The Bodhicaryavatara – Chapter 8

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The Bodhicaryavatara - Shantideva_8
The Bodhicaryavatara - Shantideva_8

Chapter VIII: The Perfection of Meditation

1. Upon developing zeal in that way, one should stabilize the mind in meditative concentration, since a person whose mind is distracted lives between the fangs of mental afflictions.

2. With bodily and mental seclusion, distraction does not arise. Therefore, upon renouncing the world, one should renounce discursive thoughts.

3. On account of attachment and craving for gain and the like, one does not renounce the world. Thus, upon forsaking them, the wise should contemplate in this way.

4. Realizing that one who is well endowed with insight through quiescence eradicates mental afflictions one should first seek quiescence. Quiescence is due to detachment toward the world and due to joy.

5. For what impermanent person, who will not see his loved ones again in thousands of births, is it appropriate to be attached to impermanent things?

6. Failing to see them, one does not find joy nor does one abide in meditative concentration. Even upon seeing them, one does not become satisfied but is tormented by strong desire, just as before.

7. One does not perceive reality and loses disillusionment with the cycle of existence. One is consumed by that grief—desire for the company of the beloved.

8. Because of thinking of that person, life ever so swiftly passes in vain. Due to a transient entity, the eternal Dharma is lost.

9. One who acts in the same manner as foolish people definitely goes to a miserable state of existence. They do like someone who is different. What is gained from association with fools?

10. One moment they are friends, and the next moment they are enemies. On an occasion for being pleased, they become angry. Ordinary people are difficult to gratify.

11. When given good advice, they become angry; and they turn me away from good advice. If they are not listened to, they become angry and go to a miserable state of existence.

12. They feel envy toward a superior, competitiveness with a peer, arrogance toward one who is inferior, conceit due to praise, and anger due to reproach. When could there be any benefit from a fool?

13. Between one fool and another, something non-virtuous is inevitable, such as glorification of one’s own self, speaking ill of others, and conversation about the pleasures of the cycle of existence.

14. Thus, on account of one’s association with someone else, one encounters adversity. I shall happily live alone with a non-afflicted mind.

15. One should flee far from a fool. One should gratify the encountered person with pleasantries, not with the intention of intimacy but in the manner of a kind and impartial person.

16. Taking only what benefits Dharma, like a bee taking nectar from a flower, I shall live everywhere without acquaintance, as if I had not existed before.

17. A mortal who thinks, “I am rich and respected, and many like me,” experiences fear of approaching death.

18. Wherever the mind, infatuated by pleasures, finds enjoyment, there a thousand-fold suffering arises and falls to one’s share.

19. Hence, the wise should not desire it. Fear arises from desire, yet it passes away by itself. Generate fortitude and look at it with indifference.

20. Many have become wealthy and many have become famous, but no one knows where they have gone with their wealth and fame.

21. If others despise me, why should I rejoice when praised? If others praise me, why should I be despondent when reviled?

22. If sentient beings of different dispositions have not been satisfied by the Jinas themselves, then how could they be like an ignorant person like myself? So, what is the point of attending to the world?

23. They revile a person without acquisitions, and despise a person with acquisitions. How can those whose company is by nature suffering bring forth joy?

24. The Tathágatas have said that a fool is no ones friend, because the affection of a fool does not arise without self-interest.

25. Love due to self-interest is love for one’s own sake, just as distress at the loss of possessions is occasioned by the loss of pleasures.

26. Trees do not revile nor can they be pleased with effort. When might I dwell with those whose company is a delight?

27. When shall I dwell in a cave, an empty temple, or at the foot of a tree, without looking back, and without attachment?

28. When shall I dwell, living freely and without attachment, in unclaimed and naturally spacious regions?

29. When shall I dwell with a paltry alms bowl and so on in clothing wanted by no one, living fearlessly, even without concealing my body?

30. When shall I go to the local charnel grounds and compare my own body, which has the nature of decay, with other corpses?

