Patience: from “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by Shantideva

The following is respectfully quoted from “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by Shantideva:

That which is referred to as the Primordial Substance,
That which has been labeled as the Self
Do not come into being thinking
“That is how I will arise.”

That which is not manifest is not yet there,
So what could want to come to be?
And permanently drawn toward its object,
It can never cease from being so.

Indeed! This Self if permanent,
Is certainly impassible like space itself.
And should it meet with other factors,
How should they affect it since it is unchanging?

If, when things occur, it stays unchanged and as as before,
What influence has action had on it?
They say that this affects the Self,
But what connection could there be between them.

All things, then, depend on something else;
On this depends the fact that none are independent.
Knowing this, we will not be annoyed at objects
That resemble magical appearances.

“Resistance,” you may say, “is out of place,
For what will be opposed by whom?”
The stream of suffering is cut through by patience;
There’s nothing inappropriate in wanting that!

Thus, when enemies or friends
Are seen to act improperly,
Be calm and call to mind
That everything arises from conditions.

If things occurred to living beings
Following their wishes and intentions,
How could sorrow ever come to them–
For there is no one who desires to suffer!

Yet carelessly, all unaware,
They tear themselves on thorns and briars;
And ardent in pursuit of wives and goods,
They starve themselves of nourishment.

Some hang themselves up or leap into the void,
Or eat bad food or swallow deadly poison,
Or by their evil conduct
Bring destruction on themselves.

For when affliction seizes them,
They kill themselves, the selves they love so much.
So how could they not be the cause
Of pain and suffering for others?

And when, as victims of defilement,
Beings even cause their own destruction,
Even if compassion does not rise in us,
We can at least refrain from being angry.

If those who are like wanton children
Are by nature prone to injure others,
What point is there in being angry–
Like resenting fire for its heat?

And if their faults are fleeting and contingent,
If living beings are by nature wholesome,
It’s likewise senseless to resent them–
As well be angry at the sky for having clouds!

Although indeed it is the stick that hurts me,
I am angry at the one who wields it, striking me.
But he is driven and impelled by anger–
So it is his wrath I should resent.

I it was who in the past
Did harm to beings such as these.
And so, when others do me mischief,
It is only just that they should injure me.

Their weapons and my body–
Both are causes of my suffering!
They their weapons drew, while I held out my body.
Who then is more worthy of my anger?

This human form is like a running sore;
Merely touched, it cannot stand the pain!
I’m the one who clings to it with blind attachment;
Whom should I resent when pain occurs?

We who are like senseless children
Shrink from suffering, but love its causes.
We hurt ourselves; our pain is self-inflicted!
Why should others be the object of our anger?


Vigilance: From “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by Shantideva

The following is respectfully quoted from “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by Shantideva as translated by the Padmakara Translation Group and published by Shambhala:


Those who wish to keep a rule of life
Must guard their minds in perfect self-possession.
Without this guard upon the mind,
No discipline can ever be maintained.

Wandering where it will, the elephant of the mind,
Will bring us down to pains of deepest hell.
No worldly beast, however wild,
Could bring upon us such calamities.

If, with mindfulness’ rope,
The elephant of the mind is tethered all around,
Our fears will come to nothing,
Every virtue drop into our hands.

Tigers, lions, elephants, and bears,
Snakes and every hostile beast,
Those who guard the prisoners in hell,
All ghosts and ghouls and every evil phantom,

5. By simple binding of this mind alone,
All these things are likewise bound.
By simple taming of this mind alone,
All these things are likewise tamed.

For all anxiety and fear,
All sufferings in boundless measure,
Their source and wellspring is the mind itself,
Thus the Truthful One has said.

The hellish whips to torture living beings–
Who has made them and to what intent?
Who has forged this burning iron ground;
Whence have all these demon women sprung?

All are but the offspring of the sinful mind,
Thus the Mighty One has said.
Thus throughout the triple world
There is no greater bane than mind itself.

If transcendent giving is
To dissipate the poverty of beings,
In what way, since the poor are always with us,
Have former buddhas practiced perfect generosity?

The true intention to bestow on every being
All possessions–and fruits of such a gift;
By such, the teachings say, is generosity perfected.
And this, as we may see, is but the mind itself.

Where, indeed, could beings, fishes, and the rest
Be placed, to shield them from suffering?
Deciding to refrain from harming them
Is said to be the perfection of morality.

The hostile multitudes are vast as space–
What chance is there that all should be subdued?
Let but this angry mind be overthrown
And every foe is then and there destroyed.

To cover all the earth with sheets of hide–
Where could such amounts of skin be found?
But simply wrap some leather round your feet,
And it’s as if the whole earth had been covered!

Likewise, we can never take
And turn aside the outer course of things.
But only seize and discipline the mind itself,
And what is there remaining to be curbed?

A clear intent can fructify
And bring us birth in lofty Brahma’s realm.
The acts of body and of speech are less–
They do not generate a like result.

Recitations and austerities,
Long though they may prove to be,
If practiced with distracted mind,
Are futile, so the Knower of the Truth has said.

All who fail to know and penetrate
This secret of the mind, the Dharma’s peak,
Although they wish for joy and sorrow’s end,
Will wander uselessly in misery.

This is so, and therefore I will seize
This mind of mine and guard it well.
What use to me so many harsh austerities?
But let me only discipline and guard my mind!

When in wild, unruly crowds
We move with care to shield our broken limbs,
Likewise when we live in evil company,
Our wounded minds we should not fail to guard.

For if I carefully protect my wounds
Because I fear the hurt of cuts and bruises,
Why should I not guard my wounded mind,
For fear of being crushed beneath the cliffs of hell?

If this is how I act and live,
Then even in the midst of evil folk,
Or even with fair women, all is well.
My diligent observance of the vows will not decline.

Let my property and honor all grow less,
And likewise all my health and livelihood,
And even other virtues–all can go!
But never will I disregard my mind.

All you who would protect your minds,
Maintain awareness and your mental vigilance.
Guard them both, at the cost of life and limb–
Thus I join my hands, beseeching you.

Those disabled by ill health
Are helpless, powerless to act.
The mind, when likewise cramped by ignorance,
Is impotent and cannot do its work.

And those who have no mental vigilance,
Though they may hear the teachings, ponder them or meditate,
With minds like water seeping from a leaking jug,
Their learning will not settle in their memories.

Many have devotion, perseverance,
Are learned also and endowed with faith,
But through the fault of lacking mental vigilance,
Will not escape the stain of sin and downfall.

Lack of vigilance is like a their
Who slinks behind when mindfulness abates,
And all the merit we have gathered in
He steals, and down we go to lower realms.

Defilements are a band of robbers
Waiting for their chance to bring us injury.
They steal our virtue, when their moment comes,
And batter out the life of happy destinies.

Therefore, from the gateway of awareness
Mindfulness shall not have leave to stray.
And if it wanders, it shall be recalled,
By thoughts of anguish in the lower worlds.

In those endowed with fortune and devotion,
Mindfulness is cultivated easily–
Through fear, and by the counsels of their abbots,
And staying ever in their teacher’s company.

The buddhas and bodhisattvas both
Possess unclouded vision, seeing everything:
Everything lies open to their gaze,
And likewise I am always in their presence.

One who has such thoughts as these
Will gain devotion and a sense of fear and shame.
For such a one, the memory of Buddha
Rises frequently before the mind.

When mindfulness is stationed as a sentinel,
A guard upon the threshold of the mind,
Mental scrutiny is likewise present,
Returning when forgotten or dispersed.

