Deity yoga is a practice of Vajrayana Buddhism involving identification with a chosen deity through visualisations and rituals, the realisation of emptiness. According to the Tibetan scholar Tsongkhapa, deity yoga is what separates Buddhist Tantra practice from the practice of other Buddhist schools. Deity yoga involves the generation stage and the completion stage. In the generation stage, one dissolves the mundane world and visualizes one's chosen deity, its mandala and companion deities, resulting in identification with this divine reality. In the completion stage, one dissolves the visualization of and identification with the yidam in the realization of sunyata or emptiness. Completion stage practices can include subtle body energy practices; the purpose of Deity yoga is to bring the meditator to the realization that the yidam or meditation deity and the practitioner are in essence the same, that they are non-dual. According to John Powers. "Deity yoga is a technique for becoming progressively more familiar with the thoughts and deeds of a buddha, until the state of buddhahood is actualized through repeated practice."According to Gyatrul Rinpoche, the point of this practice is to "understand your buddha nature, the essence of your being" and is "intrinsically present" in all beings.
The fact that the deity is a reflection of qualities inherent in the practitioner is what makes this practice different than mere deluded or wishful thinking. The yidam appears in a mandala and the practitioner visualizes himself or herself and their environment as the yidam and mandala of their Deity Yoga practice; this visualization method undermines a habitual belief that views of reality and self are solid and fixed, enabling the practitioner to purify spiritual obscurations and to practice compassion and wisdom simultaneously: Deity Yoga employs refined techniques of creative imagination and photism in order to self-identify with the divine form and qualities of a particular deity as the union of method or skilful means and wisdom. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, "In brief, the body of a Buddha is attained through meditating on it". Representations of the deity, such as a statues, paintings, or mandalas, are employed as an aid to visualization in both the Generation Stage and the Completion Stage of Anuttarayoga Tantra.
The mandalas are symbolic representations of sacred enclosures, sacred architecture that house and contain the uncontainable essence of a yidam. In the book, The World of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama describes a mandala: “This is the celestial mansion, the pure residence of the deity.” In the Vajrayāna Buddhism of Tibet and East Asia, which follow the Nālandā Tradition of India-Tibet-China, there are fifteen major tantric sādhanās, each connected with a specific yidam: All of these are available in Tibetan form, many are available in Chinese, some are still extant in ancient Sanskrit manuscripts. Mandalas are used as an aid in realizing the inner ground: xternal ritual and internal sadhana form an indistinguishable whole, this unity finds its most pregnant expression in the form of the mandala, the sacred enclosure consisting of concentric squares and circles drawn on the ground and representing that adamantine plane of being on which the aspirant to Buddhahood wishes to establish himself.
The unfolding of the tantric ritual depends on the mandala. In Tantric Buddhism, the generation stage is the first phase of Deity yoga, it is associated with the'Father Tantra' class of anuttara-yoga-tantras of the Sarmapa or associated with what is known as Mahayoga Tantras by the Nyingmapa. An example of a'Father Tantra' is the Guhyasamāja Tantra; the generation stage engages creative imagination or visualization as an upaya or skillful means of personal transformation through which the practitioner either visualizes a meditational deity or refuge tree before themselves in front generation, or as themselves in self generation, to engender an alteration to their perception and/or experience of the appearance aspect of reality. One practices oneself in the identification with the meditational Buddha or deity by visualisations, until one can meditate single-pointedly on being the deity. According to Tsongkhapa, throughout the various stages of visualization one is to maintain the cognition of emptiness and "one trains in everything to appear as like illusions".
