In Zen Buddhism, a “Bodhisatva” is someone who could achieve nirvana and escape the vicissitudes or “real” life (“samsara“), but refuses to do so unless s/he can do the same for all humanity. On the other hand, in Hinayana Buddhism, the “Arhat” recognizes that every individual has a unique destiny and has the responsibility for doing what is necessary to achieve it in this or over many lifetimes. Which approach is the right one? To what extent should we devote our lives to helping others or should we attempt to control only that which we can control–which is our own lives?
Mystics, because their experiences are so intensely personal, are generally categorized as the latter, but not always. Similarly, there are those with zero interest in “other realms,” but dedicate their lives to helping others in this realm (“samsara”) with such absolute mindfulness that their sense of personal identity has dissolved–a state more mystical types would say is really “nirvana.” Or, maybe as the Buddha himself recommended regarding behavior, there is some “Golden Mean” that can be observed that can achieve both.
In any event, while by no means a sacred text, for some reason I have always found inspiration and even guidance through the “other realm” of fiction. For example, consider this: Wesley Meets the Traveler.