Inge wrote:In my understanding vows is something that one have to make, that it is not something that one receive from others. Is this correct?
Precepts are given and accepted. They are given by someone who has the authority to give them; they are accepted by those who have been accepted by the preceptor. So there is a mutuality there. Also, when you take precept vows, you are making a commitment to a tradition and a lineage that stretches back to include Shakyamuni himself and the stream of teachings that descends from him.
For a vow to be made it is not enough to say the words or think the thoughts of making the vow, there also seems that other conditions must be present. Like a inner decision of some sort. Do you know what this is?
At a minimum, you make an inner resolve to keep the precepts. You make a commitment in the presence of your teacher, witnesses, and really all the enlightened ones.
If a positive vow is broken, does this bring negative result, or does it only prevent the positive outcome?
Breaking the precepts brings results that are counterproductive.
Useful reading on all this: The Path of Compassion
(trans. M. Batchelor), which is a translation of the Brahmajala sutra. The Surangama Sutra
has a lot to say about the value and meaning of the precepts too.
Great River Tendai Sangha: a Tendai Buddhist community in Alexandria, Virginia, USA (near Washington, DC):