The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas- Version 1

Namo, Lokeshwaraya !


A.      You see all phenomena to have no coming and going,

Still you strive solely for the benefit of beings.

Supreme Guru and protector, Chenrezig, to you

I continually bow in respect with body, speech and mind.


B.      The source of benefit and happiness, the perfected Buddhas,

They came about because they accomplished the Genuine Dharma.

To do so, again depends on knowing their actual practice,

       Therefore, the practices of a Bodhisattva shall be explained.


1.         Now that I have obtained what is so difficult to find, the precious human body, the great boat,

I shall ferry myself and others over the ocean of Samsara.

Therefore, throughout day and night without laziness_To listen, reflected and meditate, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

2.         Passion towards friends moves like water.

Hatred towards enemies burns like fire.

The darkness of ignorance makes one forget what to adopt, what to reject.

_To abandon the homeland of such, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

3.         Leaving adverse places, afflictions will gradually diminish.

Not being distracted, virtuous activity will naturally increase.

Through clear awareness trust in the Dharma will be born.

_To stay in solitude, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

4.         Longtime acquainted friends and relatives will separate.

Possessions gained with exertion will be left behind.

Consciousness, the guest, will leave the guest-house of the body.

_To discard this life in mind, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

5.         When you ally with someone and your three poisons increase,

When listening, reflecting and meditating activities decline,

Then those who destroy loving-kindness and compassion

_To abandon such bad friends, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

6.         When you rely on someone and your transgressions end.

And positive qualities increase like the waxing moon,

Such genuine a spiritual friend-to cherish him much dearer than

The body of your own, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

7.         They themselves are also captured in samsara’s prison.

The worldly gods-whom can they protect?

Therefore, when you take refuge, those who don’t deceive,

Those rare, supreme –to take them as refuge, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

8.         ‘What is so difficult to bear, the suffering in lower realms,

That is the fruit of evil actions’, as the Buddha taught.

Therefore, even at the cost of your life, evil actions

-Never to commit such, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

9.         The happiness of all three worlds, like dew on a blade of grass,

Is subject to destruction within a single instant.

The never chaning supreme state of liberation.

-To strive for that, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

10.     Form beginningless time they cherished me,

My mothers – if they suffer, what good is my own happiness?

Thereforen in order to liberate limitless sentient beings

-To develop the enlightened attitude, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

11.      All suffering without exception comes from craving my own happiness.

Perfect Buddhas are born from the intention to benefit others.

-          Therefore, truly to exchange my own happiness.

For the suffering of others, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

12.     Even if someone, driven by great desire, steals

All my wealth or incites someone else to steal it,

Body, possessions and all the virtue of three times

-To dedicate those to him, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

13.  Though I myself were not in the slightest fault,

     Even if someone were to cut my head off,

Still Through the power of compassion – to take on

That person’s sins, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

14.   If someone were to publish numerous unpleasantries

About myself throughout a billion worlds, still

With a mind full of love – as an answer to proclaim

That person’s qualities is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

15.   If someone in the middle of a crowd of people

Were to expose my hidden faults and slander me,

Understanding that persona as a spiritual friend and thus

- To bow down respectfully, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

16.   Someone whom I cared for as dearly as for my own child,

If this person were to view and treat me as an enemy,

Then like a mother whose child is plagued by sickness

- To love that person even more, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

17.   Even if a person, equal or inferior to myself,

Driven by great self-esteem, takes measure to despise me.

With respect as to a lama – to raise him up

Above my crown, that is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

18.   Though living under poor condition, always despised by men,

Stricken by serious diseases and evil spirits, still on top of that

-          To take upon myself the sins and suffering of every being

And not to be discouraged, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

19.   Though being famous, prominent, and many people bow their heads,

Piling up as much wealth as that of the god of riches

-          To see that all worldly splendour has no essence and thus

Not to be arrogant, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

20.   If I have not tamed the enemy of my own anger,

Attempting to tame outer enemies will make them multiply.

Therefore, with an army of loving kindness and compassion

- To tame my own mind, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

21.   The pleasures of the senses are similar to salted water,

The more you enjoy, the more your craving will increase.

