Shantideva's Way of the Bodhisattva
An audio course
In these five audio sessions, each two hours, Susan Shannon introduces us to the tools that Shantideva offers in the Buddhist classic The Bodhicharyavatara or The Way of the Bodhisattva.
Shantideva was an 8th-century Buddhist monk, poet and scholar at Nalanda, a revered Buddhist monastery which also served as a renowned center of learning in India. He is best known as the author of the Bodhicharyavatara, which describes the process of enlightenment from the first thought of dharma to full buddhahood. It remains one of hte most studied text in Buddhism, and has guided Susan Shannon on her many years of engaged spiritual practice.
First Session: Introduction and Chapter 1 - "The Excellence of Bodhicitta"
In the first session, Susan provides the background, history and introduction to the text, and provides an overview of Chapter One: “The Excellence of Bodhicitta”. Bodhicitta is the awakened heart, the core of our being, that out of compassion for our own and others' suffering, seeks enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.
Second Session: Chapter 3 – “Taking Hold of Bodhicitta”
How do we take hold of Bodhicitta, the Awakened Heart? The focus here will be on making everything we do, say and think be our offerings of altruistic intention for the betterment of all sentient beings. From this perspective, we are always engaged with living our lives through the lens of interconnectedness. This provides a paradigm shift of “Just Us” where we truly resonate with all of life. From this perspective we can truly begin to serve others. Together we will explore how this chapter is particularly appropriate for our lives today.
Third and Fourth Sessions: Chapter 6 – “Patience and Forbearance"
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has stated that this chapter contains all the teachings of Buddhism! This chapter presents the paramita of patience as it extends beyond lifetimes. We learn so many more manifestations of patience through looking with a sharp lens at some of the most challenging situations life produces. Shantideva addresses anger, hatred, suffering, and how to cultivate virtue when those qualities arise. We will explore how to reframe negativity into a positive light and be gracious, even happy, that challenges have arisen, as they give us a chance to skillfully apply the transformational tools the dharma provides, regardless of the outer causes and conditions. In doing so, negativity can come to fruition into an awakened heart, embracing, even deepening our experience of interconnection and healing.
Fifth Session: Chapter 10 – “Dedication”
In this chapter Shantideva shows us what true dedication is, the kind of dedication that magnifies the transformative effects of our positive acts and virtue in order to benefit beings of every level of existence, past, present and future. This is a pivotal chapter. It has the potential of changing the lives of many, many beings. In these days of more and more physical limitations, understanding what true Dedication is from Shantideva’s perspective and applying that to the activities of our body, speech and mind outlines the ultimate path of personal transformation as well as application of activism from a social justice perspective.
Whether you are a seasoned Buddhist practitioner or simply curious, please join us in learning and applying what Shantideva teaches.
Susan Shannon, M. Div. is a seeker, teacher, earth and animal steward, and devotee of the heart. She has worked in the fields of Emotional Literacy and Restorative Justice for over 20 years, incorporating over 45 years of Buddhist practice and study from the Tibetan tradition. She’s worked with various diverse populations all her life including inmates, Tibetan refugees, the homeless, the differently-abled, at-risk youth, and has served as the Buddhist Chaplain to the men in San Quentin State Prison and Death Row. She currently resides in the San Juan Islands where she writes, provides spiritual coaching and tends her land.