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Monday, 19 January 2015 08:21

Way of the Bodhisattva

The Way of the Bodhisattva (Bodhicharyavatara) — by Shantideva

Like the Book of Proverbs - the Bodhicharyavatara  is a timeless work of wisdom, the longevity of which is due to the quality of its verse as much as to its wisdom. In the whole of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, there is no single treatise more deeply revered or widely practiced than Bodhicaryavatara.


Way of Bodhisattva - cover

Treasured by Buddhists of all traditions, The Way of the Bodhisattva (Bodhicharyavatara) is a guide to cultivating the mind of enlightenment and to generating the qualities of love, compassion, generosity and patience.

This text has been studied, practiced, and expounded upon in an unbroken tradition for centuries, first in India, and later in Tibet.

Presented in the form of a personal meditation in verse, it outlines the path of the Bodhisattvas - those who renounce the peace of individual enlightenment and vow to work for the liberation of all beings and to attain buddhahood for their sake.

Composed in the eighth century, it became an instant classic in the curricula of the Buddhist monastic universities of India, and its renown has grown ever since. It is a handbook on how to realize the nature of existence and of compassion that arises from such realization.


ShantidevaShantideva — a seventh-century Buddhist monk and scholar who taught at Nalanda, one of the great monastic universities of ancient India. He was an Indian Buddhist while Buddhism still flourished in India.

His great work - the Bodhicharyavatara, or Entrance to the Path of Awakening - became a major text of Tibetan Buddhism long after it went out of circulation in its homeland.

Shantideva presents methods to harmonize one's life with the Bodhisattva ideal and inspires the reader to cultivate the perfections of the Bodhisattva - generosity, ethics, patience, zeal, meditative concentration, and wisdom.

Shantideva's work is required reading for an understanding of Tibetan Buddhism, and the clarity and crispness of this new translation make it an accessible way into the world of Tibetan Buddhism.

The Bodhicaryavatara  roughly translates to A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life.

A Bodhisattva  is an enlightened being on their way to attaining full Buddhahood (renounce nirvana) for the benefit of all sentient beings.

The text has ten chapters that explain how to develop bodhicitta - the enlightened mind. This collection contains meditation exercises and moral instruction for bodhisattvas to practice as they engage in their work.

This version - translated from the Tibetan - is a revision by the translators of the 1997 edition - A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life.  Included are a foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a new translator's preface, a thorough introduction, a note on the translation, and three appendices of commentary by the Nyingma master Kunzang Pelden.

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