Reginald Ray writes that during the process of yidam visualization, the deity is to be imaged as not solid or tangible, as "empty yet apparent", with the character of a mirage or a rainbow. In the generation stage of Deity Yoga, the practitioner visualizes the "Four Purities" which define the principal Tantric methodology of Deity Yoga that distinguishes it from the rest of Buddhism: Seeing one's body as the body of the deity Seeing one's environment as the pure land or mandala of the deity Perceiving one's enjoyments as bliss of the deity, free from attachment Performing one's actions only for the benefit of others Front generation is a form of meditative visualization employed in Tantric Buddhism in which the yidam is visualized as being present in the sky facing the practitioner as opposed to the self-identification that occurs in self generation. According to the Vajrayana tradition, this approach is considered less advanced, hence safer for the sadhaka, is engaged more for the ri
Mindrolling Monastery, is one of the six major monasteries of the Nyingma school in Tibet. It was founded by Rigzin Terdak Lingpa in 1676. Tendrak Lingpa's lineage is known as the Nyo lineage; the name in Tibetan means "Place of Perfect Emancipation". It is located in Zhanang County, Shannan Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, China 43 kilometers east of the Lhasa airport, on the south side of the Tsangpo river. Mindrolling was damaged in 1718 by the Dzungar Mongols from East Turkistan, it was rebuilt during the reign of the Seventh Dalai Lama. Dungsay Rinchen-namgyel and Jetsunma Mingyur Paldron, the son and daughter of Terdak Lingpa, supervised its reconstruction. For nearly 300 years its monastic university trained Nyingma yogis from all over Tibet. At Mindrolling, special emphasis was placed on the learning of Buddhist scriptures, Tibetan lunar calendar, calligraphy and Traditional Tibetan medicine. Monks traditionally studied thirteen major sutra and tantra texts of the Nyingma, learned the practices stemming from various terma from the lineage of Terdak Lingpa.
The monastery had at one time, over one hundred satellites and its throne holder was one of the most revered in Tibet. At the time of the 1959 revolt against Chinese Communist rule in Central Tibet, there were 300 monks at Mindrolling. In the years after 1959, the monastery again suffered damage to its buildings, but it was not as severe as at other monasteries such as Ganden. At present, the monastery is still being reconstructed in Tibet. In 1965, Khochhen Rinpoche and small group of monks began the process of re-establishing Mindrolling monastery located near Clement Town, in Dehradun, Uttarakhand state, India, it now contains one of the largest Buddhist institutes in India. Khotrul Jurme Dogyud Gyatso Rinpoche, known as Khochhen Rinpoche, was born in 1937 in Gonjo in Eastern Tibet, he was considered at an early age to be the reincarnation of Namdrol Sangpo Rinpoche of Khochhen Monastery by the 8th Mindrolling Khenchen. At Mindrolling in Tibet, Rinpoche studied and mastered Buddhist philosophy and Tantra, rituals and so on from masters including Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Lodroe, Minling Chung Rinpoche and the 8th Minling Khenchen Rinpoche.
Rinpoche was at Mindrolling for over ten years until the Communist invasion in 1959. Following the invasion, Rinpoche, at the age of 22, escaped into exile in India as one of the member entourage of Mindrolling Trichen Rinpoche. Most of the members of this entourage consisted monks from Khochhen monastery in Tibet. In 1965, Kyabje Paltrul Jampel Lodoe Rinpoche and Khochhen Rinpoche selected land near Dehradun and built Mindrolling Monastery in India. Mindrolling Trichen Rinpoche was invited from Kalimpong. Rinpoche established the Ngagyur Nyingma College or Institute of Advanced Buddhist Studies in 1991, which teaches a nine-year course including Sutra and Tantra to one hundred monks. With the intention of spreading the Buddhadharma many tulkus and monks have graduated and received the title of khenpo from this college over the years. Near Mindrolling Monastery, Rinpoche erected a 190 feet high Stupa of the Buddha’s Descent from the God Realms, inaugurated in 2002, dedicated to world peace. In East India in Kalimpong, state of West Bengal Rinpoche constructed a new monastery in the Mindrolling lineage, inaugurated on 1 March 2007, as well as a school for the village children and a must needed clinic.
