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 course is designed to be taken in 14 weeks. For-credit students must complete the course in that allotted time. Non-credit students can proceed at their own pace and have access to this course for one year from the date of registration. The course moderator will be available between September 18, 2023, and May 17, 2024. If you are taking the course for credit, you must start the class by February 12, 2024, to ensure the moderator is available to grade your final exam.

*If you are interested in earning academic credit for an online course, you must first be enrolled in one of our academic programs at Kathmandu University (KU). Applications to KU have to be submitted between January 1 and July 1 each year. 

For more information on these programs, please visit: 

Bachelor of Arts Program

Master’s Preparatory Program


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 course is designed to be taken in 14 weeks. For-credit students must complete the course in that allotted time. Non-credit students can proceed at their own pace and have access to this course for one year from the date of registration. The course moderator will be available between September 18, 2023, and May 17, 2024. If you are taking the course for credit, you must start the class by February 12, 2024, to ensure the moderator is available to grade your final exam.

*If you are interested in earning academic credit for an online course, you must first be enrolled in one of our academic programs at Kathmandu University (KU). Applications to KU have to be submitted between January 1 and July 1 each year. 

For more information on these programs, please visit: 

Bachelor of Arts Program

Master’s Preparatory Program

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