31. For this body of mine will also become so putrid that even the jackals will not come near it because of the stench.

32. If the flesh and bone that have arisen together with this body will deteriorate and disperse, how much more is this the case for other friends?

33. A person is born alone and also dies alone. No one else has a share in one’s agony. What is the use of loved ones who create hindrances?

34. Just as one who has undertaken a journey takes lodging, so does one who travels in the cycle of existence take lodging in a rebirth.

35. Until one his hoisted by four men and mourned by the world, one should retire to the forest.

36. Without intimacy and without conflict, one dwells in physical solitude, and when one is counted as if already dead no one grieves when one actually dies.

37. There is on one to inflict grief and harm, nor is there any one to distract one from the recollection of the Buddha and so forth.

38. Thus, I shall always dwell alone in the delightful forest, which creates few problems, good cheer, and the pacification of all distraction.

39. Free from all other concerns and having a single-pointed mind, I shall apply myself to meditative concentration and to the subjugation of the mind.

40. Casting off all other concerns, and with a single pointed mind, I shall strive to balance and subdue my mind. In this world and the next, sensuous desires create troubles, such as murder, imprisonment, and dismemberment in this life, and hell and so forth in the next.

41. She for whom you have supplicated male and female messengers many times and for whose sake you have not considered the cost of either vice nor disgrace,

42. Throwing yourself into danger and wasting your health, embracing her with the greatest pleasure—

43. She is nothing but bones, indifferent and impersonal. Why do you not resort to emancipation, fully embracing it to your hearts content?

44. Either you have seen that bashfully lowered face before as being lifted up with effort, or you have not seen it as it was covered by a veil.

45. Just as that face that torments you is perceived now, so you will see it unveiled by vultures. Why does it make you flee now?

46. Since you guarded her face from the gaze of others, why do you, O avaricious one, not guard it as it is being eaten?

47. Seeing this mass of flesh being eaten by vultures and others, should you worship others food with wreaths of flowers, sandalwood paste, and ornaments?

48. You fear a skeleton that has been seen like this, even though it does not move. Why do you fear it when it moves, as if set in motion like some ghost?

49. Their saliva and excrement arise from the same food. Why then do you dislike excrement, and like sucking saliva?

50. Taking no delight in cotton pillows that are soft to the touch, the lustful, who are deluded with respect to filth, say the body does not emit a foul odor?

51. The lustful, degraded, and deluded have distain for soft cotton, saying, “It can’t engage in intercourse.”

52. If you say ‘I do not lust after filth,’ why do you embrace on your lap something else that is a skeleton tied together with sinews, and plastered over with a mire of flesh?

53. You have plenty of filth yourself, and you always have the use of it, yet out of craving, you desire the filth in another sack of muck.

54. Casting aside a fresh lotus opening, under the rays of the cloudless sun, why do you, with your filth-craving mind, take delight in a container of muck?

55. The mind that you desire cannot be seen or touched; and that which can be is not conscious. Why do you embrace in vain?

56. It is not surprising that you do not look at another persons body as composed of filth, but it is astonishing that you do not perceive your own body as composed of filth.

57. Thinking, “I like its flesh,” you wish to touch it and look at it. Why do you not desire the flesh of a dead body, which, by nature, is not sentient?

58. If you do not desire to touch soil and the like because it is smeared with excrement, how can you wish to touch the body out of which it is excreted?

59. If you do not have passion for what is impure, why do you embrace someone else, who is a seed or arisen from a field of filth and nourished by it?

60. You do not desire a dirty worm originating from filth because it is small, but you desire a body that consists of much filth and also born from filth.

61. Not only do you not abhor your own filth, out of craving, you desire other filthy sacks of excrement.

62. Even the ground is considered impure when savory foods, such as camphor or boiled rice and condiments, are spat out or vomited from the mouth.

63. If you do not trust that this is filth even though it is obvious, look at other bodies too, repugnant and discarded in the charnel ground.

