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No Class: Engaging in the Bodhisattva’s Deeds
July 8, 2021 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am PDT
No Class July 8th due to Medicine Buddha Retreat
Shantideva’s classic text, streamed live weekly, Thursdays, 10:00 am Pacific Time
In this weekly series, Ven. Thubten Chodron teaches Shantideva’s classic text, Bodhisattvacharyavatara, often translated as “Engaging in the Bodhisattva’s Deeds.” It’s a well-loved road map to awakening. His Holiness the Dalai Lama famously attributes any realization of compassion and bodhicitta he has to his study and practice of this text.
Ven. Chodron refers to the outline of the commentary by Gyaltsab Dharma Rinchen. Find a free, downloadable translation here.
Who it’s for:
“Engaging in a Bodhisattva’s Deeds” is suitable for new and seasoned Dharma practitioners. It covers the entire span of practices necessary to progress on the path to full awakening. Using stark imagery and profound reasonings, it inspires and transform the mind.
About the author:
Shantideva lived in 8th century ancient India, was born into a royal family and set to assume the throne after his father. However, motivated to be of greatest benefit to all sentient beings, Shantideva left the royal life and entered monastic life at the renowned Nalanda Monastery.
About the text:
Shantideva practiced and studied at Nalanda monastery very secretly, such that his fellow monks thought he only did three things: eat, sleep and go to the bathroom. Frustrated with his seeming lack of dedication to the Dharma, Shantideva’s peers invited him to teach, thinking his expected failure would be a sufficient reason to kick him out of the monastery.
Having arrived for the teaching, Shantideva asked his audience: did they want to listen to something old or new? They chose to hear something new. Shantideva then began to recite the poem he had composed, “Engaging in a Bodhisattva’s Deeds.”
The text is composed in verse and divided into ten chapters:
- The first three chapters concern the benefits of bodhicitta, the altruistic intention to achieve full awakening in order to best benefit all sentient beings. These chapters teach the method to cultivate and sustain bodhicitta.
- Chapters four and five focus on how to implement bodhicitta in daily life, providing instruction on the perfection of ethical conduct.
- Chapter six concerns the perfection of fortitude. It offers a wealth of instruction on how to overcome the affliction of anger.
- Chapter seven focuses on the perfection of enthusiastic effort.
- Chapter eight is concerned with the perfection of meditation in the context of cultivating altruism and overcoming attachment to friends, possessions, reputation and one’s own—and others—bodies.
- Chapter nine focuses on the perfection of wisdom, providing an exposition of the Prasangika view of emptiness.
- Chapter ten concludes the text with a prayer dedicating the merit of composing to the awakening of all sentient beings.