The Way of the Bodhisattva
Shantideva 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. It is a handbook on how to realize the nature of existence and of compassion that arises from such realization. The Dalai Lama said of it, "If I have any understanding of compassion and the practice of the Bodhisattva path, it is entirely on the basis of this text that I possess it." 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. For the first time, an attempt has been made to recover that poetic immediacy by rendering the text in iambic lines. 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. With this translation, gleaming in its clarity, a Buddhist classic becomes an English classic. Worthy of recitation and committing to memory, Shantideva's words on such topics as doing good, reading sutras, guarding the mind, keeping good company, and on the nature of the mind and reality can take on a life of their own, to grow and blossom in a new native tongue. The text booms, like the voice of a Shakespearean actor, as if it were not the bodhisattva but the book itself that proclaims: And now as long as space endures, As long as there are beings to be found, May I continue likewise to remain To drive away the sorrows of the world. --Brian Bruya

The Way of the Bodhisattva Details

TitleThe Way of the Bodhisattva
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseNov 6th, 2007
PublisherShambhala
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Religion, Buddhism, Spirituality, Poetry

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The Way of the Bodhisattva Review

  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    This is one that never goes on the "already read it" shelf. When I finish, I just start over again. One of these days it'll sink in...
  • Justin Evans
    January 1, 1970
    A great collection of aphorism, but also a sophisticated philosophical consideration of two major problems for salvific religions: if I'm concerned with my own salvation, should I care about other people, and why? The obvious answer, of course, is that your treatment of other people is intimately related to your own salvation, but that's much harder to justify than you might think. Santideva was a monk, writing to other monks, and prone to answering questions like how will all this meditation re A great collection of aphorism, but also a sophisticated philosophical consideration of two major problems for salvific religions: if I'm concerned with my own salvation, should I care about other people, and why? The obvious answer, of course, is that your treatment of other people is intimately related to your own salvation, but that's much harder to justify than you might think. Santideva was a monk, writing to other monks, and prone to answering questions like how will all this meditation really help other people though? by saying things like "The perfection is the mental attitude itself." Because you kind of have to say that if you're going to defend withdrawal from the world, and you kind of have to withdraw from the world if you're going to live a life of purity, which is the only way to save yourself... right?Well, what follows the above quote (5.10) is a pretty good try to get out of that logic. The other problem concerns the value we place of this world. In Santideva's understanding of Buddhist cosmology, nothing exists, everything is illusion, and this causes some pretty obvious problems: why should I bother trying to avoid rebirth, if it's all just illusion anyway? Isn't the process of trying to avoid rebirth just as illusory as the pleasure we take from a nice meal? Book 9 tries to answer such questions, not very well in my eyes, but with a great deal of thought. And this is, again, applicable to all salvific religions: how do you balance the desire for a better state of existence with the needs of the present state? This is connected to the first problem, of course. The Oxford World's Classics translation is a good one, scholarly but not obtrusive. The notes are helpful, while, of course, avoiding much discussion of the tremendous cosmology needed to justify the idea of rebirth. There's a lot of suffering and hell in this book, and the editors take the easy "oh, it's just in your mind" way out, which means they don't have to tell us anything about the various levels of hell and so on. That's okay, you can't annotate everything. I just want to know more about the levels.
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  • Peter
    January 1, 1970
    I just finished this, and all I can say is 'Wow.' This work by Shantideva is a spiritual tour-de-force.The introduction is indispensable, by the way. You really must read it if you want to understand the larger points of the text.Aside from a good deal of inspiration and warning of sufferings to come, there are some brilliant arguments in this book. In one passage, for example, Shantideva demonstrates why loving our enemies is the only logical thing to do:If something does not come to be when so I just finished this, and all I can say is 'Wow.' This work by Shantideva is a spiritual tour-de-force.The introduction is indispensable, by the way. You really must read it if you want to understand the larger points of the text.Aside from a good deal of inspiration and warning of sufferings to come, there are some brilliant arguments in this book. In one passage, for example, Shantideva demonstrates why loving our enemies is the only logical thing to do:If something does not come to be when something else is absent,And does arise, that factor being present,That factor is indeed its cause.How can it, then, be said to hinder it! (stanza 104)[...]So, like a treasure found at home,That I have gained without fatigue,My enemies are helpers in my Bodhisattva workAnd therefore they should be a joy to me. (stanza 107)Since I have grown in patienceThanks to them,To them its first fruits I should give,For of my patience they have been the cause. (stanza 108)But why should our enemies be loved and thanked, when they intended only malice towards us and did not mean to stimulate our patience? Shantideva answers this too!The second-to-last chapter, titled "Wisdom," is by far the most philosophically rich, and will be very challenging for those not familiar with the concept of 'emptiness' in Mahayana Buddhism. I personally need to study this more and then return to reread it.This book may seem to be simple poetry, but it contains some profound and subtle arguments that require close attention to detail to follow. I give it five stars because it is spectacular, but I would not recommend it to someone seeking a general introduction to Buddhism. This is deep water.