64. Knowing that great fear arises when the skin is torn off, how can you have attraction to that same thing again?

65. Although applied to the body, this fragrance is from sandalwood and not from anything else. Why are you attracted to someone by the fragrance that belongs to something else?

66. If attraction does not arise due to a naturally foul smell, is that not good? Why do people take pleasure in what is worthless and anoint it with fragrance?

67. If it is sandalwood that is sweet smelling, did it come from the body? Why is someone attracted to someone because of a fragrance that belongs to something else?

68. If the naked body, containing the slime of filth, is frightening in its natural condition, with its long hair and nails and stained yellowish teeth,

69. Why do you meticulously polish it like a weapon for suicide? This earth is crowded with the insane, so diligent in deluding themselves!

70. If you are repelled upon seeing just skeletons in a charnel ground, are you attracted to a village, which is a charnel ground crowded with animated skeletons?

71. Thus, that filth is not gained without a price. Due to accomplishing that end, one is afflicted with fatigue and tormented in hells.

72. A child cannot increase its wealth, so with what is one happy when one is a youth? When ones life is spent accumulating wealth, what good is sensual gratification once one is old?

73. Some debased sensualists exhaust themselves with work throughout the day; then upon coming home, their depleted bodies fall asleep like the dead.

74. Others are afflicted by traveling abroad and suffer as they are far from home; and though they long for their wives and children, they do not see them for years on end.

75. Deluded by sensual desires, they sell themselves for that which they never acquire. Instead, their life is uselessly spent in labor for others.

76. The wives of those who have sold themselves and who always carry out commissions give birth at the feet of trees in the jungles and other inappropriate places.

77. In order to make a livelihood they enter war that endangers their lives, and they become servants for the sake of their self-respect. They are fools ridiculed for their sensual desires.

78. Some other sensualists are mutilated, fixed on a stake. They are seen being burned, and slain with daggers.

79. Consider wealth as an unending misfortune because of the troubles of acquiring, protecting, and losing it. Those who are distracted by attachment to wealth have no opportunity for liberation from the suffering of mundane existence.

80. Thus, sensualists have much distress and little enjoyment, like a beast that has hold of a bit of grass while pulling a wagon.

81. For the sake of that bit of enjoyment, which is easily obtainable even for an animal, an ill-fated one has destroyed this leisure and endowment, which is very difficult to find.

82. Sensual gratification is definitely transient and it casts one down to hell and so forth, and for no great end, one is constantly weary.

83. With even a billionth part of that diligence, there can be Buddhahood. Sensualists have suffering greater than the suffering of the Path, but they have no Awakening.

84. If one considers the suffering of the hells and so on, weapons, poison, fire, precipices, and enemies do not compare to sensual desires.

85. Becoming disillusioned with sensual desires in that way, generate delight in solitude in the peaceful forest, devoid of strive and annoyances.

86. The fortunate, pondering on how to benefit others, roam about, caressed by silent, gentle forest breezes, and cooled by the sandalwood rays of the moon on the lovely mansions of vast boulders.

87. In an empty hut, at the foot of a tree, or in a cave, one remains as long as one desires, and casting off the suffering of guarding ones possessions, one lives light heartedly, without a care.

88. Living freely, without attachment, and not tied by anyone, one savors the joy of contentment that is difficult even for a king to find.

89. After meditating on the advantages of solitude in this and other ways, having one’s discursive thoughts calmed, one should cultivate the spirit of awakening.

90. One should first earnestly meditate on the equality of oneself and others in this way: “All equally experience suffering and happiness, and I must protect them as I do myself.”

91. Although it has many divisions, such as arms and so one, the body is protected as a whole. Likewise, different beings, with their joys and sorrows, are all equal, like my self, in their yearning for happiness.

92. Even though my agony does not hurt anyone else’s body, that suffering of mine is unbearable because I cling to it as mine.

