Bodhisattva [Sanskrit bodhi = enlightenment + sattva = existence]
According to Mayhayana Buddhist belief, the bodhisattva is the near enlightened being who forestalls complete enlightenment in order to lead others to a similar state of awareness.
The bodhisattva is said to have seen the proverbial door leading to total enlightenment but waits before entering in order to help others reach that same realization.
Wikipedia elaborates as such:
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva (Sanskrit: बोधिसत्त्व bodhisattva; Pali: बोधिसत्त bodhisatta) is either an enlightened (bodhi) existence (sattva) or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, “heroic-minded one (satva) for enlightenment (bodhi).” The Pali term has sometimes been translated as “wisdom-being,” although in modern publications, and especially in tantric works, this is more commonly reserved for the term jñānasattva (“awareness-being”; Tib. ཡེ་ཤེས་སེམས་དཔའ་་, Wyl. ye shes sems dpa’).
Because the bodhisattva has a sincere desire to lead others to enlightenment (as they understand it), they’re often venerated as a personal savior, which seems a bit ironic considering Buddhists usually claim that ultimate truth is beyond individuals, veneration, status, attachment to others, etc.
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