A Dharma friend in Italy, Giacomo Dorigo, got the inspiration to request Abbey residents to recite the entire text of Shantideva’s A Guide to a Bodhisattva’s Way of Life on Christmas Day. He sent a beautiful dedication along with his offering and request:
Dedication for the reading of Guide to a Bodhisattva”s Way of Life
With gratefulness to all of you Precious Teachers,
Dear Gurus, I bow down at your feet.
May I remain unpretentious and unassuming even when trying to pursue the highest of the scopes!
On an outer level,
Locally I dedicate the virtues and understanding generated through this practice and offering to the well being of Sravasti Abbey and its residents. May they all become Buddhas for the benefit of all wandering beings!
Globally I dedicate all these virtues and understanding for the reintroduction of a living Mulasarvastivada Bhikshuni ordination on this planet Earth in the next few years, and for the flourishing of this lineage of transmission in all continents of this world!
On an inner level, I dedicate this sphere of punya (merit) and jnana (wisdom) to not be separated at any time from pure bodhicitta in this and all my future lives in order to be able to actually benefit all sentient beings and to realize the two kayas of a Buddha.
Seventeen of us-Abbey residents and Green Tara retreatants-sat together in the meditation hall to read Shantideva’s text quietly but audibly aloud. It took a few sessions to get all the way through the text, but no one seemed to tire of it. We drew energy from the murmur of voices reciting this timeless exhortation to achieve the awakening mind. Afterwards, Venerable Jigme wrote a note of appreciation:
Dear Venerable Chodron,
I so enjoyed the reciting of Shantideva”s A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life with all of the retreatants today. Much of my life I celebrated Christmas, although I was not a practicing Christian. I must say that this was the most meaningful Christmas I have ever experienced. I feel like it cleansed all the years of being attached to receiving presents and feeling either elated or miserable, depending on the state of finances at Christmas time and what I received.
I have read chapters of this book but it never came into my heart like it did today. I think it was the power of all of us reciting it as well as reading it straight through and reading the edited gender neutral text. After I finished reading I closed my eyes and had an image of all of these sacred words floating through the air in the meditation hall and then traveling out to the world. I am totally convinced actions like these done today do have a profound effect on the world. I think I am finally starting to get the meaning of saying, “I am doing this for the benefit of all sentient beings!”
I hope we can make this an annual tradition here at the Abbey.
With much gratitude and love,