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The Way of the Bodhisattva

4.33  ·  Rating Details ·  4,007 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
Treasured by Buddhists of all traditions, The Way of the Bodhisattva (Bodhicharyavatara) is a guide to cultivating the mind of enlightenment, and to generating the qualities of love, compassion, generosity, and patience. This text has been studied, practiced, and expounded upon in an unbroken tradition for centuries, first in India, and later in Tibet. Presented in the for ...more
Paperback, Revised Edition, 152 pages
Published September 12th 2006 by Shambhala (first published January 1st 1992)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Oct 11, 2016 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one that never goes on the "already read it" shelf. When I finish, I just start over again. One of these days it'll sink in...
Jan 31, 2012 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this, and all I can say is 'Wow.' This work by Shantideva is a spiritual tour-de-force.

The introduction is indispensable, by the way. You really must read it if you want to understand the larger points of the text.

Aside from a good deal of inspiration and warning of sufferings to come, there are some brilliant arguments in this book. In one passage, for example, Shantideva demonstrates why loving our enemies is the only logical thing to do:

If something does not come to be when s
Justin Evans
Apr 30, 2016 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great collection of aphorism, but also a sophisticated philosophical consideration of two major problems for salvific religions: if I'm concerned with my own salvation, should I care about other people, and why? The obvious answer, of course, is that your treatment of other people is intimately related to your own salvation, but that's much harder to justify than you might think. Santideva was a monk, writing to other monks, and prone to answering questions like how will all this meditation re ...more
Oct 28, 2008 Josh rated it it was amazing
This book made me a Buddhist and a Christian at the same time. What I love about Buddhism is that it doesn't try to pin God down or even call him "God," but they teach ways to experience him/her. Most memorable phrase: "the wandering elephant of the mind"
Apr 10, 2014 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of the books on Buddhism that I have read so far have come from the Theravada branch. This one is (I think) my first encounter with the Mahayana branch of Buddhism, which is the more popular one today, but a bit more complex and demanding for my taste. It views our positions in the life-death cycle (samsara) as humans as a unique opportunity, but one which is all too often squandered with trivialities and material distractions, focusing on bodily pleasures, confusing form with ideal (Plato, ...more
Mar 30, 2010 Patrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have now been studying Buddhist philosophy as a practicing Buddhist in the Mahayana tradition for many years. The Bodhisattva Way of Life is without any doubt in my mind the most meaningful and useful teaching I have read.

This epic poem by the well loved Buddhist Saint Santideva was of such assistance to my understanding of relevant aspects of other Mahayana commentaries to Buddha's teaching that it takes pride of place in my heart, mind and on my shrine.

Probably the most fascinating, and com
Vaishali Joglekar
Very clear directions on self-control. Of particular interest are 5 conduct no-no's (here added last) which offer glimpses of lay life in medieval India.

"For those who have no introspection - though they hear the teachings, ponder them, or meditate - like water seeping from a leaking jar their learning will not settle in their memories."

"It is taught that rules of discipline may be relaxed in times of generosity."

"Work calmly for the happiness of others."

"Do not inconsiderately move chairs and f
Shashi Martynova
Остро, разнообразно, сверхплотно полезный текст.
VIII век - как вчера писано (да-да, я понимаю, что есть неизбежные издержки перевода на европейские языки) для нас сегодняшних. Для меня сегодняшней.
Пока - самая понятная мне буддийская книга. Переводческая группа "Падмакара" сделала мне лично громадный подарок. Математика буддийской духовности - умственное фигурное катание (индивидуальная программа, где и я, и рассказчик, и рассказываемое легко и непринужденно сливаемся воедино - в одно сияющее, н
Dec 12, 2010 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful poem about cultivating bodhicitta. Shantideva is revered in certain parts of the Mahayana and Vajrayana tradition, and it's no small wonder. To a casual reader, this will probably seem like a nice book of beatitudes intermixed with warnings about the torments of "hell" ending in a confusing chapter called Wisdom, but it's much more than that. There's a reason that the Dalai Lama and masters like Patrul teach and taught this as often as possible. More than any other single work I've r ...more
E. Michael
Jul 21, 2012 E. Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I won't ever become a bodhisattva, but I can still hold myself to a higher standard. While there are good ideas present in the poetry of this rather personal buddhist action plan, Shantideva consistently speaks from a position of superiority rather than authority. Many of the qualities he admires cannot be achieved by the "common run of people" but only by those with "yogic insight." I disagree and am disappointed with the exclusive tone. Ironically, the best points he makes are about equality a ...more
Oct 17, 2012 Bradley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grown-up-books
Actually, infinite stars. Goodreads only shows five.

