HOW TO BECOME PERFECTLY HAPPY
…in just 37 steps!
When we read about or meet great spiritual masters, we apprehend in their perfect happiness something of the sublime. A dear example is the bodhisattva and great being H.E. Garchen Rinpoche, who radiates love for all. This great love is the source of his unshakeable joy and courage, lifting everyone who meets him. With our dualistic perception we may think, “Oh, how wonderful—but certainly I could never be like that,” yet Garchen Rinpoche said to me personally, “If you want to be like me, here is how I became the way I am”—and held out in his hand a small text called The Thirty-Seven Bodhisattva Practices. “Take it literally,” he said. “Read it, study it. Practice every day, every moment, what is contained in this small book, and you will accomplish what I have accomplished.”
The Thirty-Seven Bodhisattva Practices are the entire Buddhadharma, distilled as the nectar of bodhicitta, the Great Love. This is an unmistaken path, teaching us how to transform the confused self-grasping that creates suffering into the love that brings perfect happiness to ourselves and all beings.
The root text, by Ngülchu Thogme Zangpo (1295 - 1369), is given here (in the scrollable sidebar). I encourage friends to study it with some of the many commentaries written by excellent lamas and teachers. I especially love the luminous commentary of Dilgo Khyentse: The Heart of Compassion: The Thirty-seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva (Boston: Shambhala, 2007).
I invite you to join me and the many people around the world who are studying and practicing this profound, practical, infallible guidebook for aspiring bodhisattvas, and who are finding our minds and lives transformed by it. Current study groups include friends in California, Utah and Ukraine; please let us know if you start one in your community. The entire course is available here on CD, and we are in the process of preparing a printed guide for individual or group study. Send us your experiences, questions and suggestions to share for the benefit of all.
A good method of study and practice:
1. Once a day, recite the entire text, preferably aloud--then sit quietly for a bit, allowing the words and meanings gradually to permeate your mind.
2. Starting at the beginning of the text, take one verse each week for study and practice. Every day, contemplate that verse, drawing on teachings, commentaries and your own experience. Bring the verse and its meanings into your awareness over and over again throughout the coming week.
3. Each verse contains a practice instruction in its last sentence; apply this practice every day throughout the coming week.
4. Remember to dedicate the merit of your study, contemplation and practice to the liberation of all.