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 Post subject: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:46 pm 
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Hello All,

I'm curious about the Bodhisattva vows and what they might mean to serious practitioners who make these vows. People who've taken the precepts, refuge, or just recite them regularly.

I've had a recent experience that leads me to believe that many "serious" practitioners may not actually take these vows very seriously. That is they readily abandon them when they become too challenging. Granted they are "impossible" vows, never the less does it not disparage the Buddhadhamma to make such vows and subsequently not try so hard to live up to them?

Please share any thoughts you might have on the subject, thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:30 am 
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shel wrote:
Hello All,

I'm curious about the Bodhisattva vows and what they might mean to serious practitioners who make these vows. People who've taken the precepts, refuge, or just recite them regularly.

I've had a recent experience that leads me to believe that many "serious" practitioners may not actually take these vows very seriously. That is they readily abandon them when they become too challenging. Granted they are "impossible" vows, never the less does it not disparage the Buddhadhamma to make such vows and subsequently not try so hard to live up to them?

Please share any thoughts you might have on the subject, thanks.


Personally, I take them very seriously. In particular though, the very basic vow of bodhicitta, which is "Do not abandon sentient beings." Sometimes that is not easy. Sometimes to help others, it appears that we ourselves will lose out. That is where understanding of emptiness, not self, comes in. Many may make these vows, but of those who make them, the number who can carry them through to the end and actually reach full awakening is a tiny minority. However, others' faults, or rather perceived faults, are not mine to criticize. By strengthening my own bodhicitta I find that I become more and more surrounded by those who also have this aspiration. This is why a good guide, a compassionate teacher well trained in bodhicitta, is an almost essential raft in this ocean of becoming.

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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:20 am 
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Hello Huifeng,

Thank you for your thoughts.

Huifeng wrote:
By strengthening my own bodhicitta I find that I become more and more surrounded by those who also have this aspiration.

Yes, that make sense.


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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:39 am 
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I'm a practitioner so I hope that qualifies me to answer :)
I do take vows seriously.

Best,
Laura


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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 5:08 am 
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A lama teaching recently at my local centre pointed out a fundamental difference between Buddhist morality and the moral codes of other religions: whereas other religions tend to hold their codes of conduct as standards to be adhered to, Buddhist codes of conduct are goals to aim towards.

So I know that I do not live up to the Bodhisattva vows. I do take them seriously as a goal. It is my intention to live up to them, and I make efforts towards that end. I don't beat myself up about it when I don't succeed, just as I don't get mad at myself if my mind wanders during meditation. Surely others are in a similar position, and there is no point in getting upset at them either.

Om mani padme hum
Keith


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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 8:44 am 
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shel wrote:
Hello All,

I'm curious about the Bodhisattva vows and what they might mean to serious practitioners who make these vows. People who've taken the precepts, refuge, or just recite them regularly.

I've had a recent experience that leads me to believe that many "serious" practitioners may not actually take these vows very seriously. That is they readily abandon them when they become too challenging. Granted they are "impossible" vows, never the less does it not disparage the Buddhadhamma to make such vows and subsequently not try so hard to live up to them?

Please share any thoughts you might have on the subject, thanks.



I think the hardest part of maintaining the will to fulfil your Bodhisattva vows is the self-cherishing inclinations that exist in most of us -- this mistaken view that I am an individual self-existent entity that is separate from everyone else: my suffering, my nirvana, my samsara, my need to be free, my desires, my happiness.

It is said that emptiness is the cradle of compassion. When cracks appear in the seemingly axiomatic notions of me and mine, the infinite expanse of Indra's net which encompasses all sentient beings becomes visible. Indra's net is a metaphor for reality that is commonly utilized in Huayan thought. At each intersection of cord there is a gem and in that gem all other gems are reflected in it. If you should place a mark on it, it will appear in all other gems' reflections. When the defilements are cleared off one's own gem, the whole of reality becomes all that much brighter. When the other gems are made clear, so too does it benefit the individual. The well-being of all beings is ultimately interconnected to one's own.

In my humble estimation, compassion is only possible when there is some degree of wisdom. It isn't enough to just recite, "May all beings without exception be liberated from suffering and its causes." Thus the need for study, reflection, contemplation and learning.

Also keep in mind that while some fools like me may not live up to the Bodhisattva ideal in this life, if the seeds are at least planted, then in some future life perhaps the ideal can be truly realized. I might give up at some point when the going gets rough, but as they say:

Sometimes you gotta step back a few feet before taking one giant leap.

