A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life by Shantideva

Having firmly seized the Awakening Mind in this way,
Conqueror’s Children must never waver;
Always should they exert themselves
To never stray from their practice.

In the case of reckless actions
Or of deeds not well considered,
Although a promise may have been made,
It is fit to reconsider whether I should do them or not.

But how can I ever withdraw
From what has been examined by the great wisdom
Of the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas,
And even many times by me myself?

If, having made such a promise,
I do not put it into action,
Then by deceiving every living being,
What kind of rebirth shall I take?

If it has been taught (by the Buddha)
That those who do not give away
The smallest thing which they once intended to give
Will take rebirth as hungry ghosts;

Then if I should deceive all beings,
After having sincerely invited them
To the unsurpassable bliss,
Shall I take a happy rebirth?

Only the Omniscient can discern
The manner of the action of those
Who give up the Awakening Mind but are freed;
It is beyond the scope of (ordinary) thought.

This, for a Bodhisattva,
Is the heaviest of downfalls,
For should it ever happen,
The welfare of all will be weakened.

And should others for even a single moment
Hinder or obstruct their wholesome (deeds),
By weakening the welfare of all,
There will be no end to their rebirth in lower states.

For if my being is impaired
By destroying the joy of even one creature,
Then what need is there to mention
Destroying the joy of creatures vast as space?

Thus those who have the force of an Awakening Mind,
As well as the force of falling (from it),
Staying revolving within cyclic existence
and for a long time are hindered from reaching the Bodhisattva levels.

Therefore, just as I have promised
I shall respectfully accord my actions.
If from now on I make no effort,
I shall descend to lower and lower states.

Although for the benefit of every creature
Countless Buddhas have passed by,
I was not an object of their care
Because of my own mistakes.

And if I continue to act like this,
Again and again shall I undergo
(Suffering) in unhappy realms, sickness, bondage,
Laceration and the shedding of blood.

If the arising of the Tathagata.
Faith, the attainment of a human body,
And my being fit to cultivate virtue are scarce,
When will they be won again?

Although today I am healthy,
Well-nourished and unafflicted,
Life is momentary and deceptive;
The body is like an object on loan for but a minute.

With behavior such as this,
I shall not win a human body again,
And if this human form is not attained,
There will be solely wrongdoing and no virtue.

If when I have the chance to live a wholesome life
My actions are not wholesome,
Then what shall I be able to do
When confused by the misery of the lower realm?

And if I commit no wholesome deeds (there),
But readily amass much wrongdoing,
Then for a hundred million aeons
I shall not even hear the words “a happy life.”

For these very reasons, the Buddha has said
That as difficult as it for a turtle to insert its neck
Into a yoke adrift upon the vast ocean,
It is more difficult to attain the human state.

If even by the transgression of one instant
An aeon may be spent in the deepest hell,
Then because of the transgressions I have gathered since beginning-less time,
What need to mention my not going to a happy realm?

Yet having experienced merely that (rebirth in hell)
I shall still not be liberated;
For a while it is being experienced,
Other wrongdoing will be extensively produced.

So if, when having found leisure such as this,
I do not attune myself to what is wholesome,
There could be no greater deception,
And there could be no greater folly.

And if, having understood this,
I still foolishly continue to be slothful,
When the hour of death arrives,
Tremendous grief will rear its head.

Then if my body blazes for a long time
In the unbearable flames of hell,
Inevitably my mind will be tormented
By the fires of unendurable remorse.

Having found by some coincidence
This beneficial state that is so hard to find,
If now, while able to discriminate,
I once again am led into the hells,

Then as though I were hypnotized by a spell
I shall reduce this mind to nothing.
Even I do not know what is causing me confusion;
What is there dwelling inside me?

Although enemies such as hatred and craving
Have neither any arms nor legs,
And are neither courageous nor wise,
How have I, like a slave, been used by them?

For while they dwell within my mind
At their pleasure, they cause me harm,
Yet I patiently endure them without any anger;
But this is an inappropriate and shameful time for patience.

