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Thought Training - The Root Verses

Verse One
By thinking of all sentient beings
as even better than the wish-granting gem
for accomplishing the highest aim
may I always consider them precious.

Verse Two
Wherever I go, with whomever I go
may I see myself as less than all others,
and from the depth of my heart
may I consider them supremely precious.

Verse Three
May I examine my mind in all actions
and as soon as a negative state occurs,
since it endangers myself and others,
may I firmly face and avert it.

Verse Four
When I see beings of a negative disposition
or those oppressed by negativity or pain,
may I, as if finding a treasure,
consider them precious, for they are rarely met.

Verse Five
Wherever others, due to their jealousy,
revile and treat me in other unjust ways,
may I accept this defeat myself,
and offer the victory to others.

Verse Six
When someone whom I have helped
or in whom I have placed great hope
harms me with great injustice,
may I see that one as a sacred friend.

Verse Seven
In short, may I offer both directly and indirectly
all joy and benefit to all beings, my mothers,
and may I myself secretly take on
all of their hurt and suffering.

Verse Eight
May they not be defiled by the concepts
of the eight mundane concerns,
and aware that all things are illusory,
may they, ungrasping, be free from bondage.

The Bodhisattva Vows - The Root Verses

Namo Lokesvaraya


My supreme lama and Avalokitesvara
see that no dharma either comes or goes,
yet they still strive uniquely for the sake of beings -
to them I always pay respectful homage with my three doors.

