Recognizing their true potential and letting go of everything which could hinder them on their spiritual journey, Bodhisattvas entrust themselves to the path taught by the Buddha. Resisting disturbing emotions, they learn to respond to difficult situations in a constructive way. Fully understanding the nature of reality and the illusion-like nature of pleasure and pain, they overcome clinging attachment and aversion. In these ways, Bodhisattvas come to cherish living beings as the source of all happiness and are ultimately able to work solely for the good of all. Tokme Zangpo wrote The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas in the fourteenth century. His succinct and simple verses of advice summarize the quintessence of the Mahayana path to perfection.
Also called Gyelsay Togmay Sangpo, the author of the text The 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas, was born around 1295 in Tibet. He gave many teachings; and this is one of his main and most precious ones, because it is a summary of all the practices that we need to do when trying to become bodhisattvas. The text is called The 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas because there are 37 verses that comprise the main body of the book. All in all there are 43 verses, but the first two are more introductory and the last four include dedications and other things. So there are 37 main verses.
We try to practice the path of the bodhisattvas in order to reach the absolute state of buddhahood. In order to achieve this, we must identify the “absolute refuge”: the state of buddhahood itself. The refuge as a whole—the buddha, dharma, and sangha—is not a refuge that we take out of blind faith or without reason and clear understanding. Rather we take refuge in them through great analysis of the truth. For example, concerning a buddha we must understand that its absolute state—its essence—is actually none other than the three kayas: the dharmakaya, the sambhogakaya, and the nirmanakaya. Buddha is the state of mind in which one has accomplished all of them very clearly. This particular state we are trying to achieve, and that is called the Refuge of Buddha, or the enlightened state.
In the same way, we must recognize that the dharma is both the foundation of absolute enlightenment, which is compassion and loving kindness, and the tools to accomplish all of this, the wisdom and the means.
An important lojong text In thirty seven verses, it gives instructions on how to follow the bodhisattva path. Kyabjé Trulshik Rinpoche has said that the Eight Verses of Training the Mind represents the short version of lojong, the Thirty Seven Practices is the medium, and the Bodhicharyavatara is the extensive version.
In recent years, the text was taught and commented upon extensively by Ngawang Tendzin Norbu.
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