The Thirty-Seven Practices of All the Bodhisattvas

by Gyalse Tokme Zangpo

I have selected various verses also from Lotsawa House

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The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to leave behind one’s homeland,

Where our attachment to family and friends overwhelms us like a torrent,

While our aversion towards enemies rages inside us like a blazing fire,

And delusion’s darkness obscures what must be adopted and abandoned.

 

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to take to solitary places,

Avoiding the unwholesome, so that destructive emotions gradually fade away,

And, in the absence of distraction, virtuous practice naturally gains strength;

Whilst, with awareness clearly focused, we gain conviction in the teachings.

 

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to renounce this life’s concerns,

For friends and relatives, long acquainted, must all go their separate ways;

Wealth and prized possessions, painstakingly acquired, must all be left behind;

And consciousness, the guest who lodges in the body, must in time depart.

 

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to arouse bodhicitta,

So as to bring freedom to all sentient beings, infinite in number.

For how can true happiness ever be found while our mothers,

Who have cared for us throughout the ages, endure such pain?

 

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to make a genuine exchange

Of one’s own happiness and wellbeing for all the sufferings of others.

Since all misery comes from seeking happiness for oneself alone,

Whilst perfect buddhahood is born from the wish for others’ good.

 

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to subdue the mind,

With the forces of loving kindness and compassion.

For unless the real adversary—my own anger—is defeated,

Outer enemies, though I may conquer them, will continue to appear.

 

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to let go of grasping

When encountering things one finds pleasant or attractive,

Considering them to be like rainbows in the summer skies—

Beautiful in appearance, yet in truth devoid of any substance.

 

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to cultivate patience,

Free from any trace of animosity towards anyone at all,

Since any potential source of harm is like a priceless treasure

To the bodhisattva who is eager to enjoy a wealth of virtue.

 

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to let go of attachment

To the households of benefactors and of family and friends,

Since one’s study, reflection and meditation will all diminish

When one quarrels and competes for honours and rewards.

 

In short, no matter what one might be doing,

By examining always the status of one’s mind,

With continuous mindfulness and alertness,

To bring about the good of others—this is the practice of all the bodhisattvas.

 

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to dedicate towards enlightenment

All the virtue to be gained through making effort in these ways,

With wisdom that is purified entirely of the three conceptual spheres,

So as to dispel the sufferings of the infinity of beings.