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Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra

Entering the Conduct of the Bodhisattvas

Text Sections 184-185

Since Śāntideva states he has neither skill in meaning nor in words, one might object,

“If you possess so little skill, why did you compose this treatise?”

Anticipating this objection, Śāntideva says he only wrote the Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra to cultivate the motivation of bodhicitta and the application of the six transcendental perfections. Teaching the dharma to others benefits not only the listeners but also one’s own mind. In addition, debating the dharma and composing a treatise is extremely beneficial for one’s own mind as well as for the minds of others.

Scholars actually have three occupations [mkhas pa’i las gsum]: to teach, to debate with other scholars, and to write treatises and commentaries. Of these, writing is considered the most important.

The Indian master Candragomin wrote:

Therefore, among the three activities of scholars,
Teaching and debating may be uncertain (in nature),
However, there can be no delusion (permitted) in composition.

Teaching and debating about the dharma might still allow for uncertainties [ma nges pa srid], since even scholars are sometimes mistaken [nor srid phyir] or deluded [’khrul pa srid phyir]. However, when teaching or debating, they have the opportunity to correct their mistakes.

When composing a treatise or commentary on the other hand, there is no room for uncertainty or delusion [mi ’khrul pa] regarding the meaning. The author either produces an accurate or an inaccurate commentary; he either understands or he does not. Moreover, writing treatises and compositions is considered a far greater contribution to furthering the spread of the dharma than is teaching or debating.

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