The Bodhisattvas Way Of Life Meaningful To Behold Book Review Example

Published: 2021-06-18 05:27:28
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Category: Training, Life, Psychology, Mind, Enlightenment, Buddha, Buddhism, Voltaire

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This text helps the bodhisattva put into practice all the teachings of Buddha and this eventually leads to supreme happiness that comes through the medium of enlightenment. The bodhisattva is described as an elevated Buddhist who can attain nirvana but actually delays such an attainment due to his compassion for the suffering beings. This is an exhaustive covering of the essence and foundation of the bodhisattva’s way of life. The text is divided into three major parts
- How the text is introduced
- How the text is explained
The Pre-eminent Qualities of the Author
As is customary with such texts there needs to be some kind of biography of the author. This in some way espouses the author’s qualification in the partaking of this experience. Shantivarmana, which is translated as Armour of Peace was the name given to Prince Shantideva of Gujarat of Western India. This young prince grew up in spiritual matters and at a young age was well versed in the inner science of religion. Upon the death of his father the King, he renounced the throne and instead went into the wilderness to meditate. After joining a monastery his spiritual development increased rapidly although this growth was not witnessed by his fellow monks. The reason of this was that his training usually happened at night so he was mostly seen to be sleeping during the day. In a bid to show him up, the other monks decided that he should deliver a discourse as they felt his ignorance would shine through. However to the contrary he delivered a discourse that came to be written as The Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life which till today is still considered to be the best set of instructions for becoming a bodhisattva.
Introduction of the Text
Shantideva’s guide consists of ten chapters which every reader should aim to understand and remember for their spiritual progress, unless they could be likened to people who went to the shops and on their return would have already forgotten what they saw in those very shops (Gyatso 4). Every Buddhist’s goal is enlightenment and this Buddhahood is achieved only when the obstructions of life are removed to enable one attain their fully awaken state. This state or the mind of enlightenment always strives to attain perfect enlightenment for the benefits of all living beings. This is called bodhichitta and it is attained in one of two ways – exchanging one for others or the practicing of the sevenfold cause and effect meditation. Bodhichitta can only be perfectly attained when evil is completely destroyed. Shantideva explained how the uprooting and weeding of harmful potentials can be eradicated via the four opponent powers.
While the purification of evil is necessary, it is not all sufficient as merit also has a lot to play and the practice of virtue. The importance of adequate preparation was explained via the following analogy. It claimed that it was improper for a beggar to receive a king in unkempt surroundings, so also was it wrong to entertain the precious bodhichitta with a mind bereft of merit. The mind has to be meticulously prepared to welcome such a distinguished guest. Once the bodhichitta has being attained all must be done to prevent it from decreasing. Once perfect enlightenment has been attained, the practicing of the six perfections should be taken. These perfections include things like giving, generosity and moral discipline. Other perfections that need to be attained also are patience, effort and concentration.
This book of Shantideva contains the threefold development which is usually outlined in the prayer of generation.
May the supreme and precious bodhichitta
Take birth where it has not yet done so;
Where it has been born, may it not decrease;
Where it has not decreased, may it abundantly grow.
Explanation of the Text
The Explanation of the Text is divided into four parts and these include the meaning of the title, explanation of the meaning, homage to the translators and the meaning of the conclusion. While this text has been translated in Tibetan and English amongst others, its original language was Sanskrit. And as such its title is still written in Sanskrit to enable the reader appreciate the kindness of those who translated it. It is also necessary for the title to first be written in Sanskrit because it brings Buddha to the minds of those reading the text as Sanskrit was the language Buddha taught in. A lot of work went into the translating of this text to Tibetan and these monks and translators had to pay homage to the “basket of Buddha’s teaching” (Gyatso 7). This text derives its explanation from the stages to the path of enlightenment. These explanations shed more light on how worship is expressed as well as the promise and reason of composition.
This text debunks the myth that may see human evolution as a chance occurrence as we are shown through the text that people were not born human by chance. Specific causes had to be attained for this to come to fruition. This existence therefore must be made use of in the most productive manner. Many analogies are used in this text to show just how important the life given to humans is and one of the most apt analogies tells of a man who threw away the gold he saw because he did not know the worth of the material and as such could not place any value on it. Therefore value is placed on the human life through the eight freedoms. These freedoms from rebirth cover diverse scenarios from freedom from rebirth as a hell being to a hungry spirit and from freedom from rebirth with impaired senses of body or mind to a time when a Buddha has not yet appeared. These freedoms work hand in hand with the ten endowments in a bid to complete the practice of dharma.
The development of the bodhichitta can be realised through the sevenfold realisation of the cause and effect instruction or the exchanging of one’s self for others. The sevenfold realisation is a successful development which follows repaying of kindness, to affectionate love and superior intention amongst others. These sevenfold realizations follow each other concurrently as they lead to the final realization of the bodhichitta. This is made evident when we notice that affectionate love has to be realised before the development of the great compassion.
There are many people who claim that the mind is a blank slate and it begins to get formed or filled as we grow and face challenges and circumstances. How satisfactory will this theory be if we look to twins born who at birth are displaying different character traits from their other sibling? Has it taken into consideration how very different ordinary children are from gifted children and how similar circumstances is very likely to produce different reactions in both of them? In order to be able to answer this question correctly an in-depth study needs to be done on the mind. The Buddhist thought tells us that our varying drive of consciousness was present as early as our foetus stage. This text hits its crux when the reader can fully understand the nature of the mind as it is through this understanding that one can begin to decipher the existence of previous lives which is beneficial to the attainment of enlightenment.
While this text is a guide for the bodhisattva’s way of life, much like with any religious text it contains elements that could lead to a better form of living. The text talks about compassion and love and humility and enlightenment amongst other things and these are traits that could be beneficial to any human being seeking to live a more meaningful life. Any student of Buddhism that seeks enlightenment should read and understand this text. While it will be a little bit difficult to decipher for the layman, this is a treasure chest for the follower of Buddha. As Shantideva said, “ignorance is the root of our problems but wisdom will cut through that root (Gyatso 116, Paraphrased). This is a true statement regardless of whatever religious path one may choose to follow.
Gyatso, Geshe, K. The Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: Meaningful to Behold. New Delhi, India: Mortilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2000. E-Book's+Way+of+Life&source=bl&ots=f8ACq0uIMt&sig=TwOOkH1Dbbx-MoxcF5cdY3nKBKo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=3HUDU6PeOpLe7Ab1gIGoCw&ved=0CDoQ6AEwATgK#v=onepage&q&f=false

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