The Way of the Bodhisattva: A Translation of the Bodhicharyāvatāra

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Shambhala, 1997 - Mahayana Buddhism - 214 pages
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The Way of the Bodhisattva (or Bodhicharyavatara, literally "An Entry into the Activities of Enlightenment") is one of the great classics of Mahayana Buddhism. Presented in the form of a personal meditation in verse, it outlines the path of the bodhisattvas - those beings who, turning aside from the sufferings of the world of samsara, nevertheless renounce the peace of individual salvation and vow to work for the deliverance of all beings, and to attain enlightenment for their sake. Originally written in India in Sanskrit, the text first appeared in Tibetan translation soon after its composition in the eighth century. The fact that it has been expounded, studied, and practiced in Tibet in an unbroken tradition lends the Tibetan version of this classic a particular authority. The present translation has therefore been rendered from the Tibetan, following a commentary by the Nyingma master Kunzang Pelden, renowned for its thoroughness, clarity, and accessibility. Shantideva begins with a celebration of the mind of enlightenment, explaining in detail how this is cultivated. There are chapters devoted to the transcendent perfections of patience, heroic perseverance, meditation, and wisdom. The teaching on meditation culminates in the profound practices of equality and exchange of self and other. The celebrated ninth chapter presents the direct realization of emptiness, the perfection of wisdom, as explained in the Madhyamika, or "Middle Way" tradition. Throughout the verses of this text, Shantideva is able to communicate the qualities of precision, contemplative experience, and lyrical beauty, which have served to inspire generations of spiritual aspirants.

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The Text and the Translation
The Excellence of Bodhichitta

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About the author (1997)

Shantideva was a scholar in the eighth century from the monastic university Nalanda, one of the most celebrated centers of learning in ancient India. According to legend, Shantideva was greatly inspired by the celestial bodhisattva Manjushri, from whom he secretly received teachings and great insights. Yet as far as the other monks could tell, there was nothing special about Shantideva. In fact, he seemed to do nothing but eat and sleep. In an attempt to embarrass him, the monks forced Shantideva's hand by convincing him to publicly expound on the scriptures. To the amazement of all in attendance that day, Shantideva delivered the original and moving verses of the "Bodhicharyavatara." When he reached verse thirty-four of the ninth chapter, he began to rise into the sky, until he at last disappeared. Following this, Shantideva became a great teacher.

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