Author's Pledge
The perfect buddhas are the source of all benefit and joy,
and they arise from the practice of holy Dharma;
that (practice) depends upon knowing what to practice;
therefore, I will explain the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse One - Enthusiastic Perseverance
Now that one has obtained the rarely found great ship
of (human rebirth) with its freedoms and endowments,
one should engage at all times, day and night, without distraction
in learning, reflection and meditation. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Two - Abandoning the Birthplace
Attachment to friends and family makes one waver like water;
anger at enemies makes one burn like fire; caught in the dark
confusion of forgetting what to do and avoid, one should
forsake one's birthplace and home. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Three - Being Free from Distractions
Through avoiding negative objects, one's negative mental states gradually decrease;
Through the absence of distraction, one's exercise of virtue grows.
Through having clear awareness, one develops certainty about the Dharma.
Thus, stay in an isolated place. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Four - Abandoning Preoccupation with this Life
Parted from the loved ones who have been one's companions for so long,
one will leave behind the wealth and possessions that one so assiduously acquired;
Like a guest leaving an inn, consciousness will leave the body.
So forsake (the concerns of) this life. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Five - Avoiding Evil Friends
From associating with negative companions, one's three poisons increase,
and one's practice of learning, reflection and meditation will decline.
Negative companions cause one to lose one's love and compassion;
so give up negative friends. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Six - Treasuring the Spiritual Friend
Through devoting oneself to a spiritual friend, one's flaws disappear,
and one's good qualities increase like the waxing moon.
So consider the spiritual friend to be even more precious
than one's own body. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Seven - Taking Refuge
Worldly gods are themselves bound in the prison of samsara,
so how could they protect one (from that state)?
Therefore, go for refuge in the Jewels who can
protect one with deception. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Eight - Refraining from Negative Deeds
The sufferings of negative rebirths are extremely difficult to bear;
the Sage said that they are the result of negative karma.
Therefore, even if one's life depends upon it,
never commit negative karma. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Nine - Desiring Liberation
The three realms' pleasures are like the dewdrop
on the tip of a blade of grass - they have the quality of being
destroyed in just an instant. So one should seek the supreme,
unchanging state of liberation. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Ten - Generating Bodhicitta
Since beginningless time, motherly beings have loved one,
so what is the point of one's own, personal happiness?
Therefore, in order to liberate infinite sentient beings,
develop bodhicitta. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Eleven - Exchanging Self with Others
All suffering comes from the desire for one's own happiness;
perfect buddhahood arises from the intention to benefit others,
Therefore, one should exchange one's own happiness
with the suffering of others. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Twelve - Dedicating Body, Wealth, and Virtues
If out of great desire someone were to steal
all of my wealth, or incite someone else to steal it,
I will dedicate body, possessions, and three times' virtue
to that person. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Thirteen - Accepting the Negative Karma of Others
If some persons were to have me beheaded
even though I am not at al at fault,
through compassion, may I take on
all their negativity. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Fourteen - Returning Praise for Insult
If someone were to spread throughout the three realms
various unpleasant rumors about me,
with a loving mind, may I respond by stating
that person's good qualities. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Fifteen - Seeing Enemies as Spiritual Teachers
If, while in the midst of a crowd of beings, someone
were to single me out and say something negative,
with the attitude that that one is my spiritual friend, may I
respectfully bow to him or her. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Sixteen - Giving Unconditional Love
If a person whom I have dearly cared for like my own child
were to treat me as if I were an enemy,
then like a mother whose child has fallen ill,
I will love that one even more. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Seventeen - Remaining Humble When Criticized
If my equal or someone who is lower than me
were to revile me out of pridefulness,
may I respectfully place that one on my crown
as if that one were my lama. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Eighteen - Taking on the Suffering of Others
Whether beings be impoverished, or constantly reviled,
struck by severe illness, or afflicted by spirits,
may I take on the suffering and negativity of them all
and not be discouraged. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Nineteen - Avoiding Arrogance
Even if I become a person of great fame, with many beings
bowing before me, and possessing wealth to rival Vaisravana
himself, may I, seeing that the wealth of samsara is essenceless,
by devoid of arrogance. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Twenty - Eliminating The Enemy Within
If one's anger, the internal enemy, is not subdued,
then when one battles external foes, they will increase even more.
Therefore, one should subdue one's mind with the armies
of love and compassion. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Twenty-One - Abandoning Sensory Indulgences
The objects of the senses are like salty water -
the more they are experienced, the more thirst grows.
Hence, quickly forsake things to which one has grown attached.
Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Twenty-Two - Dispelling Belief in Inherent Existence
The way in which these appearances (arise is dependent on) one's mind,
and one's mind is primordially free of all conceptually elaborated extremes.
Understanding this, do no focus the mind on the marks of
subject/object duality. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Twenty-Three - Seeing Attractive Objects as Rainbow-Like
When a pleasant object is encountered, see
that even though it is beautiful, it is unreal
like the colors of a rainbow in summer. Thus,
abandon attachment. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Twenty-Four - Seeing Undesirable Things as Illusory
One's various sufferings are like the death of one's child in a dream -
if one apprehends this confused appearance to be real,
how exhausted one becomes! Therefore, when faced with hardships,
see them as confused appearances. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Twenty-Five - Perfecting Generosity
If one who aspires to awakening must make a gift of even
one's body, what need to mention forsaking possessions?
Therefore, without any expectations of return or karmic reward,
practice generosity. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Twenty-Six - Perfecting Morality
Without being moral, one cannot accomplish one's aims,
so it is laughable to wish to fulfill the aims of others.
Therefore, maintain morality that is devoid
of any yearning for samsara. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Twenty-Seven - Perfecting Patience
For the bodhisattva who hopes for the wealth of virtue,
encountering those who cause harm is like finding a treasure.
Therefore, develop the patient tolerance that is devoid
of enmity for anyone. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Twenty-Eight - Perfecting Enthusiastic Perseverance
The sravakas and pratyekabuddhas seek to accomplish only their own aims,
but even they make much effort, as if their heads were on fire.
Seeing this, for the sake of all beings engage in heroic effort,
the source of all good qualities. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Twenty-Nine - Perfecting Concentration
The special insight that is accompanied by mental quiescence
can overcome all negative mental states. Knowing this,
develop the meditative state that truly transcends
the four formless states. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Thirty - Perfecting Wisdom
Without wisdom, the other five perfections
cannot bring one to complete awakening.
Hence, develop the method endowed wisdom that is devoid
of the spheres' concepts. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Thirty-One - Getting Rid of Faults
If one does not examine one's own mistakes, one might assume
the form of a Dharma practitioner, but be engaged
in a practice that is not Dharma. Therefore, constantly examine
faults and forsake them. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Thirty-Two - Avoiding Bringing Up Others' Faults
If under the influence of negative mental states,
one were to discuss the flaws of another bodhisattva,
one would impair oneself. Hence, do not speak of the faults
of a Mahayana practitioner. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Thirty-Three - Abandoning Attachments to Households
Coming into conflict with others due to (seeking) possessions and respect,
one's practice of learning, reflection and meditation will decline.
Therefore, abandon attachment to the homes of loved ones
and to the households of sponsors. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Thirty-Four - Not Returning Harsh Words
By speaking harsh words, one disturbs others' minds
and one's bodhisattva practice will be impaired.
Therefore, do not speak in a harsh manner
which others find unpleasant. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Thirty-Five - Eliminating Bad Habits
If one is accustomed to negative mental states, it is hard to avert them
with their counteragents. So as a mindful and alert person, take up
the weapons that counteract those states, and as soon as negative states
such as attachment arise, strike them down. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Thirty-Six - Being Alert
In short, no matter what one is doing, no matter where it might be,
continually be mindful and alert, thinking Awhat state is my mind in now?
Practicing in this way, accomplish others' aims.
Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

Verse Thirty-Seven - Dedicating All Merit
All the merit you have achieved by striving thus,
should be dedicated with the wisdom of the three spheres' purity
to the achievement of awakening in order to end
the suffering of infinite beings. Such is the bodhisattvas' practice.

In accord with the interpretations of the holy ones,
he meaning stated in the sutras, tantras and treatises
has here been set down as the bodhisattvas' thirty-seven
practices for those who wish to practice the bodhisattva path.
Since I am neither intelligent nor well educated,
I am not a scholar, nor am I skilled in pleasing composition.
But since I have relied on what is stated in the sutras and tantras,
I believe that these bodhisattva practices are not wrong.
Nevertheless, the powerful practices of the bodhisattvas
are not easily fathomed by unintelligent beings such as me,
so I ask the holy ones to please tolerate any contradictions,
incoherence, and other faults that appear here.

Through all the merit that has arisen from this work,
may all beings become equal to Avalokitesvara,
who abides in neither the extreme of samsara nor of nirvana
due to his supreme ultimate and relative bodhicitta.