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The thirty-seven practices of the Bodhisattva

Author: Ken McLeod

Born in 1295 in central Tibet, Tokmé Zongpo was a great Buddhist monk of the Kadampa tradition. Acclaimed just nineteen as a second Asanga, at thirty-two he was appointed abbot of a monastery but, after nine years, he gave up other monastic positions to retire to practice in a hermitage at the locality of Ngülchu, or 'Silver River'. His verses on the path of the bodhisattva, composed mostly as a reminder to himself, are many centuries later among the most loved and revered texts of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Ken McLeod's translation stands out for the simplicity of the language, which wants to reflect the clarity and immediacy of the original Tibetan text. Tokmé Zongpo did not care about doctrinal knowledge, he was only interested in getting as close as possible, in his real life, to the great ideal of the bodhisattva. McLeod in his comment reflects the same experiential approach, and prompts the reader to wonder: "How can I, today, follow these practices?". For this purpose it presents a series of scenarios that we can all experience in our daily life, for example, a theft, the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, and leads us to reflect on how compassion, clarity, mindfulness and balance can find expression in our existence.

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