If at the outset, when I check my mind,
I find some fault or insufficiency,
I’ll stay unmoving, like a log,
In self-possession and determination.

I shall never, vacantly,
Allow my gaze to wander about,
But rather with a focused mind
Will always go with eyes cast down.

But that I might relax my gaze,
I’ll sometimes raise my eyes and look around.
And if some person stands in my sight,
I’ll greet him with a friendly word of welcome.

And yet, to spy the dangers on the road,
I’ll scrutinize the four directions one by one.
And when I stop to rest, I’ll turn my head
And look behind me, back along my path.

And so, I’ll spy the land, in front, behind,
To see if I should go or else return.
And thus in every situation,
I shall know my needs and act accordingly.

Deciding on a given course,
Determining the actions of my body,
From time to time I’ll verify
My body’s actions, by repeated scrutiny.

This mind of mine, a wild and rampant elephant,
I’ll tether that sturdy post: reflection on the Teaching.
And I shall narrowly stand guard
That it might never slip its bonds and flee.

Those who strive to master concentration
Should never for an instant be distracted.
They should constantly investigate themselves,
Examining the movements of their minds.

In fearful situations, times of celebration,
One may desist, when self-survey becomes impossible.
For it is taught that in the times of generosity,
The rules of discipline must be suspended.

When something has been planned and started on,
Attention should not drift to other things.
With thoughts fixed on the chosen target,
That and that alone should be pursued.

Behaving in this way, all tasks were performed,
And nothing is achieved by doing otherwise.
Afflictions, the reverse of vigilance,
Can never multiply if this is how you act.

And if by chance you must take part
In lengthy conversations worthlessly,
Or if you come upon sensational events,
Then cast aside delight and taste for them.

If you find you’re grubbing in the soil,
Or pulling up the grass or tracing idle patterns on the ground,
Remembering the teachings of the Blissful One,
In fear, restrain yourself at once.

When you feel the wish to walk about,
Or even to express yourself in speech,
First examine what is in your mind.
For they will act correctly who have stable minds.

When the urge arises in the mind
To feelings of desire or wrathful hate,
Do not act! Be silent, do not speak!
And like a log of wood be sure to stay.

When the mind is wild with mockery
And filled with pride and haughty arrogance,
And when you want to show the hidden faults of others,
To bring up old dissensions or to act deceitfully,

And when you want to fish for praise,
Or criticize and spoil another’s name,
Or use harsh language, sparring for a fight,
It’s then that like a log you should remain.

And when you yearn for wealth, attention, fame,
A circle of admirers serving you,
And when you look for honors, recognition–
It’s then that like a log you should remain.

And when you want to do another down
And cultivate advantage for yourself,
And when the wish to gossip comes to you,
It’s then that like a log you should remain.

Impatience, indolence, faint heartedness,
And likewise haughty speech and insolence,
Attachment to your side–when these arise,
It’s then that like a log you should remain.

Examine thus yourself from every side.
Note harmful thoughts and every futile striving.
Thus it is that heroes in the bodhisattva path
Apply the remedies to keep a steady mind.

With perfect and unyielding faith,
With steadfastness, respect, and courtesy,
With modesty and conscientiousness,
Work calmly for the happiness of others.

Let us not be downcast by the warring wants
Of childish persons quarreling.
Their thoughts are bred from conflict and emotion.
Let us understand and treat them lovingly.

When doing virtuous acts, beyond reproach,
To help ourselves, or for the sake of others,
Let us always bear in mind the thought
That we are self-less, like an apparition.

This supreme treasure of a human life,
So long awaited, now at last attained!
Reflecting always thus, maintain your mind
As steady as Sumeru, king of mountains.

When vultures with their love of flesh
Are tugging at this body all around,
Small will be the joy you get from it, O mind!
Why are you so besotted with it now?

Why, O mind, do you protect this body,
Claiming it as though it were yourself?
You and it are each a separate entity,
How ever can it be of use to you?

Why not cling, O foolish mind, to something clean,
A figure carved in wood, or some such thing?
Why do you protect and guard
An unclean engine for the making of impurity?

First, with mind’s imagination,
Shed the covering of skin,
And with the blade of wisdom, strip
The flesh from bony frame.

And when you have divided all the bones,
And searched right down amid the very marrow,
You should look and ask the question:
Where is “thingness” to be found?

If, persisting in the search,
You find no underlying object,
Why still cherish–and with such desire–
The fleshy form you now possess?

Its filth you cannot eat, O mind:
Its blood likewise is not for you to drink;
Its innards, too, unsuitable to suck–
This body, what then will you make of it?

As second best, it may indeed be kept
As food to feed the vulture and the fox.
The value of this human form
Lies only in the way that it is used.

Whatever you may do to guard and keep it,
What will you do when
The Lord of Death, the ruthless, unrelenting,
Steals and throws it to the birds and dogs?

Slaves unsuitable for work
Are not rewarded with supplies and clothing.
This body, though you pamper it, will leave you–
Why exhaust yourself with such great labor?

So pay this body due remuneration,
But then be sure to make it work for you.
But do not lavish everything
On what will not bring perfect benefit.

Regard your body as a vessel,
A simple boat for going here and there.
Make of it a wish-fulfilling gem
To bring about the benefit of beings.

Thus with free, untrammeled mind,
Put on an ever-smiling countenance.
Rid yourself of scowling, wrathful frowns,
And be a true and honest friend to all.

Do not, acting inconsiderately,
Move furniture and chairs so noisily around.
Likewise do not open doors with violence.
Take pleasure in the practice of humility.

Herons, cats, and burglars
Go silently and carefully;
This is how they gain what they intend.
And one who practices this path behaves likewise.

When useful admonitions come unasked
To those with skill in counseling their fellows,
Let them welcome them with humble gratitude,
And always strive to learn from everyone.

Praise all who speak the truth,
And say, “Your words are excellent.”
And when you notice others acting well,
Encourage them in terms of warm approval.

Extol them even in their absence;
When they’re praised by others, do the same.
But when the qualities they praise are yours,
Appreciate their skill in knowing qualities.

The goal of every act is happiness itself,
Though, even with great wealth, it’s rarely found.
So take your pleasure in the qualities of others.
Let them be a heartfelt joy to you.

By acting thus, in this life you’ll lose nothing;
In future lives, great bliss will come to you.
The sin of envy brings not joy but pain,
And in the future, dreadful suffering.

Speak with honest words, coherently,
With candor, in a clear, harmonious voice.
Abandon partiality, rejection, and attraction,
And speak with moderation, gently.

And catching sight of others, think
That it will be through them
That you will come to buddhahood.
So look on them with open, loving hearts.

Always fired by highest aspiration,
Laboring to implement the antidotes,
You will gather virtues in the fields
Of qualities, of benefits, of sorrow.

Acting thus with faith and understanding,
You will always undertake good works.
And in whatever actions you perform,
You’ll not be calculating, with your eye on others.

The six perfections, giving and the rest,
Progress in sequence, growing in importance.
The great should never be supplanted by the less,
And it is others’ good that is the highest goal.

Therefore understand this well
And always labor for the benefit of beings.
The far-seeking masters of compassion
Permit, to this end, that which is proscribed.

Eat only what is needful;
Share with those who have embraced discipline.
To those, defenseless, fallen into evil states,
Give all except the three robes of religion.

The body, apt to practice sacred teaching,
Should not be harmed in trivial pursuits.
It this advice is kept, the wishes of all beings
Will swiftly and completely be attained.

They should not give up their bodies
Whose compassion is not pure and perfect.
But let them, in this world and those to come,
Subject their bodies to the service of the supreme goal.

