Buckminster Fuller Bodhisattva - Trimtab Using Skillful Means on Behalf of All Humanity

07/16/2012 06:34 pm ET | Updated Sep 10, 2012

Most people who know the term Bodhisattva define a Bodhisattva as an enlightened being. Wikipedia says,

The term 'bodhisattva' was used by the Buddha in the Pali canon to refer to himself both in his previous lives and as a young man in his current life, prior to his enlightenment, in the period during which he was working towards his own liberation. When, during his discourses, he recounts his experiences as a young aspirant, he regularly uses the phrase "When I was an unenlightened bodhisattva... "

Bodhisattva connotes a being who is "bound for enlightenment." In other words, a Bodhisattva is a person whose aim is to become fully enlightened.

It also describes a person who is selfless, and as several of the writers in A Fuller View, Buckminster Fuller's Vision of Hope and Abundance for All speculated, Bucky Fuller was a Bodhisattva. Other people have conjectured that Bucky's previous lives included Benjamin Franklin (check out the picture on the $100 bill) and Leonardo da Vinci (Marshall McLuhan called Bucky "the 20th Century Leonardo da Vinci).

More important than these speculations is the way Buckminster Fuller lived his life. His mission statement says it alll: "To make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone."

Selfless service was his focus until the day he died, July 1, 1983. Even his death was in service to others, as he had made a promise to his wife Anne that he would go first and meet her on the other side. Anne was in a coma at Good Samaritan Hospital in LA, and the doctors said she would probably not recover.

On June 25, Bucky made what would be his final public appearance at the last of his Integrity Day presentations. Like so many other master teachers, Bucky made one final tour to complete his mission here on Earth in this lifetime as he prepared for the completion of this life. During the June 25 appearance, he publicly stated that he felt Anne was waiting for him.

I believe that had circumstances been different, Bucky would have died on July 12 -- his birthday and a day on which he loved to do important things like getting married and announcing new inventions. Yet, he put the needs of his wife before his desire, and he was sitting at her bedside holding her hand on July 1. Looking at their hands, he declared, "She squeezed it." Then, he had what was labeled a heart attack and died with a smile on his face. Anne never recovered from the coma, and she died 36 hours later.

They were buried together under a simple grave marker that reads exactly as he requested,


This seems like a very simple statement for a complicated man who had achieved so much including inventing Synergetic Math, which makes all our current mathematics obsolete. However, it represents the straightforward wisdom of a Bodhisattva. Here is a short video of Bucky himself sharing his 1927 commitment to work on behalf of all humanity.

The Bodhisattva, like all consciously awake beings, wants to be of service to the most people as efficiently and effectively as possible. The Buddhists call this "skillful means." Others may label it leverage. Bucky called it Trimtab. Here is his description of the phenomenon and how to best use it.

"Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary -- the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there's a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab.

It's a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab.

Society thinks it's going right by you, that it's left you altogether. But if you're doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to turn.

So I said, call me 'Trim Tab.'"

Thanks to Bucky's "56 Year Experiment" to determine and document what one individual could achieve that could not be accomplished by any government, corporation, institution or organization no matter how large or powerful, we know that being a Trimtab does produce amazing results. So, this month as we celebrate the 117th anniversary of Bucky's birth, I invite you to adopt his simple Bodhisattva strategy and join a growing global community of Trimtabs working for the positive benefit of all. Then, we may just achieve Bucky's vision of "a world that works for everyone."