Friday, 22 July 2016

Atisa, Santideva and Tsong Kha Pa on Compassion and Altruism

One of the more positive outcomes of the terrible tragedy that Tibet experienced in the 20th century is that the resulting Tibetan diaspora has made the rich philosophical and cultural treasures of Tibet much more widely available to the world at large. And so we humbly present a small selection of some of Tibet's brightest luminaries on some essential aspects of the Mahayana Buddhist Bodhisattva ethics:

The Bodhisattva loves all creatures/From the bottom of his heart;/As one loves an only child,/Ever desiring to seek its good.
Ornament of Sutras 10:3Atisa. A Lamp for the Path and Commentary. R. Sherburne, transl. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1983, p.19

I rejoice in all the merits of the/Buddha's Sons, of Solitary Victors,/Of those still learning and those beyond,/In the entire world's merit I rejoice.
Samantabhadra - The Royal Resolves, v. 9 Atisa. A Lamp for the Path and Commentary. R. Sherburne, transl. London: GeorgeAllen & Unwin, 1983, p.26

Thus, even though working for the benefit of others,/There's no conceit; there's no amazement;/There's no hoping for a ripened result (for oneself),/When it's with an appetite exclusively for what benefits others. Santideva, Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life - 8, 109

Just as the hand and so on are held dear/Through their being the limbs of the body,/Why couldn't beings having a body be similarly held dear/Through their being limbs of wandering life?
Santideva, Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life - 8, 114

First, I should apply myself to meditation/On the equality of self and others./Because we are all equal in wanting to experience/happiness and avoid suffering,/I should cherish all beings as I do myself.
Santideva, Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life - 8, 90 p. 128 Ulverston, Tharpa Publications, 2002.

All sentient beings are alike in that they want happiness and do not want suffering. It is, thus, incorrect to hold some near, helping them, while keeping others at a distance and either harming them or [at least] not helping them.
Lam Rim (Tsong kha pa 1402/1985, 299).

Just as all crops grow perfectly/In dependence on the earth,/All of the highest, positive results depend on ethical conduct/Moistened by the water of compassion.
Tantra Requested by Subahu Geshe Luhundub Sopa, Tsong kha pa Steps on the Path of Enlightenement, Vol. 2. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2005. p. 399

These bodies are a basis for sickness, old age, and death./Those who have good character and compassion/Make them in each moment/A basis for promoting the happiness in others.
Bhavaviveka, Heart of the Middle Way 3.4.3 Tsong-kah-pa. The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path of Enlightenment.Vol. One. Lamrin Chenmo Comm., transl. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 2000, p. 133.