In Delhi, Rinpoche built a new Mindrolling branch monastery, inaugurated in 2005 in which, as of 2017, 65 monks performed pujas. In Taiwan Rinpoche founded several Mindrolling Dharma centres in Taipei, Taichung City and Kaohsiung; the Puli Mindrolling temple is a huge area with few temples around built by the generous sponsor. Our Tulkus,Khenpo and monks are carrying out special prayers and rituals during at the temple. Besides being the director of Mindrolling Monastery, Rinpoche has served as President of the Tibetan Community of Clement Town since. Rinpoche started to establish another seat of Mindrolling in Sikkim known as Denjong Mindrolling, with a small temple and monk’s rooms in use by few monks of Denjong Mindrolling. Besides the temple, Rinpoche at the age of 81 established a Zangdokpalri Temple in Sikkim. Zangdokpalri is first time being established in the land of Guru Rinpoche; this temple is situated in Phodong, North Sikkim. Kyabje Rinpoche has for several decades been the General Secretary of the Annual Nyingma Monlam Chenmo International Foundation at Bodhgaya.
Von Schroeder, Ulrich. 2001. Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet. Vol. One: India & Nepal. Two: Tibet & China.. Hong Kong: Visual Dharma Publications, Ltd. ISBN 962-7049-07-7. SMin grol gling monastery. 319A. 48E–F, 84C, 102A, 139A–B, 146A–B, 193C–D, 224E, 233A, 279B, 281E–G, 305A, 352A. 178, 281A–C. 236–241. Official website Nagagyur Nyingma College, website Some Photographs of the Mindrolling Monastery, in Dehradun https://web.archive.org/web/20110606055746/http://home.educities.edu.tw/mindroling/
Buddhist meditation is the practice of meditation in Buddhism. The closest words for meditation in the classical languages of Buddhism are bhāvanā and jhāna/dhyāna. Buddhists pursue meditation as part of the path toward liberation and Nirvana, includes a variety of meditation techniques, most notably asubha bhavana; these techniques aim to develop equanimity and sati. These meditation techniques are preceded by and combined with practices which aid this development, such as moral restraint and right effort to develop wholesome states of mind. While these techniques are used across Buddhist schools, there is significant diversity. In the Theravada tradition, reflecting developments in early Buddhism, meditation techniques are classified as either samatha and vipassana. Chinese and Japanese Buddhism preserved a wide range of meditation techniques, which go back to early Buddhism, most notably Sarvastivada. In Tibetan Buddhism, deity yoga includes visualisations; the closest words for meditation in the classical languages of Buddhism are bhāvanā and jhāna/dhyāna.
Modern Buddhist studies has attempted to reconstruct the meditation practices of pre-sectarian Early Buddhism through philological and text critical methods using the early canonical texts. According to Indologist Johannes Bronkhorst, "the teaching of the Buddha as presented in the early canon contains a number of contradictions," presenting "a variety of methods that do not always agree with each other," containing "views and practices that are sometimes accepted and sometimes rejected." These contradictions are due to the influence of non-Buddhist traditions on early Buddhism. One example of these non-Buddhist meditative methods found in the early sources is outlined by Bronkhorst: The Vitakkasanthāna Sutta of the Majjhima Nikāya and its parallels in Chinese translation recommend the practicing monk to ‘restrain his thought with his mind, to coerce and torment it’; the same words are used elsewhere in the Pāli canon in order to describe the futile attempts of the Buddha before his enlightenment to reach liberation after the manner of the Jainas.
According to Bronkhorst, such practices which are based on a "suppression of activity" are not authentically Buddhist, but were adopted from the Jains by the Buddhist community. The two major traditions of meditative practice in pre-Buddhist India were the Jain ascetic practices and the various Vedic Brahmanical practices. There is still much debate in Buddhist studies regarding how much influence these two traditions had on the development of early Buddhist meditation; the early Buddhist texts mention that Gautama trained under two teachers known as Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta, both of them taught formless jhanas or mental absorptions, a key practice of proper Buddhist meditation. Alexander Wynne considers these figures historical persons associated with the doctrines of the early Upanishads. Other practices which the Buddha undertook have been associated with the Jain ascetic tradition by the Indologist Johannes Bronkhorst including extreme fasting and a forceful "meditation without breathing".