Do not teach to those without respect,
To those who like the sick wear cloths around their heads,
To those who proudly carry weapons, staffs or parasols,
And those who keep their hats upon their heads.

Do not teach the vast and deep to those
Upon the lower paths, nor, as a monk,
To women unescorted. Teach with equal honor
Low and high according to their path.

Those suited to the teachings vast and deep,
Should not be introduced to lesser paths.
But basic practice you should not forsake,
Confused by talk of sūtras nd of mantras.

Your spittle and your toothbrushes,
When thrown away, should be concealed.
And it is wrong to foul with urine
Public thoroughfares and water springs.

When eating do not gobble noisily,
Nor stuff and cram your gaping mouth.
And do not sit with legs outstretched,
Nor rudely rub your hands together.

Do not sit upon a horse, on beds or seats,
With women of another house, alone.
All that you have seen, or have been told,
To be offensive–this you should avoid.

Not rudely pointing with your finger,
But rather with a reverent gesture showing,
With the whole right hand outstretched–
This is how to indicate the road.

Do not wave your arms with uncouth gestures.
With gentle sounds and finger snaps
Express yourself with modesty–
For acting otherwise is impolite excess.

Lie down to sleep with posture and direction
Of the Buddha when he passed into nirvāna.
And first, with clear resolve,
Decide that you’ll be swift to rise again.

The bodhisattva’s acts
Are boundless, as the teachings ay,
And all these practices that cleanse the mind
Embrace–until success has been attained.

Reciting thrice, by day, by night,
The Sūtra in Three Sections,
Relying on the buddhas and the bodhisattvas,
Purify the rest of your transgressions.

And therefore in whatever time or place,
For your own good and for the good of others,
Be diligent to implement
The teachings given for that situation.

There is indeed no virtue
That the buddha’s offspring should not learn.
To one with mastery therein,
There is no action destitute of merit.

Directly, then, or indirectly,
All you do must be for others’s sake.
And solely for their welfare dedicate
Your actions for the gaining of enlightenment.

Never, at the cost of life or limb,
Forsake your virtuous friend, your teacher,
Learned in the meaning of Mahāyāna,
Supreme in practice of the bodhisattva path.

For thus you must depend upon your guru,
And you will find described in Shrī Sambhava’s life,
And elsewhere in the teachings of the Buddha:
These be sure to study, reading the sūtras.

The training you will find described
Within the sūtras. Therefore read and study them.
The Sūtra of the Essence of the Sky–
This is the text that should be studied first.

The Digest of All Disciples
Contains a detailed and extensive explanation
Of all that must be practiced come what may.
So this is something you should read repeatedly.

From time to time, for the sake of brevity,
Consult the Digest of the Sūtras.
And those two works pursue with diligence.
The noble Nāgārjuna has composed.

Whatever in these works is not proscribed
Be sure to undertake and implement.
And what you see there, perfectly fulfill,
and so safeguard the minds of worldly beings.

To keep a guard again and yet again
Upon the state of actions of our thoughts and deeds–
This and only this defines
The nature and the sense of mental watchfulness.

But all this must be acted out in truth,
For what is to be gained by mouthing syllables?
What invalid was ever helped
By merely reading in the doctor’s treatises?


Protecting And Maintaining Bodhicitta: from “The Way of the Bodhisattva”

The following is respectfully quoted from “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by Shantideva as translated by the Padmakara Translation Group and published by Shambhala:

Protecting And Maintaining Bodhichitta:

That the original resolve of bodhichitta needs consolidation becomes evident from the very first stanzas of chapter 4, where Shāntideva takes stock of what he has just done and begins to count the cost. The undertaking to which he has committed himself in a moment of optimistic zeal is devastating. Hesitation is understandable. However, in view of the alternatives, and in order to stiffen his resolve, Shāntideva embarks on a graphic description of the dreadful consequences of retraction. As alway, the aim is pedagogical. Shāntideva is no tub-thumping preacher content merely to terrorize his listeners. The situation as he describes it is certainly grim, but he shows the way out and in so doing plots out a scheme of mental training that, for its spiritual profundity and psychological acuity, has rarely been equaled and surely never surpassed anywhere or at any time in the history of the world’s religions.

The first message is that, however immense the goal may seem, it is possible–provided that we want it and make the necessary effort. We can learn to be free and to become buddhas. Moreover, Shāntideva points out that having attained a human existence, we are at a crossroads; we have reached a critical point. According to Buddhism, human life, at once so precious and so fragile, is the existential opportunity par excellence. Of all forms of existence, it is the only one in which development along a spiritual trajectory is truly possible. And yet the occasion is easily, in fact habitually, squandered in trivial pursuits. Time passes and we “measure our lives in coffee spoons.” Perceiving the nature of the opportunity, and realizing how it is slipping through his fingers, Shāntideva responds with almost a note of panic.

For it’s as if by chance that I have gained
This state so hard to find, wherein to help myself.
And now, when freedom–power of choice–is mine,
If once again I’m led away to hell,

I am as if benumbed by sorcery,
My mind reduced to total impotence
With no perception of the madness overwhelming me.
O what it is that has me in its grip? (4.26-27)

This situation is certainly perilous, but what is it that constitutes the danger? It is the kleshas, defiled emotions: “Anger, lust–these enemies of mine.” These are the roots of sorrow, to which every suffering be it on a personal or cosmic scale, can ultimately be traced. And yet the kleshas, however terrible they may be in their effects, are nothing more than thoughts: intangible, fleeting mental states. To become aware of this fact, and to see therefore that our destiny lies in the way we are able to order the workings of our minds, is the theme of the fourth chapter. How is it, Shāntideva asks, that mere thoughts can cause so much havoc? The answer is simply that we allow them to do so. “I it is who welcome them within my heart.” With these words, the battle lines are drawn. The enemy is the afflictions, the thoughts of pride, anger, lust, jealousy, and the rest. The arena is the mind itself. Shāntideva steels himself for the fray, giving himself confidence by stimulating his own very characteristic of Shāntideva’s pragmatic approach–a sort of psychological homeopathy, in which an attitude normally considered a defilement is consciously and strenuously adopted as an antidote to the defilement itself. The theme is developed at greater length later on in the book, but for the time being, chapter 4 concludes on a ringing note of aggression. Emotional defilements are the enemy; they must be destroyed. “This shall be may all-consuming passion; filled with rancor I will wage my war!” Paradoxically, the conflict need not been an arduous one. Thoughts after all are merely thoughts. Through analysis and skill, they can be easily eliminated. Once scattered by the eye of wisdom and driven from the mind, they are by definition totally destroyed. And yet Shāntideva reflects, with sentiments that must go to the heart of every would-be disciple: “But oh–my mind is feeble. I am indolent!”

Once it is clear, however, that the problem lies in the mind itself, or rather in the emotions that arise there, the simple but difficult task is to become aware of how thoughts emerge and develop. This is the theme of the fifth chapter, on vigilance. Again, we find the same note of practical optimism. Just as the mind is the source of every suffering, likewise it is the wellspring of every joy. And once again, the good news is that the mind can be controlled and trained.

If, with mindfulness’ rope,
The elephant of the mind is tethered all around,
Our fears will come to nothing,
Every virtue drop into our hands.

The Benefits of the Awakening Mind

1000 Armed Chenrezig Mandala

Here is another excerpt from the first chapter of A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life called “The Benefits of the Awakening Mind.”  May these words written by Shantideva inspire all who encounter them.