93. Likewise, although others’ suffering does not descend upon me, that suffering of theirs is difficult to bear because they cling to it as ‘theirs.’

94. I should eliminate the suffering of others because it is suffering, just like my own suffering. I should take care of others, just as I am a sentient being.

95. When happiness is equally dear to others and myself, then what is so special about me that I strive after happiness for myself alone?

96. When fear and suffering are equally abhorrent to others and myself, then what is so special about me that I protect myself but not others

97. If I do not protect them because I am not afflicted by their suffering, why do I protect my body from the suffering of a future body, which is not my pain?

98. The notion that I will experience that is mistaken, for the one who has died is born elsewhere and is someone else.

99. If one thinks a person’s suffering should be warded off by himself, since pain of the foot is not of the hand, why should the one take care of the other?

100. If one argues that even though it is inappropriate, it happens because of a grasping onto a self, our response is: with all ones might, one should avoid that which is inappropriate, whether it belongs to oneself, or to another.

101. The continuum of consciousness, like a series, and the aggregation of constituents, like an army and such, are unreal. Since one who experiences suffering does not exist, to whom will that suffering belong?

102. All sufferings are without an owner, because they are not different, they should be warded off, simply because they are suffering. Why is any restriction made in this case?

103. Why should suffering be prevented? Because everyone agrees. If it must be warded off, then all of it must be warded off; and if not, then this goes for oneself as it does for everyone else.

104. Qualm: much suffering arises from compassion, so why should one force it to arise? Response: After seeing the suffering of the world, how can this suffering from compassion be considered great?

105. If the suffering of many disappears because of the suffering of one, then a compassionate person should induce that suffering for his own sake and for the sake of others.

106. Therefore, Supuspacandra, although knowing the king’s animosity, did not avoid his own suffering as a sacrifice for many people in misery.

107. Thus, one whose mind stream is accustomed to meditation and who delights in calming the suffering of others enters into Avichi Hell like a swan into a pool of Lotuses.

108. When sentient beings are liberated, they have oceans of joy. Is that not enough? What is the point of desiring ones own liberation?

109. Thus, although working for the benefit of others, there is neither conceit nor dismay; and on account of the thirst for the single goal of benefiting others, there is no desire for the result of the maturation of ones Karma.

110. Therefore, to the extent that I protect myself from disparagement, so shall I generate a spirit of protection and a spirit of compassion toward others!

111. Due to habituation, there is a sense that “I” exists in the drops of blood and semen that belongs to others, even though the being in question does not exist.

112. Why do I not also consider another’s body as myself in the same way, the otherness if my own body is not difficult to determine?

113. Acknowledging oneself as fault-ridden and others as oceans of virtues, one should contemplate renouncing one’s self-identity and accepting others.

114. Just as the hands and the like are cherished because they are members of the body, why are the embodied beings not cherished in the same way, for they are the members of the world?

115. Just as the notion of a self with regard to one’s own body, which has no personal existence, is due to habitation, will the identity of one’s self with others not arise in the same way?

116. Although working for the benefit of others in this way, there is neither conceit nor dismay. Even upon feeding oneself, expectation of a reward does not arise.

117. Therefore, just as you protect yourself from even minor disparagement, cultivate a spirit of protection and a spirit of compassion toward the world.

118. Hence, out of great compassion Lord Avalokita (Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara) blessed his own name to dispel even the anxiety of being in a crowd.

119. One should not turn away from difficulty, since owing to the power of habituation, one may have no pleasure in the absence of something that one previously feared to hear mentioned.

120. One who wishes to protect oneself and others quickly should practice exchanging oneself for others, which is a great mystery.

121. If even at a small danger fear arises on account of great attachment to oneself, why should one not abhor that self like a terrifying enemy?

122. One who kills birds, fish, and deer, and sets up an ambush with the desire to quell illness, thirst, and hunger,

123. One, who kills one’s parents and steals the property of The Three Jewels for the sake of profit and respect, will become fuel in the Avichi Hell.

