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Bodhisattva

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Bodhisattva: A being who has forestalled their own enlightenment in order to enlighten others

Bodhisattvas are Kuei-jin that have reached the final stages of their chosen Dharmas. These enlightened Kuei-Jin have removed themselves from the larger world, from political and social interaction, and are usually content to live the unlife of an ascetic.

Bodhisattvas are primarily concerned with the end of their Dharmas and their earthly existences, though most remain in the Middle Kingdom for centuries more, instructing lesser Kuei-jin and providing unliving examples of correct behavior.

Near the end of their Dharmas, bodhisattvas obtain communion with the spirit worlds: They experience frequent contact with historic Kuei-jin, Grand Ancestors, the Yin and Yang Worlds, and even the Yama Kings, all of whom bodhisattvas believe grant the final answers for transcending earthly existence. It is only when a Kuei-jin reaches the final stages of his Dharma that his consciousness opens to this dialogue with the ancients. (Zao-lat, the imperfect one, dubbed this state the "Suspire.")

Relatively few Kuei-jin ever attain the rank of bodhisattva; the process takes centuries, even millennia, and most Kuei-jin meet Final Death or succumb to the P'o long before they reach the bodhisnttva stage. Kuei-jin who do reach the bodhisattva stage are vastly powerful beings - easily on the level of a Kindred Methuselah - and are revered as near-gods by other Kuei-jin. (Some are feared, and rightly so; those bodhisattvas following the Devil-Tiger Dharma, for example, have spent centuries perfecting the way of monstrosity, and it shows. Even the most vicious and homicidal "enlightened ones," though, are respected rather than reviled - albeit at a safe distance.)

Along with their personal Dharmas, bodhisattvas act as spiritual leaders for all Kuei-jin, typically receiving any Kuei-jin who comes before them with questions. For sentimental reasons (though these sentiments are often viewed as imperfections), some bodhisattvas even maintain close ties with the ancestor of the court to which they belonged. Although they are ostensibly available for any Kuei-jin to consult, bodhisattvas' innate spiritual force can be overpowering, even debilitatingly painful, for younger Kuei-jin to endure.

The bodhisattva's existence ends when he becomes an arhat, a term that symbolizes the completion of the journey following the Kuei-Jin's return to the mortal world.

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