The Bodhicaryavatara – Chapter 1


Chapter I: The Benefit of the Spirit of Awakening

NOTE: The Bodhicaryavatara (BCA) as it appears on Shantideva Online is a corrected proof based on the BIONA edition and has been examined for accuracy by not only Chan Ssu Lun, Dzogchen, and Pureland teachers, but also by Stephen Batchelor, the translator of one of the better known Tibetan versions of the Bodhicaryavatara.

1. Reverently bowing to the Sugatas, who are endowed with the Dharmakaya, together with their children and all who are worthy of veneration, I shall concisely present a guide to the discipline of the children of the Sugatas in accordance with the scriptures.

2. There is nothing here that has not been said before, nor do I have any skill in composition. Thus, I have no concern for the welfare of others, and I have composed this solely to season my own mind.

3. Owing to this, the power of my faith increases to cultivate virtue. Moreover, if someone else with a disposition like my own examines this, it may be meaningful.

4. This leisure and endowment, which are so difficult to obtain have been acquired, and they bring about the welfare of the world. If one fails to take this favorable opportunity into consideration, how could this occasion occur again?

5. Just as lightning illuminates the darkness of a cloudy night for an instant, in the same way, by the power of the Buddha, occasionally people’s minds are momentarily inclined toward merit.

6. Thus, virtue is perpetually ever so feeble, while the power of vice is great and extremely dreadful. If there were no spirit of perfect awakening, what other virtue would overcome it?

7. The Lords of Sages, who have been contemplating for many eons, have seen this alone as a blessing by which joy is easily increased and immeasurable multitudes of beings are rescued.

8. Those who long to overcome the abundant miseries of mundane existence, who wish to dispel the adversities of sentient beings, and those who yearn to experience a myriad of joys should never forsake the spirit of awakening.

9. When the spirit of awakening has arisen, in an instant a wretch who is bound in the prison of the cycle of existence is called a child of the Sugatas and becomes worthy of reverence in the worlds of gods and humans.

10. Upon taking this impure form, it transmutes it into the priceless image of the gem of the Jina. So, firmly hold to the quicksilver elixir, called the spirit of awakening, which must be utterly transmuted.

11. The world’s sole leaders, whose minds are fathomless, have well examined its great value. You, who are inclined to escape from the states of mundane existence, hold fast to the jewel of the spirit of awakening.

12. Just as a plantain tree decays upon losing its fruit, so does every other virtue wane. But the tree of the spirit of awakening perpetually bears fruit, does not decay, and only flourishes.

13. Owing to its protection, as due to the protection of a powerful man, even after committing horrendous vices, one immediately overcomes great fears. Why do ignorant beings not seek refuge in it?

14. Like the conflagration at the time of the destruction of the universe, it consumes great ices in an instant. The wise lord Maitreya taught its incalculable benefits to Sudhana.

15. In brief, this spirit of awakening is known to be of two kinds: the spirit of awakening, and the spirit of aspiring for awakening, and the spirit of venturing towards awakening.

16. Just as one perceives the difference between a person who yearns to travel and a traveler, so do the learned recognize the corresponding difference between those two.

17. Although the result of the spirit of aspiring for awakening is great within the cycle of existence, it is still not like the continual state of merit of the spirit of venturing.

18. From the time that one adopts that spirit with an irreversible attitude for the sake of liberating limitless sentient beings.

19. From that moment on, an uninterrupted stream of merit, equal to the sky, constantly arises even when one is asleep or distracted.

20. The Tathágata himself cogently asserted this in the Subahuprccha for the sake of beings who are inclined toward the lesser vehicle.

21. A well-intentioned person who thinks, "I shall eliminate the headaches of sentient beings," bears immeasurable merit.
22. What then of a person who desires to remove the incomparable pain of every single being and endow them with immeasurable good qualities?

23. Who has even a mother or father with such altruism? Would the gods, sages, or Brahmas have it?

24. If those beings have never before had that wish for their own sake even in their dreams, how could they possibly have it for the sake of others?

25. How does this unprecedented and distinguished jewel, whose desire for the benefit of others does not arise in others even for their own self-interest, come into existence?

26. How can one measure the merit of the jewel of the mind, which is the seed of the worlds joy and is the remedy for the worlds suffering?

27. If reverence for the Buddhas is exceeded merely by an altruistic intention, how much more so by striving for the complete happiness of all sentient beings?

28. Those desiring to escape from suffering hasten right toward suffering. With the very desire for happiness, out of delusion they destroy their own happiness as if it were an enemy.

29. He satisfies with all joys those who are starving for happiness and eliminates all the sorrows of those who are afflicted in many ways.

30. He dispels delusion. Where else is there such a saint? Where else is there such a friend? Where else is there such merit?
31. Even one who repays a kind deed is praised somewhat, so what should be said of a bodhisattva whose good deed is unsolicited?

32. The world honors as virtuous one who makes a gift to a few people, even if it is merely a momentary and contemptuous donation of plain food and support for half a day.

33. What then of one who forever bestows to countless sentient beings the fulfillment of all yearnings, which is inexhaustible until the end of beings as limitless as space?

34. The Lord declared, "One who brings forth an impure thought in his heart against a benefactor, a child of the Jina, will dwell in hells for as many eons as there were impure thoughts.

35. But if one's mind is kindly inclined, one will bring forth an even greater fruit. Even when a greatly violent crime is committed against the children of the Jinas, their virtue spontaneously arises.

36. I pay homage to the bodies of those whom this precious jewel of the mind has arisen. I go for refuge to those who are minds of joy, toward whom even an offence results in happiness.

Click Here : The Bodhicaryavatara – Chapter II