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 Section 280 / Stanza 25

Bodhicitta is the exalted jewel of mind, the king among thoughts. That it has now taken birth in my mind is an unprecedented wonder, as miraculous as the wish-granting tree of the gods appearing in the human world. Relative bodhicitta [kun rdzob byang chub sems] arises through the power of a spiritual friend [grogs pa’i stobs], through the power of the cause [rgyu stobs], through the power of the root [rtsa ba’i stobs], through the power of studying [thos pa’i stobs], and through the power of familiarization with virtue [dge ba goms stobs].

See Khenpo Chöga’s commentary on ’development of relative bodhicitta, achieved through tangible indicators’ at text section 242-247.

The ‘power of the root’ refers to compassion since the development of bodhicitta is based on compassion. Compassion leads to bodhicitta. ‘Nying-je’ [snying rje], the Tibetan term for compassion, means the ’foremost quality of the heart’. Someone who has accumulated many negative deeds in former lifetimes may find it impossible to develop bodhicitta in this life. Due to former negative deeds that person will have only negative thoughts and inclinations. Therefore, training in the methods for gathering the two accumulations [tshogs gnyis] and for purifying the two obscurations [sgrib pa gnyis] is extremely important.

Practicing the ’seven branch service’ [yan lag bdun pa] builds up the positive conditions in the mind necessary for bodhicitta to arise.

The seven branch service is:

  1. the branch of presenting offerings [mchod pa ’bul ba’i yan lag],
  2. the branch of paying respect [phyag ’tshal ba’i yan lag],
  3. the branch of confessing negative deeds [sdig pa bshags pa’i yan lag],
  4. the branch of rejoicing [rjes su yi rang ba’i yan lag],
  5. the branch of requesting the buddhas to turn the wheel of dharma [chos ’khor bskor bar bskul ba’i yan lag],
  6. the branch of requesting the buddhas not to enter into nirvāṇa [mya ngan las mi ’da’ bar gsol ba ’debs pa’i yan lag], and
  7. the branch of dedicating the roots of virtue for the benefit of others [dge rtsa gzhan don du bngos ba’i yan lag].

The practices of the seven branch service are explained in great detail in chapters two and three of the Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra.

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