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 ...

Text Sections 169-171

Śāntideva furthermore pays respect to all who are worthy of veneration. This includes the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas, the sons of Buddha’s speech. In addition, he pays homage to any person who has a single quality greater than his own. In the same way, one should pay respect to any spiritual master, teacher, fellow monk or dharma friend who possesses a single quality in a greater degree than oneself, such as a monk who is even one shadow cast [grib ma sor gcig] senior in ordination age.

At the conclusion of the ordination ceremony for monks, one monk, called ’the time measurer’ [dus bstan pa], has the task of measuring the time. He determines the exact time when the ordination vows are conferred upon each aspirant, the very moment the preceptor snaps his fingers. He records in the ordination certificate the minute, the hour, whether it is daytime or night-time, the date, whether it is in the first or second half of the month, the season and year of the ordination. Traditionally, the exact time was measured according to the shadow cast by a small, pyramidal wooden device called a ’shadow stick’ [grib so].

A monk who was ordained on the same day, even one finger-width of a shadow cast earlier than another monk, will always be considered ’a senior monk’ [bslab pa rgan pa], someone who has received the monk vows at an earlier stage [bslab sdom len snga pa’i grva pa] and hence should be respected by all those ordained after him.

Nevertheless, seniority is not the only type of ranking within the saṃgha. In addition to ranking according to seniority [dus kyi dbang du byed pa] is ranking according to wisdom [ye shes kyi dbang du byed pa]. The Buddha taught that the attainment of wisdom always supercedes seniority in ordination age when it comes to one’s position in the saṃgha. Even a Buddhist lay practitioner [dge bsnyen] who has realized wisdom is held in higher esteem than a fully ordained monk who has not yet realized wisdom.

Those who are helpful [phan ’dogs pa] refers to one’s father and mother, spiritual friends and so forth.

There are various reasons to declare respect when beginning to compose a treatise:

  1. in order to complete the composition of the treatise without any obstacles,
  2. so that the author’s followers truly trust in the authenticity of the treatise, develop faith, and are inspired to diligence,
  3. so that the teachers and students will be able to successfully expound and study the treatise without any obstacles.

Śāntideva expresses his devotion to the three jewels with the three gates [sgo gsum], body, speech and mind. He respectfully offers prostrations with his body [lus gus pas sgo nas phyag ’tshal]; he respectfully supplicates with his voice [ngag gus pas sgo nas gsol ba ’debs]; and he respectfully recalls the special qualities of the three jewels in his mind [yid gus pas sgo nas khyad chos kyi yon tan dran pa].

For the blessings of the buddhas and bodhisattvas to enter your mind, you must open your mind to these supreme fields of merit. Realization will dawn only when the blessings of the buddhas and bodhisattvas have entered your mind. You should practice pure perception [dag snang] concerning your personal master and teacher, focusing only on his positive qualities.

The author’s declaration of respect to the buddhas and bodhisattvas at the very beginning of the treatise ensures that everyone who reads the book will immediately recognize it as a Buddhist text.

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