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  • Josh
    January 1, 1970
    This book made me a Buddhist and a Christian at the same time. What I love about Buddhism is that it doesn't try to pin God down or even call him "God," but they teach ways to experience him/her. Most memorable phrase: "the wandering elephant of the mind"
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  • Patrick
    January 1, 1970
    I have now been studying Buddhist philosophy as a practicing Buddhist in the Mahayana tradition for many years. The Bodhisattva Way of Life is without any doubt in my mind the most meaningful and useful teaching I have read. This epic poem by the well loved Buddhist Saint Santideva was of such assistance to my understanding of relevant aspects of other Mahayana commentaries to Buddha's teaching that it takes pride of place in my heart, mind and on my shrine.Probably the most fascinating, and com I have now been studying Buddhist philosophy as a practicing Buddhist in the Mahayana tradition for many years. The Bodhisattva Way of Life is without any doubt in my mind the most meaningful and useful teaching I have read. This epic poem by the well loved Buddhist Saint Santideva was of such assistance to my understanding of relevant aspects of other Mahayana commentaries to Buddha's teaching that it takes pride of place in my heart, mind and on my shrine.Probably the most fascinating, and complex component is the celebrated ninth chapter on wisdom. Admittedly it is daunting in its complexity and it is not easily followed. Santideva begins this chapter by pointing out that the whole of the Bodhicaryavatara (Path of the Bodhisattva) and all the methods for purifying the mind and generating the virtues of vigilance, patience, courage and so on, are geared toward wisdom. Naturally he defines wisdom as the direct realization of emptiness - or absolute Bodhicitta. Without achieving this first coherently argues, the true practice of compassion is not possible.From the point of view of metaphysics, I understand that Santideva was an adherent of the Prasangika Madhyamika (the Middle Way Consequence) school of Buddhist philosophy. The basic position of Madhyamika is that reason itself is fundamentally flawed and insufficient to achieve ultimate wisdom. Santideva steps gracefully through the argument that there is a radical lack in the fundamental structure of reason itself, something that prevents us from attaining a true knowledge of the absolute. In the final analysis,he points out poetically, all rational formulations, however ingenious, contain within themselves paradox and inconsistency, the very seeds of their own refutation. Thus he, as a devotee of the Prasangika Madhyamika position does not advance a position of his own, but rather puts forward a body of doctrines which are essentially a system of philosophical criticism.His technique is to take a dogmatic assertion (the doctrine of the self, the theory of causation, or the existence of a divine creator etc) and to gradually, and incisively, refute it. He does not do this however by putting forward an alternative view, but rather he gradually, and exquisitely, exposes by intricate logical steps the theory's own incoherence. Ultimately the assertion so treated is reduced to an absurdity and is shown to be unequal to its original claim. In the end he reveals all theories - even Buddhist theories - as innately irrational.In doing this he reduces to total silence the restless questioning intellect. From this position an intellectual stillness arises as conceptual elaboration is annihilated. It is by reaching this position, he asserts, that is is possible for the insight which lies beyond theory to arise. In this way he prepares us for the experience of shunyata (emptiness) itself.The most remarkable feature of the ninth chapter, I think, is that it shows that the wisdom of emptiness is not merely relevant to Bodhisattva training, it is indispensable. Indeed Santideva demonstrates that far from being a matter of rarefied metaphysics or academic discussion, separated by monastery walls from the concerns of practical existence, the Madhyamika view is fundamentally a vision and a way of life. It is the ultimate heart and soul of the Buddha's teaching. In the twenty or so stanzas at the end of the ninth chapter Santideve shows precisely how the absence of this profound wisdom lies at the root of samsara and the sorrows of the world. Poignantly he concludes his message with these verses of great beauty and pathos:"When shall I be able to allay and quenchThe dreadful heat of suffering's blazing fires,With plenteous rains of my own blissThat pour torrential from clouds of merit?My wealth of merit gathered in,With reverence but without conceptual aim,When shall I reveal this truth of emptinessTo those who go to ruin through belief in substance.
