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Old 03-26-2008, 03:28 PM   #1
William
 
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Default The Bodhisattva Vow

"I vow to liberate all beings, without number;"
"I vow to uproot endless blind passions;"
"I vow to penetrate dharma gates beyond measure;"
"I vow to attain the way of the Buddha."

Bodhisattva as In Nomine terms them are humans who have died and entered the Lower Heavens, but remain there serving the War as providers of Essence, rear-office staffers, trainers, enchanters, or through service in other similar positions. Since every human in the Lower Heavens knows that in the Higher Heavens there is peace, understanding, and purity of existence, the ability to delay this gratification to serve one's fellows is deeply honored. The term bodhisattva comes from Buddhism, where a bodhisattva is described as someone who has taken the vows above. Such a person has earned entrance to Nirvana and could move on after death, but instead chooses to remain behind and assist others until everyone in the corporeal world is ready to enter that blessed state. However, the result differs in that the religious version of a bodhisattva vows to be reincarnated, again and again ("to penetrate dharma gates beyond measure"), until that time. Heaven does recorporealize Saints, but not that continually.

This post proposes a new character type that GMs may add to a game: bodhichitta. Primarily found in regions heavy on Buddhist and Hindu influence, this character is a human who took the bodhisattva vows and now reincarnates continually, their intent being to assist others in achieving enlightenment or Nirvana.

Requirements:
A bodhichitta must take the bodhisattva vows while alive.
The would-be bodhichitta must be aware that he is receiving no particular protection from Hell or unfavorable rebirth unless he earns favorable rebirth on his own merits; but if he does, he understands that he is giving up more favorable rebirths in order to reincarnate for the benefit of others still alive.
A bodhichitta must either be Symphonically Aware, or possess potential for at least a sixth Force. Symphonically Aware would-be bodhichitta simply take the vows in a formal ritual; those with potential participate in a ceremony that awakens the sixth Force and requires the participation of a Symphonically aware being.
During the remainder of the bodhichitta's first life, accepting an Infernal Force, achieving Fate and *not* Destiny, or becoming undead at any time negates bodhichitta status.
During each reincarnation, the bodhichitta must sincerely take the bodhisattva vows again. Failing to do so releases them to a (nearly) normal final judgment.

Effects:

Upon death, a bodhichitta is drawn to one of the many realms of the Hindu pantheon. If the human has more potential Forces, something which the deities overseeing the process can apparently assess with great accuracy, he is assisted in developing them through ritual and training. At the end of this process, he submits to a Kyriotate-like form of bilocation, with his Celestial Forces being separated from his Corporeal and Ethereal Forces. His Celestial Forces remain in that realm; the rest of his being is returned to Earth to reincarnate through birth.

Reincarnated bodhichitta are difficult to distinguish from normal humans at first. (Yves' "Past Lives" attunement will detect them instantly, however.) They develop quickly to their full potential of Forces without requiring outside intervention, though from their full potential is subtracted the number of Celestial Forces which remain in the Marches. They become Symphonically Aware when this number plus the number of Forces in their current body reaches six, and at this time their memories return. In addition to granting access to old skills, this often recalls to mind Songs they learned, and at this time an Ethereal Connection granted by the Hindu pantheon will often manifest itself. They have full Will and Perception, and even the Blessed advantage, but can seem weak-willed or hazy-eyed, because they behave as if partially subject to the Celestial Song of Disjunction. Their thoughts and actions are delayed in communication with their will and perception -- they can perceive things, or they can think about them and act upon them, but not both in the same round. Bodhichitta are no longer entirely of the material world.

Since bodhichitta have trained to their full complement of Forces, they cannot participate in an Oathtaking after they reach adulthood. Attempting to make a bodhichitta into an undead snaps the fragile connection to the human's celestial Forces, killing the body and scattering its Ethereal Forces to the winds. The best that can be done is to make the resulting body a zombie -- admittedly, a frequently tough one. Bodhichitta cannot participate in celestial combat in any way; they are wholly immune to soul damage. They cannot be given Celestial Connections, or make bonds with any relics or reliquaries (though they can bond with talismans or corporeal artifacts that also happen to be reliquaries, any functionality of the latter that requires bonding is inaccessible to them).

Bodhichitta are typically devout Buddhists, and may not even believe in the "Christian" Heaven and Hell. They are motivated to teach and set a good example for others, serving Buddhism and Hinduism in much the same way that Saints serve Heaven. The few that have been released to face final judgment have not appeared in the Lower Heavens or at Hellmouth, leading some to dark suspicions that the process damaged their existence in some way. Others claim that released bodhichitta exit the samsara worlds entirely, their vows released through no fault of their own, and immediately ascend to the Higher Heavens -- it being almost unthinkable for a being so selfless to earn the Lower Hells. This parallels very well with the afterlife traits of Children of the Grigori, so much so that it has been proposed that Buddhism invented the ideas of bodhisattva and anagamin ("non-returners," who depart the samsara worlds immediately upon death) to teach the Children about the afterlife options most suited for them.
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