Bodhisattva’s way

Lecture course of Tsering Dhondup,

culture and religion consultant of Tibet center of culture and information in Moscow

Tsering Dhondup was born in 1954 in the village of Tzona-Dzong on the south of Tibet. When he was five he left Tibet together with his parents, as well as more than hundred thousands of Tibetans, that became refugees in 1959 and the beginning of sixties.


He grew up in India, became a Buddhist monk, and at the age of 25 took a full monastic empowerment from His Holiness Dalai Lama. He got an excellent Buddhist philosophical education; starting from 1972 till 1987 he studied in the Institute of Buddhist dialectics in Dharmsala (India), and then at the Central institute of highest Tibetan studies in Varanasi (India).


Tsering Dhondup was the teacher in tibetan schools in India and Nepal, taught Buddhist philosophy to nuns during 5 years. Since 2003 he is the culture and religion counselor of Tibetan centre of culture and information in Moscow.





“If I just to some extent realized what a compassion and Bodhisattva Path is, this comprehension I owe entirely to this text – “Bodhicharya-avatara”.

Tenzin Gyatso, Dalai-lama XIV



“Bodhicharya-avatara” is one of the most important classical works of Mahayana Buddhism. During many centuries this text has been unsurpassed source of inspiration for many generations of the great mentors, their successors and common people. It plays the same role in Mahayana, as “Dhammapada” in Hinayana and “Bhagavadgita” in Hinduism. This work was repeatedly translated into many oriental and European languages (there are at least seven translations of it in English). This book is needed now much more than the piles of tantric texts, which can be absolutely useless for the unprepared mind.


“Bodhicharya-avatara” reveals one of the highest ideals of the humankind – the ideal of Bodhisattva. Sanskrit word Bodhisattva has entered the European languages with the spreading of Buddhism and it means a being (sattva in sanscrit), who devoted himself to achievement of the highest goal of spiritual searching – the Enlightenment (bodhi in sanscrit) in sake of happiness and prosperity of all the sentient beings. Such a definition is undoubtedly of great value, for it speaks for the great altruism, selflessness and compassion, without which one can’t imagine the Bodhisattva’s Path. But it shouldn’t be taken literally. One of the western commentators of Bodhicharya-avattara Sangharakshita writes in his work “The Endlessly Fascinating Cry”: it would be a mistake to think, that the ideal of Bodhisattva in its full sense is the ideal of altruism contrary to individual and egoistic aspirations. It would also be wrong to think, that contributing to the spiritual development of others, Bodhisattva declines that of his own, and that he helps others to go the way, which he himself doesn’t follow.


It would be more correct to say, that Bodhisattva aims to reach the world-view, when the idea of “I” and “others” looses its meaning, or rather become inseparable from each other. Thus, assisting the prosperity of others, Bodhisattva simultaneously brings benefit to himself, and bringing benefit to himself, he at the same time brings it to others. For Bodhisattva the ideas “I” and “others” become inseparably associated, so that his world-view is not going beyond the limits of these notions.


How to achieve this understanding, without which it is impossible to bring real benefit to other beings? The answer to this question is in “Bodhicharya-avatara”, where all the successive steps are described, which lead us to comprehension of the true nature of things and genuine compassion for all beings.

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