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  • Vaishali
    January 1, 1970
    Clear, beautifully-translated directions on self-control. Quotes :....................................................."For those who have no introspection - though they hear the teachings, ponder them, or meditate - like water seeping from a leaking jar their learning will not settle in their memories.""It is taught that rules of discipline may be relaxed in times of generosity.""Work calmly for the happiness of others.""Do not inconsiderately move chairs and furniture so noisily around. Likewi Clear, beautifully-translated directions on self-control. Quotes :....................................................."For those who have no introspection - though they hear the teachings, ponder them, or meditate - like water seeping from a leaking jar their learning will not settle in their memories.""It is taught that rules of discipline may be relaxed in times of generosity.""Work calmly for the happiness of others.""Do not inconsiderately move chairs and furniture so noisily around. Likewise do not open doors with violence. Take pleasure in the practice of humility.""Herons, cats, and burglars achieve what they intend by going silently unobserved. Such is the constant practice of a sage.""Strive always to learn from everyone.""The body used to practice sacred teachings should not be harmed in meaningless pursuits.""Do not teach the dharma to the disrespectful.""To those who are on the lower paths, do not explain the vast and deep.""But all of this must be acted out in truth, for what is to be gained by mouthing syllables? What invalid was helped by merely reading the doctor’s treatises?""All the good works gathered in a thousand ages, such as the deeds of generosity and offerings to the blissful ones: a single flash of anger shatters them.""No evil is there similar to anger, no austerity to be compared with patience.""My anger finds its fuel. From this it grows and beats me down. Therefore I will utterly destroy this… my enemy, my foe who has no other purpose but to hurt and injure me.""Come what may, I will never upset my cheerful happiness of mind. Dejection never brings me what I want.""What is the use of being glum?""There is nothing that does not grow light through habit and familiarity.""When sorrows fall upon the wise, their minds should be serene and undisturbed.""There is no reason for our rage. It is like resenting fire for being hot.""They, their weapons… I, my body brandished. Who then is more worthy of my rage?""We, who are like children, shrink from pain but love its causes. So why should others be the object of our rage?""How else can I expect to repay God’s goodness except by working to make living beings happy?""I shall be master of myself, and servant of the world.".
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  • Ben
    January 1, 1970
    Most of the books on Buddhism that I have read so far have come from the Theravada branch. This one is (I think) my first encounter with the Mahayana branch of Buddhism, which is the more popular one today, but a bit more complex and demanding for my taste. It views our positions in the life-death cycle (samsara) as humans as a unique opportunity, but one which is all too often squandered with trivialities and material distractions, focusing on bodily pleasures, confusing form with ideal (Plato, Most of the books on Buddhism that I have read so far have come from the Theravada branch. This one is (I think) my first encounter with the Mahayana branch of Buddhism, which is the more popular one today, but a bit more complex and demanding for my taste. It views our positions in the life-death cycle (samsara) as humans as a unique opportunity, but one which is all too often squandered with trivialities and material distractions, focusing on bodily pleasures, confusing form with ideal (Plato, anyone?) and giving in to anger and lust. Yet it argues that through compassion, patience, meditation, practice, etc. that we can lead more fulfilling lives and can essentially be the vanguards for others' salvation from samsara (and through others' liberation, our own). On the one hand, this work contains many beautiful suggestions that can increase our "compassion," as the Dalai Lama suggests, but it also has some warnings about hell (different though than the Christian conception) and promotes austerity in such a way that -- despite other virtues in the work -- it just leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. But at its best it sends me back to the verse of poets like Whitman (described by Thoreau as being "Wonderfully like the Orientals"), Kerouac and Rimbaud ("I is another") in its calls for compassion and its urgency of placing ourselves in the roles of other, realizing our oneness and that which makes us all co-travelers on this remarkable journey of life. At its core is this beautiful, yet terrifying message that we are, as the Dalai Lama explains in the introduction, "the authors of our own destiny . . . ultimately, perhaps frighteningly, free." And maybe this, too, accounts for some of my reservations with the work, fear of all that this could imply. But whatever my reservations with ranking the work any higher, I can certainly say that it has accelerated the thought-wheels of my mind -- and any work that can do that for us is something remarkable indeed (for me, some of the best works are those that raise more questions than they answer).
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  • Shashi Martynova
    January 1, 1970
    Остро, разнообразно, сверхплотно полезный текст.VIII век - как вчера писано (да-да, я понимаю, что есть неизбежные издержки перевода на европейские языки) для нас сегодняшних. Для меня сегодняшней.Пока - самая понятная мне буддийская книга. Переводческая группа "Падмакара" сделала мне лично громадный подарок. Математика буддийской духовности - умственное фигурное катание (индивидуальная программа, где и я, и рассказчик, и рассказываемое легко и непринужденно сливаемся воедино - в одно сияющее, н Остро, разнообразно, сверхплотно полезный текст.VIII век - как вчера писано (да-да, я понимаю, что есть неизбежные издержки перевода на европейские языки) для нас сегодняшних. Для меня сегодняшней.Пока - самая понятная мне буддийская книга. Переводческая группа "Падмакара" сделала мне лично громадный подарок. Математика буддийской духовности - умственное фигурное катание (индивидуальная программа, где и я, и рассказчик, и рассказываемое легко и непринужденно сливаемся воедино - в одно сияющее, наполненное ничем пустое место), которым я лично могу заниматься почти бесконечно. Это очень красиво, это остолбенительно изящно и безупречно, точно, бесспорно, освободительно.
