May 31 Shantideva Discussion Questions


Discussion Questions

  • What are the disadvantages of not maintaining the bodhisattva vows?
  • How does bodhicitta make you feel about death?
  • By practicing carefulness / conscientiousness, we prevent our bodhicitta from deteriorating. What exactly are we guarding against?

Suggested Readings

For those of you who have not studied the sections of the Lam Rim that explain subjects such as bodhicitta, the bodhisattva vows, and the Six Perfections, please consider reading some of the following books or online texts. You will get a lot more out of Rinpoche’s class if you do some background reading:


Meditation

When setting out on the path to Enlightenment, having role models and guides such as spiritual teachers and sangha are absolutely vital. There are bodhisattvas amongst us, but we can not recognize them as such. Think of people in your own life — parents, friends, acquaintances who inspire you with their selfless love, compassion, and courage. Whether they are Buddhist or not doesn’t matter. Then take a honest, gentle look at yourself. Is it necessary for you to make changes to the circumstances in your life so you can better nurture and cultivate bodhicitta?

posted by Dina Li

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2 thoughts on “May 31 Shantideva Discussion Questions

  1. Lisa’s $.02 (that and $3.50 will get you a hazelnut cappuccino … mmmmm, hazelnut cappuccino..)

    What are the disadvantages of not maintaining the bodhisattva vows?

    Geshe Thubten Chonyi discusses this in depth from page 156 to 167 (at least) in his commentary to Shantideva’s “Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life” (also known as “Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds”). Basically, we should not give them up because:

    1. Bodhicitta and its benefits have been thoroughly examined and deemed good by all the buddhas and bodhisattvas (the major benefits have been discussed in Chapter 1 of the “Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life”), and
    2. those who take the bodhisattva vows have done so having this clear understanding.

    So, instead of lapsing in those vows, we should rely on conscientiousness to make sure our practice does not deteriorate. If we do discard bodhicitta, we risk taking rebirth in the lower realms, we cease to work for the sake of others (which has even more dire consequences if we had previously promised to work for the sake of others), and our attainment of the bodhisattva grounds is postponed.

    How does bodhicitta make you feel about death?

    Through the practice of bodhicitta, I will purify negative karma and accumulate powerful virtue that will protect me at the time of death. This is discussed in Chapter 2, verse 41 of the “Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life” and in page 99 of Geshe Chonyi’s commentary.

    By practicing carefulness / conscientiousness, we prevent our bodhicitta from deteriorating. What exactly are we guarding against?

    Well, we’re guarding against non-conscientiousness, which is described in Geshe Chonyi’s commentary (page 154) as:

    • one of the twenty secondary afflictions and a negative emotion,
    • a mind that does not guard or protect itself against the afflictions and the faults that arise from such afflictions,
    • the mind that does whatever it wants without considering the consequences,
    • a mind that does not protect from the afflictions and the faults of the afflictions.
    • “It is basically a mind that gives into the afflictions.”

    What is the result of non-conscientiousness? Inevitably, we will become a slave to our passions. Chapter 4, verses 28 through 31 of the “Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life” sum things up really beautifully:

    “Although enemies such as hatred and craving
    Have neither any arms or legs,
    And are neither courageous nor wise,
    How have I been used like a slave by them?

    For while they dwell within my mind
    At their pleasure they cause me harm,
    Yet I patiently endure them without any anger,
    But this is an inappropriate and shameful time for patience,

    Should even all the gods and anti-gods
    Rise up against me as my enemies,
    They could not lead nor place me in
    The roaring fires of deepest hell,

    But the mighty foe, these disturbing conceptions,
    In a moment can cast me amidst (those flames)
    Which when met will cause not even the ashes
    Of the king of mountains to remain.”

  2. As always, excellent responses! : )

    A couple of thoughts on the second question — how does bodhicitta make you feel about death? — I think that once you’ve resolved to attain Enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings, you become more aware that your lifespan is so incredibly short, and there’s not a minute to lose because death can come at any time.

    And you realize that death can befall all sentient beings — your friends, parents, children, strangers — at any time also regardless of whether they are young or old, healthy or sickly. And the horror of that possibility strengthens your love and compassion for sentient beings and helps you uphold the bodhisattva vows.

    posted by: Dina

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