Few texts are more frequently taught and quoted, have as colorful a history, and as much relevance to Buddhists today more than the eighth-century Indian Buddhist monk Shantideva’s The Way of the Bodhisattva. The Dalai Lama has said that “if I have any understanding of compassion and the bodhisattva path, it all comes from studying this text.”
The living tradition of this text radiates most brightly from the Tibetan tradition where it was translated from Sanskrit in the ninth century and is central to all the traditions there, the Tibetan diaspora, and those receiving it in the West.
One singular aspect about the text is that unlike many of the important authored texts from India, it is fundamentally a practice text. As the Dalai Lama described it, “Shantideva composed his text in the form of an inner dialog. He turned his own weapons upon himself, doing battle with his negative emotions. Therefore, when we teach or listen to this text, it is important that we do so in order to progress spiritually, rather than making it simply a subject of academic study.”
In the spirit of this approach, Shambhala Publications and the Tsadra Foundation were pleased to host a four-day workshop on the text led by Wulstan Fletcher of the Padmakara Translation Group and recent recipient of the 2016 Khyentse Foundation Fellowship for his service to the Buddhadharma. Wulstan’s brief biography is below, suffice it to say there are few in the west who have worked as closely with this text and who can articulate so clearly its value, importance, and potential for us all. Wulstan was joined by several of the leading lights in Buddhist studies, translation, and teaching communities of Boulder, Colorado, including Sarah Harding, Holly Gayley, and Judy Lief.
This workshop will be a 360-degree view of the text, exploring its translation, history, commentaries, the famous ninth chapter on wisdom, and its relevance today. In particular, the intention is to present this text from a view of how practitioners today can really connect, relate, and use it in the way it was intended.
Wulstan is an extraordinary translator and scholar who has studied and gone through retreat with some of the greatest masters of the twentieth century. This workshop, which we plan to follow with many more, is meant to help impart the knowledge, experience, and wisdom from people like Wulstan to a new generation of translators, practitioners, and scholars. The Tsadra Foundation flew Wulstan in from France to give us this rare opportunity to engage with him and this extraordinary text that has been so fundamental for so many.