124. What wise person would desire, protect, and venerate such a self? Who would not see it as an enemy, and who would respect it?

125. If, out of concern for oneself, one thinks: “if I give it away, what shall I enjoy?” This is a fiendish state. If out of concern for others one thinks: “if I enjoy it, what shall I give away?” This is a divine state.

126. Upon harming another for one’s own sake, one is burnt in hells and the like; but upon afflicting oneself for the sake of others, one has success in everything.

127. The desire for self-aggrandizement leads to a miserable state of existence, low status, and stupidity. By transferring that same desire to someone else, one obtains a fortunate state of existence, respect, and wisdom.

128. By ordering another around for ones own sake, one experiences the position of a servant and the like; but by ordering oneself around for the sake of others, one experiences the position of a master and the like.

129. All those who are unhappy in the world are so as a result of their desire for their own happiness. All those who are happy in the world are so as a result of their desire for the happiness of others.

130. Enough of such talk! Note the difference between the fool who seeks his own benefit, and the sage who works for the benefit of others.

131. One, who does not exchange his own happiness for the suffering of others, surely does not achieve Buddhahood. How could one find happiness even in the cycle of existence?

132. Not to mention the next life, even in this life, a desired goal of a servant who does not do his work, and of a master who does not pay out the wages, cannot be accomplished.

133. Forsaking the generation of mutual happiness and the felicity of present and future happiness, deluded people take on tremendous suffering because of harming one another.

134. If all the harm, fear, and suffering in the world occur due to grasping onto the self, what use is that great demon to me?

135. Without forsaking one’s own self, one cannot avoid suffering, just as without avoiding the fire one cannot avoid being burned.

136. Therefore, in order to alleviate my own suffering and to alleviate the suffering of others, I give myself up to others, and I accept others as my own self.

137. O mind, make this resolve: “I am bound to others.” From now on you must not be concerned with anything but the welfare of all sentient beings.

138. It is inappropriate to seek one’s own welfare with the eyes and so on that are dedicated to others. It is inappropriate to pour one’s own benefit with hands that are dedicated to others.

139. Therefore, becoming subservient to sentient beings, and snatching away whatever you see on this body, use it for the well being of others.

140. Placing your own identity in inferior ones and placing the identity of others in your own self, cultivate envy and pride with the mind free of discursive thoughts.

141. He is respected, not I. I am not wealthy, as he is. He is praised, while I am despised. I am unhappy, while he is happy.

142. I do chores while he lives at ease. It seems he is great in the world, while I am debased, lacking in good qualities.

143. What can one do without good qualities? Every person is endowed with good qualities. There are those with regard to whom I am inferior, and there are those with regard to whom I am superior.

144. The degeneration of my ethical discipline, views, and so on is due to the power of mental afflictions and not my own free will. You must heal me as well as you can, and I shall accept the pain.

145. If he cannot cure me, why does he disdain me? What use are his good qualities to me when he is the one who has good qualities?

146. He has no compassion for beings who dwell in the jaws of the beast of prey of miserable states of existence. Moreover, out of pride in his qualities, he desires to surpass the wise.

147. Seeing himself as being equal to others in order to enhance his own superiority, he will obtain wealth and respect for himself even by means of discord.

148. Were my good qualities to become apparent to everyone in the world, then no one would ever even hear of his good qualities.

149. Were not my faults to be concealed, there would be honor for me and not for him. Today, I have easily acquired possessions. I am honored while he is not.

150. Delighted, we shall watch him, as he is finally being ill treated, ridiculed and reviled from all sides.

151. Also, it seems this wretched one is competing with me does he have this much learning, wisdom, beauty, noble ancestry, and wealth?

152. Hearing my own good qualities being praised everywhere in this way, thrilled, with my hair standing on end, I shall enjoy the delight of happiness.

