The Thirty-Seven Practices of a BodhisattvaBy Ngulchu Gyalsas Thogmed Zangpo (1245 – 1369)
Namo Arya Lokeshvara I always respectfully prostrate through my three doors to the Supreme Guru and protector Lokeshvara, who although seeing all phenomena as a devoid of going and coming, Endeavours one-pointedly to benefit sentient beings.
The possession of this human base, this precious vessel so difficult to obtain, in order to liberate others and ourselves from the ocean of samsara, allows us to hear, reflect, and meditate day and night without distraction. This is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Toward our friends and those we love run the waters of attachment, toward our enemies burns the fire of aversion; in the obscurity of ignorance, we lose sight of what should be abandoned and what should be practiced. Therefore renunciation of one’s country and home is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
When we abandon our harmful surroundings, our illusions diminish, and because we have no distractions our practice of virtue develops spontaneously, leaving us with a clear mind. Our trust in the Dharma grows. To live in solitude is a practice of a Bodhisattva.
One day old and dear friends will separate, goods and riches obtained by great effort will be left behind. Consciousness, a guest of the body, this temporary dwelling, will depart. From this moment on, to renounce all attachment to this life is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
If we have harmful companions, the three poisons are increased, our reflections and meditation becomes degraded; love and
compassion are destroyed. To abandon dangerous company is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
To rely on a spiritual friend who has eliminated all illusions, whose competence in the teachings and practice is complete, and whose qualities increase like the crescent moon; to cherish this perfect guru more than one’s own body is a practice of a Bodhisattva.
How could the gods of this world possibly liberate us, being themselves tied to the prison of samsara? Instead let us take refuge in that on which we can rely. To take refuge in the Three Jewels is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
The intolerable suffering of the lower realms is said by the Buddha to be the fruit of Karma; therefore, to never commit unwise deeds is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
The happiness of the three worlds is like the dew on the tip of a blade of grass, disappearing in an instant. To aspire to supreme, immutable liberation is a practice of the Bodhisattvas.
Since beginningless time, our mothers took care of us with tenderness. What use is our happiness when they still suffer? To generate Bodhicitta in order to liberate infinite beings is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
All suffering, without exception, comes from the desire for happiness for oneself, while perfect Buddhahood is born from the desire to make others happy. This is why completely exchanging one’s happiness for that of others is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
If, in the grip of violent desire or cruel necessity, an unfortunate person steals our possessions or incites someone else to steal them, to be full of compassion, to dedicate to this person our body, possessions, and past, present, and future merit, is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
Even if we are beaten or tortured, we must not allow any aversion to arise within us. To have great compassion for those poor beings who out of ignorance mistreat us is a practice of the Bodhisattva.
If, without reason, certain people slander us to the point where the entire world is filled with their malicious gossip, to lovingly praise their virtues is a practice of a Bodhisattva.
If in the company of several people, one among them revels a fault that we would have liked hidden, to not become irritated with the one who treats us in this manner but to consider him as a supreme guru is a practice of the Bodhisattva.