(Sanskrit बोधिसत्त्व) Literally, the Sanskrit term bodhi means "enlightened, wisdom, perfect knowledge," while sattva means "essence, goodness." Therefore, the term bodhisattva literally means “essence of wisdom.”
A bodhisattva is a human soul (consciousness) who is on the direct path. A bodhisattva is the messenger or servant of their inner Being / Buddha. The inner Being or Buddha resides in the superior worlds, and sends the bodhisattva into the lower worlds to work for others.
One becomes a bodhisattva upon:
- creating the solar bodies (astral, mental, causal) through sexual transmutation
- choosing to enter the direct path to the absolute rather than the slower spiral path
- having developed sufficient Bodhichitta (love for others in combination with comprehension of the absolute)
The word bodhisattva is a title or honorific that describes a level of consciousness earned through internal initiation, not physical. A bodhisattva is a person who through dedication to compassionate service to humanity has some degree of Bodhichitta — a psychological quality uniting deep compassion with profound insight into the nature of reality, the Absolute — and has also created the solar bodies, which correspond to the first five serpents of kundalini (candali).
In Tibetan Buddhism the term bodhisattva is sometimes publicly used in a more "generous" way to include those who aspire to become bodhisattvas.
The Tibetan translation of bodhisattva is jangchub sempa. Jangchub (Sanskrit bodhi) means "enlightenment," and sempa (Sanskrit sattva) means "hero" or a being, therefore meaning "enlightened hero." The word jangchub is from jang, "the overcoming and elimination of all obstructive forces," and chub, "realization of full knowledge." Sempa is a reference to great compassion.
"...bodhisattvas are beings who, out of intense compassion, never shift their attention away from sentient beings; they are perpetually concerned for the welfare of all beings, and they dedicate themselves entirely to securing that welfare. Thus the very name bodhisattva indicates a being who, through wisdom, heroically focuses on the attainment of enlightenment out of compassionate concern for all beings. The word itself conveys the key qualities of such an infinitely altruistic being." - The 14th Dalai Lama
"We, the bodhisattvas of compassion who love humanity immensely, state: as long as there is a single tear in any human eye, as long as there is even one suffering heart, we refuse to accept the happiness of Nirvana... We must seek the means to become more and more useful to this wretched, suffering humanity." - Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries
Strictly speaking, the term bodhisattva addresses not a physical person but the human soul of someone walking the Direct Path. The bodhisttva is the human soul (Tipereth, the causal body), which is the servant or messenger of the inner Being (Chesed). The human soul earns the title bodhisattva by —because of love for humanity — choosing to advance spiritually by entering the terrifying Direct Path instead of the easier Spiral Path, a choice that is made only after finishing the Fifth Initiation of Fire (Tiphereth, causal body). By means of this sacrifice, this individual incarnates the Christ (Chenresig, Kuan Yin, Avalokitesvara), thereby embodying the supreme source of wisdom and compassion. That human soul is then a mixture of the divine and human, and by carrying that light within becomes a messenger or active exponent of the light. The Direct Path demands rapid and complete liberation from the ego, a route that only very few take, due to the fact that one must pay the entirety of one's karma imminently. Those who have taken this road have been the most remarkable figures in human history: Jesus, Buddha, Mohamed, Krishna, Moses, Padmasambhava, Milarepa, Joan of Arc, Fu-Xi, and many others whose names are not remembered or known.
Even among bodhisattvas there are many levels of Being: to be a bodhisattva does not mean that one is enlightened. In fact, there are many fallen bodhisattvas: human souls who resumed poor behavior, reviving their ego, and are thus cut off from their inner Being.
"Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor." - 1 Corinthians 10.24
"The truly humble Bodhisattva never praises himself. The humble Bodhisattva says, 'I am just a miserable slug from the mud of the earth, I am a nobody. My person has no value. The work is what is worthy.' The Bodhisattva is the human soul of a Master. The Master is the internal God." - Samael Aun Weor, The Aquarian Message
"Let it be understood that a Bodhisattva is a seed, a germ, with the possibility of transcendental, divine development by means of pressure coming from the Height." - Samael Aun Weor, The Gnostic Bible: The Pistis Sophia Unveiled
Interestingly, the Christ in Hebrew is called Chokmah, which means “wisdom,” and in Sanskrit the same is Vishnu, the root of the word “wisdom.” It is Vishnu who sent his Avatars into the world in order to aid humanity. These avatars were Krishna, Buddha, Rama, and the Avatar of this age: the Avatar Kalki.