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The Way of the Bodhisattva: A Translation of the Bodhicharyavatara (Shambhala Dragon Editions) Paperback – February 4, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Shantideva was an Indian Buddhist while Buddhism still flourished in India. His great work, the Bodhicharyavatara, or "Entrance to the Path of Awakening," became a major text of Tibetan Buddhism long after it went out of circulation in its homeland. It is a handbook on how to realize the nature of existence and of compassion that arises from such realization. The Dalai Lama said of it, "If I have any understanding of compassion and the practice of the Bodhisattva path, it is entirely on the basis of this text that I possess it." Like the Book of Proverbs, the Bodhicharyavatara is a timeless work of wisdom, the longevity of which is due to the quality of its verse as much as to its wisdom. For the first time, an attempt has been made to recover that poetic immediacy by rendering the text in iambic lines.
Regard your body as a vessel,
A simple boat for going here and there.
Make of it a wish-fulfilling gem
To bring about the benefit of beings.
With this translation, gleaming in its clarity, a Buddhist classic becomes an English classic. Worthy of recitation and committing to memory, Shantideva's words on such topics as doing good, reading sutras, guarding the mind, keeping good company, and on the nature of the mind and reality can take on a life of their own, to grow and blossom in a new native tongue. The text booms, like the voice of a Shakespearean actor, as if it were not the bodhisattva but the book itself that proclaims:
And now as long as space endures,
As long as there are beings to be found,
May I continue likewise to remain
To drive away the sorrows of the world.
--Brian Bruya

From Publishers Weekly

One of the many Buddhist masters who have written profoundly and with clarity about the wellsprings of the Buddhist traditions is Shantideva, a seventh-century Buddhist scholar who taught at Nalanda, one of the great monastic universities of ancient India. Shantideva's Bodhicharyavatara, one of the foundational texts of Tibetan Buddhism, deeply influenced the Dalai Lama, who once remarked that his own understanding of the bodhisattva path is based entirely upon Shantideva's text. Bodhisattvas are beings who renounce nirvana and vow to work for the welfare of all beings. The Bodhicharyavatara, which means "An Entry Into the Activities of Enlightenment," is an outline of the path that bodhisattvas should follow as they seek to teach others the path to nirvana. Thus, this collection contains meditation exercises and moral instruction for bodhisattvas to practice as they engage in their work. Shantideva's work is required reading for an understanding of Tibetan Buddhism, and the clarity and crispness of this new translation make it an accessible way into the world of Tibetan Buddhism.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Shambhala Dragon Editions
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala (February 4, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570622531
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570622533
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,791,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I read it on the train to work every morning and it is a great way to start the day.
Peter Williams
Shantideva provides here the perfect foundation for all Bodhisattvas in training..any individual who wants to integrate spirtual wisdom into all aspects of life.
Kanti
This is the best translation yet of one of the basic and most profound Buddhist texts.
Tenzing

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Kanti on July 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
Shantideva provides here the perfect foundation for all Bodhisattvas in training..any individual who wants to integrate spirtual wisdom into all aspects of life.

This text is the kind of inspired writing that one benefits in reading and re-reading over the course of one's life in order to glean more insight into the means by which one may live according to the Way of the Dharma and attain liberation for the benefit of others.

I have been to teachings led by HH Dalai Lama and two of the chapters in this book were used as a means to receive formal Buddhist initiation.
In addition, His Holiness reads from this text daily and considers His
"Mission Statement" to be this verse from Shantideva's text: "For as long as space endures and for as long as living beings remain, until then may I too abide to dispel the misery of the world."

Truly powerful in its simplicity. This text is a must for anyone who truly aspires to be a practicing Buddhist or for any spiritual warrior from any tradition.
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
Shatideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life is a very practical guide for those seeking to actualize the six perfections of Buddhism. It is a book that will reward your study over and over again, and is meant to be read and studied more than once. I have read three different translations of this work. The Shambala edition is the most poetic of the three and what it gains in poetry it slightly looses in meaning. My first choice is the version published by the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. That is not to slight the Shambala edition though, for it merely presents another view of an immense landscape. If you have any interest in Buddhism and have some background in basic Buddhist ideas, read this book, and try your best to put it into practice.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Arthur R. Murphy on June 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
The ultimate review of this book is on the cover: a quote from H. H. the Dalai Lama - "If I have any understanding of compassion and the practice of the bodhisattva path, it is entirely on the basis of this text that I possess it."

This review, therefore, addresses why this new translation is so valuable.

Part of the answer is the poetic quality of the translation. A useful translation renders the meaning of a linguistic work of art into another language. This translation is a re-creation of poetry in the fullest sense. The majesty of the verse appears to be an example of a well-crafted original in English.

The work would be evocative even without footnotes to give context and perspective.

A sensitive awareness to contextual meaning, however, is the other great strength of this translation. In an extensive and clearly reasoned introduction, the translator (Wulstan Fletcher) discusses the rationale for a process that relied primarily on translation from the Tibetan version of this book, despite the existence the original Sanskrit by Shatideva. Why a translation of a translation, when the original is extant? The translator's answer is the invaluable contextual insight of the unbroken oral tradition of this work within Tibet. And, he has retained the option to consult the Sanskrit original for patterns of style and to resolve any ambiguity in the Tibetan version.

The biography of Shantideva as an appendix also helps to enrich the understanding of this work in our "modern" age. In a time of frantic life-styles and limited attention to compassion as a core value, a poetic reminder of an attitude of service can enrich our lives. This translation of The Way of the Bodhisattva is an evocative path to such an understanding: our true value as ethically motivated interdependent human beings.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 1998
Format: Paperback
The Bodhicharyavatara is a manual for the practice of compassion. It regards compassion, the foremost quality of a bodhisattva, as beneficial for both the recipient and the giver. By unselfishly aiding others, the giver not only improves the lives of others but his action helps him eliminate his own miseries. No doubt that it is hard to extend love in our society, but Shantideva anticipates the practitioner's reservations by providing several exercises that allieviate the dread of exploitation by others. The Bodhicharyavatara remains an important text, and although it was written by a Buddhist monk its message extends to people of all faiths.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By S. Knipp on January 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
In addition to the translated text of Shantideva's brilliant 10 chapter treatise on the what, why and how to live the life of a Bodhisattva, the 28-page introduction is one of the most concise and engaging explanations of what the practice and study of Buddhism entails--with all it's challenges and rewards--using the teaching we are about to read as its reference point.

This text has many versions of translations, and I found this one by the Padmakara Translation Group to be very good at keeping the meter of Shantideva's beautiful poetic delivery--reportedly given spontaneously in one teaching session--without losing the profound meaning of his message.

For those looking for something written in the style of the Book of Psalms, but with a purely Buddhist point of view, this is it.
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33 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Steve Uhlig on July 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
Although being a good translation of the Bodhicaryavatara, my impression is that this English translation lags behind the one from Kate Crosby and Andrew Skilton. The reason is that the authors have tried to provide a more poetic version of the text, to the detriment of the accuracy in meaning. Although such an intent is laudable, the result is mitigated. The problem comes from the language with its too different cultural roots, English appears difficult for allowing a poetic translation of a text of this nature. For exanple, the French translation from Louis Finot achieves accuracy and poetry at the same time.

Nevertheless, the translation is still very good, and the comments are sufficiently detailed for the reader to grasp all the substance from this wonderful text.
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