How can I fathom the depths

Of the goodness of this jewel of the mind,

The panacea that relieves the world of pain

And is the source of all its joy?


If whoever repays a kind deed

Is worthy of some praise,

Then what need to mention the Bodhisattvas

Who do good without it being asked of them?


The world honors as virtuous

One who sometimes gives a little, plain food

Disrespectfully to a few beings,

Which satisfies them for only a half a day.


What need be said then of one

Who eternally bestows the peerless bliss of the Sugatas

Upon limitless numbers of beings,

Thereby fulfilling all their hopes?


The Buddha has said that whoever bears a harmful thought

Against a benefactor such as a Bodhisattva

Will remain in hell for as many aeons

As there were harmful thoughts.


However, if a virtuous attitude should arise (in that regard),

Its fruits will multiply far more than that.

When Bodhisattvas greatly suffer they generate no negativity,

Instead their virtues naturally increase.


I bow down to the body of those

In whom the sacred precious mind is born.

I seek refuge in that source of joy

Who brings happiness even to those who bring harm.

The Excellence of Bodhichitta

The following is respectfully quoted from “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by Shantideva:

Bodhichitta, the awakening mind,
In brief is said to have two aspects:
First, aspiring, bodhichitta in intention:
Then active bodhichitta, practical engagement.

Wishing to depart and setting out upon the road,
This is how the difference is conceived.
The wise and learned thus should understand
This difference, which is ordered and progressive.

Bodhichitta in intention bears rich fruit
For those still wandering in samsāra.
And yet a ceaseless stream of merit does not flow from it;
For this will rise alone from active bodhichitta.

For when, with irreversible intent,
The mind embraces bodhichitta,
Willing to set free the endless multitude of beings,
At that instant, from that moment on,

A great unremitting stream,
A strength of wholesome merit,
Even during sleep and inattention,
Rises equal to the vastness of the sky.

This the Tathāgata,
In the sūtra Subāhu requested,
Said with reasoned demonstration,
Teaching those inclined to lesser paths.

If with kindly generosity
One merely has the wish to soothe
The aching heads of other beings,
Such merit knows no bounds.

No need to speak, then, of the wish
To drive away the endless pain
Of each and every living being,
Bringing them unbounded virtues.

Could our fathers or our mothers
Every have so generous a wish?
Do the very gods, the rishis, even Brahma
Harbor such benevolence as this?

For in the past they never,
Even in their dreams, conceived
Such profit even for themselves.
How could they have such aims for others’ sake?

For beings do not wish their own true good,
So how could they intend such good for others’ sake?
This state of mind so precious and so rare
Arises truly wondrous, never seen before.

The pain-dispelling draft,
This cause of joy for those who wander through the world–
This precious attitude, this jewel of mind,
How shall it be gauged or quantified?

For if the simple thought to be of help to others
Exceeds in worth the worship of the buddhas,
What need is there to speak of actual deeds
That bring about the weal and benefit of beings?

For beings long to free themselves from misery,
But misery itself they follow and pursue,
They long for joy, but in their ignorance
Destroy it, as they would a hated enemy.

But those who fill with bliss
All beings destitute of joy,
Who cut all pain and suffering away
From those weighed down with misery,

Who drive away the darkness of ignorance–
What virtue could be matched with theirs?
What friend could be compared to them?
What merit is there similar to this?

If they who do some good, in thanks
For favors once received, are praised,
Why need we speak of bodhisattvas–
Those who freely benefit the world?

Those who, scornfully with condescension,
Give just once, a single meal to others–
Feeding them for only half a day–
Are honored by the world as virtuous,

What need is there to speak of those
Who constantly bestow on boundless multitudes
The peerless joy of blissful buddhahood,
The ultimate fulfillment of their hopes?

And those who harbor evil in their minds
Against such lords of generosity, the Buddha’s heirs,
Will stay in hell, the Mighty One has said,
For ages equal to the moments of their malice.

By contrast, good and virtuous thoughts
Will yield abundant fruits in greater measure.
Even in adversity, the bodhisattvas
Never bring forth evil–only an increasing stream of goodness.

To them in whom this precious sacred mind
Is born–to them I bow!
I go for refuge in that source of happiness
That brings its very enemies to perfect bliss.

The Benefits of the Awakening Mind

Here is another excerpt from the first chapter of A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life called “The Benefits of the Awakening Mind.”  May these words written by Shantideva inspire all who encounter them.


How can I fathom the depths

Of the goodness of this jewel of the mind,

The panacea that relieves the world of pain

And is the source of all its joy?



If whoever repays a kind deed

Is worthy of some praise,

Then what need to mention the Bodhisattvas

Who do good without it being asked of them?



The world honors as virtuous

One who sometimes gives a little, plain food

Disrespectfully to a few beings,

Which satisfies them for only a half a day.



What need be said then of one

Who eternally bestows the peerless bliss of the Sugatas

Upon limitless numbers of beings,

Thereby fulfilling all their hopes?



The Buddha has said that whoever bears a harmful thought

Against a benefactor such as a Bodhisattva

Will remain in hell for as many aeons

As there were harmful thoughts.



However, if a virtuous attitude should arise (in that regard),

Its fruits will multiply far more than that.

When Bodhisattvas greatly suffer they generate no negativity,

Instead their virtues naturally increase.



I bow down to the body of those

In whom the sacred precious mind is born.

I seek refuge in that source of joy

Who brings happiness even to those who bring harm.

Wisdom: From “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by Shantideva

The following is respectfully quoted from “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by Shantideva:

All these branches of the Doctrine
The Powerful Lord expounded for the sake of wisdom.
Therefore they must generate this wisdom
Who wish to have an end to suffering.

Relative and absolute,
These two truths are declared to be.
The absolute is not within the reach of intellect,
For intellect is grounded in the relative.

Two kinds of people are to be distinguished:
Meditative thinkers and ordinary folk;
The common views of ordinary people
Are superseded by the views of meditators.

And within the ranks of meditators,
The lower, in degrees of insight, are confuted by the higher.
For all employ the same comparisons,
And the goal, if left unanalyzed, they all accept.

When ordinary folk perceive phenomena,
They look on them as real and not illusory.
This, then, is the subject of debate
Where ordinary and meditators differ.

Forms and so forth, which we sense directly,
Exist by general acclaim, though logic disallows them.
They’re false, deceiving, like polluted substances
Regarded in the common view as clean.

That he might instruct the worldly,
Buddha spoke of “things,” but these in truth
Lack even momentariness.
“It’s wrong to claim that this is relative!”–If so you say,

Then know that there’s no fault. For momentariness
Is relative for meditators, but for the worldly, absolute.
Were it otherwise, the common view
Could fault our certain insight into corporal impurity.

“Through a buddha, who is but illusion, how does merit spring?”
As if the Buddha were existing truly.
“But,” you ask, “if beings likewise are illusions,
How, when dying, can they take rebirth?”

As long as the conditions are assembled,
Illusions, likewise, will persist and manifest.
Why, through simply being more protracted,
Should sentient beings be regarded as more real?

If thus I were to slay or harm a mere mirage,
Because there is no mind, no sin occurs.
But beings are possessed of miragelike minds;
Sin and merit will, in consequence, arise.

Spells and incantations cannot, it is true,
Give minds to mirages, and so no mind arises.
But illusions spring from various causes;
The kinds of mirage, then, are likewise various–

A single cause for everything there never was!
“If, ultimately,” you will now enquire,
“Everything is said to be nirvāna,
Samsāra, which is relative, must be the same.

