The way of the bodhisattva or Bodhicharyavatara, literally “An Entry into the Activities of Enlightenment” is one of the great classics of Mahayana Buddhism. Presented in the form of a personal meditation in verse, it outlines the path of the bodhisattvas -those beings who, turning aside from the sufferings of the world if samsara, nevertheless renounce the peace of individual salvation and vow to work for the deliverance of all beings, and to attain enlightenment for their sake.
Originally written in India in Sanskrit, the text first appeared in Tibetan translation soon after its composition in the eighth century. The fact that it has been expounded, studied, and practiced in Tibet in an unbroken tradition lends the Tibetan version of this classic a particular authority. The present translation has therefore been rendered from the Tibetan, following a commentary by the Nyingma master Kunzang Pelden, renowned for its thoroughness, clarity, and accessibility.
Shantideva begins with a celebration of the mind of enlightenment, explaining in detail how this is cultivated. There are chapters devoted to the transcendent perfections of patience, heroic perseverance, meditation, and wisdom. The teaching on meditation culminates in the profound practices of equality and exchange of self and other, The celebrated ninth chapter presents the direct realization of emptiness, the perfection of wisdom, as explained in the Madhyamika, or Middle Way tradition. Throughout the verses of this text, Shantideva is able to communicate the qualities of precision, contemplative experience and lyrical beauty, which have served to inspire generations of spiritual aspirants.
Taken from The Way of the Bodhisattva Shambala 1997