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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:45 am 
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When we talk of the Bodhisattva Vows/Precepts, is it the one in the The Mahayana Brahma Net Sutra or do we have other sources for this, as I have read once upon a time in a defunct forum and also encountered in real time, in one short conversation (which was limited by time) with a certain Bhikshuni recently on their organisation's conferment and practice of the Bodhisattva Precepts, that their source is not the Brahma Net Sutra but another known as 'Bodhisattva Sila' something. (Hope to follow up on that conversation some other time for more details)

So far personally, I haven't had the affinity to take up this yet as I find upholding and adhering the basic 5 Lay Precepts & 10 Good Deeds and taking up 8 Precepts on special Upavasatha Days, already an enormous task. And throughout my years with certain places, some have made it so 'mystical' and 'super lofty' that as if the common Laity is not even suppose to hear it, even to say receive it as if its the Vinaya. But thanks to association with still more others, I have been educated that it's not true.

I read an interesting Sutra booklet front page comment of Elder Great Master Yen Pei to a lay Upasika:
Quote:
Brahma Net Sutra: Moral Code of the Bodhisattvas (Sutra Translation Committee of the United States and Canada)
"After I informed the Assembly of my intention to lecture on the Brahma Net Sutra, a lay woman asked,
"Master, I have not yet received the Bodhisattva Precepts. Would you still allow me to attend the lectures and listen to your explanations?"
I replied: 'Of course, by all means. If I were lecturing on the Bhikshu/Bhikshuni Precepts, you would not be permitted to attend, even if you requested it with utmost sincerity. However, as far as the Bodhisattva Precepts are concerned, I hope that you and all your friends can come and listen; the more people, the better.
Listening to the Bodhisattva Precepts not only does not violate the rules of disciple, it in fact helps us awaken the Bodhi Mind and develop the Precepts of the Buddha Nature, inherent in all of us'"

Quote:
...that many "serious" practitioners may not actually take these vows very seriously. That is they readily abandon them when they become too challenging. Granted they are "impossible" vows, never the less does it not disparage the Buddhadhamma to make such vows and subsequently not try so hard to live up to them?

I look at it this way: I try to see what can I learn from them and improve my own and encourage/exhort them in their practice of the Bodhisattva Precepts. That's all that I can do within my limited means without forming ideas about what others do or don't. Better for me to spend the same time and energy to focus on my own self reflection.

I recall reading this story...
Quote:
http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
PARABLE 061:THE BRAHMA NET SUTRA
According to tradition, around the time that Bodhidharma arrived in China (6th century), the Indian Master Paramartha, who was residing in China, heard of the existence of a text that taught the moral code of the Bodhisattvas. He immediately returned to India and succeeded in acquiring the entire Brahma Net Sutra -- all 61 chapters, comprised of 120 fascicles.
However, as Paramartha was sailing toward China with his treasure, a sudden storm arose and his ship began to sink. Piece by piece, all baggage was thrown overboard, but to no avail.
Finally, Paramartha had no choice but to let go of the Brahma Net Sutra -- after which the ship miraculously righted itself. Paramartha then realized the sad truth: the people of the "Eastern Kingdom" (China) were not yet ready for the Brahma Net Sutra.
Note: The Brahma Net Sutra expounds the precepts of the Bodhisattvas, those higher beings who seek Enlightenment for all.

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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:10 pm 
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East Asian Buddhism has moved back and forth between using the Mahayana Brahmajala Sutra and the Bodhisattva-sila from the Yogacarabhumi a number of times. They are very similar, though. At my own ordination, we used the Brahmajala for the actual precepts, but one of the acaryas used the Yogacarabhumi at one point. He made note of the correspondence between the two, it wasn't just slap-dash.

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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:33 pm 
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plwk wrote:
When we talk of the Bodhisattva Vows/Precepts, is it the one in the The Mahayana Brahma Net Sutra or do we have other sources for this, as I have read once upon a time in a defunct forum and also encountered in real time, in one short conversation (which was limited by time) with a certain Bhikshuni recently on their organisation's conferment and practice of the Bodhisattva Precepts, that their source is not the Brahma Net Sutra but another known as 'Bodhisattva Sila' something. (Hope to follow up on that conversation some other time for more details)


In East Asia there are several sets of Bodhisattva precepts. There is of course the Brahma Net Sutra set which is now most common, but there is also the Sūtra of Stages of the Bodhisattva Path (菩薩地持經) and the Sūtra of the Bodhisattva's Virtuous Precepts (菩薩善戒經). It would be my guess that the "Bodhisattva-sila" you mention corresponds to the later just judging from the title. Tibetans use their own translation of the Bodhisattvabhumi which was composed by Maitreya and transmitted through Asanga.

While there are variations, the essence of the vows is summarized as the Threefold Pure Precepts (三聚淨戒):

1. Observing all precepts (攝律儀戒).
2. Practising all good dharmas [kusala-dharma] (攝善法戒).
3. Compassion for all sentient beings (攝衆生戒).

The first two are for self-improvement (自利) while the third is for the benefit of others (利他).