“Therefore even buddhahood reverts to the samsaāric state.
So why,” you ask, “pursue the bodhisattva path?”
As long as there’s not cutting of the causal stream,
There is no routing of illusory appearance.

But when the causal stream is interrupted,
All illusions, even relative, will cease.
“If that which is deceived does not exist,
What is it,” you ask, “that sees illusion?”

But if, for you, these same illusions have no being,
What, indeed, remains to be perceived?
If objects have another mode of being,
That very mode is but the mind itself.

But if the mirage is the mind itself,
What, then, is perceived by what?
The Guardian of the World himself has said
The mind cannot be seen by mind.

In just the same way, he has said,
The sword’s edge cannot cut the sword.
“But,” you say, “it’s like the flame
That perfectly illuminates itself.”

The flame, in fact, can never light itself.
And why? Because the darkness never dims it!
“The blueness of a blue thing,” you will say,
“Depends, unlike a crystal, on no other thing.

“Likewise some perceptions
Rise from other things–while some do not.”
But what is blue has never itself imposed
A blueness on its nonblue self.

The phase “the lamp illuminates itself”
The mind can know and formulate.
But what is there to know and say
That “mind is self-illuminating”?

The mind, indeed, is never seen by anyone,
And therefore, whether it can know or cannot know itself,
Just like the beauty of a barren woman’s daughter,
This merely forms the subject of a pointless conversation.

“But if,” you ask, “the mind is not self-knowing,
How does it remember what it knew?”
We say that like the poison of the water rat,
It’s from the link with other things that memory occurs.

“In certain cases,” you will say, “the mind
Can see the minds of others, how then not itself?”
But through the application of a magic balm,
The eye may see the treasure, but the salve it does not see.

It’s not indeed our object to disprove
Experiences of sight or sound or knowing.
Our aim is here to undermine the cause of sorrow:
The thought that such phenomena have true existence.

“Illusions are not other than the mind,” you say,
And yet you also claim that they are not the same.
But must they not be different if the mind is real?
And how can mind be real if there’s no difference?

“A mirage may be known,” you say, “Though lacking true existence.”
The knower is the same, it knows, but is a mirage.
“But what supports samsāra must be real,” you say,
“or else samsāra is like empty space.”

But how could the unreal proceed to function,
Even if it rests on something real?
This mind of yours is isolated and alone,
Alone, in solitude, and unaccompanied.

If the mind indeed is free of objects,
All beings must be buddhas, thus gone and enlightened.
Therefore what utility or purpose can there be
In saying thus, that there is “Only Mind”?

Even if we know that all is like illusion,
How will this dispel afflictive passion?
Magicians may indeed themselves desire
The mirage-women they themselves create.

The reason is they have not rid themselves
Of habits of desiring objects of perception;
And when they gaze upon such things,
Their aptitude for emptiness is weak indeed.

By training in this aptitude for emptiness,
The habit to perceive substantially will fade.
By training in the view that all lacks entity,
This view itself will also appear.

“There is nothing”–when this is asserted,
No “thing” is there to be examined.
For how can nothing, lacking all support,
Remain before the mind as something present?

When real and nonreal both
Are absent from before the mind,
Nothing else remains for the mind to do
But rest in perfect peace, from concepts free.

As the wishing jewel and tree of miracles
Fulfill and satisfy all hopes and wishes,
Likewise, through their prayers for those who might be trained,
Victorious Ones appear within the world.

The healing shrine of garuda,
Even when its builder was long dead,
Continued even ages thence
To remedy and soothe all plagues and venom.

Likewise, though the bodhisattva has transcended sorrow,
By virtue of his actions for the sake of buddhahood,
The shrines of buddha-forms appear and manifest,
Enacting and fulfilling every deed.

“But how,” you ask, “can offerings made
To beings freed from all discursiveness give fruit?”
It’s said that whether buddhas live or pass beyond,
The offerings made to them have equal merit.

Whether you assert the relative or ultimate,
The scriptures say that merit will result.
Merits will be gained regardless
Of the Buddha’s true or relative existence.

“We’re freed,” you say, “through seeing the (Four) Truths–
What use is it to us, this view of voidness?”
But as the scriptures have themselves proclaimed,
Without it there is no enlightenment.

You say the Mahāyāna has no certainty.
But how do you substantiate your own tradition?
“Because it is accepted by both parties,” you will say.
But at the outset, you yourselves lacked proof!

The reasons why you trust in your tradition
May likewise be applied to Mahāyāna.
Moreover, if accord between two parties shows the truth,
The Vedas and rest are also true.

“Mahāyāna is at fault,” you say, because it is contested.”
But by non-Buddhists are your scriptures also questioned,
While other Buddhist schools impugn and spurn them.
Therefore, your tradition you must now abandon.

The true monk is the very root of Dharma,
But difficult it is to be a monk indeed.
And hard it is for minds enmeshed in thoughts
To pass beyond the bonds of suffering.

You say there’s liberation in the instant
That defilements are entirely forsaken,
Ye those who from defilements are set free
Continue to display the influence of karma.

“Only for a while,” you say. “For it is certain
That the cause of rebirth, craving, is exhausted.”
They have no craving, granted, through defiled emotion.
But how could they avoid the craving linked with ignorance?

This craving is produced by virtue of sensation,
And sensation, this they surely have.
Concepts linger still within their minds;
And it is to these concepts that they cling.

The mind that has not realized voidness,
May be halted, but will once again arise–
Just as from a nonperceptual absorption.
Therefore, voidness must be cultivated.

If all that is encompassed by the sūtras
You hold to be the Buddha’s perfect speech,
Why do you not hold the greater part of Mahāyāna,
Which with your sūtras is in perfect harmony?

If due to just a single jarring element,
The whole is held to be at fault,
How might not a single point in concord with the sūtras
Vindicate the rest as Buddha’s teaching?

Mahākāshyapa himself and others
Could not sound the depths of such a teaching.
Who will therefore say they are to be rejected
Just because they are not grasped by you?

To linger and abide within samsāra,
But freed from every craving and from every fear,
To work the benefit of those who ignorantly suffer:
Such is the fruit that emptiness will bear.

From this, the voidness doctrine will be seen
To be immune from all attack.
And so, with every doubt abandoned,
Let us meditate upon this emptiness.

Afflictive passion and the veils of ignorance–
The cure for these is emptiness.
Therefore, how could they not meditate upon it
Who wish swiftly to attain omniscience?

Whatever is the source of pain and suffering,
Let that be the object of our fear.
But voidness will allay our every sorrow;
How could it be for us a thing of dread?

If such a thing as “I” exists indeed,
Then terrors, granted, will torment it.
But since no self or “I” exists at all,
What is there left for fears to terrify?

The teeth, the hair, the nails are not the “I,”
And “I” is not the bones or blood;
The mucus from the nose, and phlegm, are not the “I,”
And “I” is not accounted for within the six perceptions.

If the hearing consciousness is permanent,
It follows that it’s hearing all the time.
If there is no object, what is knowing what?
Why do you now say that there is consciousness?

If consciousness is that which does not know,
It follows that a stick is also conscious.
Therefore, in the absence of a thing to know,
It is clear that consciousness will not arise.

“But consciousness may turn to apprehend a form,” you say.
But why, then, does it cease to hear?
Perhaps you say the sound’s no longer there.
If so, the hearing consciousness is likewise absent.

How could that which has the nature of perceiving sound
Be changed into a form-perceiver?
“A single man,” you say, “can be both son and father.”
But these are merely names; his nature is not so.

Thus “pleasure,” “pain,” “neutrality”
Do not partake of fatherhood or sonship,
And we indeed have never yet observed
A consciousness of form perceiving sound.