153. Even though this one has possessions, they are to be taken over with my strength; and if he works for me, I will give him just enough to survive.

154. We should deprive him of happiness and always yoke him to our anguish. We all have been afflicted in the cycle of existence hundreds of times by him.

155. O mind, countless eons have passed as you have yearned to accomplish your own self-interest, but with such great toil you have gained only suffering.

156. Thus, definitely apply yourself in this way right now without hesitation. Later you will see the advantages of this, for the words of the Sage are true.

157. If you had carried out this task earlier, this state deprived of the perfection and bliss of the Buddha would not have occurred.

158. Therefore, just as you formed a sense of self-identity, with regard to the drops of blood and semen of others, contemplate others in the same way.

159. Living as one who belongs to others and snatching away whatever you see on this body, practice what is beneficial to others.

160. Arouse envy towards your own self in this way: I am well while the other is miserable; the other is lowly while I am exalted; the other works while I do not.

161. Deprive yourself of happiness and expose yourself to the suffering of others. Examine your own faults with the consideration, “what have I done, at what time?”

162. Take the mistake made by another on your head, and disclose even a trivial mistake of yours to the Great Sage.

163. Let your own reputation be outshone by exalting the reputation of others, and like the least of servants, commit yourself to everyone’s welfare.

164. This one of defective nature should not be praised for adventitious good qualities. Act so that no one may know of this one’s good qualities.

165. In brief, whatever offense you have committed toward others for your own benefit, let it descend on yourself for the benefit of sentient beings.

166. This one should not be encouraged to be abusive, but should be established in the behavior of a young bride, modest, meek, and restrained.

167. Act in this way! Remain in this way! You should not do this! You should be subjugated and subdued in this way if you disobey.

168. O mind, if you do not do this even when you are being told, then I shall subjugate you alone, for all faults dwell in you.

169. Where will you go? I can see you, and I shall annihilate all your vanities. That was another, earlier time when I was ruined by you.

170. Now give up this hope: “Still, I have my own self interest!” Unconcerned as you are with much distress, I have sold you to others.

171. If I do not joyfully offer you to sentient beings, you will undoubtedly deliver me to the guardians of hell.

172. Handing me over in that way many times, you have tormented me for a long time. Remembering those grudges, I shall destroy you, the servant of your own self interest.

173. If you are pleased with yourself, you should take no pleasure in yourself. If you need protection, it is inappropriate to protect yourself.

174. The more this body is pampered, the more fragile it becomes, and the more it degenerates.

175. When it has degenerated in this way, not even this earth can completely fulfill its desire. Who then will satisfy its desire?

176. For one who desires the impossible, mental affliction and disappointment arise; but for one who is free of expectations there is unblemished prosperity.

177. Therefore, free rein should not be given to the growth of bodily desires. It is truly good when one does not take something that ones wants.

178. This awful, impure form has its end in ashes and stillness, moved only by another. Why do I grasp onto it as mine?

179. Of what use is this contrivance to me, whether it is dead or alive? What difference is there between this and a clump of soil and the like? Alas, you are not eliminating the grasping onto the “I.”

180. By favoring the body, one uselessly accumulates suffering. Of what use is anger or love to something equal to a piece of wood?

181. Whether it is nurtured by me, or eaten by vultures, it feels neither affection nor aversion, so why am I so fond of it?

182. If the body, which has no anger due to abuse, or satisfaction due to praise, is unconscious, then for whom am I exerting myself?

183. Those who like this body are said to be my friends. They all like their own bodies too, so why do I not like them?

184. Therefore, with indifference I have given up my body for the benefit of the world. Hence, although it has many faults, I keep it as an instrument for that task.

185. So enough of worldly conduct! Recalling the teaching on consciousness and warding off drowsiness and lethargy, I shall follow the wise.

186. Therefore, withdrawing the mind from evil ways, I shall always concentrate it on its own meditative object to eliminate obscurations.

Click here: The Bodhicaryavatara – Chapter 9