Shantideva’s Bodhisattvacharyavatara — Chapter IV
Monday 19 July 2010, by
Having firmly seized the Awakening Mind inthis way.A Conqueror’s son must never waver;Always should he exert himselfTo never stray from his practice.
In the case of reckless actionsOr of deeds not well considered,Although a promise may have been madeit is fit to reconsider whether I should dothem or not.
But how can I ever withdrawFrom what has been examined by the greatwisdomOf the Buddhas and their Sons,And even many times by me myself?
If having made such a promiseI do not put it into action,Then by deceiving every living beingWhat kind of rebirth shall I take?
If it has been taught (by the Buddha)That he who does not give awayThe smallest thing he once intended to giveWill take rebirth as a hungry ghost;
Then if I should deceive all beingsAfter having sincerely invited themTo the unsurpassable bliss,Shall I take a happy rebirth?
Only the Omniscient can discernThe manner of the action of thoseWho give up the Awakening Mind but arefreed;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 momentHinder or obstruct his wholesome (deeds),By weakening the welfare of allThere will be no end to their rebirth in lowerstates.
For if my being is impairedBy destroying the joy of even one creature,Then what need is there to mentionDestroying the joy of creatures vast as space.
Thus those who have the force of anAwakening MindAs well as the force of falling (from it)Stay revolving within cyclic existenceAnd for a long time are hindered in reachingthe Bodhisattva levels.
Therefore just as I have promisedShall I respectfully accord my actions.If from now on I make no effortI shall descend from lower to lower states.
Although for the benefit of every creatureCountless Buddhas have passed by,Yet I was not an object of their careBecause of my own mistakes.
And if I continue to act like this,Again and again shall I undergo(Suffering) in unhappy realms, sickness,bondage,Laceration and the shedding of blood.
If the arising of a Tathagata,Faith, the attainment of a human bodyAnd my being fit to cultivate virtue arescarce,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 aminute.
And with behavior such as thisI shall not win a human body again,And if this human form is not attainedThere will be solely evil and no virtue.
If when I have the chance to live awholesome lifeMy actions are not wholesome,Then what shall I be able to doWhen confused by the misery of the lowerrealms?
And if I commit no wholesome deeds (there),But readily amass much evil,Then for a hundred million aeonsI shall not even hear the words "a happy life".
For these very reasons, the Buddha has saidThat hard as it is for a turtle to insert its neckInto a yoke adrift upon the vast ocean,It is extremely hard to attain the humanstate."
If even by the evil of one instantAn aeon may be spent in the deepest hell,Then because of the evil I have gatheredsince beginningless time,What need to mention, my not going to ahappy realm.
But having experienced merely that (rebirthin hell)I shall still not be liberated;For while it is being experiencedOther 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 deceptionAnd there could be no greater folly.
And if, having understood this,I still foolishly continue to be slothful,When the hour of death arrivesTremendous grief will rear its head.
Then if my body blazes for a long timeIn the unbearable flames of bell,Inevitably my mind will be tormentedBy the fires of unendurable remorse.
Having found by some coincidenceThis beneficial state that is so hard to find,If now while able to discriminateI once gain am led into the bells,
Then as though I were hypnotized by a spellI shall reduce this mind to nothing.Even I do not know what is causing meconfusion,What is there dwelling inside me
Although enemies such as hatred and cravingHave 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 mindAt their pleasure they cause me harm,Yet I patiently endure them without anyanger;But this is an inappropriate and shamefultime for patience.
Should even all the gods and anti-godsRise up against me as my enemies,They could not lead nor place me inThe roaring fires of deepest hell.
But the mighty foe, these disturbingconceptions,In a moment can cast me amidst (thoseflames)Which when met will cause not even theashesOf the king of mountains to remain.
All other enemies are incapableOf remaining for such a length of timeAs can my disturbing conceptions,The enduring enemy with neither beginningnor end.
If I agreeably honor and entrust myself (toothers)They will bring me benefit and happinessBut if I entrust myself to these disturbingconceptionsIn future they will bring only misery andharm.
While in cyclic existence how can I be joyfuland unafraidIf in my heart I readily prepare a placeFor this incessant enemy of long duration,The sole cause for the increase of all thatharms me?
And how shall I ever have happinessIf in a net of attachment within my mindThere dwell the guardians of the prison ofcyclic existence,There (disturbing conceptions) that becomemy butchers and tormentors in hell?
Therefore as long as this enemy is not slainwith certainty before my very eyes.I shall never give up exerting myself(towards that end).Having become angry at someone whocaused only slight and short-lived harm.Self-important people will not sleep untiltheir (enemy) is overcome.
And if while engaged in a violent battle,Vigorously desiring to conquer those whosedisturbingconceptions will naturally bring themsuffering at death,Men disregard the pain of being pierced byspears and arrowsAnd will not withdraw until the day is won;
Then what need to mention that I should notbefaint-hearted and slothful,Even if I am caused many hundreds ofsufferingsWhen now I strive to definitely overcome mynatural enemies,(these disturbing conceptions) which are theconstant source of my misery?
If even scars inflicted by meaninglessenemiesAre worn upon the body like ornaments,Then why is suffering a cause of harm to meWho impeccably strives to fulfill the greatpurpose?
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 theworlds joy?
When I promised to liberate all those beingsDwelling in the ten directions as far as I theends of spaceFrom 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 spokenlike that?But as this is so I must never withdrawFrom vanquishing my disturbingconceptions.
And to do this will be my sole obsession:Holding a strong grudge I shall meet them inbattle!But disturbing conceptions such as theseDestroy disturbing conceptions and (for thetime 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 downTo those ever-present disturbing conceptions.
Common enemies when expelled from onecountrySimply retire and settle down in another,Though when their strength is recovered theyreturn,But the way of this enemy, my disturbingconceptionsis not similar in this respect.
Deluded disturbing conceptions! Whenforsaken by the eye of wisdomAnd dispelled from my mind, where will yougo?Where will you dwell in order to be able toinjure me again?But, weak-minded, I have been reduced tomaking no effort.
If these disturbing conceptions do not existwithin the objects, the sense organs, betweenthe twonor elsewhere,Then where do they exist and how do theyharm the world?They are like an illusion - thus I shoulddispel within my heart and strive resolutelyfor wisdom.For no real reason, why should I suffer somuch in hell?
Therefore having thought about this well,I should try to put these precepts into practicejust as they have been explained-If the doctor’s instructions are ignored,How will a patient in need of cure be healedby his medicines?
Translated into English by Stephan Bachelor
For the Library of Tibetan Works & Archives,