“But like an actor,” you will say, “it takes on different roles.”
If so, then consciousness is not a changeless thing.
“It’s one thing,” you will say, “with different modes.”
That’s unity indeed, and never seen before!

“But different modes,” you claim, “without reality.”
And so its essence you must now describe.
You say that this is simply knowing–
All beings therefore are a single thing.

What has mind and what does not have mind
Are likewise one, for both are equal in existing.
If the different features are deceptive,
What is the support that underlies them?

Something destitute of mind, we hold, cannot be self,
For mindlessness means matter, like a vase.
“But,” you say, “the self has the consciousness, when joined to mind.”
But this refutes its nature of unconsciousness.

If the self, moreover, is immutable,
What change in it could mingling with mind produce?
And selfhood we might equally affirm
Of empty space, inert and destitute of mind.

“If,” you ask, “the self does not exist,
How can acts be linked with their results?
If when the deed is done, the doer is no more,
Who is there to reap the karmic fruit?”

The basis of the act and fruit are not the same,
And thus a self lacks scope for its activity.
On this, both you and we are in accord–
What point is there in our debating?

A cause coterminous with its result
Is something quite impossible to see.
And only in the context of a single mental stream
Can it be said that one who acts will later reap the fruit.

The thoughts now passed, and those to come, are not the self;
They are no more, or are not yet,
Is then the self the thought which is now born?
If so, it sinks to nothing when the latter fades.

For instance, we may take banana trees–
Cutting through the fibers, finding nothing.
Likewise, analytical investigation
Will find no “I,” no underlying self.

“if beings,” you will say, “have no existence,
Who will be the object of compassion?”
Those whom ignorance imputes and vows to save,
Intending thus to gain the lofty goal.

“Since beings are no more,” you ask, “who gains the fruit?”
It’s true! The aspiration’s made in ignorance.
But for the total vanquishing of sorrow,
The goal, which ignorance conceives, should not be spurned.

The source of sorrow is the pride of saying “I,”
Fostered and increased by false belief in self.
To this you may say that there’s no redress,
But meditation on no-self will be the supreme way.

What we call the body is not feet or shins,
The body, likewise, is not thighs or loins.
It’s not the belly nor indeed the back,
And from the chest and arms the body is not formed.

The body is not ribs or hands,
Armpits, shoulders, bowels or entrails;
It is not the head or throat:
From none of these is “body” constituted.

If “body,” step by step,
Pervades and spreads itself throughout its members,
Its parts indeed are present in the parts,
But where does the “body,” in itself, abide?

If “body,” a single and entire,
Is present in the hand and other members,
However many parts there are, the hand and all the rest,
You’ll find an equal quantity of “bodies.”

If “body” is not outside or within its parts,
How is it, then, residing in its members?
And since it has no basis other than its parts,
How can it be said to be at all?

Thus thre is no “body” in the limbs,
But from illusion does the idea spring,
Tobe affixed to a specific shape–
Just as when a scarecrow is mistaken for a man.

As long as the conditions are assembled,
A body will appear and seem to be a man.
As long as all the parts are likewise present,
It’s there that we will see a body.

Likewise, since it is a group of fingers,
The hand itself is not a single entity.
And so it is with fingers, made of joints–
And joints themselves consist of many parts.

These parts themselves will break down into atoms,
And atoms will divide according to direction.
These fragments, too, will also fall to nothing.
Thus atoms are like empty space–they have no real existence.

All form, therefore, is like a dream,
And who will be attached to it, who thus investigates?
The body, in this way, has no existence.
What is male, therefore, and what is female?

If suffering itself is truly real,
Then why is joy not altogether quenched thereby?
If pleasure’s real, then why will pleasant tastes
Not comfort and amuse a man in agony?

If the feeling fails to be experienced,
Through being overwhelmed with something stronger,
How can “feeling” rightly be ascribed
To that which lacks the character of being felt?

Perhaps you say that only subtle pain remains,
Its grosser form has now been overmastered,
Or rather it is felt as mere pleasure.
But what is subtle still remains itself.

If, through presence of its opposite,
Pain and sorrow fail to manifest,
To claim with such conviction that it’s felt
Is surely nothing more than empty words.

Since so it is, the antidote
Is meditation and analysis.
Investigation and resultant concentration
Is indeed the food and sustenance of yogis.

If between the sense power and a thing
There is a space, how will the two terms meet?
If there is no space, they form a unity,
And therefore, what is that meets with what?

Atoms and atoms cannot interpenetrate,
For they are equal, lacking any volume.
But if they do not penetrate, they do not mingle,
And if they do not mingle, there is no encounter.

For how could anyone accept
That what is part less could be said to meet?
And you must show me, if you ever saw,
A contact taking place between two partless things.

The consciousness is immaterial,
And so one cannot speak of contact with it.
A combination, too, has no reality,
And this we have already demonstrated.

Therefore, if there is no touch or contact
Whence is it that feeling takes its rise?
What purpose is there, then, in all our striving,
What is it, then, that torments what?

Since there is not subject for sensation,
And sensation too, lacks all existence,
Why, when this you clearly understand,
Will you not pause and turn away from craving?

Seeing, then, and sense of touch
Are stuff of insubstantial dreams.
If perceiving consciousness arises simultaneously,
How could such a feeling be perceived?

If the one arises first, the other after,
Memory occurs and not direct sensation.
Sensation, then, does not perceive itself,
And likewise, by another it is not perceived.

The subject of sensation has no real existence,
Thus sensation, likewise, has no being.
What damage then, can be inflicted
On this aggregate deprived of self?

The mind within the sense does not dwell;
It has no place in outer things, like form,
And in between, the mind does not abide:
Not out, not in, not elsewhere can the mind be found.

Something not within the body, and yet nowhere else,
That does not merge with it nor stand apart–
Something such as this does not exist, not even slightly.
Beings have nirvāna by their nature.

If consciousness precedes the cognized object,
With regard to what does it arise?
If consciousness arises with its object,
Again, regarding what does it arise?

If consciousness comes later than its object,
Once again, from what does it arise?
Thus the origin of all phenomena
Lies beyond the reach of understanding.

“If this is so,” you say, “the relative will cease,
And then the two truths–what becomes of them?
If relative depends on beings’ minds,
This means nirvāna is attained by none.”

This relative is just the thoughts of beings;
That is not the relative of beings in nirvāna.
If thoughts come after this, then that is still the relative.,
If not, the relative has truly ceased.

Analysis and what is to be analyzed
Are linked together, mutually dependent.
It is on the basis of conventional consensus,
That all examination is expressed.

“But when the process of analysis
Is made in turn the object of our scrutiny,
This investigation, likewise, may be analyzed,
And thus we find an infinite regress.”

If phenomena are truly analyzed,
No basis for analysis remains.
Deprived of further object, it subsides.
That indeed is said to be nirvana.

Those who say that “both are true”
Are hard pressed to maintain their case.
If consciousness reveals the truth of things,
By what support is consciousness upheld?

If objects show that consciousness exists,
What, in turn, upholds the truth of objects?
If both subsist through mutual dependence,
Both thereby will lose their true existence.

If, without a son, a man cannot be a father;
Whence, indeed, will such a son arise?
There is no father in the absence of a son.
Just so, the mind and object have no true existence.

“The plant arises from the seed,” you say,
“So why should not the seed be thence inferred?
Consciousness arises from the object–
How does it now show the thing’s existence?”

