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Shantideva’s Bodhisattvacharyavatara — Chapter V

Monday 19 July 2010, by Buddhachannel Eng.

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Shantideva’s Bodhisattvacharyavatara
Chapter V - Guarding Alertness


1.

Those who wish to guard their practice
Should very attentively guard their minds
For those who do not guard their minds
Will be unable to guard their practice.

2.

In this world subdued and crazed elephants
Are incapable of causing such harms
As the miseries of the deepest hell
Which can be caused by the unleashed
elephant of my mind.

3.

But if the elephant of my mind is firmly
bound
On all sides by the rope of mindfulness,
All fears will cease to exist
And all virtues will come into my hand.

4.

Tigers, lions, elephants, bears,
Snakes and all forms of enemies,
The guardians of the hell worlds,
Evil spirits and cannibals,

5.

Will all be bound
By binding my mind alone,
And all will be subdued
By subduing my mind alone.

6.

The Perfect Teacher himself has shown
That in this way all fears
As well as all boundless miseries
Originate from the mind.

7.

Who intentionally created
All the weapons for those in hell?
Who created the burning iron ground?
From where did all the women in hell ensue?

8.

The Mighty One has said that all such things
Are the workings of an evil mind,
Hence within the three world spheres
There is nothing to fear other than my mind.

9.

If the perfection of generosity
Were the alleviation of the world’s poverty,
Then since beings are still starving now
In what manner did the previous Buddhas
perfect it?

10.

The perfection of generosity is said to be
The thought to give all beings everything,
Together with the fruit of such a thought
Hence it is simply a state of mind.

11.

Nowhere has the killing
Of fish and other creatures been eradicated;
For the attainment of merely the thought to
forsake such things
Is explained as the perfection of moral
discipline.

12.

Unruly beings are as unlimited as space;
They cannot possibly all be overcome,
But if I overcome thoughts of anger alone
This will be equivalent to vanquishing all
foes.

13.

Where would I possibly find enough leather
With which to cover the surface of the earth?
But wearing leather just on the soles of my
shoes
Is equivalent to covering the earth with it.

14.

Likewise it is not possible for me
To restrain the external course of things;
But should I restrain this mind of mine
What would be the need to restrain all else?

15.

Although the development of merely a clear
state of concentration
Can result in taking rebirth in Brahma’s
realm,
Physical and vocal actions cannot so result
When accompanied by weak mental conduct.

16.

The knower of reality has said
That even if recitation and physical hardships
Are practiced for long periods of time,
They will be meaningless if the mind is
distracted elsewhere.

17.

Even those who wish to find happiness and
overcome misery
Will wander with no aim nor meaning
If they do not comprehend the secret of the
mind -
The paramount significance of Dharma.

18.

This being so,
I shall hold and guard my mind well.
Without the discipline of guarding the mind,
What use are many other disciplines?

19.

Just as I would be attentive and careful of a
wound
When amidst a bustling uncontrolled crowd,
So I should always guard the wound of my
mind
When dwelling among harmful people.

20.

And if I am careful of a wound
Through fear of it being slightly hurt,
Then why do I not guard the wound of my
mind
Through fear of being crushed by the
mountains of hell?

21.

Should I behave in such a way as this,
Then whether among harmful people
Or even in the midst of women,
The steady effort to control myself will not
decline.

22.

It is better to be without wealth,
Honor, body and livelihood;
And it is better to let other virtues deteriorate,
Rather than ever to let the virtues of the mind
decline.

23.

O you who wish to guard your minds,
I beseech you with folded hands;
Always exert yourself to guard
Mindfulness and alertness!

24.

People who are disturbed by sickness
Have no strength to do anything useful,
Likewise those whose minds are disturbed by
confusion
Have no strength to do anything wholesome.

25.

Whatever has been learnt, contemplated and
meditated upon
By those whose minds lack alertness,
Just like water in a leaking vase,
Will not be retained in their memory.

26.

Even those who have much learning,
Faith and willing perseverance
Will become defiled by a moral fall
Due to the mistake of lacking alertness.

27.

The thieves of unalertness,
In following upon the decline of mindfulness,
Will steal even the merits I have firmly
gathered
So that I shall then proceed to lower realms.

28.

