37 PRACTISES OF A BODHISATTVA
Commentary by His Holiness The XIV Dalai Lama
The possession of this human base, this precious vessel so difficult to obtain, in order to liberate others and us from the ocean of samsara. To hear, reflect, and meditate day and night without distruction. This is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Toward our friends and those we love run the waters of attachment, toward our enemies burns the fire of anger. In the obscurity of ignorance, we lose sight of what shoud be abandoned and what should be practiced. Therefore renunciation of one’s country and home is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
When we abandon our harmful surroundings, our illusions diminish, and because we have no distractions our practice of virtue develops spontaneously, leaving us with a clear mind, our trust in the Dharma grows. To live in solitude is a practice of a Bodhisattva.
One day old and dear friends will separate, goods and riches obtained by great effort will be left behind. Consciousness, a quest of the body, this temporary dwelling, will depart. From this moment on, to renounce all attachment to this life is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
If we have harmful companions, the three poisons are increased. Our reflection and meditation becomes degraded; love and compassion are destroyed. To abandon dangerous company is the practice of the Bodhisattva.
To rely on a spiritual friend who has eliminated all illusions, whose competence in the teachings and practice is complete, and whose qualities increase like the crescent moon. To cherish this perfect guru more than one’s own body is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
How could the gods of this world possibly liberate us, being themselves tied to the prison of samsara ? Instead let us take refuge in that on which we can rely. To take refuge in the Three Jewels is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
The intolerable suffering of the lower realms is said by the Buddha to be the fruit of karma. Therefore, to never commit deeds is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
The happiness of three worlds is like the dew on the tip of a blade of grass, disappearing is an instant. To aspire to supreme, immutable liberation is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Since beginningless time, our mothers took care of us with tenderness. What use is our happiness when they still suffer ? To generate Bodhicitta in order to liberate beings is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
All suffering, without expection, comes from the desire for happiness, for oneself while perfect Buddhahood is born from the desire to make others happy. This is why completely exchanging one’s happiness for that of other’s suffering is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
If in the grip of violent desire or cruel necessity, an unfortunate person steals our possessions or incites someone else to steal them. To be full of compassion and to dedicate to this person our body, possessions, and past, present, and future merit, is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Even if we are beaten, tortured or our head cut off, we must not allow any anger to arise within us. To have great compassion for those poor beings who out of ignorance us is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
If, without reason, certain people slander us to the point where the entire world is filled with their malicious gossip. To lovingly praise their virtues is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
If in the company of several people, one among them reveals a fault that we would have liked hidden. To not become irritated with the one who treats us in the manner but to consider him as a supreme guru is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
If someone who we have helped and protected as our own child, shows only ingratitude and dislike in return. To have toward this person the tender pity a mother has for her sick child is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
If someone who is your equal or someone who is obviously your inferior despises you or out of arrogance attempts to debase you. To respect him as your master is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
When we are abandoned, overcome which sickness and worry. To not become discourage but to think of taking on all the wrongful actions committed by others and suffering their consequences is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
When we enjoy reputation, the respect of everyone, and the wealth of vaishravana (guardian king). To see that the fruits of karma are without substance and not to take pride in this observation is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Unless the aggression of our inner anger ceases, the more we fight them the more multiply. Similarly, until we have mastered our own mind, negative forces will invades us. To discipline the mind through love and compassion is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Twenty first Practice
The native of sense pleasures is like that of saltwater; the more we drink, the more our thirst increases. To abandon the objects toward which desire arises is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Twenty second Practice
All that appears comes from an illusion of the mind and the mind itself is from beginningless time is without inherent existence, free from the two extremes of manifestation (externalism and nihilism) and beyond all elaboration. To understand this nature (Tathata) and not conceive of subjects and objects as really existing is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Twenty third practice
When we encounter an attractive object or something that pleases our mind, we see it as beautiful and real, but actually it is as empty as a summer rainbow. To abandon attachment toward it is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Twenty forth Practice
Various sufferings are like the death of an only child in a dream. To take as truth that which is only a false appearance is to uselessly exhaust the body and mind. When we meet with unfavorable circumstances, to approach them thinking they are only illusion is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Twenty fifth Practice
If he who desires awakening must sacrifices his own body, his precious human life, what need is there to mention external objects to abandon ? This is why practicing generosity without hoping for reward or a “karmic fruit” is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Twenty sixth Practice
If, lacking ethical discipline, we cannot realize our own intentions. To what to fulfill the vows of other beings is simply a joke. To keep rules and vows, not for a temporal and samsaric goal, but in order to help all sentient beings is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Twenty seventh Practice
For Bodhisattva, who desires the rewards of virtuous merit, all adverse circumstances are a precious treasure, for they requisite the practice of Ksanti (patience). To be perfectly patient, without irritation or resentment toward anyone, is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Twenty eighth Practice
Even the Pratyekabuddhas and the Sravakas who are concerned only with their own liberation make great efforts to obtain virya (energy). To perfectly practice energy, the source of all qualities for the benefil of all beings, is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Twenty ninth Practice
In understanding that special insight in union with calm abiding (perfection) and are incapable of leading us to buddhahood. To have the right vies which perceives that does, the deed itself, and the one who receive the deed completely lack inherent existence is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Without wisdom, the five preceding virtues cannot be called “paramita” (perfection) and are incapable of leading us to buddhahood. To have the right view which perceives that does, the deed itself and the one who receive the deed completely lack inherent existence is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Thirty first Practice.
To not analyze our actions and feelings allows desire to arise. To examine our errors and faults in oder to separate us from them completely is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Thirty second Practice
To never criticize others or speak of the errors that those who are on the path of the Mahayana may have committed is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Thirty third Practice
In order to receive offerings and be surrounded by respect, we flight among ourselves in the spirit of competition. To the detriment of our attention toward study; our meditation slackens. To abandon all attachment to the households of friends and patrons is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Thirty forth Practice
Harsh speech disturb the mind of others and our practice feels the effects of this. To abandon all coarse and vulgar language, all harsh speech, and all idle chatter is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Thirty fifth Practice
Habitual afflictions are hard to reverse with an antidote. To destroy afflictions such as attachments and others, as soon as they appear, by bearing the antidotal sword of mindfulness and introspection is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Thirty sixth Practice
In brief, wherever one is and whatever one’s behavior, one should always possess mindfulness and introspection. To examine the condition of one’s mind and to achieve benefit for others is the practice of the Bodhisattva.
Thirty Seventh Practice
To dedicate the merit that results from our efforts to obtain buddhahood, toward illumination through the wisdom of the view of emptiness of the three realms of action and in order to overcome the suffering of infinite being is a practice of the Bodhisattva.