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 288-290 / Stanza 30

The reason that beings constantly dwell in misery and lack happiness is their ignorance of the law of karma, the law of cause and effect. They do not know that virtuous deeds lead to happiness and that non-virtuous deeds lead to suffering. Bodhicitta clears away this ignorance with its great knowledge [shes rab chen po]. Therefore, no other power of virtue [dge ba stobs mtshungs gzhan] can compare to bodhicitta. There is also no spiritual friend [bshes] comparable to bodhicitta and no merit that compares to bodhicitta.

The Tibetan term for merit is ’sönam’ [bsod nams], ’that which has the capacity to eliminate suffering and has the power of virtue’ [mi mthun pa’i phyogs med pa bsod thub pa dang dge ba’i nams pa’am nus pa dang ldan pa]. Merit connotes something with the power [nus pa] of increasing happiness [bde ba] and virtue [dge ba] while eliminating suffering [sdug bsngal] and negative deeds [sdig pa].

Stanza twenty-nine and stanza thirty teach three special qualities [khyad chos gsum] of the bodhicitta of application.

  1. Due to its great kindness [byams pa chen po], bodhicitta brings temporary and ultimate happiness to all miserable beings.
  2. Due to its great compassion [snying rje chen po], bodhicitta disrupts the stream of suffering for this and all future lifetimes. And
  3. bodhicitta clears away ignorance about the law of karma, the law of cause and effect. Due to its great wisdom-knowledge [shes rab chen po], bodhicitta teaches what to adopt and what to avoid.

Therefore, bodhicitta is known as the ’internal teacher’ [nang gi bla ma / nang gi yongs ’dzin].

All these qualities of bodhicitta apply to the bodhisattva whose mind is infused with bodhicitta. Because the bodhisattva’s mind is endowed with bodhicitta, he can teach beings the path to happiness. He can show them the way out of suffering and instruct them what to do and what to avoid.

Once a practitioner has understood bodhicitta’s great qualities, he will not be able to live without bodhicitta. To gain certainty about bodhicitta’s benefits, again and again one must meditate on each individual quality of bodhicitta, explained in this first chapter. Only then will a practitioner be inspired to train in the bodhicitta motivation and its application, the six transcendental perfections. Mere scholastic and theoretical understanding will not lead to practice, to a change of heart.

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