The host of thieves who are my own
disturbing conceptions
Will search for a good opportunity,
Having found it they will steal my virtue
And destroy the attainment of life in a happy
realm.

29.

Therefore I shall never let mindfulness depart
From the doorway of my mind.
If it goes, I should recall the misery of the
lower realms
And firmly re-establish it there.

30.

Through staying in the company of spiritual
masters,
Through the instructions of abbots and
through fear,
Mindfulness will easily be generated
In fortunate people who practice with
respect.

31.

I am ever dwelling in the presence
Of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas
Who are always endowed
With unobstructed vision.

32.

By thinking in this way
I shall mindfully develop a sense of shame,
respect and fear.
Also through doing this,
Recollection of the Buddha will repeatedly
occur.

33.

When mindfulness is set with the purpose
Of guarding the doorway of the mind,
Then alertness will come about
And even that which has gone will return.

34.

When, just as I am about to act,
I see that my mind is tainted with defilement,
At such a time I should remain
Unmovable, like a piece of wood.

35.

Never should I look around
Distractedly for no purpose:
With a resolute mind
I should always keep my eyes cast
downwards.

36.

But in order to relax the gaze
For a short while I should look around,
And if someone appears in my field of vision
I should look at him and say, "Welcome."

37.

To check if there is any danger on the path
I should look again and again in the four
directions.
To rest, I should turn my head around
And then look behind me.

38.

Having examined both ahead and behind
I should proceed to either come or go.
Being aware of the necessity for such
mindful alertness
I should behave like this in all situations.

39.

Once having prepared for an action with the
thought,
"My body will remain in such a way,"
Then periodically I should look to see
How the body is being maintained.

40.

With the utmost effort I should check
To see that the crazed elephant of my mind
Is not wandering off but is bound
To the great pillar of thinking about Dharma.

41.

Those who strive by all means for
concentration
Should not wander off even for a moment;
By thinking, "How is my mind behaving?" -
They should closely analyze their mind.

42.

But if I am unable to do this
When afraid or involved in celebrations, then
I should relax.
Likewise it has been taught that at times of
giving
One may be indifferent to certain aspects of
moral discipline.

43.

I should undertake whatever deed I have
intended to do
And think of doing nothing other than it.
With my mind applied to that task,
I should set about for the time being to
accomplish it.

44.

By acting in this way all will be done well.
But by acting otherwise neither action will be
done.
Likewise there will be increase in the
proximate disturbing conceptions
That come from lack of alertness.

45.

If I happen to be present
While a senseless conversation is taking
place
Or if I happen to see show kind of
spectacular show,
I should abandon attachment towards it.

46.

If for no reason I start digging the earth,
Picking at the grass or drawing patterns on
the ground,
Then by recalling the advise of the Buddhas,
I should immediately stop out of fear.

47.

Whenever I have the desire
To move my body or to say something,
First of all I should examine my mind
And then, with steadiness, act in the proper
way.

48.

Whenever there is attachment in my mind
And whenever there is the desire to be angry,
I should not do anything nor say anything,
But remain like a piece of wood.

49.

Whenever I have distracted thoughts, the
wish to verbally belittle others,
Feelings of self-importance or selfsatisfaction:
When I have the intention to describe the
faults of others,
Pretension and the thought to deceive others;

50.

Whenever I am eager for praise
Or have the desire to blame others;
Whenever I have the wish to speak harshly
and cause dispute;
At all such times I should remain like a piece
of wood.

51.

Whenever I desire material gain, honor,
fame;
Whenever I seek attendants or a circle of
friends,
And when in my mind I wish to be served;
At all these times I should remain like a piece
of wood.

52.

Whenever I have the wish to decrease or to
stop working for others
And the desire to pursue my welfare alone,
If motivated by such thoughts, a wish to say
something occurs,
At these times I should remain like a piece of
wood.

53.

Whenever I have impatience, laziness,
cowardice,
Shamelessness or the desire to talk nonsense;
If thoughts of partiality arise,
At these times too I should remain like a
piece of wood.

54.

Having in this way examined his mind for
disturbing conceptions
And for thoughts that strive for meaningless
things,
The courageous Bodhisattva should hold his
mind steady
Through the application of remedial forces.

55.

