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37 Practices of a Bodhisattva

johnathanjohnathan ICBICanada Veteran
edited February 2011 in Buddhism Basics
A friend and I are currently having a look at these practices and seeing if we can boil these practices down to simple English.... Any assistance would be welcome...

We just started and so far have:

PRACTICE #1:

Listen, think, and meditate (upon the Dharma) unwaveringly, day and night.


Is this the gist or is it to simplified?
«1

Comments

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited December 2010
    I'd be interested to hear more as you go along. The first one sounds sensible. I would think you would need to see how the teachings fit into your own struggles, so that you could make it more continuous than a set time. Metta would be one that I think of. Even brushing teeth you might not feel much of anything but there is a wish at least to avert harm.
  • edited December 2010
    johnathan wrote: »
    PRACTICE #1:

    Listen, think, and meditate (upon the Dharma) unwaveringly, day and night.


    Is this the gist or is it to simplified?



    I think you have simplified it. The first practice is to meditate on your current circumstances.

    You are a human. Particularly, you are the precious kind of human. You exist in the luxury and leisure of a life free from gross sufferings such as starvation, being born in a disadvantaged socio-economic category, and free from profound physical and mental disabilities, etc.

    Meditate on this fortuitous confluence of conditions. Maintain the practice for further fortuitous confluences of conditions.
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited December 2010
    hmmm.. upalabhava... I was looking to put them in simple English... not much simple in words like confluence... but I think I get what you're saying...

    Would not meditating on said confluences of conditions not be covered by "Listen, think, and meditate (upon the Dharma) unwaveringly, day and night.? because to do so you would inevitably become aware of and meditate on this...
  • edited December 2010
    johnathan wrote: »
    Would not meditating on said confluences of conditions not be covered by "Listen, think, and meditate (upon the Dharma) unwaveringly, day and night.? because to do so you would inevitably become aware of and meditate on this...


    It's just that for every single one of the 37 steps you are going to be meditating on dharma, so you need to focus the meditations. The first meditation is specifically focused on engendering a profound recognition of the fortuitous conditions that make the current moment as it is experienced by you, a precious human rebirth, possible.
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited December 2010
    Practice #1:

    Having gained this rare precious human rebirth, Listen, think, and meditate (upon the Dharma) unwaveringly, day and night, in order to free oneself and others from this ocean of samsara.
  • edited December 2010
    johnathan wrote: »
    Practice #1:

    Having gained this rare precious human rebirth, Listen, think, and meditate (upon the Dharma) unwaveringly, day and night, in order to free oneself and others from this ocean of samsara.


    Dharma+Wheel.gif
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited December 2010
    Is that your stamp of approval :)
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited December 2010
    Here's a stab at Practice #2:

    When ones emotion's towards others, whether with those one loves, hates or is indifferent to, harms ones ability to practice Dharma then it is advisable to leave.
    SuraShine
  • edited December 2010
    johnathan wrote: »
    Here's a stab at Practice #2:

    When ones emotion's towards others, whether with those one loves, hates or is indifferent to, harms ones ability to practice Dharma then it is advisable to leave.


    Yes. Wander alone like a Rhinoceros.
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited December 2010
    How about this then...

    Practice #2:

    When ones emotion's towards others, whether with those one loves, hates or is indifferent to, harms ones ability to practice Dharma then it is advisable to cultivate loving-kindness towards all alike or if that is not possible, leave.

    This would imply that the cultivation of metta for all is the favorable option but if one fails to do that then it is better to leave then stay in that environment and have ones practice of the Dharma harmed.

    Both cultivating metta and leaving have the same outcome, freeing oneself (er... nonself) from attachments, aversions and ignorance that get in the way of practicing Dharma...

    Perhaps Loving-Kindness is to narrow of an alternative as their are other ways to leave ones homeland...

    Maybe this is a better phrasing:

    Practice #2:

    When ones emotion's towards others, whether with those one loves, hates or is indifferent to, harms ones ability to practice Dharma then it is advisable to let go of these emotions or if that is not possible, leave.

    EDIT: I found the wording above for practice #2 a bit of a tongue twister so have revised it...