According to the early texts, the Buddha rejected the more extreme Jain ascetic practices in favor of the middle way. Early Buddhism, as it existed before the development of various schools, is called pre-sectarian Buddhism, its meditation-techniques are described in the Chinese Agamas. Meditation and contemplation are preceded by preparatory practices; as described in the Noble Eightfold Path, right view leads to leaving the household life and becoming a wandering monk. Sila, comprises the rules for right conduct. Sense restraint and right effort, c.q. the four right efforts, are important preparatory practices. Sense restraint means controlling the response to sensual perceptions, not giving in to lust and aversion but noticing the objects of perception as they appear. Right effort aims to prevent the arising of unwholesome states, to generate wholesome states. By following these preparatory steps and practices, the mind becomes set naturally, for the practice of dhyana. Asubha bhavana is reflection on "the foul"/unattractiveness.
It includes two practices, namely cemetery contemplations, Paṭikkūlamanasikāra, "reflections on repulsiveness". Patikulamanasikara is a Buddhist meditation whereby thirty-one parts of the body are contemplated in a variety of ways. In addition to developing sati and samādhi, this form of meditation is considered to be conducive to overcoming desire and lust. Anussati means "recollection," "contemplation," "remembrance," "meditation" and "mindfulness." It refers to specific meditative or devotional practices, such as recollecting the sublime qualities of the Buddha or anapanasati, which lead to mental tranquillity and abiding joy. In various contexts, the Pali literature and Sanskrit Mahayana sutras emphasize and identify different enumerations of recollections. An important quality to be cultivated by a Buddhist meditator is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a polyvalent term w
Labrang Monastery is one of the six great monasteries of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Its formal name is Genden Shédrup Dargyé Trashi Gyésu khyilwé Ling. Labrang is located in Xiahe County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu, in the traditional Tibetan area of Amdo. Labrang Monastery is home to the largest number of monks outside the Tibet Autonomous Region. Xiahe is about four hours by car from the provincial capital Lanzhou. In the early part of the 20th century, Labrang was by far the largest and most influential monastery in Amdo, it is located on a tributary of the Yellow River. The monastery was founded in 1709 by the first Jamyang Zhépa, Ngawang Tsöndrü, it is Tibetan Buddhism's most important monastery town outside the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Labrang Monastery is situated at the strategic intersection of two major Asian cultures—Tibetan and Mongolian — and was one of the largest Buddhist monastic universities. In the early 20th century, it housed several thousand monks.
Labrang was a gathering point for numerous annual religious festivals and was the seat of a Tibetan power base that strove to maintain regional autonomy through the shifting alliances and bloody conflicts that took place between 1700 and 1950. In April 1985 the Assembly Hall burned down, it was replaced and the new building was consecrated in 1990. The monastery complex dominates the western part of the village; the white walls and gilded roofs feature a blend of Indian Vihara architectural styles. The monastery contains 18 halls, six institutes of learning, a gilded stupa, a sutra debate area, houses nearly 60,000 sutras. At its height the monastery housed 4,000 monks. Like so many religious institutions, it suffered during the Cultural Revolution. After it was reopened in 1980, many of the monks returned, it has a Buddhist museum with a large collection of Buddha statues and murals. In addition, a large amount of Tibetan language books, including books on history is available for purchase, together with medicines, calendars and art objects.
There used to be a great gold-painted statue of the Buddha, more than 50 feet high, surrounded by rows of surrounding Buddhas in niches. The monastery today is an important place for Buddhist activities. From January 4 to 17 and June 26, to July 15, the great Buddhist ceremony will be held with Buddha-unfolding, sutra enchanting, sutra debates, etc; the Hui Muslim Ma clique under Generals Ma Qi and Ma Bufang launched several attacks against Labrang as part of a general anti-Golok Tibetan campaign. Ma Qi occupied Labrang Monastery in 1917, the first time non-Tibetans had seized it. Ma Qi defeated the Tibetan forces with his Hui troops, his forces were praised by foreigners. After ethnic rioting between Hui and Tibetans emerged in 1918, Ma Qi defeated the Tibetans, he taxed the town for 8 years. In 1921, Ma Qi and his Muslim army decisively crushed the Tibetan monks of Labrang Monastery when they tried to oppose him. In 1925, a Tibetan rebellion broke out, with thousands of Tibetans driving out the Hui.
