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                 Excerpts from Shantideva 

Shantideva was a monk of the Madhyamika school in the Mahayana tradition, living at the University of Nalanda during the 7th/8th century AD, who is said to have been the oldest son of a king in South India, but declined the king's throne to became a monk.

 

First of all I should make an effort
To meditate upon the equality between self and others:
I should protect all beings as I do myself
Because we are all equal in wanting pleasure and not wanting pain.

Although there are many different parts and aspects such as the hands;
As a body that is to be protected they are one,
Likewise all the different sentient beings in their pleasure and their pain
Have a wish to be happy that is the same as mine.

The suffering that I experience
Does not cause any harm to others.
But that suffering is mine because of my conceiving of myself as "I";
Thereby it becomes unbearable.

Likewise the misery of others
Does not befall me.
Nevertheless, by conceiving of others as "I" their suffering becomes mine;
Therefore it too should be hard to bear.

Hence I should dispel the misery of others
Because it is suffering, just like my own,
And I should benefit others
Because they are sentient beings, just like myself.

When both myself and others
Are similar in that we wish to be happy,
What is so special about me?
Why do I strive for my happiness alone?

A Guide to a Bodhisattva's Way of Life, Shantideva, tr by Stephen Batchelor, Chapter VIII, verses 90-95,, Snow Lion Publications.

 

Those who cause me suffering
Are like Buddhas bestowing their blessings.
Since they lead me to liberating paths
Why should I get angry with them?

"Don't they obstruct your virtuous practice?"
No! There is no virtuous practice greater than patience;
Therefore I will never get angry
With those who cause me suffering.

If, because of my own shortcomings,
I do not practice patience with my enemy
It is not he, but I, who prevents me from practicing patience

Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, Shantideva, tr by Neal Elliot and Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Chapter VI, verses 101-103, Tharpa Publications 2002.

 

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