    Practice #2:

    When ones emotion's towards those they love, hate or are indifferent to, harms their ability to practice Dharma then they should either let go of these emotions or if that is not possible, leave.
    SuraShine
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited December 2010
    Thanks for the Sutta... I thoroughly enjoy Thanissaro Bhikkhu's writing and translations...
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited December 2010
    Practice #3:

    It is better to dwell alone in silence than to dwell in a negative place. In doing so, disturbing emotions gradually decrease, virtuous activities naturally increase and when the mind becomes clear, certainty in the Dharma is born.
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    Just a Bump... It seems not many are interested in the path of the Bodhisattva...

    http://www.unfetteredmind.org/translations/37.php

    Practice #1:

    Having gained this rare precious human rebirth, Listen, think, and meditate (upon the Dharma) unwaveringly, day and night, in order to free oneself and others from this ocean of samsara.

    Practice #2:

    When ones emotion's towards those they love, hate or are indifferent to, harms their ability to practice Dharma then they should either let go of these emotions or if that is not possible, leave.

    Practice #3:

    It is better to dwell alone in silence than to dwell in a negative place. In doing so, disturbing emotions gradually decrease, virtuous activities naturally increase and when the mind becomes clear, certainty in the Dharma is born.


    I'm looking for others opinions as to if they feel the above (and future) translations of the Practices are accurate to your understanding of them.
  • There's an interesting explanation of stanza 7 here:

    http://www.kagyu.org/ktd/densal/archives/1802/hhexcerpt.php


    :)
  • i like these very much and would like to hear more.
    for #1 , i would word it as "listen, think, meditate and live the dharma unwavering, day and night"
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited January 2011
    Thanks Pietro...

    I like your amendment. For what good is listening, thinking and meditating on the Dharma if one does not put it into daily practice.

    I will edit my above post to reflect this addition.

    I guess I can't edit it now... Here it is edited...

    Practice #1:

    Having gained this rare precious human rebirth; listen, think, meditate and live the Dharma unwaveringly, day and night, in order to free oneself and others from this ocean of samsara.

    Practice #2:

    When ones emotion's towards those they love, hate or are indifferent to, harms their ability to practice Dharma they should either let go of these emotions or if that is not possible, leave.

    Practice #3:

    It is better to dwell alone in silence than to dwell in a negative place. In doing so, disturbing emotions gradually decrease, virtuous activities naturally increase and when the mind becomes clear, certainty in the Dharma is born.
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    Thanks "The Doctor Donna"... I use this translation and nine others when I am studying each Practice before I attempt to form my own version... I also read these commentaries by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche

    http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cach....SZMbnb0WA5f73kw (if it won't open just go to top left and hit view as html)

    Thanks Dazzle... I will surely study that explanation when I get to Practice number seven.
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    Here's a shot at Practice #4:

    Practice #4:

    Abandon attachment to this life for eventually all relationships will end, all possessions will be lost and our consciousness will depart from our bodies.
  • edited January 2011
    These triple "Listen, think, and meditate" are not separate, it goes simultaneously at a high stage of meditation. It encompasses the 37 Practices of a Bddhisattva that actually run simultaneously. However, for low level acquirer, they ought to study and learn while engaging in meditation.


  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    However, for low level acquirer, they ought to study and learn while engaging in meditation.
    I would not consider myself at a high stage of meditation... (not sure what you mean by a low level acquirer... I don't find any reference to it in a google search)

    But assuming you would classify me as a low level aquirer are you saying then I should only study and learn while engaging in meditation... does practical application not apply to me?

  • edited January 2011
    If you know "Listen, think, and meditate" is simultaneous meditation than there is no issue on low or high level acquirer. Everyone is study and learning lest Buddha fruition, even in the state of Buddha who manifesting in the samsara world of existence, they still study and learn as well.
  • what are the "37 practices of a Bodhisattva"?
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    @Vincenzi

    A Bodhisattva is anyone who, motivated by great compassion, has generated a spontaneous wish to become awakened beings for the benefit of all sentient beings.

    The 37 Practices are a summary of how an Awakening Being Behaves.

    Here is a link to one translation... there are many:

    http://www.unfetteredmind.org/translations/37.php

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    hmmm... I thought there would be more interest in this topic...

    Here is a recap of the practices I've worked on so far... feel free to comment on how to improve these translations;

    Practice #1:

    Having gained this rare precious human rebirth; listen, think, meditate and live the Dharma unwaveringly, day and night, in order to free oneself and others from this ocean of samsara.

