The Bodhicaryavatara – Chapter 4

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The Bodhicaryavatara - Shantideva_4
The Bodhicaryavatara - Shantideva_4

Chapter IV: Attending to the Spirit of Awakening

1. Thus, upon firmly adopting the spirit of awakening, a child of the Jinas should always vigilantly strive not to neglect his training.

2. Although one has made a commitment, it is appropriate to reconsider whether or not to do that which has been rashly undertaken and has not been well considered.

3. But shall I discard that which has been examined by the sagacious Buddhas and their children, as well as by myself according to the best of my abilities?

4. If, upon making such a promise, I do not put it into action, then having deceived those sentient beings, what destiny shall I have?

5. It has been said that a person who intended to give away even a tiny thing but does not do so, becomes a preta.

6. Then all the more so, having deceived the entire world after loudly and sincerely inviting it to unsurpassable happiness, what state of existence shall I have?

7. Only the Omniscient One knows the inconceivable course of action of those people whom he liberates even when they forsake the spirit of awakening.

8. Therefore, for a Bodhisattva it is the heaviest downfall of all; for if he commits such a downfall, he impairs the welfare of all sentient beings.

9. If someone else hinders his virtue, even for a moment, there will be no end to his miserable states of existence, because he diminishes the welfare of sentient beings.

10. One would be destroyed, obliterating the well being of even one sentient being, how much more so of beings dwelling throughout all space?

11. Thus, due to the power of the downfalls and due to the power of the Spirit of Awakening, one revolving in the cycle of existence is slow in the attaining of bodhisattva grounds.

12. Therefore, I should respectfully act in accordance with my commitment. If I do not make an effort now, I shall go from lower to lower states.

13. Innumerable Buddhas have gone by, seeking out every sentient being, but through my own fault, I have not come into the domain of their cure.

14. If I remain like this, as I am now, I will repeatedly come to the miserable states of existence, illness, death, amputation, destruction and the like.

15. When shall I encounter the extremely rare appearance of the Tathágata, faith, human existence, and the ability to practice virtue,

16. Health, daily sustenance, and lack of adversity? Life is momentary and deceptive; and the body is as if on loan.

17. With such behavior on my part, a human state is certainly not obtained again. When a human state is not achieved there is only vice, and how could there be blessing?

18. If I do not perform virtue even when I am capable of it, what then shall I do when fully dazed by the sufferings of miserable states of existence?

19. For one does not perform virtue but accumulates sin, even the expression, “favorable state of existence” will be lost for a thousand million eons.

20. Therefore, the blessed one stated that human existence is extremely difficult to obtain, like a turtles head emerging into the ring of a yoke in a vast ocean.

21. One dwells in the Avichi Hell for an eon as a consequence of a vice committed in a single moment. What then can be said of a favorable state of existence, since sin has accumulated since beginning-less time?

22. Having experienced that alone, one is still not liberated. Therefore, while experiencing it, one begets more vices.

23. Upon obtaining such leisure, if I do not practice virtue, then there is no duplicity greater than this, and there is no delusion greater than this.

24. If I recognize this and, still deluded, fall into sloth, then when I am commanded by the messengers of Yama, I shall long remain in great anguish.

25. The unendurable fire of hell will scorch my body for ages, and afterward the fire of remorse will torment my undisciplined mind for a long time.

26. I have somehow obtained the advantageous state that is very difficult to achieve, and though aware of that, I am led back to those same hells.

27. I have no will in this matter, as if bewitched by spells. I do not know by whom I am bewitched or who dwells inside me.

28. Enemies such as craving and hatred are without arms, legs, and so on. They are neither courageous nor wise. How is it that they have enslaved me?

29. Stationed in my mind, they ruin me, while remaining well established themselves; and yet I do not get angry at my forbearance with this shameful and improper situation.

30. If all gods and humans were my enemies, even they would be unable to bring me to the fire of the Avichi Hell.

31. When encountered, it consumes even the ashes of Mount Meru. Mental afflictions, the mighty enemies, instantly throw me there.

32. For the longevity of all other enemies is not so enduring, beginning-less, and endless as that of my enemies, the mental afflictions.

33. Everyone becomes favorably disposed when tended with kindness, but when these mental afflictions are honored, they bring about suffering all the more.

34. How can I take delight in the cycle of existence when constant, long lasting enemies, who are the sole cause of the currents and floods of adversities, fearlessly dwell in my heart?

35. How can I be happy if the guardians of the prison of the cycle of existence, these murderers and slaughterers in hells and the like, remain in the cage of greed within the dwelling of my heart?

36. Therefore, as long as these enemies are not destroyed before my eyes, I shall not forsake my task. Those lofty with pride, who are enraged at someone who gives them even a minor insult, will not sleep until they kill him.

37. At the height of a battle, ready to slaughter those who are in darkness and who are naturally subject to suffering through death, those afflicted with injuries from countless spears and arrows do not turn back without accomplishing their goal.

38. What then when I am eager to destroy my natural enemies, which are the perpetual causes of all miseries? Today, even if I am beset with a hundred adversities, why am I weary and despondent?

39. If they wear scars from their enemies for no reason as if they were ornaments, then why do sufferings trouble me when I am set to accomplish a great goal?

40. If fishermen, outcasts, farmers, and others, whose minds are fixed merely on their own livelihoods, withstand the adversities of cold and heat, then why do I not endure for the sake the well being of the world?

41. While I have promised to liberate beings throughout space in the ten directions from their mental afflictions, I have not liberated even myself from the mental afflictions.

42. Without knowing my own limitations, I spoke at that time as if I were a bit insane. Therefore, I shall never turn back from vanquishing mental afflictions.

43. I shall be tenacious in this matter; and fixed on revenge, I shall wage war, except against those mental afflictions that are related to the elimination of mental afflictions.

44. Let my entrails ooze out and my head fall off, but by no means shall I bow down to my enemies, the mental afflictions.

45. Even if exiled, an enemy may acquire a residence and followers in another country whence he returns with his full strength. But there is no such course for my enemy, the mental afflictions.

46. Once the afflictions that dwell in my mind have been expelled, where could it go, and where would it go, and where would it rest and attempt to return and destroy me? Feeble in spirit, I am lacking in perseverance. Mental afflictions are frail and conquerable with the eye of wisdom.

47. Mental afflictions do not exist in sense objects, or in sense faculties, or in the space between, and not anywhere else. Then where do they exist and agitate the whole world? This is an illusion only. Liberate your fearing heart and cultivate perseverance for the sake of wisdom. Why would you torture yourself in hells for no reason?

48. After pondering in this way, I shall make an effort to apply the teachings as they have been explained. How can someone who could be cured by medicine be restored to health if he strays from the physician’s advice?

Click Here: The Bodhicaryavatara – Chapter 5