Way of the Bodhisattva: a translation of the Bodhicharyavatara
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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 an individual salvation and vow to work for the delivereance 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, renowed for its throughness, 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 transcendance perfections of patience, heroic perseverance, meditation, and wisdom. The teaching on meditation culminated 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 madhyamaka, 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 generateions of spiritual aspirants.
“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.”
Praise for The Way of the Bodhisattva
“This text has proved very useful and beneficial to my mind.”
—the Dalai Lama