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  • Sam
    January 1, 1970
    A wonderful poem about cultivating bodhicitta. Shantideva is revered in certain parts of the Mahayana and Vajrayana tradition, and it's no small wonder. To a casual reader, this will probably seem like a nice book of beatitudes intermixed with warnings about the torments of "hell" ending in a confusing chapter called Wisdom, but it's much more than that. There's a reason that the Dalai Lama and masters like Patrul teach and taught this as often as possible. More than any other single work I've r A wonderful poem about cultivating bodhicitta. Shantideva is revered in certain parts of the Mahayana and Vajrayana tradition, and it's no small wonder. To a casual reader, this will probably seem like a nice book of beatitudes intermixed with warnings about the torments of "hell" ending in a confusing chapter called Wisdom, but it's much more than that. There's a reason that the Dalai Lama and masters like Patrul teach and taught this as often as possible. More than any other single work I've read, this shastra shows the two key components of bodhicitta as profound compassion and perfect wisdom (prajnaparamita as relating to shunyata or emptiness). Compared to the rest of the poem, the section on wisdom is exponentially more dense and complex, but anyone reading it should be aware that it's a masterful condensation of Prasangika Madhyamika in under 200 stanzas, which is and was unprecedented. Cultivating bodhicitta is a lifetime-long pursuit (if not longer), and I know without a doubt that I'll be returning to this book repeatedly for guidance in the simultaneous cultivation of compassion and wisdom.
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  • Eric
    January 1, 1970
    I won't ever become a bodhisattva, but I can still hold myself to a higher standard. While there are good ideas present in the poetry of this rather personal buddhist action plan, Shantideva consistently speaks from a position of superiority rather than authority. Many of the qualities he admires cannot be achieved by the "common run of people" but only by those with "yogic insight." I disagree and am disappointed with the exclusive tone. Ironically, the best points he makes are about equality a I won't ever become a bodhisattva, but I can still hold myself to a higher standard. While there are good ideas present in the poetry of this rather personal buddhist action plan, Shantideva consistently speaks from a position of superiority rather than authority. Many of the qualities he admires cannot be achieved by the "common run of people" but only by those with "yogic insight." I disagree and am disappointed with the exclusive tone. Ironically, the best points he makes are about equality and empathy.
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  • Jeremy
    January 1, 1970
    Bodhi: enlightenment/awakeningSattva: Buddhist - being/person. Hindu - goodness, positivity, truth, wholesomeness, serenity, wholeness, creativity, constructiveness, balance, confidence, peacefulness, and virtuousness Chitta: attitude/mind/consciousnessHaving encountered the idea of the Bodhisattva in college, I finally got around to reading one of the greatest works on the concept. The current Dalai Lama has said of the Shantideva, “If I have any understanding of compassion and the practice of Bodhi: enlightenment/awakeningSattva: Buddhist - being/person. Hindu - goodness, positivity, truth, wholesomeness, serenity, wholeness, creativity, constructiveness, balance, confidence, peacefulness, and virtuousness Chitta: attitude/mind/consciousnessHaving encountered the idea of the Bodhisattva in college, I finally got around to reading one of the greatest works on the concept. The current Dalai Lama has said of the Shantideva, “If I have any understanding of compassion and the practice of the bodhisattva path, it is entirely on the basis of this text that I possess it” (30). That’s a pretty strong recommendation, eh?The chapters of the work are:1. The Excellence of Bodhichitta2. Confession3. Commitment4. Awareness5. Vigilance6. Patience7. Heroic Perseverance8. Meditation9. Wisdom10. DedicationIn general, chapters 1-3 describe the arising or dawn of Bodhichitta (enlightened or awakened mind or attitude). Chapters 4-6 concern the maintenance of Bodhichitta, chapters 7-9 discuss ways to intensify it (with chapter 9, the “Wisdom” chapter, arguing for the interconnectedness and mystery of all things, including identity). Chapter 10 is a closing dedication.In college I loved the idea of someone achieving enlightenment but “staying in the trenches” to help others. After reading this, I’m not sure that’s exactly what being a Bodhisattva is about. I think the goal is to develop one’s own virtue and thereby alleviate the suffering of others through the mystery of interconnectedness. It’s very difficult to work toward your own enlightenment and remain