Should even all the gods and demi-gods
Rise up against me as my enemies,
They could not lead nor place me in
The roaring fires of deepest hell.

Yet the mighty foe, these disturbing conceptions,
In a moment can cast me amidst (those flames)
Which, when met, will cause not even the ashes
Of the king of mountains to remain.

All other enemies are incapable
Of remaining for such a length of time
As can my disturbing conceptions;
The enduring enemy has neither beginning nor end.

If I agreeably honor and entrust myself (to others),
They will bring me benefit and happiness,
But if I entrust myself to these disturbing conceptions,
In the future they will bring only misery and harm.

While in cyclic existence, how can I be joyful and unafraid
If, in my heart, I readily prepare a place
For this incessant enemy of long duration,
The sole cause for the increase of all that harms me?

And how shall I ever have happiness
If, in a net of attachment within my mind,
There dwell the guardians of the prison of cyclic existence,
These (disturbing conceptions) that become my butchers and tormentors in hell?

Therefore as long as this enemy is not slain with certainty before my very eyes,
I shall never give up exerting myself (towards that end).
Having become angry at someone who caused only slight and short-lived harm,
Self-important people will not sleep until their (enemy) is overcome.

And if while engaged in a violent battle,
The vigorous desire to conquer those whole disturbing conceptions will naturally bring them suffering at death,
Men disregard the pain of being pierced by spears and arrows
And will not withdraw until the day is won;

Then what need to mention that I should not be faint-hearted and slothful,
Even if I am caused many hundreds of sufferings
When now I strive to definitely overcome my natural enemies,
(These disturbing conceptions) which are the constant source of my misery?

If even scars inflicted by meaningless enemies
Are worn upon the body like ornaments,
Then why is suffering a cause of harm to me
While impeccably striving to fulfill the great purpose?

If fishermen, hunters and farmers,
Thinking merely of their own livelihood,
Endure the sufferings of heat and cold,
Why am I not patient for the sake of the world’s joy?

When I promised to liberate all beings,
Who dwell in the ten directions as far as the ends of space,
From their disturbing conceptions,
I myself was not yet freed from mine.

Thus, unaware of even my own capacity,
Was it not somewhat crazy to have spoken like that?
Yet as this is so, I must never withdraw
From vanquishing my disturbing conceptions.

And to do this will be my sole obsession:
Holding a strong grudge, I shall meet them in battle!
Yet disturbing conceptions such as these
Destroy disturbing conceptions and (for the time being) are not to be (abandoned).

It would be better for me to be burned,
To have my head cut off and to be killed,
Rather than ever bowing down
To those ever-present disturbing conceptions.

Common enemies, when expelled from one country,
Simply retire and settle down in another,
Though when their strength is recovered, they then return.
However, the way of this enemy, my disturbing conceptions, is not similar in this respect.

Deluded, disturbing conceptions! When forsaken by the eye of wisdom
And dispelled from my mind, where will you go?
Where will you dwell, in order to be able to injure me again (later)?
Weak-minded, I have been reduced to making no effort.

If these disturbing conceptions do not exist within the objects, the sense organs, between the two nor elsewhere,
Then where do they exist and how do they harm the world?
They are like an illusion – thus I should dispel the fear within my heart and strive resolutely for wisdom.
For no real reason, why should I suffer so much in hell?

Therefore, having thought about this well,
I should try to put these precepts into practice just as they have been explained.
If the doctor’s instructions are ignored,
How will a patient in need of a cure be healed by the medicine?

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  1. “Although today I am healthy,
    Well-nourished and unafflicted,
    Life is momentary and deceptive;
    The body is like an object on loan for but a minute.”

    With this verse I learn the truth of impermanence and how if I am fortunate to be human this life with no physical deficiencies, I should devote my body to benefiting others. Thus, leads to understand this verse:

    “If I agreeably honor and entrust myself (to others),
    They will bring me benefit and happiness,
    But if I entrust myself to these disturbing conceptions,
    In the future they will bring only misery and harm.”

    Happiness is to live for others and misery is to live for one’s afflicted needs.

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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