Currently for Sunday morning teaching we are studying chapter nine (Wisdom) of Shantideva’s text
‘A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.’ This text is one of the most important spiritual and philosophical texts of Mahayana Buddhism, and widely study and practice across all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Following are some excerpts from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s own teaching on chapter nine.
The ninth chapter of Shantideva’s The Way of the Bodhisattva, which is the basis of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings presented here in this volume, begins with the statement that it is for the sake of cultivating wisdom that the Buddha taught all the various aspects of the teachings. This seemingly simple assertion captures a profound insight that lies at the heart of Buddha’s spiritual message. Unlike many of his spiritual peers, the Buddha argued that it is not through ascetic physical penance, through complicated religious rituals, nor through prayers that one attains highest spiritual awakening. It is through the disciplined taming of one’s mind. Furthermore, since our bondage to a per- petual cycle of unenlightened existence is rooted in a fundamen- tal ignorance of the very nature of our own existence, the cultivation of a deep understanding of the nature of our existence must constitute a central element of this spiritual discipline. Hence the emphasis on the cultivation of wisdom.
– Practicing Wisdom. The Perfection of Shantideva’s Bodhisatta Way. His Holiness the Dalai Lama
His Holiness further commented that the different views of reality explained in Chapter Nine of the ‘Guide’ are complicated, but that analysing them is very helpful. The aim of such analysis is to uproot ignorance that is at the root of all disturbing emotions. He pointed out that it wasn’t until he was about 15 years old that he began to really take an interest in emptiness. In his 30s he really tried to study and put into practice what he understood.
“Only when you develop some understanding of emptiness do you become aware of the actual possibility of attaining Buddhahood. Although we all recite the verse for taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and developing the awakening mind of bodhichitta, we generally don’t understand what it means. If you think closely about it, you can understand the process of transforming the mind into the mind of enlightenment.”
– Explaining ‘The Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’
August 25th 2014, Hamburg, Germany, 24 August 2014