A consciousness that’s different from the plant itself
Deduces the existence of the seed.
But what will show that consciousness exists,
Whereby the object is itself established?

At times direct perception of the world
Perceives that all things have their causes.
The different segments of the lotus flower
Arise from similar diversity of causes.

“But what gives rise,” you ask, “to such diversity of causes?”
An ever earlier variety of cause, we say.
“And how,” you ask, “do certain fruits derive from certain causes?”
Through the power, we answer, of preceding causes.

If Ishvara is held to be the cause of beings,
You must now define for us his nature.
If, by this, you simply mean the elements,
No need to tire ourselves disputing names!

Yet earth and other elements are many,
Impermanent, inert, without divinity.
Trampled underfoot, they are impure,
And thus they cannot be a God Omnipotent.

The Deity cannot be Space–inert and lifeless.
He cannot be the Self, for this we have refuted.
He’s inconceivable, they say. Then likewise his creatorship.
Is there any point, therefore, to such a claim?

What is it he wishes to create?
Has he made the self and all the elements?
But are not self and elements and he, himself, eternal?
And consciousness, we know, arises from its object;

Pain and pleasure have, from all time, sprung from karma,
So tell us, what has this Divinity produced?
And if Creation’s cause is unoriginal,
How can origin be part of the result?

Why are creatures not created constantly,
For Ishvara relies on nothing but himself?
And if there’s nothing that he has not made,
What remains on which he might depend?

If Isvara depends, the cause of all
Is prior circumstances, and no longer he.
When these obtain, he cannot but create;
When these are absent, he is powerless to make.

125. If Almighty God does not intend,
But yet creates, another thing has forced him.
If he wishes to create, he’s swayed by desire.
Even though Creator, then, what comes from his Omnipotence?

Those who say that atoms are the permanent foundation
have indeed already been refuted.
The Sāmkhyas are the ones who hold
The Primal Substance as enduring cause.

“Pleasure,” “pain,” “neutrality,” so-called,
Are qualities which, when the rest
In equilibrium, are termed the Primal Substance.
The universe arises when they are disturbed.

Three natures in a unity are disallowed;
This unity, therefore, cannot exist.
These qualities, likewise, have no existence.
For they must also be assigned a triple nature.

if these qualities have no existence,
A thing like sound is very far from plausible!
and cloth, and other mindless objects,
Cannot be the seat of feelings such as pleasure.

“But,” you say, “these things possess the nature of their cause.”
But have we not investigated “things” already?
For you the cause is pleasure and the like,
But from pleasure, cloth has never sprung!

Pleasure, rather, is produced from cloth,
But this is nonexistent, therefore pleasure likewise.
As for permanence of pleasure and the rest–
Well, there’s a thing that’s never been observed.

If pleasure and the rest are true existents,
Why are they not constantly perceived?
And if you claim they take on subtle form,
How can coarseness change, transforming into subtlety?

If coarseness is abandoned, subtlety assumed,
Such transition indicates impermanence.
Whey then not accept that, in this way,
All things will have the character of transience?

If you say the coarser aspect is itself the pleasure,
The manifest sensation is of course impermanent.
And what does not exist in any sense,
Because it has no being, cannot manifest.

you do not intend that which is manifest
Lacked earlier existence–yet this is the meaning.
And if results exist within their cause,
Those who eat their food, consume their excrement.

And likewise with the money they would spend on clothing,
Let them rather buy the cotton grain to wear.
“But,” you say, “the world is ignorant and blind.”
Since this is taught by those who know the truth,

This knowledge must be present in the worldly.
And if they have it, why do they not see?
You say, “These views of worldly folk are false.”
Therefore, what they clearly see has no validity.

“But if there is not truth in their cognition,
all that it assess is perforce deceptive.
Meditation on the supreme truth of voidness
Ceases, therefore, to have any meaning.”

If there is no object for analysis,
There can be no grasping of its nonexistence.
Therefore, a deceptive object of whatever kind
Will also have a voidness equally deceptive.

Thus, when in a dream, a child has died,
The state of mind which thinks he is no more
Will overwhelm the thought that he was living.
and yet, both thoughts are equally deceptive.

Therefore, as we see through such investigation,
Nothing is that does not have a cause;
And nothing is existent in its causes
Taken one by one or in aggregate.

It does not come from somewhere else,
Neither does it stay, nor yet depart.
How will what confusion takes for truth
In any sense be different from a mirage?

Things, then, bodied forth by magic spells,
And that which is displayed by dint of causes–
“When have these arisen?” we should ask;
And where they go to, that we should examine!

What arises through the meeting of conditions
And ceases to exist when these are lacking,
Is artificial like the mirror image;
How can true existence be ascribed to it?

Something that exists with true existence–
What need is there for it to have a cause?
Something that is wholly inexistent–
Again, what need has it to have a cause?

Even by a hundred million causes,
No transformation is there in nonentity.
For if this keeps its status, how could entity occur?
And likewise, what is there that could so change?

When nonbeing prevails, if there’s no being,
When could being ever supervene?
For insofar as entity does not occur,
Nonentity itself will not depart.

And if nonentity is not dispersed,
No chance is there for entity to manifest.
Being cannot change and turn to nonbeing,
Otherwise it has a double nature.

Thus there is no being,
Likewise no cessation.
Therefore beings, each and every one,
Are unborn and are never ceasing.

Wandering beings, thus, resemble dreams
And also the banana tree, if you examine well.
No difference is there, in their own true nature,
Between states of suffering and beyond all sorrow.

Thus, with things devoid of true existence,
What is there to gain, and what to lose?
Who is there to pay me court and honors,
And who is there to scorn and revile me?

Pain and pleasure, whence to these arise?
And what is there to give me joy and sorrow?
In this quest and search for perfect truth,
Who is craving, what is there to crave?

Examine now this world of living beings:
Who is there therein to pass away?
What is there to come, and what has been?
And who, indeed, are relatives and friends?

May beings like myself discern and grasp
That all things have the character of space!
But those who long for happiness and ease,
Through disputes or the cause of pleasures,

Are deeply troubled, or else thrilled with joy.
They suffer, strive, content among themselves,
Slashing, stabbing, injuring each other:
They live their lives engulfed in many evils.

From time to time they surface in the states of bliss,
Abandoning themselves to many pleasures.
But dying, down the fall to suffer torment.
Long, unbearable, in realms of sorrow.

Many are the chasms and abysses of existence,
Where the truth of voidness is not found.
All is contradiction, all denial,
Suchness, or its like, can find no place.

There, exceeding all description,
Is the shoreless sea of pain unbearable.
Here it is that strength is low,
And lives are flickering and brief.

All activities for sake of life and health,
Relief of hunger and of weariness,
Time consumed in sleep, all accident and injury,
And sterile friendships with the childish–

Thus life passes quickly, meaningless.
True discernment–hard it is to have!
How then shall we ever find the means
To curb the futile wanderings of the mind?

Further, evil forces work and strain
To cast us headlong into states of woe;
Manifold are false, deceptive trails,
And it is hard to dissipate our doubts.

Hard it is to find again this state of freedom,
Harder yet to come upon enlightened teachers,
Hard, indeed, to turn aside the torrent of defilement!
Alas, our sorrows fall in endless streams!

Sad it is indeed that living beings,
Carried on the flood of bitter pain,
However terrible their plight may be,
Do not perceive they suffer so!

Some there are who bathe themselves repeatedly,
And afterwards they scorch themselves with fire,
Suffering intensely all the while,
Yet there they stay, proclaiming loud their bliss.

Likewise there are some who live and act
As though old age and death will never come to them.
But then life’s over and there comes
The dreadful fall into the states of loss.