Ma Qi responded with 3000 Hui troops, who retook Labrang and machine-gunned thousands of Tibetan monks as they tried to flee. During a 1919 attack by Muslim forces, monks were executed by burning. Bodies were left strewn around Labrang by Hui troops. Ma Qi besieged Labrang numerous times. Tibetans fought against his Hui forces for control of Labrang until Ma Qi gave it up in 1927. However, not the last Labrang saw of General Ma. Ma Qi launched a genocidal war against the Goloks in 1928, inflicting a defeat upon them and seizing Labrang Monastery; the Hui forces ravaged the monastery again. The Austrian American explorer Joseph Rock encountered the aftermath of one of the Ma clique's campaigns against Labrang; the Ma army left Tibetan skeletons scattered over a wide area and Labrang Monastery was decorated with decapitated Tibetan heads. After the 1929 battle of Xiahe near Labrang, decapitated Tibetan heads were used as ornaments by Hui troops in their camp, 154 in total. Rock described "young children"'s heads staked around the military encampment.
Ten to fifteen heads were fastened to the saddle of every Muslim cavalryman. The heads were "strung about the walls of the Moslem garrison like a garland of flowers." In March 2008 there were protests by monks from Labrang Monastery as well as by other ethnic Tibetans linked to previous protests and rioting that broke out in Lhasa. Cabot, Mabel H.. Vanished Kingdoms: A Woman Explorer in Tibet, China & Mongolia, 1921–1925, pp. 148–157. Aperture Publishers in association with the Peabody Museum, Harvard. ISBN 978-1-931788-18-2. Dorje, Gyurme. Footprint Tibet Handbook. Footprint Publications, England. ISBN 978-1-906098-32-2. Nietupski, Paul Kocot, Labrang: A Tibetan Monastery at the Crossroads of Four Civilizations. Snow Lion Publications, New York. ISBN 1-55939-090-5. Makley, Charlene E.. "Gendered Practices and the Inner Sanctum: The Reconstruction of Tibetan Sacred Space in "China's Tibet"." In: Sacred Spaces and Powerful Places in Tibetan Culture: A Collection of Essays, pp. 343–366. Edited by Toni Huber.
Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala, H. P. India. ISBN 81-86470-22-0. Tamm, Eric Enno. "The Horse That Leaps Through Clouds: A Tale of Espionage, the Silk Road and the Rise of Modern China," chapter 13. Va
Ganden Monastery or Ganden Namgyeling is one of the "great three" Gelug university monasteries of Tibet, China. It is in Lhasa; the other two are Drepung Monastery. Ganden Monastery was founded in 1409 by founder of the Gelug order; the monastery was destroyed after 1959, but has since been rebuilt. Another monastery with the same name and tradition was established in Southern India in 1966 by Tibetan exiles. Ganden is 40 kilometres northeast of Lhasa; the monastery lies in a hilly natural amphitheater. From the kora route around the monastery there are dramatic views over the valleys. Ganden Monastery is at the top of Wangbur Mountain, Dagzê County at an altitude of 4,300m, its full name is Ganden Namgyal Ling. Ganden means "joyful" and is the Tibetan name for Tuṣita, the heaven where the bodhisattva Maitreya is said to reside. Namgyal Ling means "victorious temple". Ganden Monastery was founded by Je Tsongkhapa Lozang-dragpa in 1409. Tsongkhapa built Ganden's main temple, with three-dimensional mandalas.
He stayed at Ganden, died there in 1419. Tsongkhapa's preserved body was entombed at Ganden by his disciples in a silver and gold encrusted tomb; the name "Gelug" is an abbreviation of "Ganden Lug", meaning "Ganden Tradition". The Ganden Tripa or "throne-holder of Ganden" is the head of the Gelug school. Before dying Tsongkhapa gave his robe and staff to the first Ganden Tripa, succeeded by Kaydrubjey; the term of office is seven years, by 2003 there had been 99 Ganden Tripas. The monastery was divided into four colleges at the time of the 2nd Ganden Tripa; these were consolidated in two and Shartsey, located to the north and east of the main temple. Both combine the study of tantra. Study methods include memorization and debate; the colleges grant degrees for different levels of achievement, evaluated by examination and formal public debate. In the 1860s a meeting called "the great Ganden Monastery, Drepung Monastery, the government officials" was organized by Shatra, a lay aristocrat; the existing regent was replaced by Shatra.
