The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas (Awakening the Buddhist Heart)

Integrating Love, Meaning, and Connection into Every Part of Your Life by Lama Surya DasI couldn’t resist sharing The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattva from Awakening The Buddhist Heart: Integrating Love, Meaning, and Connection into Every Part of Your Life by Lama Surya Das.

In the book, Das includes a short commentary and questions for self-examination which I have not included below.

The commentaries and questions are very helpful for bringing this practices into everyday life so I might share them another time.

  1. Since we are fortunate enough to be alive and to be blessed with human bodies and intelligence, let’s take advantage of this opportunity to free ourselves and others from suffering. Listen to the teachings. Reflect on what you have heard. Meditate, meditate, meditate.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  2. In life, the strongest feelings are often generated by those we love and those who make us angry. We can become s preoccupied with these reactive feelings and our emotional concerns that we lose sight of what’s right and wrong. We could instead cultivate an attitude of nonattachment to our feelings and be prepared to lessen the grip of our worldly preoccupations.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  3. When we withdraw from excessive worldly stimulation and learn to put a priority on simplicity and solitude, our concentration, clarity, and wisdom increases as does our confidence in Dharma and truth we’ve learned.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  4. This life is transient and impermanent. All the goods we’ve accumulated and relationships we’ve enjoyed will change or come to an end. The mind is like a temporary guest in our bodily house; it will some day pass beyond. Learn to think of the larger picture beyond this one life-time.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  5. If we spend our time with those who don’t understand, encourage, and value our spiritual concerns, we will lose interest in truth and Dharma. As a result, we will meditate and prayer less; we lose sight of our vow to practice love and compassion for all others. Don’t surround yourself with people who don’t support your spiritual aspirations.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  6. Good teachers and spiritual friends helps us solve our problems and maintain our loving intentions. Cherish these kindred spirits, friends and mentors
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  7. How can you expect the successful wheelers and dealers of this world to help you when themselves are mired in worldly woes? Instead, look for refuge and support in what’s real and reliable.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  8. The Buddha said that our suffering and confusion is the result of our negative actions. Understand this and turn away from all behaviours that are harmful to self and others. Use all your strength to resist any tendency to cause harm to anyone.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  9. The worldly pleasures we pursue in the course of our lives can vanish in an instant, like dew on the tip of a blade of grass. There is greater satisfaction and lasting bliss to be found walking the spiritual path and awakening the Buddha within.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  10. How can we think only of ourselves when others are suffering? Recognise this suffering and generate the awakened heart-mind of Bodhicitta for the benefit of all.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  11. Selfish thoughts and desires will ultimately fail us. Replace these concerns with compassion for all others and the greater good. This will lead us to freedom and awakening.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  12. Cultivate a nonattachment for worldly goods that is so strong that even if someone takes away everything you won, you will still feel compassion and pray for his prosperity and well-being.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  13. If we should know someone who threatens us or tries to case us serious bodily harm, we should feel compassion for this person and show mercy by genuinely wishing that he suffers no further because of his or her deluded and misguided state.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  14. Even if someone slanders and criticizes us, spreading cruel rumors that some people may even believe, speak of that person with kindness. When you speak of him to others, praise his virtues.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  15. Even if someone insults and criticizes us in front of others, describing our flaws to anyone who will listen, instead of feeling anger, consider that person like a spiritual friend and advisor. Listen quietly and show respect; we can always learn from honest criticism.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  16. If someone we have nurtured and cared for as one would a cherished child becomes resentful, angry and hurtful, we should become even kinder and more giving; we should be understanding.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  17. If someone is contemptuous or treats you without respect – even if that person is not your intellectual or spiritual equal – repay them with honor as you would an admired teacher.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  18. No matter how dire your emotional, physical or financial condition, stay true to your practice, your inner principles, and your intentions. Continue to walk the path of awakening for yourself and all beings.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  19. Success and fame can be detrimental to spiritual development. No matter how much wealth you accumulate or how much you are praised and admired, don’t be swept away by worldly achievements or lose sight of what is real. Stay connected to who you are and what really matters.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  20. Anger is an inner problem. When you feel anger, don’t just strike out at others. Instead turn inward and call upon your resources of awareness, love and compassion to heal yourself first.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  21. The more we pursue our desires, the more our desires grow; it’s like drinking saltwater. We find freedom by letting go of our tendencies to become obsessed and addicted to situations that will ultimately prove unsatisfying.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  22. Recognize that life is dreamlike and illusory, and that truth is beyond concepts, existence, or solid separate individuality. See what is; move away from a dualistic perception of reality.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  23. Don’t be fooled by appearances, style, or form. The loveliest objects can be insubstantial and fleeting as the rainbows of summer. Let go of your impulsive, knee-jerk attractions to things that don’t last.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  24. All of us face problems and suffering. Recognise the illusory nature of all things; regard even difficulties and tragedies as fleeting and dreamlike.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  25. If we truly want enlightenment, we must be prepared to give of ourselves and all that we own without any thought of personal merit or gain. Cultivate an abundant, generous heart.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  26. If we lack ethics, virtue and morality in our own lives, how can we help others? Practice self-discipline and moderation, vowing to be moral and ethical in everything you do.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  27. Our worthwhile intentions are continually challenged by the negative and destructive situations we encounter. In the most trying circumstances, let go of anger and resentment. Instead cultivate patience toward all.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  28. Many seek to reach enlightenment for themselves alone; even they walk the path as though their hair is on fire and only their effort will put out the flames of their spiritual emergency. Think, therefore, of how much more energy is required to strive for enlightenment for the benefit of all who suffer. This goal requires total commitment, courage, and diligent effort.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  29. In order to penetrate the nature of reality and achieve real insight and deeper understanding, we need training and grounding in mental stability and focused attention. Mere spiritual highs are not sufficient to liberate and awaken our mind, or to achieve the result of “the heart’s true release.”
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  30. The perfections of generosity, virtue, patience, effort, and meditative absorption alone will not bring us to enlightenment without the cultivation of wisdom.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  31. We need always to continue to look inward and make consistent efforts to examine our faults in order to root our and let go of our own confusion and delusion. This requires a sincere ongoing commitment to awakening from the sleep of illusion. Ideally we should embody the Dharma, not just pay lip service.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  32. Don’t speak ill of others and don’t criticize fellow seekers. The only faults we should mention are our own.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  33. Sometimes our most intense emotions and arguments occur with family and good friends – those with who we are most intimate. It can be difficult to study and reflect on Dharma or meditate when all of our energy is engaged in domestic disputes. Avoid the strong attachments and emotions that these situations encourage.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  34. Unkind words can cause great harm. When we are angry and speak harshly to others, we lose our spiritual footing. We create pain, causing someone else’s mind to become disturbed and upset. Give up abusing others with harsh language.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  35. It’s all too easy to fall into the unconscious ways of acting and thinking. Mindfulness helps us more closely observe ourselves and thus keep our tendencies to form negative habits in check.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  36. In summation: Whatever we do, whatever we think, wherever we go, whatever the circumstances, we need to look inward to examine our minds. The work of a Bodhisattva requires mindful, attentive awareness.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  37. Dedicate our practice for the good of all. Share the benefits with everyone. Include all in your heart and prayers. Recognize the interconnectedness of all and make no distinction between beings; we are all equal in the spirit.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
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