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Entering the Conduct of the Bodhisattvas

Text Sections 196-197

This aspiration summarizes [phyogs bsdoms kyi tshig / bsdus tshig] the entire Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra. The Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra has ten chapters in 913 stanzas. The ten chapters are structured according to four main classifications [rtsa’i sa bcad]:

Three chapters that give rise to the precious bodhicitta in those in whom it has not yet arisen[1] (chap. 1, 2, 3):

  1. Chapter one, explaining the benefits of bodhicitta[2] (36 stanzas)
  2. Chapter two, confessing negativities[3] (65 stanzas)
  3. Chapter three, thorough adoption of bodhicitta[4] (33.5 stanzas)

Three chapters that prevent the decrease (of the precious bodhicitta) where it has arisen[5] (chap. 4, 5, 6):

  1. Chapter four, heedfulness[6] (48 stanzas)
  2. Chapter five, introspection[7] (109 stanzas)
  3. Chapter six, patience[8] (134 stanzas)

Three chapters that not only prevent the decrease (of the precious bodhicitta) but cause it to ever increase more and more[9] (chap. 7, 8, 9):

  1. Chapter seven, diligence[10] (76 stanzas)
  2. Chapter eight, meditation[11] (187 stanzas)
  3. Chapter nine, transcendental knowledge[12] (167 stanzas)

A single chapter concerning the dedication of the results that have thus been developed for the benefit of others[13] (chap. 10):

  1.    7. Chapter ten, Dedication[14] (57.5 stanzas).

Following this format of structuring the whole Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra, the first three chapters deal with arousing bodhicitta. The second three chapters deal with how to sustain bodhicitta and prevent it from being lost or diminished. The third three chapters deal with methods for increasing bodhicitta. The tenth chapter deals with the subject of dedication. You dedicate the benefits of bodhicitta which you have aroused, sustained and increased through the teachings of the previous nine chapters.

Looking carefully at Khenpo Kunpal’s table of contents you will find all the major sections and sub-sections of the Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra. If you apply these various headings to the root text, you will have already gained a great deal of insight into the meaning and interpretation of the text.

The first chapter of the Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra explains the benefits [phan yon] or qualities [yon tan] of bodhicitta. The word benefits [phan yon] suggests ’helpful qualities’ [phan ’dogs pa’i yon tan]. This chapter is a wonderful advertisement for bodhicitta, just as these days television commercials advertise the qualities of a product. If people do not hear about the qualities and benefits of bodhicitta, they will never aspire to generate it in their minds.

As soon as one understands bodhicitta’s inconceivable qualities, however, one will certainly think,

“I need these teachings on how to develop bodhicitta.”

Generally, treatises list the qualities of the topic under discussion at the end of the text. Śāntideva is here more intelligent, keen as he is to advertise the qualities of bodhicitta right at the text’s beginning. If someone is sick and hears about appropriate medicine which will cure him, he will certainly follow his physician’s advice and take the medicine at once.

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Footnotes and references:


byang chub kyi sems rin po che ma skyes pa bskyed par byed pa’i le’u [172-315]


byang chub sems kyi phan yon bshad pa zhes bya ba ste le’u dang po [137-204]


sdig pa bshags pa’i le’u ste gnyis pa [205-287]


byang chub sems yongs su gzung ba zhes bya ba ste le’u gsum pa [288-315]


byang chub kyi sems rin po che skyes pa mi nyams par byed pa’i le’u gsum [316-480]


bag yod bstan pa zhes bya ba ste le’u bzhi pa [316-355]


shes bzhin bsrung bar bya pa ste le’u lnga pa [356-414]


bzod pa bstan pa zhes bya pa ste le’u drug pa [415-479]


byang chub kyi sems rin po che mi nyams par gong du spel ba’i le’u gsum [480-738]


brtson ’grus bstan pa zhes bya ba ste le’u bdun pa [480-520]


bsam gtan bstan pa zhes bya ba ste le’u brgyad pa [521-617]


shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i le’u ste dgu pa [618-738]


de ltar spel ba’i ’bras bu gzhan don du bngo ba’i le’u gcig [739-807]


bsngo ba zhes bya ba’i le’u ste bcu pa [739-807]

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