From on the assembly, or Tsondu, chose the regents and played a significant political role as a consultative body. The monasteries of Ganden and Drepung was so great that they could in effect veto government decisions with which they disagreed; these three monasteries had 20,000 monks in total, supported by large estates of fertile land worked by serfs. At one time the Ganden monastery could support over 5,000 monks. Laurence Waddell reports an estimate of about 3,300 in the 1890s. There were only 2,000 monks in 1959. Ganden Monastery was destroyed by the People's Liberation Army during the 1959 Tibetan uprising. In 1966 it was shelled by Red Guard artillery, monks had to dismantle the remains; the buildings were reduced to rubble using dynamite during the Cultural Revolution. Most of Tsongkhapa's mummified body was burned, but his skull and some ashes were saved from the fire by Bomi Rinpoche, the monk, forced to carry the body to the fire. Re-building has continued since the 1980s. Early in 1996, after a ban had been imposed on pictures of the Dalai Lama, 400 monks at Ganden rioted.
They were fired upon by PLA troops causing two deaths and several injuries, followed by the arrest of one hundred monks. As of 2012 there were about 400 monks, rapid progress was being made on rebuilding the monastery; the red-painted lhakang in the centre is the reconstruction of Ganden's sanctum sanctorum containing Tsongkapa's reliquary chorten called the Tongwa Donden, "Meaningful to Behold." Ganden contained more than two dozen major chapels with large Buddha statues. The largest chapel was capable of seating 3,500 monks. Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, took his final degree examination in Ganden in 1958 and he claims to feel a close connection with Tsongkhapa; the monastery runs a guesthouse for visitors. Ganden's main assembly hall is a white building with gold-capped roofs, near a huge square; the main chapel contains many gilded images of Tsongkhapa. A maroon and ochre chapel beside the main assembly hall has a statue of Sakyamuni Buddha, has a section used for hand-printing scriptural texts using wood blocks.
The three main sights in the Ganden Monastery are the Serdung, which contains the tomb of Tsongkhapa, the Tsokchen Assembly Hall and the Ngam Cho Khang the chapel where Tsongkhapa traditionally taught. The monastery houses artifacts; the Ganden Monastery has been re-established in India by the Tibetan population in exile. The Ganden Monastery is in the Tibetan settlement at Mundgod; this settlement of Tibetan refugees is the largest of its kind in India and was first established in 1966, from land donated by the Indian government. In the Tibetan settlement near Mundgod are the Drepung Monastery. In 1999 there were about 13,000 residents; the Tibetan settlement consists of nine camps with one nunnery. They established a credit bank for an agricultural institute and a craft center. Modern technology and communication technology are being introduced; the curriculum of the Ganden Monastery remains similar to the teachings of the pre-1959 Ganden Monastery. The Ganden Monastery Colleges Jangtse and Shartse have been reestablished in India.
They are named The Gaden Shartse Monastery. They are located in Karnataka. In 2008, over 500 monks, who refused to adhere to the ban against the protective deity Dorje Shugden, enforced by the Dalai Lama's
In Buddhism, a Bodhisattva is any person, on the path towards Buddhahood but has not yet attained it. In the Early Buddhist schools as well as modern Theravada Buddhism, a bodhisattva refers to anyone who has made a resolution to become a Buddha and has received a confirmation or prediction from a living Buddha that this will be so. In Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva refers to anyone who has generated bodhicitta, a spontaneous wish and compassionate mind to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. In early Buddhism, the term bodhisatta is used in the early texts to refer to Gautama Buddha in his previous lives and as a young man in his current life in the period during which he was working towards his own liberation. During his discourses, to recount his experiences as a young aspirant he uses the phrase "When I was an unenlightened bodhisatta..." The term therefore connotes a being, "bound for enlightenment", in other words, a person whose aim is to become enlightened. In the Pāli canon, the bodhisatta is described as someone, still subject to birth, death, sorrow and delusion.
