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Bodhichayravatara: Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life by Shantideva


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In Engaging in Bodhisattva Behavior (sPyod-‘jug, Skt. Bodhicaryavatara), the great Indian master Shantideva discusses, in ten chapters, the bodhisattva path. He begins with explaining the benefits of developing bodhichitta and the necessity for doing so immediately: because death can come at any time and deprive us of our precious human rebirth. To practice bodhichitta fully, requires taking the bodhisattva vows; and to be able to take and keep them requires a great build up of a network of positive force (bsod-nams-kyi tshogs, collection of merit). Therefore, Shantideva next explains the practice of the seven-limb prayer (yan-lag bdun-pa) to build up that positive force and the method for taking the bodhisattva vows.

Keeping the bodhisattva vows entails practicing the six far-reaching attitudes (pha-rol-tu byin-pa, Skt. paramita, perfections). The remainder of the text explains their practice and ends with a dedication prayer. Here, we shall present an overview of the ninth chapter concerning far-reaching discriminating awareness (shes-phyin, prajnaparamita, perfection of wisdom) concerning the Madhyamaka view of voidness (emptiness).

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