Bodhisattvacharyavatara

by Andreas Kretschmar | 246,740 words

The English translation of the Bodhisattvacharyavatara (“entering the conduct of the bodhisattvas”), a Sanskrit text with Tibetan commentary. This book explains the bodhisattva concept and gives guidance to the Buddhist practitioner following the Mahāyāna path towards the attainment of enlightenment. The text was written in Sanskrit by Shantideva ...

The fourth preliminary assessment asks,

“What is the brief meaning of it from beginning to end?”

The ‘brief meaning from beginning to end’ refers to the entire Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra, beginning with ’In the Indian language…’ [rgya gar skad du] up through ’…thus completed’ [rdzogs so]. The Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra explains in great detail how to train one’s mind in the motivation of bodhicitta and how to practice the actual application of the six transcendental perfections. The development of bodhicitta refers to the bodhicitta of aspiration [smon pa sems bskyed] and to the bodhicitta of application [’jug pa sems bskyed]. The text teaches the methods necessary to expand one’s mind, to make it vast; this expansion of mind is central to developing bodhicitta.

The untrained mind of an ordinary being is limited [gu dogs po], while the mind of a bodhisattva is vast and open [rgya chad gu yangs]. In general, ordinary beings tend to think and act in terms of their personal benefit. In marked contrast, a bodhisattva is concerned exclusively with the welfare and happiness of all sentient beings.

The Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra is an unfailing guide to the process of expanding one’s mind from self-absorbed preoccupation with one’s personal benefit [rang don] into a state of vast, selfless mind principally concerned with benefiting others [gzhan don]. If one really understands its true depth, the Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra clearly shows how one’s mind can ultimately become as vast as the sky.

In short, one might summarize simply by saying that the Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra concerns only bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is given such central importance since it is indispensable for attaining enlightenment. This, in brief, is the meaning of the Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra.

The Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra shows in a very practical way how to develop and implement or apply bodhicitta. It clearly shows us how to actually practice the six transcendental perfections, the six pāramitās. Whoever follows the practice of first developing bodhicitta, second, the process of knowing how to protect against its degeneration, and third, the process of allowing it to develop further and further is truly following the path of the bodhisattvas.

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