humble about your ability to help others, but you must take ego out of the equation. You aren’t helping others because you’re better than them or more “woke,” you’re fundamentally working on yourself and hoping that this allows your presence to heal others. I think it’s something along the lines of a favorite quote of mine by Maya Angelou:*”I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”The keystone verse of the work is: *All the joy the world contains Has come through wishing happiness for others.All the misery the world containsHas come through wanting pleasure for oneself. (8.129)There are also teachings on anger and sin. James 1:19-20 (NLT) says, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” Shantideva agrees. According to the translators’ introduction, “Aside from a purely external and as it were artificial indignation, put on for educational purposes - which has compassion as its motive and is acted out by one whose mind is under control - anger has absolutely no place in the scheme of spiritual development. It is totally inimical to mental training and will ruin and annihilate in an instant all the progress and merit gained” (13). Romans 6:23 (NLT) says that “the wages of sin is death” and in the movie “The Shack” we are told that sin is its own punishment. Shantideva seems to agree: “But if, in search of happiness, my works are evil,Then no matter where I turn my steps,The knives of misery will cut me down - The wage and retribution of a sinful life. (7.43)Potent Quotables:For all anxiety and fear,All sufferings in boundless measure,Their source and wellspring is the mind itself. (5.6)The hostile multitudes are vast as space - What chance is there that all should be subdued?Let but this angry mind be overthrownAnd every foe is then and there destroyed. (5.12)*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! (5.13)We can never takeAnd turn aside the outer course of things.But only seize and discipline the mind itself,And what is there remaining to be curbed? (5.14)This mind of mine, a wild and rampant elephant,I’ll tether to that sturdy post: reflection on the Teaching.And I shall narrowly stand guardThat is might never slip its bonds and flee. (5.40)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. (5.51)When useful admonitions come unaskedTo those with skill in counseling their fellows,Let them welcome them with humble gratitude,And always strive to learn from everyone. (5.74)When enemies or friendsAre seen to act improperly,Be calm and call to mindThat everything arises from conditions. (6.33)If those like wanton childrenAre by nature prone to injure others,What point is there in being angry - Like resenting fire for its heat? (6.39)Come what may,I’ll hold fast to the virtuous pathAnd foster in the hearts of allAn attitude of mutual love. (6.69)The satisfaction that is mineFrom thinking “I am being praised,”Is unacceptable to common sense,And nothing but the silly ways of children.All enemies are helpers in my bodhisattva workAnd therefore they should be a joy to me.The fruits of patience are for them and me,For both of us have brought it into being.And yet to them they must be offered first,For of my patience they have been the cause. (6.107-108)*The wise man does not crave,For from such craving fear and anguish come.And fix this firmly in your understanding:All that may be wished for will by nature fade to nothing. (8.19)They indeed, possessed of many wants,Will suffer many troubles, all for very little:Mouthfuls of the hay the oxen getAs recompense for having pulled the cart! (8.80)*If this “I” is not relinquished wholly,Sorrow likewise cannot be avoided.For if he does not keep away from fire,A man cannot escape from being burned. (8.135)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. (9.112)May every being ailing with diseaseBe freed at once from every malady.May all the sickness that afflicts the livingBe instantly and permanently healed.May those who go in dread have no more fear.May captives be unchained and now set free.And may the weak receive their strength.May living beings help each other in kindness. (10.21-22)*And now as long as space endures,As long as there are beings to be found,May I continue likewise to remainTo drive away the sorrows of the world. (10.55)
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  • Bradley
    January 1, 1970
    Actually, infinite stars. Goodreads only shows five.
  • Ericka Clouther
    January 1, 1970
    Some interesting things to think about. Some weird stuff. Short but dense. Read it because Dan Harris said Dalai Lama recommended it. Hm.I was particularly interested in some (accidental?) overlap with Christianity (love thy enemy) and modern particle physics. As one reviewer mentioned, this is definitely not an introductory text for Buddhism but a more advanced book, and despite the previous Buddhism books I've read, a substantial amount was probably just above my head.