Some of the previous lives of the Buddha as a bodhisattva are featured in the Jataka tales. According to the Theravāda monk Bhikkhu Bodhi, the bodhisattva path is not taught in the earliest strata of Buddhist texts such as the Pali Nikayas which instead focus on the ideal of the Arahant; the oldest known story about how Gautama Buddha becomes a bodhisattva is the story of his encounter with the previous Buddha, Dīpankara. During this encounter, a previous incarnation of Gautama, variously named Sumedha, Megha, or Sumati offers five blue lotuses and spreads out his hair or entire body for Dīpankara to walk on, resolving to one day become a Buddha. Dīpankara confirms that they will attain Buddhahood. Early Buddhist authors saw this story as indicating that the making of a resolution in the presence of a living Buddha and his prediction/confirmation of one's future Buddhahood was necessary to become a bodhisattva. According to Drewes, "all known models of the path to Buddhahood developed from this basic understanding."The path is explained differently by the various Nikaya schools.
In the Theravāda Buddhavaṃsa, after receiving the prediction, Gautama took four asaṃkheyyas and a hundred thousand, shorter kalpas to reach Buddhahood. The Sarvāstivāda school had similar models about, they held it took him three asaṃkhyeyas and ninety one kalpas to become a Buddha after his resolution in front of a past Buddha. During the first asaṃkhyeya he is said to have encountered and served 75,000 Buddhas, 76,000 in the second, after which he received his first prediction of future Buddhahood from Dīpankara, meaning that he could no longer fall back from the path to Buddhahood. Thus, the presence of a living Buddha is necessary for Sarvāstivāda; the Mahāvibhāṣā explains that its discussion of the bodhisattva path is meant to “stop those who are in fact not bodhisattvas from giving rise to the self-conceit that they are.”The Mahāvastu of the Mahāsāṃghika-Lokottaravādins presents four stages of the bodhisattva path without giving specific time frames: Natural, one first plants the roots of merit in front of a Buddha to attain Buddhahood.
Resolution, one makes their first resolution to attain Buddhahood in the presence of a Buddha. Continuing, one continues to practice. Irreversible, at this stage, one cannot fall back; the Sri Lankan commentator Dhammapala in his commentary on the Cariyāpiṭaka, a text which focuses on the bodhisatta path, notes that to become a bodhisatta one must make a valid resolution in front of a living Buddha, which confirms that one is “irreversible” from the attainment of Buddhahood. The Nidānakathā, as well as the Buddhavaṃsa and Cariyāpiṭaka commentaries makes this explicit by stating that one cannot use a substitute for the presence of a living Buddha, since only a Buddha has the knowledge for making a reliable prediction; this is the accepted view maintained in orthodox Theravada today. The idea is that any resolution to attain Buddhahood may be forgotten or abandoned during the aeons ahead; the Burmese monk Ledi Sayadaw explains that though it is easy to make vows for future Buddhahood by oneself, it is difficult to maintain the necessary conduct and views during periods when the Dharma has disappeared from the world.
One will fall back during such periods and this is why one is not a full bodhisatta until one receives recognition from a living Buddha. Because of this, it was and remains a common practice in Theravada to attempt to establish the necessary conditions to meet the future Buddha Maitreya and thus receive a prediction from him. Medieval Theravada literature and inscriptions report the aspirations of monks and ministers to meet Maitreya for this purpose. Modern figures such as Anagarika Dharmapala, U Nu both sought to receive a prediction from a Buddha in the future and believed meritorious actions done for the good of Buddhism would help in their endeavor to become bodhisattas in the future. Over time the term came to be applied to other figures besides Gautama Buddha in Theravada lands due to the influence of Mahayana; the Theravada Abhayagiri tradition of Sri Lanka practiced Mahayana Buddhism and was influential until the 12th century. Kings of Sri Lanka