The Bodhi tree behind
the Mahabodhi temple
in Bodhgaya

THE THIRTYSEVEN BODHISATTVA VOWS



by Gyelse Thogmay Sangpo
(Geshe Sonam Rinpoche)
   

Kuensel Online, Bhutan's English language newspaper brought on 24 May 2006 a review of what is called ‘The Little White Book’. This Little White Book contains the 37 bodhisattva vows, called Gyelse Laglen, as composed by Gyelse Thogmay Sangpo, who in Tibetan is called Geshe Sonam Rinpoche (1295-1369). He composed the text in the cave of Ngulchu near Sakya in Southwest Tibet.

What follows is an English rendition given by an unknown source.





The text

Verse One

Having gained this rare ship of freedom and fortune,
Hear, think and meditate unwaveringly night and day
In order to free yourself and others
From the ocean of cyclic existence -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Two

Attached to your loved ones you're stirred up like water.
Hating your enemies you burn like fire.
In the darkness of confusion you forget what to adopt and discard.
Give up your homeland -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Three

By avoiding bad objects, disturbing emotions gradually decrease.
Without distraction, virtuous activities naturally increase.
With clarity of mind, conviction in the teaching arises.
Cultivate seclusion -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Four

Loved ones who have long kept company will part.
Wealth created with difficulty will be left behind.
Consciousness, the guest, will leave the guest-house of the body.
Let go of this life -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Five

When you keep their company your three poisons increase,
Your activities of hearing, thinking and meditating decline,
And they make you lose your love and compassion.
Give up bad friends -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Six

When you rely on them [ your bodhisattva vows] your faults come to an end
And your good qualities grow like the waxing moon.
Cherish spiritual teachers
Even more than your own body -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Seven

Bound himself in the jail of cyclic existence,
What worldly god can give you protection?
Therefore when you seek refuge, take refuge in
The Three Jewels which will not betray you -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Eight

The subduer said all the unbearable suffering
Of bad rebirths is the fruit of wrong-doing.
Therefore, even at the cost of your life,
Never do wrong -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Nine

Like dew on the tip of a blade of grass, pleasures of the three worlds
Last only a while and then vanish.
Aspire to the never-changing
Supreme state of liberation -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Ten

When your mothers [throughout the cycle of existence], who've loved you since time without beginning,
Are suffering, what use is your own happiness?
Therefore, to free limitless living beings
Develop the altruistic intention -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Eleven

All suffering comes from the wish for your own happiness.
Perfect Buddhas are born from the thought to help others.
Therefore exchange your own happiness
For the suffering of others -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Twelve

Even if someone out of strong desire
Steals all your wealth or has it stolen,
Dedicate to him your body, possessions
And your virtue, past, present and future -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Thirteen

Even if someone tries to cut off your head
When you haven't done the slightest wrong,
Out of compassion take all the misdeeds
Upon yourself -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Fourteen

Even if someone broadcasts all kinds of unpleasant remarks
About you throughout the three thousand worlds,
In return, with a loving mind,
Speak of his good qualities -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Fifteen

Though someone may deride and speak bad words
About you in a public gathering,
Look p to him as a spiritual teacher,
Bow to him with respect -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Sixteen

Even if a person for whom you've cared
Like your own child regards you as an enemy,
Cherish him specially, like a mother
Does her child who is stricken by sickness -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Seventeen

If an equal or inferior person
Disparages you out of pride,
Place him, as you would your spiritual teacher,
With respect on the crown of your head -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Eighteen

Though you lack what you need and are constantly disparaged,
Afflicted by dangerous sickness and spirits,
Without discouragement take on the misdeeds
And the pain of all living beings -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Nineteen

Though you become famous and many bow to you,
And you gain riches to equal Vaishravana's,
See that worldly fortune is without essence,
And be unconceited -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Twenty

While the enemy of your own anger is unsubdued,
Though you conquer external foes, they will only increase.
Therefore, with the militia of love and compassion
Subdue your own mind -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Twenty-one


Sensual pleasures are like salty water:
The more you indulge, the more thirst increases.
Abandon at once those things which breed
Clinging attachment -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Twenty-two

Whatever appears is you own mind.
Your mind from the start was free from fabricated extremes.
Understanding this, do not take to mind
[Inherent] signs of subject and object -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Twenty-three

When you encounter attractive objects,
Though they seem beautiful
Like a rainbow in summer, don't regard them as real
And give up attachment -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Twenty-four

All forms of suffering are like a child's death in a dream.
Holding illusory appearances to be true makes you weary.
Therefore when you meet with disagreeable circumstances,
See them as illusory -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Twenty-five

When those who want enlightenment must give even their body,
There's no need to mention external things.
Therefore without hope for return or any fruition
Give generously -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Twenty-six

Without ethics you can't accomplish your own well-being.
So wanting to accomplish others' is laughable.
Therefore without worldly aspirations
Safeguard your ethical discipline -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Twenty-seven

To Bodhisattvas who want a wealth of virtue
Those who harm are like a precious treasure.
Therefore towards all cultivate patience
Without hostility -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Twenty-eight

Seeing even Hearers and Solitary Realizers, who accomplish
Only their own good, strive as if to put out a fire on their head,
For the sake of all beings make enthusiastic effort,
The source of all good qualities -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Twenty-nine

Understanding that disturbing emotions are destroyed
By special insight with calm abiding,
Cultivate concentration which surpasses
The four formless absorptions -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Thirty

Since the five perfections without wisdom
Cannot bring perfect enlightenment,
Along with skillful means cultivate the wisdom
Which does not conceive the three spheres [as real] -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Thirty-one

If you don't examine your own errors,
You may look like a practitioner but not act as one.
Therefore, always examining your own errors,
Rid yourself of them -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Thirty-two

If through the influence of disturbing emotions
You point out the faults of another Bodhisattva,
You yourself are diminished, so don't mention the faults
Of those who have entered the Great Vehicle -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Thirty-three

Reward and respect cause us to quarrel
And make hearing, thinking and meditation decline.
For this reason give up attachment to
The households of friends, relations and benefactor -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Thirty-four

Harsh words disturb the minds of others
And cause deterioration in a Bodhisattva's conduct.
Therefore give up harsh words
Which are unpleasant to others -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Thirty-five

Habitual disturbing emotions are hard to stop through counteractions.
Armed with antidotes, the guards of mindfulness and mental alertness
Destroy disturbing emotions like attachment
At once, as soon as they arise -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Thirty-six

In brief, whatever you are doing,
Ask yourself, What is my state of mind?
With constant mindfulness and mental alertness
Accomplish others' good -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.


Verse Thirty-seven

To remove the suffering of limitless beings,
Understanding the purity of the three spheres,
Dedicate the virtue from making such effort
To enlightenment -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.

Part of a Dutch language site on Sutras and Shastras.

Use with care and respect