Astus wrote:I'm not sure what "root bodhisattva vow" you refer to. If it is the intention to attain buddhahood in order to liberate beings, i.e. bodhicitta, then yes, if one abandons that aspiration, there is no achievement of the various bodhisattva stages, as one ceases to practise on the path. It's like deciding not to go that way any more. But then, if one reconsiders, the wish for perfect enlightenment comes back, one can start to walk on the path again.
Astus wrote:I'm not sure what "root bodhisattva vow" you refer to.
The Four Binding Factors for Losing Vows
We lose our vows when we totally drop their shape from our lives, or stop trying to maintain it. This is called a root downfall. When it occurs, the only way to regain this ethical shape is to reform our attitudes, undertake a purification procedure such as meditation on love and compassion, and retake the vows. From among the eighteen root bodhisattva downfalls, as soon as we develop the state of mind of the ninth or eighteenth – holding a distorted, antagonistic attitude or giving up bodhichitta – we lose, by the very fact of our change of mind, the ethical shape to our lives fashioned by bodhisattva vows, and thus we stop all efforts to maintain it. Consequently, we immediately lose all our bodhisattva vows, not just the one we have specifically discarded.
Transgressing the other sixteen bodhisattva vows does not constitute a root downfall unless the attitude accompanying the act contains four binding factors (kun-dkris bzhi). These factors must be held and maintained from the moment immediately after developing the motivation to break the vow, up until the moment right after completing the act of transgression.
The four binding factors are:
(1) Not regarding the negative action as detrimental, seeing only advantages to it, and undertaking the action with no regrets.
(2) Having been in the habit of committing the transgression before, having no wish or intention to refrain now or in the future from repeating it.
(3) Delighting in the negative action and undertaking it with joy.
(4) Having no moral self-dignity (ngo-tsha med-pa, no sense of honor) and no care for how our actions reflect on others (khrel-med, no sense of face), such as our teachers and parents, and thus having no intention of repairing the damage we are doing to ourselves.
If all four attitudes do not accompany a transgression of any of the sixteen vows, the bodhisattva shape to our lives is still there, as is the effort to maintain it, but they have both become weak. With the sixteen vows, there is a great difference between merely breaking and losing them.
tingdzin wrote:Is it possible that in your class notes, the geshe was referring to root Vajrayana downfalls? That would seem to fit the case better. Just a suggestion.