Being very resolute and faithful,
Steady, respectful, polite,
With a sense of shame, apprehensive and
peaceful,
I should strive to make others happy.

56.

I should not be disheartened by all the whims
Of the childish who are in discord with one
another
I should know them to arise in their minds
due to disturbing conceptions
And therefore be kind towards them.

57.

In doing that which by nature is not
unwholesome
Both for the sake of myself and other sentient
beings
I should always hold my mind fast,
Acting like an apparition, with no sense of
self.

58.

By thinking again and again
That after a long time I have won the greatest
leisure,
Likewise I should hold my mind
As utterly unshakeable as the king of
mountains.

59.

If, mind, you are not made unhappy
When this body is dragged and tossed about
By vultures greedy for flesh,
Then why are you so concerned about it
now?

60.

Holding this body as "mine",
Why, mind, do you guard it so?
Since you and it are separate,
What use can it be to you?

61.

Why, confused mind,
Do you not hold onto a clean, wooden form?
Just what is the point of guarding
This putrid, dirt-filled machine?

62.

First of all, mentally separate
The layers of skin from the flesh
And then with the scalpel of discrimination
Separate the flesh from the skeletal frame;

63.

And having split open even the bones
Look right down into the marrow.
While examining this ask yourself,
"Where is its essence?"

64.

If, even when searching with such effort
You can apprehend no essence,
Then why with such much attachment
Are you still guarding this body now?

65.

What use is this body to you
If its dirty insides are unfit for you to eat,
If its blood is not fit to drink
And if its intestines are not fit to be sucked?

66.

At second best it is only fit to be guarded
In order to feed the vultures and jackals.
Truly this body of a human being
Should only be employed in the practice of
virtue.

67.

But should you instead guard it with
attachment
Then what will you be able to do
When it is stolen by the unsympathetic lord
of death
And given to the dogs and birds?

68.

If servants are not given clothing and so forth
When they are unable to be employed,
Then why do you exhaust yourself looking
after the flesh alone
When even though caring for the body, it
goes elsewhere?

69.

Now having paid my body its wages,
I shall engage it in making my life
meaningful.
But if my body is of no benefit,
Then I shall not give it anything.

70.

I should conceive of my body as a boat,
A support for coming and going.
And in order to benefit all others
Transform it into a wish-fulfilling body.

71.

Now, while there is freedom to act,
I should always present a smiling face
And cease to frown and look angry:
I should be a friend and counsel of the world.

72.

I should desist from inconsiderately and
noisily
Moving around chairs and so forth,
As well as from violently opening doors:
I should always delight in humility.

73.

The stork, the cat and the thief,
By moving silently and carefully,
Accomplish what they desire to do;
A Bodhisattva too should always behave in
this way.

74.

With respect I should gratefully accept
Unsought-after words that are of benefit
And that wisely advise and admonish me.
At all times I should be a pupil of everyone.

75.

I should say, "Well said," to all those
Who speak Dharma well,
And if I see someone doing good
I should praise him and be well pleased.

76.

I should discreetly talk about the good
qualities of others
And repeat those that others recount.
If my own good qualities are spoken about
I should just know and be aware that I have
them.

77.

All deeds of others are the source of a joy
That would be rare even if it could be bought
with money.
Therefore I should be happy in finding this
joy
In the good things that are done by others.

78.

Through doing this I shall suffer no losses in
this life
And in future lives shall find great happiness.
But the fault of disliking their good qualities
will make me unhappy and miserable
And in future lives I shall find great
suffering.

79.

When talking I should speak from my heart
and on what is relevant,
Making the meaning clear and the speech
pleasing.
I should not speak out of desire or hatred
But in gentle tones and in moderation.

80.

When beholding someone with my eyes,
Thinking, "I shall fully awaken
Through depending upon this being."
I should look at him with an open heart and
love.

81.

Always motivated by great aspiration
Or being motivated by the remedial forces,
If I work in the fields of excellence, benefit
and misery
Great virtues will come about.

82.

Endowed with wisdom and joy
I should undertake all that I do,
I need not depend upon anyone else
In any actions that I undertake.

83.

The perfections such as generosity
Are progressively more exalted
But for a little morality I should not forsake a
great gift.
Principally I should consider what will be of
the most benefit for others.

