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I compiled this short prayer to keep the wisdom of the Bodhicharyavatara close to me daily and spur me on.

To those who go in bliss, the dhammakaya they possess, and all their heirs,
To all those worthy of respect, I reverently bow. (1,1)

To the Buddhas, those Thus Gone,
And to the sacred Dhamma, spotless and supremely rare,
And to the Buddha’s offspring, oceans of good qualities,
That I might gain this precious attitude, I make a perfect offering. (2,1)

Until the essence of enlightenment is reached,
I go for refuge to the Buddhas.
Also I take refuge in the Dhamma
And in all the host of Bodhisattvas. (2, 26)

To perfect Buddhas and to Bodhisattvas,
In all directions where they may reside,
To them who are the sovereigns of great mercy,
I press my palms together, praying thus: (2,27)

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To cling to Buddhahood is to be in the Mara realm;
to forget Mara is to be in the Buddha-realm.

– Muso

There are two aspects to the Buddha’s teaching:
The very essence of the scriptures and of realization.
One should hold these in mind, speak about them,
And practice them. Do only that.

Vasubhandu

I came across this while reading volume I of Geshe Sopa’s commentary (Steps on the Path to Enlightenment) on Lama Tsongkhapa’s Lamrim Chenmo. On pp. 45 Geshe Sopa says “Everything the Buddha taught unerringly presents the four noble truths…”.  And “the purpose of practicing the lamrim method is to help you quickly and easily comprehend the true meaning of the scriptures” (pp. 59). Also, “… all the scriptures are important special instructions” (pp. 56) and so as Dromtonpa said “If, after studying a great deal of Dharma, you feel you need to seek out another set of teachings for practice,  then you have got it all wrong” (quoted on pp. 57).

So perhaps not as extreme as my statement that “all there is are the 4 Noble Truths” (since Geshe Sopa’s quote says that all scripture presents the four noble truths but it does not say that it only presents the 4 Noble truths), but it certainly calls attention to the centrality of these Truths to all of Buddha’s teachings. That being said, and pulling from the other quotes, I come to see the lamrim as the method for quickly (relatively speaking) coming to realize the 4 Noble truths in practice.

Not very uniquely insightful, but helpful for me.

…objects of desire
Sweet honey clinging to the razor’s edge

-Shantideva, Bodhicharyavatara 7:65

The depth of this quote is limitless. One can reflect on the nature of desire and thirst (tanha) in general, our attachment to and pursuance through volitional acts (kamma) of that which we desire, and the fruits (kamma-phala) thereby produced.

We can come to know that while we will be separated from the objects of our desire when we die, the fruit of our kamma will not be similarly left behind-the razor’s edge…. and yet, like a child, we act as though the opposite were true.

We can reflect on how the phrase ”objects of desire” is not limited to our thirst for sensual objects (kama-tanha), but can also concern for instance, our thirst for or attachment to ideals or beliefs (dhamma-tanha), our desire for certain things to exist (bhava-tanha), and for other things to cease to exist (vibhava tanha).

Relatively speaking, we can split hairs by contrasting ”good’ kamma (kusala) and ‘bad’ kamma (akusala), and so we can talk about of ‘good’ desire (I want to meditate, I want to be Enlightened, I want world peace) and contrast this with ‘bad’ desires…

but we can also meditate on the fact that in the end, both are based on desire/thirst and so in final analysis contribute to our participation in the cycle of continuity (samsara)- thereby illuminating the ultimate nature of the ‘razor’s edge’.