You see that all phenomena neither come or go.
Still you strive solely for the benefit of beings.
Supreme Guru and Protector Chenrezig,
To you I continually bow with body, speech and mind.
The perfect Buddhas, sources of benefit and happiness,
Arise from accomplishing the genuine Dharma.
Since that in turn depends on knowing how to practice,
The practices of a Bodhisattva shall be explained.
Now that you have obtained the precious human body,
The great boat so difficult to find,
In order to free yourself and others from the ocean of samsara,
To listen, reflect, and meditate with diligence day and night
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (1)
Passion towards friends churns like water.
Hatred towards enemies burns like fire.
Through dark ignorance one forgets what to adopt and what to reject.
To abandon one’s homeland is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (2)
Giving up negative places, mental afflictions gradually decrease.
With no distractions, virtuous activities naturally increase.
When mind becomes clear, certainty in the dharma is born.
To rely on solitude is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (3)
Old friends and relatives will separate.
Possessions gained with exertion will be left behind.
Consciousness, the guest, will leave the guesthouse of the body.
To let go of this life is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (4)
When friendship with someone causes the three poisons to increase,
Degrades the activities of listening, reflecting, and meditating,
And destroys loving kindness and compassion,
To give up such a friendship is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (5)
When in reliance on someone your defects wane
And your positive qualities grow like the waxing moon,
To cherish such a spiritual friend more than your own body
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (6)
Themselves captives in the prison of samsara,
Whom can the worldly gods protect?
Therefore, to seek refuge in those who do not deceive, the three jewels,
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (7)
The suffering of the lower realms, so difficult to bear,
Is the fruit of wrong deeds, so the Buddha taught.
Therefore, even at the cost of your life,
Never to commit negative actions is the practice of a Bodhisattva.(8)
Like dew on a blade of grass,
Happiness in the three realms evaporates in a single instant.
To strive for the supreme state of liberation that never changes
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (9)
From beginningless time your mothers have cherished you,
If they now suffer, what good is your own happiness?
Therefore, in order to liberate limitless sentient beings,
Giving rise to bodhicitta is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (10)
All suffering comes from yearning for your own happiness.
The perfect Buddhas are born from the intention to benefit others.
Therefore, to truly exchange your own happiness
For the suffering of others is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (11)
Even if someone driven by desire steals all your wealth
Or incites someone else to steal it,
To dedicate to this person your body, possessions and
all your virtue of the three times
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (12)
If someone cuts off your head
Even when you have not done the slightest thing wrong,
Through the power of compassion
To take his misdeeds upon yourself
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (13)
Should someone slander you
Throughout a billion worlds,
With a heart full of love, to proclaim his good qualities in return
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (14)
In the middle of a crowd of people
Someone reveals your hidden faults and abuses you for them,
To see him as a spiritual friend and to bow with respect
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (15)
If someone whom you cherish as dearly as your own child
Takes you for an enemy,
Then, like a mother whose child is sick, to love that person even more
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (16)
Even when someone who is your equal or inferior
Driven by spite seeks to defame you,
To place him on the crown of your head
With the same respect you would accord your guru
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (17)
Though gripped by poverty and always scorned,
Though stricken by disease and tormented by evil spirits,
To take upon yourself the negativity and suffering of every being
And never to get discouraged
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (18)
Though famous and prominent, someone to whom others bow,
Though you amass the riches of the god of wealth,
To see that worldly splendor has no essence
And thus to be without arrogance
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (19)
If you have not tamed the enemy of your own anger
Combating outer opponents will only make them multiply.
Therefore, with an army of loving kindness and compassion,
To tame your own mind is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (20)
Sense pleasures are like salt water:
The more you partake of them, the more your craving will increase.
Therefore, when something arouses attachment,
To abandon it immediately is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (21)
All appearances are your own mind, and
Mind itself primordially transcends all mental fabrications.
Knowing this is the precise nature of reality,
To remain free from dualistic conceptions
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (22)
When you encounter objects that please your mind,
Know they are like rainbows in the summer season.
Though they seem beautiful,
To see they are not real and to give up attachment to them
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (23)
All suffering is like the death of your child in a dream.
To take such delusive appearances as true, how exhausting!
Therefore, whenever you encounter unpleasant circumstances,
To see them as delusions is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (24)
If those who aspire to enlightenment willingly give up their bodies,
What need is there to mention external objects?
Therefore, with no hope of reward or benefit,
To give with generosity is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (25)
If lack of discipline prevents you from benefitting yourself,
Then your wish to benefit others is just a joke.
Therefore, to guard discipline
With no longing for worldly existence
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (26)
For a Bodhisattva who seeks a wealth of virtue,
Every harm is like a precious treasure.
Therefore, without getting irritated by anything at all,
To cultivate patience is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (27)
If Shravakas and Pratyekabuddhas, who strive for their benefit alone,
Expend effort as if to extinguish a fire burning on their heads,
Then for the benefit of all beings,
To cultivate joyous effort, the wellspring of positive qualities,
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (28)
Vipashyana perfectly endowed with shamatha
Completely conquers all afflictions.
To cultivate meditative stability
That transcends the four formless states
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (29)
Without superior knowledge
It is not possible to attain perfect enlightenment
through the first five paramitas alone.
Therefore, joining it with skillful means and not
conceptualizing about the three spheres,
To cultivate superior knowledge
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (30)
If you have not analyzed your own confusion,
You might put on a Dharmic facade
While behaving in a non-Dharmic way.
Therefore, to continually analyze your delusion and then discard it
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (31)
If compelled by your own afflictions
You speak of the faults of other Bodhisattvas,
You yourself will degenerate.
Therefore, never to mention the faults of those
Who have entered the Mahayana path
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (32)
Desire for gain and honor leads to arguments, and
Activities of listening, reflecting, and meditating decline.
Therefore, to relinquish attachments to the households
of friends, relatives, and sponsors
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (33)
Harsh words disturb the minds of others
And compromise a Bodhisattva’s right conduct.
Therefore, to give up harsh and unpleasant speech
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (34)
Once you become accustomed to the mental afflictions,
They are hard to cure with antidotes.
Therefore, with the remedies of mindfulness and awareness
To eliminate mental afflictions the moment they arise
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (35)
In brief, wherever you are and whatever you do,
Always examine the state of your mind.
Cultivating mindfulness and awareness continuously,
To benefit others is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (36)
To clear away the suffering of all infinite beings,
With superior knowledge free of concepts of the three spheres,
To dedicate the merit accumulated through these efforts to enlightenment
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva. (37)
Relying on what is taught in the sutras, tantras, treatises,
And the words of the genuine masters,
I have composed these thirty-seven Bodhisattva practices
To benefit those who wish to train on the Bodhisattva’s path.
Because my intelligence is small and my studies few,
I cannot compose poetry to please the scholars.
Yet, since they are based on sutras and the teachings of the genuine masters,
I believe these practices of a Bodhisattva are not mistaken.
Nevertheless, since the vast conduct of a Bodhisattva is difficult to fathom
For one with an inferior intellect such as mine,
I pray to the genuine masters to consider with patience
All my mistakes, such as contradictions, incoherence and so on.
By virtue of the merit gathered here,
By the power of relative and ultimate bodhicitta,
May all sentient beings become like the Protector Chenrezig
Who dwells neither in the extreme of existence nor in that of peace.
The monk Thogme,
A proponent of scriptures and logic,
Has composed these verses
In a cave known as Ngulchu Rinchen Puk
To benefit himself and others.