84.

When this is well understood,
I should always strive for the welfare of
others.
The Far-Seeing Merciful Ones have allowed
a Bodhisattva
To do some actions that for others were
forbidden.

85.

I should divide my food amongst those who
have fallen to lower realms,
Those without protection, and practitioners.
And eat merely what is sufficient for myself.
Except for the three robes I may give away
all.

86.

This body which is being used for the sacred
Dharma
Should not be harmed for only slight benefit.
By my behaving in this way
The wishes of all beings will be quickly
fulfilled.

87.

Those who lack the pure intention of
compassion
Should not give their body away.
Instead, both in this and future lives,
They should give it to the cause of fulfilling
the great purpose.

88.

The Dharma should not be explained to those
who lack respect,
To those who, like sick men, wear cloth
around their heads,
To those holding umbrellas, sticks or
weapons,
To those with covered heads,

89.

Nor to a woman unaccompanied by a man.
The vast and profound should not be taught
to lesser beings,
Although I should always pay equal respect
To the Dharmas of the lesser and higher
beings.

90.

I should not communicate the Dharma of a
lesser being
To one who is a vessel for the vast Dharma.
I must not forsake the Bodhisattva way of
life,
Nor mislead others by means of sutra or
mantras.

91.

When I spit or throw away the stick for
cleaning my teeth,
I should cover it up with earth.
Also it is shameful to urinate and so forth
In water or on land used by others.

92.

When eating I should not fill my mouth,
Eat noisily or with my mouth wide open.
I should not sit with my legs outstretched
Nor rub my hands together.

93.

I should not sit alone in vehicles, upon beds
Nor in the same room with the women of
others.
In brief, having observed or inquired about
what is proper,
I should not do anything that would be
disliked by the people of the world.

94.

I should not give directions with one finger,
But instead indicate the way
Respectfully with my right arm
With all my fingers fully outstretched.

95.

Nor should I wildly wave my arms about
But should make my point
With slight gestures and a snap of fingers. -
Otherwise I shall lose control.

96.

Just as the Buddha lay down to pass away
So should I lie in the desired direction when
going to sleep,
And first of all with alertness
Make the firm decision to quickly rise again.

97.

Although I am unable to practice all
The limitless varieties of Bodhisattva
conduct,
I should certainly practice as much as has
been mentioned here
Of this conduct that trains the mind

98.

Three times by day and three times by night
I should recite The Sutra of the Three Heaps;
For by relying upon the Buddhas and the
Awakening Mind
My remaining downfalls will be purified.

99.

Whatever I am doing in any situation,
Whether for myself or for the benefit of
others,
I should strive to put into practice
Whatever has been taught for that situation.

100.

There is no such thing as something
That is not learned by a Conqueror’s Son,
Thus if I am skilled in living in this way
Nothing will be non-meritorious.

101.

Whether directly or indirectly, I should not
do anything
That is not for the benefit of others.
And solely for the sake of sentient beings
I should dedicate everything towards
Awakening.

102.

Never, even at the cost of my life,
Should I forsake a spiritual friend
who is wise in the meaning of the great
vehicle
And who is a great Bodhisattva practitioner.

103.

I should practice entrusting myself to my
spiritual master
In the manner taught in The Biography of
Shrisambhava.
This and other advise spoken by the Buddha
I can understand through reading the sutras.

104.

I should read the sutras
Because it is from them that the practices
appear.
To begin with, I should look at The Sutra of
Akashagarba.

105.

In addition I should definitely read
The Compendium of all Practices again and
again,
Because what is to constantly practiced
Is very well and extensively shown there.

106.

Also I should sometimes look at
the condensed Compendium of All Sutras.
And I should make an effort to study
The works by the same two titles composed
by the exalted Nagarjuna.

107.

I should do whatever is not forbidden in
those works,
And when I see a practice there,
I should impeccably put it into action
In order to guard the minds of worldly
people.

108.

The defining characteristic of guarding
alertness
In brief is only this:
To examine again and again
The condition of my body and mind.

109.

Therefore I shall put this way of life into
actual practice,
For what can be achieved by merely talking
about it?
Will a sick man be benefited
Merely by reading the medical texts?

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


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