About the 37 Practices study guide

This study guide for The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva is being posted in real time as I lead an online class on the text, beginning in June 2017. It began as notes for participants who wanted to keep up when they had to miss a class. Then a few students who couldn’t attend the class began using it as a way to study the 37 practices along with us, and now my aspiration is for it to be useful as a support for anyone who is interested in exploring this 14th-century text that speaks so directly to life in the 21st-century West. There are a number of contemporary commentaries on the 37 practices. Click here for the ones we’re using, along with some other basic resources.

Because this is a blog, there is no table of contents in the proper order. Or maybe I just don’t know how to do that yet–always a work in progress! (So far I can’t even get all my categories to show up — I do have one for the 37 practices.) Technical advice is always welcome.

For now at least, how the study guide works is that I post a new verse each week before the corresponding class and update the post after class with notes on the commentaries and class discussion. The post includes the translation and audio of the verse, the class notes, and a link to audio of the class for those who have the time and inclination (also found in the blogroll to the right of each page). For more info about the context of this study guide, see “about this blog.”

To see a list of all the posts related to the 37 practices, go to the list of tags (to the right) and click on “37 practices.” The posts are more or less in descending order (newest first), but not completely, so you may have to scroll to find the verse you’re looking for. Only so many posts will fit on one page, so you may need to click on the link at the bottom of a page to see “older posts.”

Each post has links at the end to audio of the classes and to the next verse.

About the translation: It’s a work in progress. It’s not perfect, partly because some allowances have to be made when working with such disparate languages as Tibetan and English, especially within a verse format — sort of like the motto I learned as a typesetter in NYC in the 1970s: “fast, cheap, accurate: pick any two.” My primary goal throughout the translation process is to convey the meaning as accurately as possible in natural, accessible English, while recreating (more or less) the original verse format to make it easier to memorize. You will find that the stanzas do not all have the same number of lines, though I wish they did, and that I’ve had to take a liberty once or twice to fill out a verse, always carefully based on the commentaries. There are numerous excellent translations of the 37 practices, and I encourage you to explore them (each commentary comes with its own). The main reason I’m adding another is to make it easier to chant and memorize the verses, which I highly recommend.

The translation and audio for each verse are found at the beginning of its respective post, and I also have some groupings: verses 1-7 and 8-10. I’ll continue to group the translations for each distinct section of the text as we cover them (as of November 2017, we’re in bodhisattva boot camp), and eventually I hope to create an audio file for all 37 verses together.

There is a lot of housekeeping to do on a blog like this, and I’m no tech whiz, so thanks for your patience as I continue to explore what is possible within the blog format, and hopefully continue to improve organization and usability.

Feedback and inquiries are welcome via email if you have my address, or via my Facebook page: Lama Chodron Linda Jordan.

Resources for this study guide: click here.

First class: prelude (who, what, where, when, why)

Second class: infrastructure (how)

Third class: verse 1

Or jump in anywhere by going back to the home page or “37 practices” in the tag list.

Welcome aboard!