A Bitwise Commentary on Entering the Conduct, "A Lamp for the Path of the Middle Way"

Padma Karpo's explanations of Shantideva's Entering the Bodhisatva Conduct, book by Tony Duff

TitleA Bitwise Commentary on Entering the Conduct
Sub-Title"A Lamp for the Path of the Middle Way"
AuthorText by Drukchen Padma Karpo, book and translation by Tony Duff
Details150 pages, 5.5" X 8.5", US$20, available in PDF and Kindle e-book formats
ISBNpaper book not assigned, e-book 978-9937-572-66-8
TextsTibetan text not included

The Bodhisatvacayavatara or Entering the Bodhisatva's Conduct by Shantideva is one of the favourite books for followers of Tibetan Buddhism.  And its popularity has spread far beyond that because it presents a completely selfless view of how to live one's life, which many have found very inspiring.  Therefore, several translations of it have been made into English and other languages.

Shantideva wrote his text in very beautiful but very terse verse, often making it hard for the reader to understand exactly what he was saying.  To solve this problem, Indan and Tibetan masters wrote commentaries to clarify its meaning.  Many of them are long and hard to read, so have not been translated for Westerners.

However, there is a very nice commentary by the great Tibetan author Padma Karpo, which takes the approach of inserting sufficient words into the text that its meaning becomes is clarified while not adding so many words that they detract from the original.  This type of commentary is called a bitwise commentary because it takes the words of the text bit by bit, adding a word or some short commentary here and there as needed to clarify the text.  In this way, Padma Karpo gives us a particularly useful guide to Shantideva's work, one that is useful to scholars but especially useful to the average person who would simply like to understand this brilliant piece of work better.

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Shantideva's work was written in Sanskrit verse, which usually does not go easily into Tibetan (and the same is true of English).  Padma Karpo, knowing this, did not try to render Shantideva's work in verse but turned it into prose.  The prose form with clarifying words included reveals a new dimension of meaning in the prayer that is not gained from reading the existing translations of the text.

Padma Karpo's commentary is long, therefore, we are publishing the work in a number of volumes.  The first volume to be published contains the first four chapters of Shantideva's text in a new translation together with Padma Karpo's clarifying commentary.

One of the special features of Padma Karpo's commentary s that it gives a very long commentary to the especially famous ninth chapter, the chapter on prajna.  This part of the commentary is particularly useful for practitioners wanting to study the Madhyamaka or Middle Way teachings.  Padma Karpo explains the ninth chapter is explained according to the Kagyu-Nyingma understanding, which has been called the Other Emptiness approach.  (This chapter is not available in the current volume.  Unfortunately, it will be some time before the remaining chapters are translated.  However, the work as it stands is substantial and will greatly assist an understanding of these first four chapters.)

The book contains a partial translation of the following text:
A Bitwise Commentary on Entering the Conduct, "A Lamp for the Path of the Middle Way" by the fourth Drukchen, All-Knowing Padma Karpo
Download Tibetan text in TibetD format: • available here.