Jainism has created many arhatas, great pinnacles of consciousness, but it has a very dry approach, a very inhuman approach. It does not consider at all those who are still struggling with darkness, blindness, who are still finding the path, who may be even going astray. The moment a man becomes an arhata, he cuts all his relationships with humanity, even the relationship of having a disciple.
Gautam Buddha created another rebellion which culminated finally in Zen. It differed from Jainism only on this point: it brought a new concept, bodhisattva. A bodhisattva is one who has realized his being, who has become awakened, but his work has not ended; on the contrary, now his real work begins. Up to now he was struggling for himself, now he will struggle for others.
According to Gautam Buddha – and I agree with him totally – a man of enlightenment cannot resist the temptation to encourage others to seek…to enhance, to support, to enrich and to share his own light with others. It is simply impossible for him…. The Jaina attitude seems to be very self-centered: you have arrived, your work is finished.
The story will help you to understand better…
Gautam Buddha dies and at the gates of paradise there is great celebration, because very rarely…in millions, perhaps one person comes to such a great peak of consciousness that the doors of paradise open for him. It is symbolic. And there was great rejoicing to welcome him, but he refused to enter the gate.
He said, “Please, close the gates. I will stand outside. Until every living being has passed inside, I cannot come in. I am going to be the last. Although it is a long waiting, I will wait. My love says I can wait, my compassion says I should wait. It is cruel on my part, when others are just to be awakened, not to awaken them but enter into the luxuries of paradise. I will come, but I will be the last. You please keep the doors closed.” And the story is, the doors are closed; Buddha is standing outside, waiting for every human being to pass by.
That is the meaning of bodhisattva. Your achievement is not enough if you cannot share it. The more you can share it, the more you have it; the more you can spread the flame, the more hearts you can put on fire, the greater is your enlightenment. The arhata is compared to a small boat in which only he can sit, the bodhisattva is compared to a great boat in which many millions can be carried to the further shore.