Whatever things that cause attachment to arise

- To give them up immediately, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

22.   Appearances as they appear, these are one’s own mind

Mind’s innate nature is primordially free of mental fabrications.

Knowing this – in characteristics of perceived and perceiver

Not to engage the mind, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

23.   When you encounter objects pleasing to your mind,

They are like rainbows in the summer season.

Though they appear so beautiful – to see they are not real and

To give up attachment, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

24.   All the different sufferings are like your child dying in a dream.

Taking delusive appearances as real – Oh, how exhausting!!

Therefore, whenever you encounter unpleasant circumstances

- To see them as delusion, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

25.   Those who want enlightenment even have to give their bodies.

As for the giving of external things – this is no need to mention!!

Therefore, with no hope for reward or karmic ripening

- To give with generosity, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

26.   Without discipline you won’t accomplish your own benefit.

Then to wish to benefit others – that’s just a joke!!

Therefore, discipline with no longing for worldly existence

- To protect such, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

27.   For a Bodhisattva who wants the wealth of virtue

Everything that harms is like a precious treasure.

Therefore, patience that bears no anger against anything

- To cultivate such, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

28.   Even Shravakas and Pratyekabuddhas who only practice for their own benefit

Show such effort as if’ wanting to extinguish a fire burning their heads.

Joyous effort, source of positive qualities benefiting all beings

- To strive with such, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

29.   Vipashyana which is fully unified with Shamatha

Completely conquers all afflictions. Knowing this,

Stable meditation truly beyond the four formless states

- To meditate such, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

30.   Without superior knowledge, only with the five paramitas

It is not possible to attain perfect enlightenment. Therefore

Knowledge bearing means and not conceptualizing three-fold action

- To cultivate such, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

31.   If I have not analyzed my own delusion by myself,

With the façade of dharma I may act in non-dharmic ways.

Therefore – to analyze continuously my own delusion

And then to drop it, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

32.   By the power of afflictions, if I speak of the faults

Of other Bodhisattvas, I myself will be degenerated. Therefore

Of an individual who has entered the great vehicle

- Never to speak of their faults, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

33.   Influenced by wealth and honour I will end up arguing, and

Listening, reflecting and meditating activities will decline.

Towards the households of friends, relatives and sponsors

- To give up attachment, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

34.   Speaking harshly will disturb the minds of others

And the conduct of the Bodhisattva will regress.

Therefore, harsh words that do not please others

- To relinquish these, that is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

35.   Afflictions when accustomed to are hard to fight with antidotes.

A person fully aware and conscious holds the arms of remedies.

- To stamp out afflictions like attachment and so on

As soon as they arise, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

36.   In brief, wherever you are, whatever you do, in all the ways of conduct

You have to look for what is your real state of mind.

Being fully aware and conscious continuously

- To accomplish benefit for others, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

37.   The merits accomplished through such efforts as these,

In order to clear away the suffering of endless beings,

With completely pure knowledge of the three-fold action

- To dedicate these towards enlightenment, is the practice of a Bodhisattva.


C.      What was taught in sutras, tantras and treatises,

Following the teachings of the holy ones,

I composed into thirty-seven practices for Bodhisattvas

To benefit those who wish to study the Bodhisattva’s path.

D.     Because my intelligence is small and my studies little,

I cannot compose poetry to please the scholars.

Since it they based on sutras and the holy teachings,

I think these ‘Practices of a Bodhisattva’ are not mistaken.

E.      Still since the extensive conduct of a Bodhisattva

Is difficult to fathom for one with small intelligence like me,

All mistakes of contradiction, incoherence and so on

I pray to the holy ones to consider them with patience.

F.      Through the merit of composing this may all beings,

By means of supreme absolute and relative enlightened attitude,

May they become equal to Chenrezig, the protector,

Who dwells neither in the extreme of existence nor in that of peace.

For the benefit of himself and others Venerable Thogme, a scholar of scriptures and logic, composed this at the Jewel Cave of Silver Water.