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Buddhadharma : Spring 2006
buddhadharma| 71 |spring 2006 feature reviews No Time to Lose is a fruit of the en counter between one of the most respected of all Western Buddhist teachers, Bhikshuni Pema Chödrön, and one of the most beloved of all Mahayana Buddhist texts, the Bodhicaryavatara by the eighthcentury Indian monk, Shantideva. The Bodhicaryavatara – variously trans lated into English as Entering the Path of Enlightenment, The Way of the Bodhi sattva, or A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life – is a long Sanskrit poem usu ally divided into ten chapters: The Excel lence of Bodhicitta, Confession, Com mitment, Awareness, Vigilance, Patience, Heroic Perseverance, Concentration, Wis dom, and Dedication. It includes extraor dinary poetic evocations of the joys of altruism, ingenious exhortations to self discipline and compassion, a remarkable analysis of our spiritual debt to our ene mies, classic meditations on equalizing and exchanging ourselves with others, a subtle presentation and defense of Mad hyamaka philosophy, and an uplifting final benediction extended to all beings everywhere. The Buddhist scholar Luís Gómez has rightly observed that over the past cen tury, the Bodhicaryavatara has become a classic of modern Buddhism, with only the Dhammapada and the Heart Sutra translated more often from Indian into modern languages. The reasons for its initial popularity outside Asia were com plex, and include its survival in Sanskrit, the power of its poetic imagery, and its distant echoes of such Christian devo tional classics as Thomas à Kempis’s Imitation of Christ. But the recent spate of translations and analyses, whether scholarly or popular, unquestionably can be traced to the growing influence in the West of Tibetan Buddhism. All Tibetan Buddhist traditions look for inspiration to the Buddhist literature of India, and for almost a thousand years, the Bodhicaryavatara has been one of the most widely studied and deeply admired RogeR JacksoN is the Lewis PRofessoR of ReLigioN aNd the LibeRaL aRts at caRLetoN coLLege iN NoRthfieLd, MiNNesota. he is the authoR of taNtRic tReasuRes: thRee coLLectioNs of MysticaL VeRse fRoM buddhist iNdia (oxfoRd uNiVeRsity PRess). reviewed by roger Jackson No time to Lose: a timeLy Guide to the way of the Bodhisattva By Pema Chödrön shambhala Publications, 2005 408 pages; $24.95 (hardcover)