    Practice #2:

    When ones emotion's towards those they love, hate or are indifferent to, harms their ability to practice Dharma they should either let go of these emotions or if that is not possible, leave.

    Practice #3:

    It is better to dwell alone in silence than to dwell in a negative place. In doing so, disturbing emotions gradually decrease, virtuous activities naturally increase and when the mind becomes clear, certainty in the Dharma is born.

    Practice #4:

    Abandon attachment to this life for eventually all relationships will end, all possessions will be lost and our consciousness will depart from our bodies.

    Here is my take on

    Practice #5:

    Sever friendships with those whom, when we associate, cause the three poisons to arise within us (hatred, desire and ignorance), who cause us to engage less in study, reflection and meditation and who cause our love and compassion for all sentient beings to become lost and forgotten.
  • Jonathan; I think this is a great idea.

    Practice #6: Even when you think you are growing and learning quickly, never take your teacher for granted. There is always more to learn. This is the practice of a bodhisattva.

    How's that??
  • Practice #7: When feeling stuck or unsure, always take refuge in the Three Jewels.
  • hmmm...

    Practice #5:

    Sever friendships with those whom, when we associate, cause the three poisons to arise within us (hatred, desire and ignorance), who cause us to engage less in study, reflection and meditation and who cause our love and compassion for all sentient beings to become lost and forgotten.
    How can we deal with the three poisons in our minds if we hide from the people who cause them to arise in us? If another person can prevent us from study reflection and meditation doesn't it say a lot about the state of our practice? Where is the "love and compassion for all sentient beings" for those that we have severed from our life? Do only people who make us feel good deserve the benefit of our wisdom?
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    @laurajean

    I like the simplicity but feel a few main factors of the practice are missing. namely those of Cherishing the teacher more than our bodies... and what the reason for placing faith in the teacher is (decreasing faults and increasing good qualities)

    As upalabhava states above: "every single one of the 37 steps you are going to be meditating on dharma, so you need to focus the meditations"

    The focus of this Practice is to reflect on the importance of such a relationship and why it is important.

    I came up with:

    Cherish teachers above all else who embody what we seek to develop in ourselves, as it is through them that we rid ourselves of faults and increase our good qualities.
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    @robot

    If you are a special being who possesses skillful means, you can carry all mental poisons and afflictions onto the path. That is, you can use them as a basis for practice. But if you are an ordinary person, then associating with negative friends will cause your three poisons to increase. This is the first reason to give up negative friendships. The second reason is to prevent the activities of listening, reflecting, and meditating from degenerating. And the third reason is that even if you have already developed loving kindness and compassion, the influence of a negative friend will impair these positive qualities and will hinder you from practicing them. These are the three reasons to give up negative friendships.

    To clarify the respective meaning of "ordinary being" and "special being," let us use an analogy: Consider the vast amount of waste eliminated by the inhabitants of a large city. Ordinary beings are disgusted by sewage and want to be rid of it. It is dirty, it smells, it breeds disease. But the farmer is a special being grateful to obtain what everyone else rejects. His skill allows him to use this "waste" to fertilize his fields and make them more productive so that he can reap an abundant harvest. So you see there are two attitudes toward waste products and what to do with them.

    It is the same way with the five afflictions. While ordinary beings must rid themselves of afflictions, the skillful individual can carry them onto the path and transform them into the five wisdoms.
  • johnathan, thank you. I read this as the 37 practices of a Bodhisattva. It seemed to me that a Bodhisattva is the one in the trenches helping suffering beings. As Shantideva says
    "Those whose minds are practiced in this way, Whose joy it is to soothe another's ills, Will venture into the hell of Unrelenting Pain, As swans sweep down upon a lotus lake."
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited February 2011
    johnathan, thank you. I read this as the 37 practices of a Bodhisattva. It seemed to me that a Bodhisattva is the one in the trenches helping suffering beings. As Shantideva says "Those whose minds are practiced in this way, Whose joy it is to soothe another's ills, Will venture into the hell of Unrelenting Pain, As swans sweep down upon a lotus lake."
    @robot

    In Theravāda Buddhism the term "bodhisatta" (Pāli language) was used by the Buddha in the Pāli canon to refer to himself both in his previous lives and as a young man in his current life, prior to his enlightenment, in the period during which he was working towards his own liberation. When, during his discourses, he recounts his experiences as a young aspirant, he regularly uses the phrase "When I was an unenlightened bodhisatta..." The term therefore connotes a being who is "bound for enlightenment", in other words, a person whose aim is to become fully enlightened. In the Pāli canon, the bodhisatta is also described as someone who is still subject to birth, illness, death, sorrow, defilement and delusion.

