The Way of the Bodhisattva, Bodhicaryāvatāra (self-study)
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.
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
3. Taking Hold of Bodhichitta
5. Vigilant Introspection
6. Patience (until verse 86)
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
OL BCA9: Wisdom – Chapter Nine of The Way of the Bodhisattva
This online course examines Chapter Nine of The Way of the Bodhisattva (Bodhicaryāvatāra) by Śāntideva, which provides an overview and refutation of various Indian philosophical schools, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist, in order to show the primacy of the Madhyamaka view.
The course begins with a short introduction to the first eight chapters of the text to set the context, and then examines Chapter Nine in detail. The methodology of our online courses combines traditional Tibetan monastic word-for-word text commentary with a Western-style academic contextualization. This approach mirrors the courses offered in our on-site classrooms in Kathmandu.
While there is no prerequisite for study in this course, this is a philosophically challenging text. Students should expect to average 10 to 12 hours of listening and studying per week. Course content is presented as video lectures given by Khenpo Jampa Donden and translated into English by Sophie Greenewalt. Supplementary materials were created by Mort Ostensen.