Drawn Back to the Bodhicaryāvatāra

“The Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra or Bodhicaryāvatāra translated into English as “A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life”, is a Mahāyāna Buddhist text written c. 700 AD in Sanskrit verse by Shantideva (Śāntideva), a Buddhist monk at Nālandā Monastic University in India which is also where it was composed.”


To anyone who studies {and enacts} Buddhist philosophy it quickly becomes obvious that many of the foibles of modern life are not considered to bring enlightenment. Self-promotion, greed, gossip, attachment to worldly goods and gonadal corporeal acts are considered to be hindrances to attaining bodhi-mind. One could say that the ambitious “cut and thrust” of modern society is at odds with Buddhist thought and society actively discriminates against anyone who practises and embodies the precepts.

To use a metaphor; if you do not blow your own trumpet sufficiently loudly you will never get promoted up the greasy pole. Buddhism does not promote such trumpet blowing.

Modern western society discriminates against people who are not forceful, nor demanding, ambitious or manipulative. People who won’t play the itchy back game do not advance in our society as it currently manifests. If you can’t be bribed with some desire, some wish, then you are not to be trusted. If you do not want there are no levers to apply. If you don’t bullshit and hype like everyone else, but are accurate and modest, then you can appear as a nothing, a no-hoper.

People in general do not like it if you reject their ethos and mores. They are likely to judge you and condemn you if you renounce their ways of being, this is especially so if you look like them and talk like them. {I can, for real, talk reductionist science better than your average human.}

I have an ongoing joke, if I wore Buddhist robes instead of black Levi’s 501s people would cut me more slack for my apparent “eccentricities”. If I tipped up at a UK science conference in Saffron or Magenta, people would metaphorically shit a brick, especially those who once had my acquaintance.

But I am not a clown, nor do I do tricks.

Similarly, if one practises Christianity as per Jesus and not the church, there would be conflict with what modern society deems to be dandy.

If what I was “told” is correct then in two previous lives I did indeed wear Buddhist robes and in another I was a Christian priest. I have been “told” that this is my very last incarnation on this planet.

When you look at all that stuff which people largely unthinking engage in, you can’t help but wonder why. Humanity is not happy, satisfied and at peace. There is precious little equanimity and a horde, a host of drama. There is a mental health crisis, allegedly.

Something in the way of life is not working…maybe it will one day lose its gloss…

 Anyway, today I am drawn once again to Śāntideva and the Bodhicaryāvatāra…

It is a candle in a dark and often petty world…

Bodhicaryāvatāra and the Bodhisattva Vow

From Wikipedia

The Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra or Bodhicaryāvatāra (Sanskrit: बोधिसत्त्वाचर्यावतार; Tibetan: བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་དཔའི་སྤྱོད་པ་ལ་འཇུག་པ་ byang chub sems dpa’i spyod pa la ‘jug pa; Chinese: 入菩薩行論; Japanese: 入菩薩行論) translated into English as A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, is a Mahāyāna Buddhist text written c. 700 AD in Sanskrit verse by Shantideva (Śāntideva), a Buddhist monk at Nālandā Monastic University in India which is also where it was composed.

From Wikipédia

Le Bodhicharyavatara (du sanskrit बोधिचर्यावतार, IAST Bodhicaryāvatāra ; tibétain : བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་དཔའི་སྤྱོད་པ་ལ་འཇུག་པ་, Wylie : byang chub sems dpa’i spyod pa la ‘jug pa) est un traité versifié en sanskrit attribué à Shantideva (c.685-763). Ce traité à dix chapitres décrit l’engagement et la pratique d’un bodhisattva, c’est-à-dire ce que doit faire un aspirant selon la tradition du bouddhisme à l’éveil (bodhisattva) liée à la nature de Bouddha. Il en existe au moins une centaine de commentaires.

A French translation of the vow can be found here  “S’engager dans la pratique des bodhisattvas” at Lotsawa House. This is a good translation but subtly different.

My favourite version is published by Oxford University Press.

Here the would be Bodhisattva Śāntideva vows to adopt the Bodhicitta for the benefit of all sentient beings.

I have read this numerous times both in my head and out loud.

It to me is beautiful…

Later he warns that it is a bad idea to mess with someone engaged in this effort.