The following article is from the Winter, 1997 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life By Shantideva Translated by Vesna A. Wallace and B. Alan Wallace

A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life

By Shantideva
Translated by Vesna A. Wallace and B. Alan Wallace


In the whole of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition there is no single treatise more deeply revered or widely practiced than A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life. This authoritative translation by Vesna A. Wallace and B. Alan Wallace is the first English rendering of the original Sanskrit that also takes into .account the canonical Tibetan translation.

Please see the following chapter sample provided here for you.

Chapter III

Adopting the Spirit of Awakening


  1. I happily rejoice in the virtue of all sentient beings, which relieves the suffering of the miserable states of existence. May those who suffer dwell in happiness. (48)
  2. I rejoice in sentient beings' liberation from the suffering of the cycle of existence, and I rejoice in the Protectors' Bodhisattva­hood and Buddhahood.
  3. I rejoice in the teachers' oceanic expressions of the Spirit of Awak­ening, which delight and benefit all sentient beings. (49)
  4. With folded hands I beseech the Fully Awakened Ones in all directions that they may kindle the light of Dharma for those who fall into suffering owing to confusion.




  1. Tibetan: "I happily rejoice in the virtue done by all sentient beings, which relieves the suffering of the miserable states of existence and in the well-being of those subject to suffering." This verse is followed in the Tibetan by an additional line, not found in the Sanskrit version, and is translated here in the following way: "I rejoice in the accumulated virtue that acts as a cause for enlightenment."
  2. Tibetan: "I happily rejoice in the oceanic virtue of cultivating the Spirit of Awakening, which delights and benefits all sentient beings."
  1. With folded hands I supplicate the Jinas who wish to leave for nirvana that they may stay for countless eons, and that this world may not remain in darkness.
  2. May the virtue that I have acquired by doing all this (50) relieve every suffering of sentient beings.
  3. May I be the medicine and the physician for the sick. May I be their nurse until their illness never recurs. (51)
  4. With showers of food and drink may I overcome the afflictions of hunger and thirst. May I become food and drink during times of famine.
  5. May I be an inexhaustible treasury for the destitute. With various forms of assistance may I remain in their presence.
  6. For the sake of accomplishing the welfare of all sentient beings, I freely give up my body, enjoyments, and all my virtues of the three times.
  7. Surrendering everything is nirvana, and my mind seeks nirvana. If I must surrender everything, it is better that I give it to sentient beings. (52)
  8. For the sake of all beings I have made this body pleasureless. Let them continually beat it, revile it, and cover it with filth. (53)
  9. Let them play with my body. Let them laugh at it and ridicule it. What does it matter to me? I have given my body to them. (54)



  1. The Panjika, p. 38: "Worship, disclosure of sin, rejoicing in virtue, etc."
  2. Tibetan: "For as long as beings are ill and until their illnesses are cured, may I be their physician and their medicine and their nurse."
  3. Tibetan: "As a result of surrendering everything, there is nirvana, [and] my mind seeks nirvana. Surrendering everything at once–this is the greatest gift to sentient beings."
  4. Tibetan: "I have already given this body to all beings for them to do with it what they like. So at any time they may kill it, revile it, or beat it as they wish."
  5. Tibetan: "Even if they play with my body, or use it as a source of jest or ridicule, since my body has already been given up, why should I hold it dear?"
  1. Let them have me perform deeds that are conducive to their happiness. (55) Whoever resorts to me, may it never be in vain.
  2. For those who have resorted to me and have an angry or unkind thought, may even that always be the cause for their accomplishing every goal. (56)
  3. May those who falsely accuse me, who harm me, and who ridicule me all partake of Awakening.
  4. May I be a protector for those who are without protectors, a guide for travelers, and a boat, a bridge, and a ship for those who wish to cross over.
  5. May I be a lamp for those who seek light, a bed for those who seek rest, and may I be a servant for all beings who desire a servant. (57)
  6. To all sentient beings may I be a wish-fulfilling gem, a vase of good fortune, an efficacious mantra, a great medication, a wish­fulfilling tree, and a wish-granting cow.
  7. Just as earth and other elements are useful in various ways to innumerable sentient beings dwelling throughout infinite space, (58)
  8. So may I be in various ways a source of life for the sentient beings present throughout space until they are all liberated.
  9. Just as the Sugatas of old adopted the Spirit of Awakening, and just as they properly conformed to the practice of the Bodhisattvas,



  1. Tibetan: "Let them do anything that does not bring them harm. "
  2. Tibetan: "Whether they look at me with anger or admiration, may this always be a cause for their accomplishing all their goals."
  3. Tibetan: "May I be an island for those seeking an island, a lamp for those seeking light, a bed for those seeking repose, and a servant for all those beings desiring a servant."
  4. Tibetan: "Like the great elements such as earth and space, may I always serve as the basis of the various requisites of life for innumerable sentient beings."
For more information:
ShantidevaShantideva was a scholar in the eighth century from the monastic university Nalanda, one of the most celebrated centers of learning in ancient India. According to legend, Shantideva was greatly inspired by the celestial bodhisattva Manjushri, from whom he secretly received teachings and great insights. Yet as far as the other monks could tell, there was nothing special about Shantideva. In fact, he seemed to do nothing but eat and sleep. In an attempt to embarrass him, the monks forced Shantideva's hand by convincing him to publicly expound on the scriptures. To the amazement of all in attendance that day, Shantideva delivered the original and moving verses of the Bodhicharyavatara. When he reached verse thirty-four of the ninth chapter, he began to rise into the sky, until he at last disappeared. Following this, Shantideva became a great teacher.
Vesna A. Wallace received her Ph.D. in South and Southeast Asian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Additionally, she acted as a Visiting Scholar in the Religious Studies Department at Stanford University. She has also taught Sanskrit and comparative ethics in Indian religions at Stanford University.
B. Alan Wallace

B. Alan Wallace has authored, translated, edited, and contributed to more than forty books on Tibetan Buddhism, science, and culture. With fourteen years as a Buddhist monk, he earned a BA in physics and the philosophy of science and then a PhD in religious studies. After teaching in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, he founded the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies to explore the integration of scientific approaches and contemplative methods.