  • @johnathan, thanks for that. I have never met anyone who is not subject to birth, illness, death, sorrow, defilement and delusion. At least to some degree. I do include in my associations people who live quite differently than me. I feel sort of insulated from their behavior somehow. I had a fellow who was an admitted junkie and murderer work for me for several years. He turned his life around and had been supporting a family and a mortgage and had found some peace before his actions caught up with him and he died young from a blood infection. I feel that my not giving up on him played some small part in his recovery. He was my friend and I scattered his ashes at sea with his family. I can see your point but practice #5 still seems kind of contradictory
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited February 2011
    @robot

    You say he worked for you... Were you simply an empathetic employer or his friend (did you hang out with him outside of work).

    Were you his friend when he was turning his life around or when he was at his worst? If you were his friend during his worst times did his friendship cause the three poisons to arise within you? Did it cause you to study, reflect, or meditate less? Did it cause you to loose or forget your love and compassion for all sentient beings? Did it even test these things?

    If it tested them but you remained unaltered and still moving in the direction of a Bodhissatva then your course was right (to continue the relationship).

    If it caused any of these negative effects then your best course of action would have been to sever the relationship and focus on correcting the damage done from it so that you would still be of use to all sentient beings and not moving closer to the path this man was on.
  • @johnathan, when this man came to work for me he had recently been released from prison for armed robbery. Of course I did not realize that at the time I hired him. I would say that he was close to his worst. My work involves living for weeks at a time in a rolling and pitching space 44'x 13' made of wood. So no, I didn't hang out with him outside of the hundreds of days and nights we spent together.lol Yes he made me angry sometimes because he was cranky and sarcastic and I am stubborn and self righteous. Of course he tested me and of course continuing the relationship was correct. I learned more from him about my faults that you can imagine. Also, I did mention that he changed his life due to the opportunity he had from coming to work for me. I knew him for 15 years. I guess he might have been a psychopath because he really didn't like people much but he loved animals. If it were up to him we would have let every fish go and I would be bankrupt by now. The fishing business attracts all sorts of odd ducks, many of them troubled or addicted. Many of the young men who have worked for me have gone on to find success in their lives. Others crashed and burned. While my kids were growing up I worked 10-12 months of the year. Now my season is much shorter so there is time for study, reflection and meditation. These guys that I have lived and eaten and worked and been scared sh*tless with have not dragged me down. I consider them to be an important part of my path. I do not consider myself to be a bodhisattva in any sense of the word. P.S. Try not to be too judgmental of a fisherman who talks about study, reflection and meditation.
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited April 2011
    Here is a recap of the practices I've worked on so far... feel free to comment on how to improve these translations;

    Practice #1:

    Having gained this rare precious human rebirth; listen, think, meditate and live the Dharma unwaveringly, day and night, in order to free oneself and others from this ocean of samsara.

    Practice #2:

    When ones emotion's towards those they love, hate or are indifferent to, harms their ability to practice Dharma they should either let go of these emotions or if that is not possible, leave.

    Practice #3:

    It is better to dwell alone in silence than to dwell in a negative place. In doing so, disturbing emotions gradually decrease, virtuous activities naturally increase and when the mind becomes clear, certainty in the Dharma is born.

    Practice #4:

    Abandon attachment to this life for eventually all relationships will end, all possessions will be lost and our consciousness will depart from our bodies.

    Practice #5:

    Sever friendships with those whom, when we associate, cause the three poisons to arise within us (hatred, desire and ignorance), who cause us to engage less in study, reflection and meditation and who cause our love and compassion for all sentient beings to become lost and forgotten.

    Practice #6

    Cherish teachers above all else who embody what we seek to develop in ourselves, as it is through them that we rid ourselves of faults and increase our good qualities.

