Shantideva, a very current sage

Shantideva, a very current sage

Modern psychology increasingly focuses on the emotional aspect, specifically, on emotional intelligence. The fact of knowing ourselves better has become one of the objectives of psychology. Thus, We will learn to connect with our interior to know how to manage our emotions as well as our thoughts. However, this form of introspection and cultivation of the mind is not modern. The wise Shantideva, a Buddhist teacher born in India in 685 AD, left a deep knowledge in his book "Bodhisatvacharyavatara", which means, "The Bodhisattva practice."

In Buddhism, a Bodhisattva is one who intends to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. And for this, one of the best paths to enlightenment is through the practice that Shantideva preached. That said, it is important to know that You don't have to be a Buddhist or want to reach enlightenment to benefit from the teachings of Shantiveda. In this article some paragraphs of his teachings will be presented at the same time that a small comment will be made. In this way, we will get all the juice to words that 1,500 years later are still very valid.


  • 1 Shantideva and the mind
  • 2 Shantideva and anger
  • 3 Shantideva and patience
  • 4 Final reflection

Shantideva and the mind

Shantideva and Buddhism in general, attach great importance to the mind, specifically, to the way we know and dominate it. In the following paragraphs, we explain what we might be able to if we knew how to control our mind.

“Tigers, lions, elephants, bears,
the snakes and all kinds of enemies,
the watchmen of the beings of hell,
evil spirits and demons:

Just by binding the mind,
All of them will also be tied.
Just by controlling the mind,
all of them will also be controlled. "

We can observe how the wise Indian speaks of all kinds of hostile beings to whom by controlling his mind they will be controlled. Through this metaphor, Shantideva wants to make us see that all those monsters that disturb us so much are only in our mind: they are our thoughts and emotions. How many people do we know who spend a large part of their time claiming that the world is hostile? How many people see enemies where there are none? In this way, we can be aware that only by controlling our mind, all those enemies will disappear.

Shantideva and anger

"Harmful beings, like space, being everywhere,
It would be impossible to kill them all.
If you beat only the mind of anger
all enemies will be defeated. "

Shantideva speaks of harmful beings and the mind of anger. When anger is intense in us, we will tend to see others as harmful people. More than once we have misunderstood the words of a partner and accused him of insulting or missing us. However, when we have thought about the situation, we have realized that at that time we were so agitated that whatever they had told us we would have interpreted in a negative way. That is why, so important to learn to control our mind.

"Where could I find enough leather
to cover the surface of the earth?
But with just the leather of the sole of my shoes
it is as if all the earth were covered with it. "

Wanting to have everything under control and try to make others act as we would like, is the same as walking barefoot and wanting to cover the leather floor so as not to damage our feet. It is impossible that everything goes as we want, that is, pretending to have everything under control is a guaranteed way to end up stressed one day and another too. In addition, this stress would also add an obvious state of sadness.

In modern psychology, special emphasis is placed on the fact that events do not have much potential to cause us an emotional impact, but that it is our interpretation of them that causes us a negative state. For example, two people may react in the same way to the same event, so the cause of the reaction is not the fact itself, but our thoughts about what has happened. Therefore, putting leather on the sole of our shoes would be equivalent to mastering the mind so that certain events do not have the ability to steal our peace of mind.

Shantideva and patience

One of the most popular sayings mistakenly attributed to a multitude of wise men is Shantideva's original and speaks of patience.

"If you have no choice,
What reason is there to be dejected?
And if you don't have it,
How does the grief benefit? "

Being dejected when something is remedied is, without a doubt, one of the worst options we can choose. Shantideva does not say that we do not worry about something, but that it makes no sense to be dejected. Many of us, faced with situations that have a solution, choose to remain in a state of agitation and restlessness that steals all our calm. It is possible to say that in many cases we did not choose to be bad, but they have not taught us how to cope with certain situations. That is, we have not received emotional education.

On the other hand, if something has no solution, what benefit does it have to be disconsolate? Once again, Shantideva does not say that we are not sad, he clarifies that the grief is useless. When someone betrays us, or we are fired from a job, or insulted ... what is the use of disconsolation? We are letting situations have more power than we should have over our emotional states.

Final reflection

With just five paragraphs of the book "The practice of Bodhisattva" we can change the relationship we have with ourselves. If we reflect on this type of teaching, we will realize that we have more control and control over us than we think. Thanks to introspection we learn to manage our emotions, our thoughts and our automatic reactions. Thus, we learn to be free instead of being under the orders of an agitated mind.


Shantideva (2008). Bodhisattva practice. Novelda: Dharma editions.