The Bodhicaryavatara of Shantideva

- through Francois Leclercq

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Le Bodhicaryavatara of Shantideva or, according to its French version, The Exhibition of Awakening Practices, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful jewels of what is called Great Vehicle Buddhism. But what exactly is Awakening the name of? This is what Alexis Lavis tries to reveal in this work, through certain phenomenological reflections, while revealing to the reader the semantic richness of the Indo-European languages, which hide in their roots elementary forms of being in the world... Its translation of Shantideva's masterpiece, both modern and rigorous, and the long study he delivers of this text will allow everyone to discover a radically different thought, completely unknown to the Western world, but of a beauty and of unique depth. An exciting work, which offers a rare encounter with true Buddhism.

The rest obtained by all beings following the destruction
Unhappiness having worked for the best,
I greet him with intense joy.
May all the afflicted establish themselves in well-being!

I greet with joy the men who have freed themselves from malaise.
I greet with joy the protectors who are bodhisattvas and Buddhas.

And I greet with joy, among the masters
Those who gave birth to an oceanic aspiration
Who bring well-being to all, and to all their help.

I call on the Awakened
Let them light the torch of Dharma
For those who have fallen into ill-being through ignorance.

So that the Victorious are not taken
Of the desire to blow on the flame of their life,
I implore them, hands folded in my heart
To remain forever
So that this world is no longer dark

The lights I've been able to bring so far,
May I be through them the one who will be able to appease evils!

I am, for those who fail, the remedy, the doctor and the nurse,
Who heals evil so that it never reappears.

By a rain of food and drink
May I put down the torments of hunger and thirst
And in times of famine become food and drink myself.

May I be an inexhaustible treasure for the poor!
And through various and disinterested ways,
May I serve in front of all needs!

All the riches of which I am the source,
All these merits accumulated in the three times,
I abandon them without a second thought,
For the good of all beings to be accomplished.

The entire withdrawal is Nirvana
And my soul longs for it
Also, since I have to leave everything dear to me,
May all the best be given to them!

This "I", I make it a happiness for all beings.
That they kill me, that they shout at me
And keep dusting me
Let them play with my body,
Make fun of it and have fun
My body is given to them
Why bother?
Let them make him do acts that are a vehicle of well-being!
And let no harm ever be founded on me!

That the angry and violent thoughts of those who are angry with me
Be the cause that leads them to the realization of all fortunes!
Those who slander me, those who insult me
This other who makes fun of me,
Let all participate in the Awakening!

I am the protector of those who are unprotected
And I am the guide of those who travel
For those who wish to cross, I am the ship, the bridge, and the ford
I am the lamp of those who seek the light
I am the bed of those who want rest
I am the servant of those who need help
I am that for all the living!
I am the pearl that grants wishes,
The cornucopia, the magic formula,
The panacea, the miracle tree
And the sacred cow of fulfilled desires
I am that for all the living!

Earth and other elements are fully available
For the countless beings that inhabit all of space
So for those who belong to space
And which somehow have being as their element
May I be the unfailing support of their life,
As long as not everyone is satisfied!

(Chapter III – Seize the Awakening Call)

Translated from Sanskrit by Alexis Lavis: Consciousness put to the testAwakening. Reading, commentary and translation of Bodhicaryavatara of Shantideva (Deer, Wisdoms of Asia Collection, 2018)

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Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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