Samuel Snoek-Brown
I plan to reread this often--I read it twice during His Holiness the Dalai Lama's week-long teachings from it. As in my review for His Holiness's "Stages of Meditation," I suppose I might appreciate this text more for the explanations His Holiness offered during those teachings, but this book is, so far, the other of those two most profound and instructive guides to formal meditation I've read so far. The translators claim they have lost some of the beauty of Shantideva's poetry, and I don't dou ...more
Apr 29, 2013 Lukez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was my first introduction to Tibetan Buddhism and while it is currently the only translation I have read I can definitely say it won't be the last. Highly accessible to the lay person such as myself and at the same time offering a depth and breadth of thought presented so succinctly and rarely equaled in the Mahayana. My only hang-up has been concerning the infamous 9th chapter on wisdom which alone seems to require a commentary to understand, at least for this reader. The appendixes a ...more
Isaac Spencer
Dec 03, 2011 Isaac Spencer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
Inspiring. Something to read again and again.

I especially liked the translator's notes and introductions to the chapters. I found their writing very clear, simple, direct, and helpful. I thought they often were able to explain clearly in a short essay large amounts of complex material. For example their introduction to chapter 8 contextualizes in 11 and 1/2 pages the two kinds of Buddhist mediation, calm abiding and insight, and the philosophical differences between the Mahayana and so-called Hi
Oct 26, 2014 Kroxx rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kroxx by: PHIL 291
Shelves: great-reads
Similar in teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, this book outlines some "rules" that one ought to follow if they are going to take the path towards Nirvana. There were a lot of good teachings in here -- cultivate diligence and do what is necessary, practice 100% concentration, be compassionate to all people even if they are hurting you, and be patient (control all passionate emotions like anger). This book taught me a lot and is very insightful. I wrote all over this book, too, and there are also a b ...more
John Lawrence
Jul 29, 2012 John Lawrence rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
this is the most inspirational text i have ever read. it set my hair on fire. this is a clear translation of Shantideva's classic Buddhist text on how to develop bodhichitta and become a bodhisattva without the mess of comment between stanzas. bodhichitta is the wish to become enlightened so that one might liberate all sentient beings from suffering.

reading this changed my life.
Cassandra Kay Silva
The images Santideva conjures to counteract his inherent nature: the corpse, and flesh of surrounding humans is very vivid. Far better thoughts on consciousness than I have heard from many modern psychoanalysts. I also appreciated this translations additional notes and explanations for the work. Oxford always does a good job with this.
Jun 11, 2013 T. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhist-books
Poetic and thought-provoking and challenging. Its an amazing achievement of preserving the oral transmissions of the Buddha that could have been lost forever if not for the efforts of this 8th century scholar.
If you read this in the right time and right place it will really change you life. It's a really powerful book.
Patrick Gibson
Aug 28, 2015 Patrick Gibson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful book expounding on those ideas of Buddhism that are super interesting. Despite the usual exhortations to deny pleasure or at least realize their transitory nature it reinforces the ideas of meditation and compassion so that one isn't trapped by anger and or the need to get "JUSTICE". i myself am pretty far from Nirvana but this book is a great start! p.162 "May those caught in the freezing ice be warmed. And from the massive clouds pf bodhissatvas' prayers. May torrents rain ...more
the gift
not myself identifying as Buddhist, though read many books on the Way, fewer on the historical Buddha, fewer yet actual works of Buddhism. here am mostly commenting on the preface, introduction, translators introduction. am so very glad there are translators, humble, self conscious, aware of limitations and philosophical and textual complexity...