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  • the gift
    January 1, 1970
    i do not myself identify as Buddhist, though i have read many secondary books on the 'Way', fewer books on the historical Buddha, fewer yet actual primary works of Buddhism. here i am mostly commenting on the preface, introduction, translators introduction. i am so very glad there are translators, humble, self conscious, aware of limitations and philosophical and textual complexity...this is beautifully rendered into English. i will read this, think of this, it continues as background for religi i do not myself identify as Buddhist, though i have read many secondary books on the 'Way', fewer books on the historical Buddha, fewer yet actual primary works of Buddhism. here i am mostly commenting on the preface, introduction, translators introduction. i am so very glad there are translators, humble, self conscious, aware of limitations and philosophical and textual complexity...this is beautifully rendered into English. i will read this, think of this, it continues as background for religion, science, and philosophy, background ethical if not entirely ontological ground, of which other elements of thought emerge, of which itself insists on its own values. as sartrean existentialism persists in all readings of phenomenology for me, as read deeply first, so Buddhism is also first read and thought of. i live in a nominally Christian society yes, and perhaps there are equally thoughtful philosophical or theological texts in Christianity- but i am given to understand it is not possible to 'be' Christian if you do not believe in the divinity of Jesus, or Muslim if you do not think of Mohammed as the Prophet, or Jewish if you do not believe in a special relationship with God. i am not religious in any way. in philosophy i do 'believe', i do read, i do study, i do value, and think this is my best way to be human...i have now read the text. often people will claim that, though not themselves in organized church or religious institution, they think of themselves, and think by, religious or better- 'spiritual' way. for some people this leads to alternate forms of practice, to ways of religion not common or to them 'used up' like words or phrases unmoored, meaningless, cliche- in religious ways eg. 'new age' or other new interpretations of ancient ways, particularly if it is unfamiliar or exotic. i have doubted whether my attitude could be similarly reduced to this sincere appropriation. reading this text, reading concurrently certain philosophy texts, even when i cannot claim to fully understand, intuitively and thus truthfully i must say that it is not any specific sacred text or texts or elaborations of familiar or exotic religions, but the very way of thinking, the tendency to reifying spiritual assertions, is not my way of being in the world. i do not think therefore i am less moral, less ethical, less open, to appreciating the world or aspects of it beyond my immediate or eventual sense. i do not decline to embrace merely a church, an institution, of any religion- i do not embrace any religious way of thinking. the only faith i proclaim is something of a metaphysical way of thinking, what merleau-ponty calls 'perceptual faith', of philosophy. and i am comfortable to be still working out what that means...i had on here a few religious texts of Hawai'ian mythic intent, written by the descendant of some men considered kahunas- something like priests. i am only half-Hawai'ian, i am not local born and raised, i lived there one highschool year but I grew up mostly in Canada. i have always had already the good fortune to be atheist. i tried to read these books, then wondered, if this was not my heritage, would i keep reading. i checked GR. decided to stop...
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  • Renee
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of the most beautiful books ever composed. I have read 3 different translations and like this one best. Although it may not be as accurate of a translation, it is the most poetic. This piece includes bits of timeless wisdom that I use to point my mind in the right direction over and over again. Hopefully someday it will all be in my heart and I won't have to read it anymore, but for now it is on the top of my list of favorite books.Some years ago when everyone was worried about sudde This is one of the most beautiful books ever composed. I have read 3 different translations and like this one best. Although it may not be as accurate of a translation, it is the most poetic. This piece includes bits of timeless wisdom that I use to point my mind in the right direction over and over again. Hopefully someday it will all be in my heart and I won't have to read it anymore, but for now it is on the top of my list of favorite books.Some years ago when everyone was worried about sudden terrorist attacks or natural disasters, I put together a disaster kit. I included water,food, flashlights, waterproof matches, a first aid kit and a copy of this book. Unfortunately the water leaked and now my copy is a stained with mildew. It is still the most beautiful book I own.
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  • Lukez
    January 1, 1970
    This book was my first introduction to Tibetan Buddhism and while it is currently the only translation I have read I can definitely say it won't be the last. Highly accessible to the lay person such as myself and at the same time offering a depth and breadth of thought presented so succinctly and rarely equaled in the Mahayana. My only hang-up has been concerning the infamous 9th chapter on wisdom which alone seems to require a commentary to understand, at least for this reader. The appendixes a This book was my first introduction to Tibetan Buddhism and while it is currently the only translation I have read I can definitely say it won't be the last. Highly accessible to the lay person such as myself and at the same time offering a depth and breadth of thought presented so succinctly and rarely equaled in the Mahayana. My only hang-up has been concerning the infamous 9th chapter on wisdom which alone seems to require a commentary to understand, at least for this reader. The appendixes are a great resource for understanding much of the medieval Indian culture of Shantideva. Be prepared to make extensive use of the Notes section as well; absolutely critical for someone coming from the Western tradition.Highly recommended!
