The Way of the Bodhisattva – Bodhicaryāvatāra (Interactive)

The Way of the Bodhisattva (Bodhicaryāvatāra) by the Indian philosopher Śāntideva is a world classic on Mahāyāna philosophy. This text teaches the meaning and value of bodhicitta – the mind of awakening – and explains how to practice the virtues of generosity, discipline, patience, diligence, and meditation. The text’s culmination is Chapter 9 entitled “The Perfection of Wisdom,” which is both a refutation of the philosophical positions of other Indian philosophical schools of the time, and of Buddhist non-Madhyamaka (Middle Way) schools. Throughout the text, Śāntideva blends instructions on ethical conduct, meditation, and wisdom, showing students how to follow the path of the Bodhisattva. 

The course is hosted on Moodle, an open-source e-learning platform. Internet access is required for studying this course. The course moderator, Anna Zilman, will grade work, lead course discussions on the public forum, and host weekly office hours where participants can come to ask questions and discuss the text further.  

Course methodology:  

This course assumes no prior knowledge of Buddhist philosophy, history, or practice. 

It combines traditional Tibetan monastic pedagogy based on a word-for-word commentary and a critical academic pedagogy focusing on historical, philosophical, and cultural contextualization. This approach mirrors RYI’s on-campus courses in Kathmandu. 

Due to this text’s length and profundity, the study of The Way of the Bodhisattva (Bodhicaryāvatāra) is divided into two parts – OL TSTD 101 and OL TSTD 102.  Part One covers the first half of the text up to chapter 6, verse 86 and Part Two, which requires separate registration, completes the text.  

Students can expect to average five to eight hours of lecture and study per week. Course content is presented as video lectures given by Khenpo Jampa Dhonden and translated into English by Sophie Greenewalt.  

OL TSTD 101: The Way of the Bodhisattva I

Part One covers the first half of the text, consisting of the following chapters: 

1. The Excellence of Bodhichitta 

2. Confession 

3. Taking Hold of Bodhichitta 

4. Carefulness 

5. Vigilant Introspection 

6. Patience (until verse 86) 

The courses are designed as 14-week courses. All students have access to the course for one year from the date of registration. Interactive For-Credit students must complete all course assignments to pass. Self-Study and Interactive students can proceed at their own pace within the one-year access period. 

Course moderators are available for live online office hours from September 15 – May 15. During the summer, communication is limited to written correspondence. For those taking a course for credit, it is recommended to start before February 1 to take advantage of live online guidance from the moderators. 

This registration is for the not-for-credit format only. To register in the for-credit format, apply through the admissions page, “RYI Study Online through Moodle – For Credit Format” (https://ryi.org/admissions), or through the portal (for KU students at RYI). 


OL TSTD 102 The Way of the Bodhisattva II

Part II covers the second half of the text, consisting of the following chapters: 

8. Meditative Concentration 

9. Wisdom 

10. Dedication 

The courses are designed as 14-week courses. All students have access to the course for one year from the date of registration. Interactive For-Credit students must complete all course assignments to pass. Self-Study and Interactive students can proceed at their own pace within the one-year access period. 

Course moderators are available for live online office hours from September 15 – May 15. During the summer, communication is limited to written correspondence. For those taking a course for credit, it is recommended to start before February 1 to take advantage of live online guidance from the moderators. 

This registration is for the not-for-credit format only. To register in the for-credit format, apply through the admissions page, “RYI Study Online through Moodle – For Credit Format” (https://ryi.org/admissions), or through the portal (for KU students at RYI). 

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