    Practice #7

    @laurajean Again, you're interpretation of #7 is oversimplified... One must reflect on the uselessness of looking to worldly gods (like Brahma, Ishvara, and Vishnu) for refuge as they too, like us, are trapped in samsara, bound by afflictions, karma, and suffering. Thus, they have no ability to protect other beings.

    My stab at #7 is:

    Like us, worldly gods are bound in samsara and thus cannot protect us, so instead take refuge in the three rare and supreme jewels (the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha).
  • @Pietro Pumokin : we need you back Pietro
  • edited April 2011
    There's a detailed explanation of #7 from HH 17th Karmapa Orgyen Trinley Dorje
    at the link below:

    "Captive themselves in the prison of samsara,
    Whom could worldly gods protect?
    Therefore, in seeking protection, going for refuge
    To the unfailing Three Jewels is the practice of a bodhisattva


    http://www.kagyu.org/ktd/densal/archives/1802/hhexcerpt.php

    .
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited April 2011
    @Dazzle : Thanks for that link... after reading it I have made a re-stab at #7:

    Practice #7

    Like us, worldly gods are bound in samsara and thus cannot protect us, so instead I must take responsibility for protecting myself by transcending suffering through my own efforts. In order to do this, I have to depend on this path—the Dharma, on the Buddha—the teacher and on the other beings who are experienced—the Sangha.
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    Just a small change for fluidity... I notice above I changed from "us" to "I" instead of "we"

    Practice #7

    Like us, worldly gods are bound in samsara and thus cannot protect us, so instead we must take responsibility for protecting ourselves by transcending suffering through our own efforts. In order to do this, we have to depend on this path—the Dharma, on the Buddha—the teacher and on the other beings who are experienced—the Sangha.
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    Here's a go at #8:

    To avoid the intolerable suffering of a rebirth into the lower realms one must, as the Buddha taught, avoid destructive actions even at the cost of ones own life.
  • Here's a shot at Practice #4:

    Practice #4:

    Abandon attachment to this life for eventually all relationships will end, all possessions will be lost and our consciousness will depart from our bodies.
    You can still have relationships with family or even a partner and not be attached.. Having nobody is not really too compassionate, so I personally disagree with this one here

  • Sorry, misread. I understand now. Eventually all relationships will end, sorry, just got up and am ill
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    No worries Tom, just glad someones reading this thread... :)
  • I'm reading too! Nice work.
  • yea, i think its a good way to intergrate the practice of the dharma into your life. i would personally make less than 37 sections though :p
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    Some of them overlap but are separate points unto themselves.
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    Here is a recap of the practices I've worked on so far... feel free to comment on how to improve these translations;

    Practice #1:

    Having gained this rare precious human rebirth; listen, think, meditate and live the Dharma unwaveringly, day and night, in order to free oneself and others from this ocean of samsara.

    Practice #2:

    When ones emotion's towards those they love, hate or are indifferent to, harms their ability to practice Dharma they should either let go of these emotions or if that is not possible, leave.

    Practice #3:

    It is better to dwell alone in silence than to dwell in a negative place. In doing so, disturbing emotions gradually decrease, virtuous activities naturally increase and when the mind becomes clear, certainty in the Dharma is born.

    Practice #4:

    Abandon attachment to this life for eventually all relationships will end, all possessions will be lost and our consciousness will depart from our bodies.

    Practice #5:

    Sever friendships with those whom, when we associate, cause the three poisons to arise within us (hatred, desire and ignorance), who cause us to engage less in study, reflection and meditation and who cause our love and compassion for all sentient beings to become lost and forgotten.

    Practice #6

    Cherish teachers above all else who embody what we seek to develop in ourselves, as it is through them that we rid ourselves of faults and increase our good qualities.

    Practice #7

    Like us, worldly gods are bound in samsara and thus cannot protect us, so instead take refuge in the three rare and supreme jewels (the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha).

    Practice #8

    To avoid the intolerable suffering of a rebirth into the lower realms one must, as the Buddha taught, avoid destructive actions even at the cost of ones own life.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    :thumbsup:
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    Thanks Jeffery for supporting this thread :)

    I won't be able to continue working on it for a while as I have just moved and do not yet have internet...

    I cannot possible do the research and reading I need to do via my cell phone and its tiny screen and then type it all out via its tiny keys...

    Soon I hope to have internet up and running then I shall continue on to the rest of the 37 practices.
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