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  • Samuel Snoek-Brown
    January 1, 1970
    I plan to reread this often--I read it twice during His Holiness the Dalai Lama's week-long teachings from it. As in my review for His Holiness's "Stages of Meditation," I suppose I might appreciate this text more for the explanations His Holiness offered during those teachings, but this book is, so far, the other of those two most profound and instructive guides to formal meditation I've read so far. The translators claim they have lost some of the beauty of Shantideva's poetry, and I don't dou I plan to reread this often--I read it twice during His Holiness the Dalai Lama's week-long teachings from it. As in my review for His Holiness's "Stages of Meditation," I suppose I might appreciate this text more for the explanations His Holiness offered during those teachings, but this book is, so far, the other of those two most profound and instructive guides to formal meditation I've read so far. The translators claim they have lost some of the beauty of Shantideva's poetry, and I don't doubt it, but their presentation is excellent, especially in the way they handled the distinctions between the Sanskrit and the Tibetan versions of the text. A profound, beautiful book,and an excellent guide for anyone's life, Buddhist or non-Buddhist.
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  • Isaac Spencer
    January 1, 1970
    Inspiring. Something to read again and again.I especially liked the translator's notes and introductions to the chapters. I found their writing very clear, simple, direct, and helpful. I thought they often were able to explain clearly in a short essay large amounts of complex material. For example their introduction to chapter 8 contextualizes in 11 and 1/2 pages the two kinds of Buddhist mediation, calm abiding and insight, and the philosophical differences between the Mahayana and so-called Hi Inspiring. Something to read again and again.I especially liked the translator's notes and introductions to the chapters. I found their writing very clear, simple, direct, and helpful. I thought they often were able to explain clearly in a short essay large amounts of complex material. For example their introduction to chapter 8 contextualizes in 11 and 1/2 pages the two kinds of Buddhist mediation, calm abiding and insight, and the philosophical differences between the Mahayana and so-called Hinayana schools and between the two Mahayana schools (the Madhyamaka and Cittamatra) in way that is clear and simple and understandable.
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  • John Lawrence
    January 1, 1970
    this is the most inspirational text i have ever read. it set my hair on fire. this is a clear translation of Shantideva's classic Buddhist text on how to develop bodhichitta and become a bodhisattva without the mess of comment between stanzas. bodhichitta is the wish to become enlightened so that one might liberate all sentient beings from suffering.reading this changed my life.
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  • Itai
    January 1, 1970
    A clean copy of the first French-language edition in very good condition (probably never read!) showed up at Powell's Books this morning for $2.50! I've read the first (of ten) chapters so far, and will probably gobble up the rest this weekend. How long will it take to really understand it? 21 March 2014.
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  • Cassandra Kay Silva
    January 1, 1970
    The images Santideva conjures to counteract his inherent nature: the corpse, and flesh of surrounding humans is very vivid. Far better thoughts on consciousness than I have heard from many modern psychoanalysts. I also appreciated this translations additional notes and explanations for the work. Oxford always does a good job with this.
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  • T.
    January 1, 1970
    Poetic and thought-provoking and challenging. Its an amazing achievement of preserving the oral transmissions of the Buddha that could have been lost forever if not for the efforts of this 8th century scholar.
  • Zack
    January 1, 1970
    If you read this in the right time and right place it will really change you life. It's a really powerful book.
  • Bernie Gourley
    January 1, 1970
    A bodhisattva is one who achieves enlightenment but sticks around to help others pursue the path. Shantideva was a Buddhist monk who lived [mostly] in the 8th century in the part of India that is today in the state of Bihar. Shantideva’s lesson on how to be a good bodhisattva is delivered via 10 chapters of verse, mostly in four-line stanzas. This instructional poem makes up almost 240 pages of the edition of the book put out by Shambhala as translated by the Padmakara Translation Group, and the A bodhisattva is one who achieves enlightenment but sticks around to help others pursue the path. Shantideva was a Buddhist monk who lived [mostly] in the 8th century in the part of India that is today in the state of Bihar. Shantideva’s lesson on how to be a good bodhisattva is delivered via 10 chapters of verse, mostly in four-line stanzas. This instructional poem makes up almost 240 pages of the edition of the book put out by Shambhala as translated by the Padmakara Translation Group, and the rest is front matter, appendices, notes, and a bibliography. The chapters of Shantideva’s poem are: 1.) The Excellence of Bodhichitta (lit. “enlightened mind”); 2.) Confession (fear is a major theme in this statement of modesty); 3.) Taking Hold of Bodhichitta; 4.) Carefulness (discussion of what to avoid.); 5.) Vigilant Introspection (on the need to keep one’s attention concentrated, and to not let the mind roam.); 6.) Patience (on not being focused on self, but on all those suffering.); 7.) Diligence (on avoiding hedonism and being industrious.); 8.) Meditative Concentration (avoidance of getting caught up in the material / physical world.); 9.) Wisdom (karma, illusion, and, particularly, the