it's: "A seemingly magical power or process of transmuting." It sounds like social change to me. Social Alchemists try to make our 'common' world into something special, something that will work for everyone. That's my definition.

And Bodhisattvas? Merriam-Webster claims a Bodhisattva is "a being that compassionately refrains from entering nirvana in order to save others". Wikipedia says that "Mahayana Buddhism... regards the Bodhisattva as a person who already has a considerable degree of enlightenment and seeks to use their wisdom to help other human beings to become liberated themselves. In this understanding of the word the Bodhisattva is an already wise person who uses skillful means to lead others to see the benefits of virtue and the cultivation of wisdom." I view a Bodhisattva Revolutionary as someone who lives the world they want to see, but doesn't just do it for themself. There are lots of folks who are living their good ideas, their little utopias in isolation. They act like they have what they need, so why worry about anyone else? A Bodhisattva Revolutionary does worry about everyone else. Bodhisattva Revolutionaries are determined to live the revolution and bring everyone into this new and better world.

(And a note on my Quotes, Words, and Heroes: I plan to end each blog with a quote, with a word or phrase that I think interesting or useful, and a 'Hero of the Day'.

The quote is usually something that I find inspiring or provocative—often related to what I'm posting about. The words and phrases are things I've learned recently or found interesting—mostly related to the kind of things I write about here, but sometimes I just think the word or phrase is in some way interesting, educational, or useful. Mostly the quotes, words, and heroes will not have a lot to do with each other—except in the sense that everything is connected. And my 'Heroes' are people I find inspiring. This doesn't mean that they don't have faults, just that they have done some things that give me hope. As the saying goes, if you are looking for perfect people, you're looking on the wrong planet.

If you have interesting new words or phrases, or heroes that you'd like to pass on, email them to me. If I use what you send, I'll credit you.)

Quote of the day: "There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind." - Kurt Vonnegut
Word (or phrase) of the day: Compersion
Hero(es) of the day: Petra Kelly

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