A Bodhisattva’s Daily Practice
Having followed the words of the hallowed beings and the meaning of what has been declared in the sutras, tantras, and treatises, I have arranged (these) practices of bodhisattvas, thirty and seven, for the purposes of those who wish to train in the bodhisattva path. Togme Zangpo states that he did not originate this material. He followed the words of the great teachers and the meaning of what is found in the great texts. We can see that a great deal of the material that comes here in the 37 Practices derives from Shantideva’s Engaging in Bodhisattva Behavior and Geshe Chekawa’s 7-Point Mind Training, texts that Togme Zangpo also wrote commentaries to, as well as other lojong literature.
Then he continues:
Because my intelligence is feeble and my education meager, they may not be in poetic meter that would please the erudite. But, because I’ve relied on the sutras and the words of the hallowed ones, I think that (these) bodhisattva practices are not deceived. Togme Zangpo apologizes for his poetry as this text is written in metered verse. He basically says that it might be not the greatest, and that he’s not that intelligent or skilled, but nevertheless, because I’ve relied on the sutras and the words of the great masters like Shantideva and Geshe Chekawa, he says, I think that these bodhisattva practices are not deceived. In other words, he is not wrong about the fact that these really are the bodhisattvas’ practices.
Togme Zangpo continues:
Nevertheless, since it is difficult for someone dull-witted like myself to fathom the depth of the great waves of bodhisattva behavior, I request the hallowed ones to be patient with my mass of faults, such as contradictions, lack of connection, and the likes. Again he is being very humble. He says, “How can somebody as dull-witted, as simple-minded as myself really understand the vast bodhisattva conduct that great bodhisattvas practice?” He requests the great beings to be patient with him, with any mistakes that he might have made, such as contradictions. In other words, in writing about the bodhisattva practices, presenting things as though they appear to be contradictory or have lack of connection, or a weakness in connecting the verses with each other, so that it is easily understood, and so on.
Then the final verse:
By the constructive force coming from this, may all wandering beings, through supreme deepest and conventional bodhichittas, become equals to the Guardian Avalokiteshvara, who never abides in the extremes of compulsive samsaric existence or nirvanic complacency. Note that he doesn’t write, “May I become the equal of the Guardian Avalokiteshvara.” This is similar to what we discussed before, in terms of the dedication. He is saying, “May everybody become the equals of the Guardian Avalokiteshvara.” In other words, may everyone become enlightened through developing the supreme deepest and conventional bodhichittas. That state of Avalokiteshvara is one of enlightenment, which does not abide in the extremes of samsara or nirvana, as we’ve explained before.
Then the colophon:
This has been composed in Rinchen cave in Ngulchu (a district in Tibet) by the disciplined monk Togme, a teacher of scripture and logic, for the sake of his own and others’ benefit. This completes the teaching on the 37 Bodhisattva Practices, by the great bodhisattva Togme Zangpo.
It’s really important to actually try and put all of this into practice as much as possible. It’s recommended as a helpful daily practice to read this, and not just go “blah blah blah” but to keep the actual meaning in our mind. Each day we could spend a little time focusing on one particular verse. This is a useful method for slowly integrating the material in a way where we can become really familiar with it, and be able to remember it when we’re leading our lives. In this way, we’ll be able to put it all into practice, slowly.