When shall I be able to allay and quench
The dreadful heat of suffering’s blazing fires,
With plenteous rains of my own bliss
That pour torrential from my clouds of merit?

My wealth of merit gathered in,
With reverence but without conceptual aim,
When shall I reveal this truth of emptiness
To those who go to ruin through belief in substance?



Excerpts from A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life


A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life

by Shantideva

Chapter One:  Benefits of the Awakening Mind


Just as a flash of lightning on a dark cloudy night

For an instant brightly illuminates all,

Likewise in this world, through the might of Buddha,

A wholesome thought rarely and briefly appears.


This intention to benefit all beings,

Which does not arise in others even for their own sake,

Is an extraordinary jewel of the mind,

And its birth is an unprecedented wonder.

Commitment: From “The Way of The Bodhisattva” by Shantideva

The following is respectfully quoted from “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by Shantideva as translated by the Padmakara Translation Group and published by Shambhala:


With joy I celebrate
The virtue that relieves all beings
From the sorrows of the states of loss,
And places those who languish in the realms of bliss.

And I rejoice in virtue that creates the cause
Of gaining the enlightened state,
And celebrate the freedom won
By living beings from the round of pain.

And in the buddhahood of the protectors I delight
And in the stages of the buddha’s offspring.

The intention, ocean of great good,
That seeks to place all beings in the state of bliss,
And every action for the benefit of all:
Such is my delight and all my joy.

And so I join my hands and pray
The buddhas who reside in every quarter:
Kindle now the Dharma’s light
For those who grope, bewildered in the dark of suffering!

I join my hands, beseeching the enlightened ones
Who wish to pass beyond the bonds of sorrow:
Do not leave us in our ignorance;
Remain among us for unnumbered ages!

And through these actions now performed,
By all the virtue I have just amassed,
May all the pain of every living being
Be wholly scattered and destroyed!

For all those ailing in the world,
Until their every sickness has been healed,
May I myself become for them
The doctor, nurse, the medicine itself.

Raining down a flood of food and drink,
May I dispel the ills of thirst and famine.
And in the ages marked by scarcity and want,
May I myself appear as drink and sustenance.

For sentient beings, poor and destitute,
May I become a treasure ever plentiful,
And lie before them closely in their reach,
A varied source of all that they might need.

My body, thus, and all my good besides,
And all my merits gained and to be gained,
I give them all away withholding nothing
To bring about the benefit of beings.

Nirvāna is attained by giving all,
Nirvāna the objective of my striving.
Everything therefore must be abandoned,
And it is best to give it all to others.

This body I have given up
To serve the pleasure of all living beings.
Let them kill and beat and slander it,
And do to it whatever they desire.

And though they treat it like a toy,
Or make of it the butt of every mockery,
My body has been given up to them–
There’s no use, now, to make so much of it.

And so let beings do to me
Whatever does not bring them injury.
Whenever they catch sight of me,
Let his not fail to bring them benefit.

If those who see me entertain
A thought of anger or devotion,
May these states supply the cause
Whereby their good and wishes are fulfilled.

All those who slight me to my face,
Or do me any other evil,
Even if they blame or slander me,
May they attain the fortune of enlightenment!

May I be a guard for those who are protector less,
A guide for those who journey on the road.
For those who wish to go across water,
May I be a boat, a raft, a bridge.

May I be an isle for those who yearn for landfall,
And a lamp for those who long for light;
For those who need a resting place, a bed;
For all who need a servant, may I be their slave.

May I be the wishing jewel, the vase of plenty,
A word of power and the supreme healing;
May I be the tree of miracles,
And for every being the abundant cow.

Like the earth and the pervading elements,
Enduring as the sky itself endures,
For boundless multitudes of living beings,
May I be their ground and sustenance.

Thus for everything that lives,
As far as are the limits of the sky,
May I provide their livelihood and nourishment
Until they pass beyond the bonds of suffering.

Just as all the buddhas of the past
Embraced the awakened attitude of mind,
And in the precepts of the bodhisattvas
Step by step abode and trained,

Just so, and for the benefit of beings,
I will also have this attitude of mind,
And in those precepts, step by step,
I will abide and train myself.

That this the most pure and spotless state of mind
Might be embraced and constantly increase,
The prudent who have cultivated it
Should praise it highly in such words as these:

“Today my life has given fruit.
This human state has now been well assumed.
Today I take my birth in Buddha’s line,
And have become the buddhas’ child and heir.

“In every way, then, I will undertake
Activities befitting such a rank.
And I will do no act to mar
Or compromise this high and faultless lineage.

“For I am like a blind man who has found
A precious gem within a mound of filth.
Exactly so, as if by some strange chance,
The enlightened mind has come to birth in me.

“This is the draft of immortality,
That slays the Lord of Death, the slaughterer of beings,
The rich unfailing treasure-mine
To heal the poverty of wanderers.

“It is the sovereign remedy,
That perfectly allays all maladies.
It is the wishing tree bestowing rest
On those who wander wearily the pathways of existence.

“It is the universal vehicle that saves
All wandering beings from the states of loss–
The rising moon of the enlightened mind
That soothes the sorrows born of the afflictions.

“It is a mighty sun that utterly dispels
The gloom and ignorance of wandering beings,
The creamy butter, rich and full,
All churned from milk of holy Teaching.

“Living beings! Wayfarers upon life’s paths,
Who wish to taste the riches of contentment,
Here before you is the supreme bliss–
Here, O ceaseless wanderers, is your fulfillment!

“And so, within the sight of all protectors,
I summon every being, calling them to buddhahood–
And till that state is reached, to every earthly joy!
May gods and demigods, and all the rest, rejoice!”


Refuge and Bodhicitta

From the ” Path of the Bodhisattva
A Collection of Thirty-Seven Practices”

Until the heart of enlightenment is realized,
I take refuge in all the Buddhas.

Likewise, I take refuge in the dharma
and the bodhisattvas and their assemblies.

Just as the sugatas of the past
aroused the awakened mind of bodhicitta

and trained in the way of the bodhisattvas
to gradually accomplish the stages of development,

similarly, for the benefit and purpose of beings,
by awakening bodhicitta and

training in the conduct of the bodhisattvas,
I shall gradually develop on the levels of training.

(repeat three times)

Today I have picked the fruit of this lifetime.
The meaning of this human existence is now realized.

Today I am born into the family of the Buddhas
and have become an heir of the enlightened ones!

Now, no matter what occurs hereafter,
my activities will be in conscientious accord with the family,

and I shall never engage in conduct that could
possibly sully this faultless family!

Like a blind man in a heap of refuse,
suddenly, by chance, finding a precious jewel,

similarly, this occasion is such that
today I have given rise to the awakened mind!

Today, before all of my objects of refuge,
the sugatas, as well as all beings,

I call to bear witness where the guests of this occasion —
the devas, the titans, and others — all join together to rejoice!

The precious bodhicitta,
if unborn, may it arise;

when generated, may it never diminish,
and may it always remain ever-increasing!

Never apart from bodhicitta,
engaged in the conduct of the awakened ones,

being held fast by all of the Buddhas,
may all demonic activities be fully abandoned!

May all the bodhisaattvas
accomplish the welfare of others, according to their wisdom mind’s intentions.

Whatever wisdom intention these protectors may have,
may it come to pass for all sentient beings.

May all sentient beings be endowed with bliss,
may all the lower realms be permanently emptied!

May all the bodhisattvas, on whatever bhumi they remain,
fully accomplish all of their aspirations!