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Shantideva’s Bodhisattvacharyavatara — Chapter IV

Monday 19 July 2010, by Buddhachannel Eng.

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Shantideva’s Bodhisattvacharyavatara
Chapter IV - Conscientiousness


Having firmly seized the Awakening Mind in
this way.
A Conqueror’s son must never waver;
Always should he exert himself
To never stray from his 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
Of the Buddhas and their Sons,
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 he who does not give away
The smallest thing he once intended to give
Will take rebirth as a hungry ghost;


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
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 his wholesome (deeds),
By weakening the welfare of all
There will be no end to their rebirth in lower


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)
Stay revolving within cyclic existence
And for a long time are hindered in reaching
the Bodhisattva levels.


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


Although for the benefit of every creature
Countless Buddhas have passed by,
Yet 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,
Laceration and the shedding of blood.


If the arising of a Tathagata,
Faith, the attainment of a human body
And my being fit to cultivate virtue are
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


And 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 evil 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


And if I commit no wholesome deeds (there),
But readily amass much evil,
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 hard as it is for a turtle to insert its neck
Into a yoke adrift upon the vast ocean,
It is extremely hard to attain the human


If even by the evil of one instant
An aeon may be spent in the deepest hell,
Then because of the evil I have gathered
since beginningless time,
What need to mention, my not going to a
happy realm.


But having experienced merely that (rebirth
in hell)
I shall still not be liberated;
For while it is being experienced
Other evil 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 bell,
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 gain am led into the bells,


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
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 been used like a slave by them?


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


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


But the mighty foe, these disturbing
In a moment can cast me amidst (those
Which when met will cause not even the
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 with neither beginning
nor end.


If I agreeably honor and entrust myself (to
They will bring me benefit and happiness
But if I entrust myself to these disturbing
In future they will bring only misery and


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,
There (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,
Vigorously desiring to conquer those whose
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
faint-hearted and slothful,
Even if I am caused many hundreds of
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
Are worn upon the body like ornaments,
Then why is suffering a cause of harm to me
Who impeccably strives to fulfill the great


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
worlds joy?


When I promised to liberate all those beings
Dwelling in the ten directions as far as I 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?
But as this is so I must never withdraw
From vanquishing my disturbing


And to do this will be my sole obsession:
Holding a strong grudge I shall meet them in
But 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
Simply retire and settle down in another,
Though when their strength is recovered they
But the way of this enemy, my disturbing
is not similar in this respect.


Deluded disturbing conceptions! When
forsaken by the eye of wisdom
And dispelled from my mind, where will you
Where will you dwell in order to be able to
injure me again?
But, 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 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 cure be healed
by his medicines?

Translated into English by Stephan Bachelor
For the Library of Tibetan Works & Archives,
Dharmshala India

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