The Four Great Vows
1. Sentient beings are numberless. We vow to save them all.
2. Delusions are endless. We vow to cut through them all.
3. The teachings are infinite. We vow to learn them all.
4. The Buddha Way is inconceivable. We vow to attain it.
THE SIXTEEN BODHISATTVA PRECEPTS
The Threefold Refuges
I take refuge in Buddha (the principle of enlightenment within).
I take refuge in dharma (the enlightened way of understanding and living).
I take refuge in sangha (the community of beings).
I vow to avoid all action that creates suffering
I vow to do all action that creates true happiness.
I vow to act with others always in mind.
Not to kill but to nurture life.
Not to steal but to receive what is offered as a gift.
Not to misuse sexuality but to be caring and faithful in intimate relationships.
Not to lie but to be truthful.
Not to intoxicate with substances or doctrines but to promote clarity and awareness.
Not to speak of others’ faults but to speak out of loving-kindness.
Not to praise self at the expense of others but to be modest.
Not to be possessive of anything but to be generous.
Not to harbor anger but to forgive.
Not to do anything to diminish the Triple Treasure but to support and nurture it.
Anyone who wants to achieve the Way of enlightenment must drive forward the wheel of the Four Great Vows.
- Opening words of Hakuin's autobiography Wild Ivy
The strength of the vow [to practice] is founded on Great Compassion. Those who seek from selfish motives only attain to a shallow insight. A merchant, for example, striving for his own security, will be satisfied with but a small profit, and be proud of it. But he who wants to give everything cannot be satisfied with small gains. For this reason, the first of the Four Great Vows is to assist sentient beings. To see into one's true nature, to cut off the root of the afflicting passions, to learn all the Dharma-gates [teachings], to practise the way of the Bodhisattva and fully to ripen Compassion and Wisdom - this is the Buddha's Way. Truly, truly, Great Compassion is the origin and foundation of becoming Buddha.
When closely observing sentient beings, it appears that they always throw away the origin and chase after end-states; thus, much attached to all kinds of karma-producing activities, dying here and being born there, they revolve through the various stages of the Wheel of Becoming. The Five Signs of Decay of heavenly beings, the Eight Hardships of men, the states of hungry ghosts and of animals, the excruciating pains of the hells - just try with all your might to imagine these and feel them in your own heart.
Again, life after life, all sentient beings become fathers and mothers, are brothers and sisters, world after world. Considering this today, what a great debt of love we owe to each other! Reflecting on this, Great Compassion is bound to arise in the heart.
To state it concisely: by the power of the vow of Great Compassion all karmic obstacles disappear and all merit and virtue/strength are completed. No principle remains obscure, all ways are walked by it, no wisdom remains unattained, no virtue incomplete
The first requirement for trainees, therefore, is to let go of "I" and not to cling to their own advantage.
- Torei Enji, Shumon Mujintoron
dyanaprajna2011 wrote:Are there any specifically Zen techniques to cultivate compassion and loving-kindness, like metta bhavana in Theravada, or tonglen in Tibetan? Or is everything cultivated simultaneously in zazen?
I realize that the practice of zazen should lead to the experience of shunyata, and that this is the essential Buddha-nature, which comprises both wisdom and compassion. And there have been many great quotes from Zen masters' teachings on compassion. I'm curious, though, if there is any Zen practice of cultivation of compassion.
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