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The Bodhisattva’s Jewel Mala

The Bodhisattva’s Jewel Mala

Painting of Atisha, circa 1100.
Photo by The Metropolitan Museum of Art

In these verses Lama Atisha gives us practical advice for daily life.

In the language of India: bodhisattvamaniavali
In the language of Tibet: byang chhub sems dpa’i nor bu’i phreng wa.

I bow down to the Great Compassionate One.
I bow down to the lamas.
I bow down to the devotional deities.

Abandon all doubt,
And earnestly apply yourself to practice.

Abandon laziness, dullness and drowsiness,
And always cultivate joyous effort.

With mindfulness, alertness and conscientiousness
Protect the doors of the senses at all times.

During the three times of day and night
Check your mental continuum again and again

Proclaim your own faults,
But do not look for the mistakes of others.

Hide your own good qualities,
But proclaim the good qualities of others.

Abandon wealth and honors,
And reject profit and reputation always.

Desire little, be content,
And be grateful to those who show you kindness.

Meditating on compassion and loving kindness,
Firmly establish bodhicitta.

Abandon the ten non-virtues,
And firmly establish continuous faith.

Overcome pride and anger,
And have a humble mind.

Abandon wrong livelihoods,
And live a life of Dharma.

Abandon all worldly objects,
And wear the jewels of the Aryas.

Abandon all entertainment,
And live in solitary places.

Abandon all misleading and meaningless talk,
And always control your speech

When you see your spiritual teacher or ordination master,
Attend him or her with respect.

With sentient beings who are beginners
And with beings who possess the Dharma eye,
Generate the perception of them as teachers.

When you see all sentient beings,
Generate the perception of them as your parents and children.

Abandon friends who influence you negatively,
And rely on the virtuous spiritual friend.

Abandon the mind of unhappiness and aversion,
And go everywhere with happiness.

Abandon attachment to everything,
And remain without attachment.

Also, because of attachment, you will not obtain a good rebirth,
And will be cut off from the life of liberation.

Wherever you see virtuous Dharma,
Always put your effort there.

Whatever you have begun,
Accomplish that first.
Do everything properly like this;
Otherwise, nothing will be accomplished.

Be free of any liking for negativity;
Whenever an arrogant mind arises,
Flatten pride
And remember the advice of your lama.

When a discouraged mind arises,
Praise the sublimity of the mind.

Meditate on the emptiness of both.

Whenever objects of attachment and aversion arise
See them as illusions and emanations.

When you hear offensive talk
Regard it as an echo.

When your body is injured,
Regard this as the result of your previous actions.

Live well in solitary places at the edge of towns.
Like a wounded deer,
Hiding yourself, alone,
Dwell without attachment.

Firmly rely on your yidam at all times,
And when the mind of laziness and indifference arises,
Enumerate these faults to yourself
And ponder them with regret in your heart.

When you see others,
Speak calmly, kindly and sincerely
Avoid frowning, closed expressions,
And abide always with a smile.

Continually, when you see others,
Delight in giving without miserliness.
Abandon all jealousy.

To protect the minds of others,
Abandon all contention,
And have patience at all times.

Without flattery and without fickle infatuation,
Be grounded and steadfast always.

Abandon contempt for others,
And preserve a respectful manner.

When giving counsel to others
Have compassion and the wish to be of benefit.

Without criticizing any Dharma teachings,
Let others aspire to whichever they are drawn to,
And through the door of the ten Dharma practices
Exert yourself through the day and half the night.

Whatever virtue you accumulate during the three times,
Dedicate to the highest, great enlightenment.
Give away your merit to sentient beings.

Continually offer the seven-limb practice
And the great aspirational prayers.

If you practice this way, you will complete
The two accumulations of wisdom and positive potential.

Also, the two kinds of obscurations will be exhausted,
And fulfilling the purpose of obtaining a human rebirth,
The highest enlightenment will be obtained.

The jewel of faith and the jewel of ethical discipline,
The jewel of giving and the jewel of hearing,
The jewels of personal integrity and of consideration for others,
The jewel of supreme wisdom:
These seven sacred jewels,
Seven inexhaustible treasures,
Are meaningless to negative spirits.

Examine your speech when among many.
Examine your mind when alone.

Written by the glorious master of India, Dipankara, Heart of Perfect Wisdom, Illuminator Who is Entirely Good. Thus, The Jewel Mala of the Bodhisattva is complete.

Translation from the Tibetan by Jesse Fenton, November 1997, Seattle, under the guidance of Geshe Yeshe Tobden. Thanks to Venerable Lobsang Yeshe and Venerable Thubten Chodron for their kind corrections.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.