Shantideva: Bodhicaryavatara

(ca. 700–763)

The Bodhicaryavatara, or “Introduction to the Path of the Bodhisattva,” was composed by the Indian monk and poet Shantideva sometime in the eighth century. It is both a practical guide outlining meditation practice and proper monastic conduct and a philosophic treatise arguing for the importance and validity of the Mahayana Buddhist perspective. Two particularly important themes associated with Mahayana Buddhism are emptiness and the path of the bodhisattva. Mahayana Buddhist philosophy explicates a particularly detailed understanding of the concept of emptiness and promotes the path of the bodhisattva as key to the attainment of perfect wisdom.

The way in which Mahayana Buddhist philosophy explains emptiness and promotes the path of the bodhisattva marks a shift in Buddhist philosophy from the early Indian tradition associated with the Pali canon. The Pali canon is a set of Buddhist scriptures that were established as authentic by an early Indian school of Buddhism called...

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Buddha and Bodhisattvas

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