illusion of self.); 10.) Dedication. As mentioned, there’s a lot of ancillary matter in this edition of the book. There’s a forward by the Dalai Lama, an extensive introduction (which is helpful as even a modern translation requires background), three appendices (a brief biography, a discussion of equalizing self and other, and a meditation on exchanging self and other), notes (which are also necessary give the nature of a 21st century global reader spoken to by an 8th century Indian monk), and a bibliography. There are no graphics (except a single line-drawn panel) but none are needed.I had mixed feelings about this work. There was a great bit of wisdom, and the meditation described in the final appendix (based on Shantideva’s discussion) seems to be tremendously valuable. One the other hand, there was a lot of degradation and abasement of the physical body. Granted, I know that Shantideva is talking to an audience of primarily monks and he’s trying to keep them from being horn-dogs or otherwise being distracted by physicality. However, I’m always turned off by those who fail to recognize the tremendous awesomeness and beauty of the human body. There’s also the pessimism. Buddhists are often accused of being pessimistic. Starting with an opening statement of “life is suffering,” this might not be a surprise. Of course, Buddhists counter by saying that they aren’t pessimistic because they are offering a solution to the fact that life is misery, to which non-Buddhists tend to say, “Yes, but the defining characteristic of life need not be agony in the first place.” I won’t weight in on that debate, but the reader should be prepared for a certain dismal tone here and there. I found this book to be loaded with food for thought. The introduction and notes are extremely beneficial, and this is one of those few cases in which they don’t just feel like padding to hit a desired page count. The verse is readable, and can be understood by a general audience. I’d recommend this for those interested in Buddhist philosophy.
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  • Rhythima Shinde
    January 1, 1970
    Boddhisatva in itself would not tell you how to meditate, but it will give you the foundational thinking about Buddhism. This specific edition is a very recent one and thus most of the learnings are adaptable. Especially the chapter of Carefulness, Introspection and Patience are very practical. How it helped me personally was that I can practice meditation (using different apps, videos) with much more ease now. In fact, I can meditate very well with music because I am very clear on why I was doi Boddhisatva in itself would not tell you how to meditate, but it will give you the foundational thinking about Buddhism. This specific edition is a very recent one and thus most of the learnings are adaptable. Especially the chapter of Carefulness, Introspection and Patience are very practical. How it helped me personally was that I can practice meditation (using different apps, videos) with much more ease now. In fact, I can meditate very well with music because I am very clear on why I was doing it. I think this is the best thing about this book that it actually doesn't just ask you to practice thinking positive and compassion, but it lays down why you should do so. Some of the chapters are very spiritual, and maybe with time I will be able to follow them, but all-in-all it was a very positive read. A complete summary is here: https://rhythimashindeblogs.wordpress...
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  • Taka
    January 1, 1970
    I wasn't a fan of the translation, really. It might be more faithful to the original (whatever that means), but it was hard to read/understand, and positively did not read like a poem, which the work is supposed to be. Though to be fair, the authors admit their translation isn't poetic—but that doesn't excuse them from their clunky rendering despite their claim that they took some liberty to make the English readable. Also, the penultimate chapter which goes into metaphysics, though I'm pretty c I wasn't a fan of the translation, really. It might be more faithful to the original (whatever that means), but it was hard to read/understand, and positively did not read like a poem, which the work is supposed to be. Though to be fair, the authors admit their translation isn't poetic—but that doesn't excuse them from their clunky rendering despite their claim that they took some liberty to make the English readable. Also, the penultimate chapter which goes into metaphysics, though I'm pretty comfortable with the Mahayana view of emptiness, dependent origination, and no self, was very, very hard to follow, especially what with all the objections from different schools. Some footnotes clarify things, but not nearly enough. Overall, this translation might be for scholars than for lay readers, as it includes both the Tibetan and Sanskrit translations.
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  • Malum
    January 1, 1970
    I am not going to pretend that I understand everything that Shantideva is saying in this book, but I do know beautiful literature when I see it, and this book is certainly it. Just reading it fills me with a sense of awe, like Shantideva is pulling the curtain of reality back and letting us peek at "the truth" for a moment.
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  • Tim
    January 1, 1970
    Este fue el primer libro que he leido en español y es una obra de poesia magica! Voy a llevar las lecturas y ensenanzas conmigo para el resto de mi vida!This was the first book I've read in Spanish and is a work of magic poetry. I'm going to carry these lessons and teachings with my for the rest of my life.
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  • Stephanie Keil
    January 1, 1970
    never read it
  • Zano Smith
    January 1, 1970
    amazing book that requires several reads. this version is also a scholarly version.
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