Bodhi (Sanskrit and Pali, literally: awakening, often translated as enlightenment) referred to in Buddhism a cognitive process, which is taught by the Buddha on the way of salvation is of central importance. The word comes from a Sanskrit root, which also "Buddha" (literally " the awakened one " ) is derived.


A Buddha is according to the Buddhist teachings a being who on their own - not thanks to foreign policy and guidance - has attained achieved the purity and perfection of his spirit and thus an infinite unfolding of all of "his" potential: perfect wisdom ( prajna ), infinite compassion ( Karuna ) with all living things and thereby (to which especially the Chinese and Japanese iconography clearly points ) complete serenity.

Conditions are the complete understanding of the Four Noble Truths, the overcoming of all binding to the existence needs and delusions and thus the offense of all karmic forces. By Bodhi the cycle of suffering, samsara, is broken through and achieved nirvana.

To achieve this, the Buddha gave according to the legend in his lifetime 84,000 teachings, all of which were directed to end the suffering in samsara and attain Bodhi. The practice systems of all Buddhist schools attack on the Buddha's teachings back to the core of the doctrine - which, in part, but emphasize different aspects - the Dharma.

There are two different schools of thought within the Zen Buddhism: Bodhi than that of spontaneously and suddenly eintretendem experience (eg, Hui Neng, the 6th Patriarch ) and by the gradual meditative self- completion (eg Shenxiu ). But even with the spontaneous experience is not a one time process meant is obtained by the final knowledge in absolute completeness, but all masters have their gained insight for decades, often with other masters, deepened. The idea that we can achieve lightning -like " enlightenment " or wanting to do, is detrimental for these teachings of the serene, meditative practice and patient rather the opposite effect.

In contrast, Bodhi is always seen as a breakthrough for detecting the lightning- truth / reality, for example, in the Theravada, although the path may lead them towards a laborious path of practice.

The short description " Bodhi " also revered in Buddhism as a symbol of the Buddha Bodhi tree is called.

Ways of obtaining Bodhi


  • The Pratyeka Buddha attained bodhi only through their own efforts, without the help of teachers. According to the Tripitaka such Buddhas appear only in times in which the Dharma, the teaching that has been lost. At such a time several Pratyeka Buddhas can appear at the same time. Your ability to help others achieve Bodhi, is considered to be less than that of Arhats and Bodhisattvas.

Sravaka Buddha

  • The shravaka Buddha attained Bodhi with the help of teachers. A so awakened is referred to as Theravada arhat. Arhats are considered good teachers who can not last because of their own experiences to help other people, even to attain Bodhi. In the view of the Mahayana an Arhat has indeed overcome the ego- idea, but is still bound to the perspective of the duality of subject and object. Therefore, after the passage of Mahayana Bodhisattva - 10 levels is still necessary in order to ultimately obtain Bodhi.

Perfectly Enlightened Buddha

  • The fully awakened ( samyak - Sambuddha ) is considered the most perfect, most compassionate and omniscient form of a Buddha who has the Dharma recorded entirely by his own efforts and is able to convey it to others so that they, too, freed from the cycle of Samsara be. The historical Buddha Shakyamuni (from the family of the Shakya ) was such a perfectly Enlightened Buddha. According to Buddhist tradition a perfectly Enlightened Buddha appears at the beginning of a new age. According to tradition, the Buddha prophesied thousand of those Buddhas of this aeon; he, the Buddha Shakyamuni was the fourth of them. The next Buddha will then be called Maitreya.