this is beautifully rendered into English. will read this, think of this, it continues as background for religion, science, and philosophy, background e
Mary Overton
Translated by Kate Crosby and Andrew Skilton; copyright 1995
From Translators' Introduction:

"Santideva was a medieval Indian Buddhist monk, who wrote for the benefit of his contemporaries and colleagues. To translate his work presents a number of challenges and problems to the modern translator. The intention of the present translators has been to produce a prose translation into standard British English, which will be accessible to the ordinary reader. Our emphasis has been upon accuracy and cla
Mary Overton
translated from the Tibetan by the Padmakara Translation Group; revised translation copyright 2006
From Preface to the Revised Edition:

"When the first edition of THE WAY OF THE BODHISATTVA was published in 1997, it was stated that the commentary the Nyingma master Khenpo Kunzang Pelden (1872-1943) had been consulted for the elucidation of difficult passages. At the time, a translation into English of that long and important work was no more than a pious dream. Now, after a wait of almost ten year
Mary Overton
Translation by Vesna A. Wallace and B. Alan Wallace; copyright 1997.
From the Introduction:
"Although the BODHICARYAVATARA has already been translated several times into English, earlier translations have been based exclusively on either Sanskrit versions or Tibetan translations. To the best of our knowledge, no earlier translation into English, including the recent translation by Kate Crosby and Andrew Skilton, has drawn from both the Sanskrit version and its authoritative Sanskrit commentary of
I had the distinct luck of being in McLeod Ganj, India, when the Dalai Lama gave a teaching and reading of "The Way Of the Bodhisattva", which I happened to bring my own copy all the way from the US via Kyrgyzstan. It was crowded but free, and I sat on a pillow and listened to the translation through headphones. The sad thing is that one of the things I remember most is my legs falling asleep a whole bunch. Still, a classic work that I hope to revisit one day.
Had the privilege to study the previous translation of this text in-depth for two semesters with a Tibetan Khenpo, then work with this translation later. Think I do slightly prefer the first translation (blue cover), since this seems more 'poetical', for want of a better word. Still, who am I to judge really, since works like this make such important texts accessible in my native language, and for that I am extremely thankful. Overall then, an excellent translation of an amazing and inspiring te ...more
Oct 02, 2015 Jordan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
I've been wanting to read this every since I read Pema Chodron's commentary on the work. A few minor qualms with this, but overall a fantastic piece. Though I'm not sure if my issues are with the book itself or with the translation. The section on the Perfection of Wisdom was particularly baffling to try and follow and in other areas I found myself relying on the Tibetan version in the footnotes to try and clarify things. I'll definitely be seeking out another translation of this to see if it ma ...more
Mar 12, 2013 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this as a text for a class taught by a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He couldn't speak much English, so everything he said was translated via Skype by a lady in CA. Though I didn't think the book on its own was amazing, the experience of being taught by gestures, facial expressions, voice inflection, and laughter before actually knowing what was being said, was amazing. Picture 25 people in a tiny room in MT circled around a monk with a laptop in front of him, spellbound, while snow (and sometim ...more
Aug 19, 2014 Ellery rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book does not come with any interpretation. It is a great translation, so 5 stars, but you will need an addition book for interpretation. You can't really understand this text without someone explaining the meaning. I recommend Pema Chodron's No Time To Lose.
Oct 06, 2016 Kaitlyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I prefer the translation Ani Pema uses in 'No Time To Lose' but it was definitely worth reading a variation on it. Keeps me from getting fixed ideas. *grin*

Also, I am amazed, still, at how relevant this text is even today, even in the West.
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Śāntideva was an North Indian Mahāyāna Buddhist monk associate with Nālandā monastery, who flourished somewhere between 685 and 763 CE. His two extant works are widely considered to be classics of explication of the philosophy and practice of the Buddhist "Great Vehicle" path.
More about Śāntideva...

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“Those desiring speedily to be
A refuge for themselves and others
Should make the interchange of "I" and "other,"
And thus embrace a sacred mystery.”
“If there is a remedy, then what is the use of frustration? If there is no remedy, then what is the use of frustration?” 4 likes
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