Also, as the sutra states the Bodhisattva precepts have one hundred thousand varieties and differences.

《攝大乘論釋》卷11〈6 釋依戒學勝相品〉:「毘那耶瞿沙毘佛略經中廣說菩薩戒有十萬種差別。」(CBETA, T31, no. 1595, p. 234, b6-8)

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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:20 pm 
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Many thanks to Ven Huifeng and Huseng for your kind replies and clarifications :namaste:

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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:23 pm 
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Posts: 1500
Ngawang Drolma wrote:
I'm a practitioner so I hope that qualifies me to answer :)
I do take vows seriously.

Best,
Laura

Hi Laura,

I didn't mean to sound exclusionary in any way. I'm interested in any thought on the subject, from serious practitioners or otherwise.


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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:55 pm 
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Huseng wrote:
the Bodhisattva precepts have one hundred thousand varieties and differences.

Maybe enough to sink a small ship! :tongue:


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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:57 pm 
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plwk wrote:
Many thanks to Ven Huifeng and Huseng for your kind replies and clarifications :namaste:

Yes, and thanks to you as well, Plwk.


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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 12:11 am 
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KeithBC wrote:
A lama teaching recently at my local centre pointed out a fundamental difference between Buddhist morality and the moral codes of other religions: whereas other religions tend to hold their codes of conduct as standards to be adhered to, Buddhist codes of conduct are goals to aim towards.

So I know that I do not live up to the Bodhisattva vows. I do take them seriously as a goal. It is my intention to live up to them, and I make efforts towards that end. I don't beat myself up about it when I don't succeed, just as I don't get mad at myself if my mind wanders during meditation. Surely others are in a similar position, and there is no point in getting upset at them either.

Om mani padme hum
Keith

Hi Keith,

Not so much a matter of upset in my opinion, although I imagine that no one likes to see a loss of value in something that they themselves value, as it is of the apparent value or worth of the Buddhadhamma. Simply put, and to put it positively, if everyone who practiced Buddhism and made the vows lived up to their vows the Boddhadhamma would generally be perceived to have great value.


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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2010 1:36 am 
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Before the vows there needs to be preparation, for lifetimes. Here is a sample from Vasubandhu Bodhisattva's work on the vows, their causes & conditions.

http://www.kalavinka.com/Jewels/book_ex ... 1_X-01.pdf

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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:09 am 
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The vows mean you work hard on your part with diligence to achieve enlightenment, then you can help other sentient beings. While you are still deluded, you will lead other sentient beings deluded also. Buddha taught after enlightenment.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:07 pm 
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From the Garland of a Bodhisattva's Primary Karmas sutra, Rulu translation:

Quote:
Then the Buddha spoke in verse:

A sage at the first level of abiding
Makes great, vast vows:
“From this life until attainment of Buddhahood,
All vows are encompassed
In my vows,
And I will fulfill them all.
Until I attain Buddhahood,
My vows are my roots.

As I give alms, I wish all sentient beings
To shed the mind of greed and to realize the emptiness of dharmas.
As I observe the precepts, I wish all sentient beings
To restrain their actions without fail and to achieve true liberation.
As I cultivate the six endurances, I wish all sentient beings
To acquire the mind of no dispute and to develop endurance of dharmas.
As I make energetic progress, I wish all sentient beings
To progress without pause and to achieve self-realization.
As I practice meditation, I wish all sentient beings
To acquire the six transcendental powers and to attain peace beyond causality.
As I develop true wisdom, I wish all sentient beings
To enter the flow in the ocean of wisdom and to become Bodhisattvas.
As I carry out my appearance-free vows, I wish all sentient beings
To fulfill all their wishes and to flow into the ocean of Buddhas.
As I acquire skillful means from great wisdom, I wish sentient beings
To encounter no hindrance in the Dharma river and to realize the two truths.15
As I acquire great spiritual power, I wish all sentient beings
To transform themselves and to acquire fearlessness.
As I acquire full wisdom-knowledge, I wish all sentient beings
To gain vajra wisdom and to harvest the fruit in the bodhimaṇḍa.
As I ascend to the Stainless Ground, I wish all sentient beings
To sit under the bodhi tree and to teach and transform all others.

As I attain enlightenment, I wish all sentient beings
To understand the false continuation of dharmas and to end imagining their cessation.
As I illuminate and transform all, I wish all sentient beings
To realize that dharmas are formed through conditions and to end imagining their perpetuity.
As I fully understand the true reality of dharmas, I wish all sentient beings
To understand the relativity of dharmas and to end imagining that they have selves.
As I elicit my unconditional great compassion, I wish all sentient beings
To understand that dharmas arise through causes and conditions and to end accepting the wrong views.
As I attain nirvāṇa, the foremost quietness, I wish all sentient beings
To realize that dharmas depend on conditions and to end accepting the evil precepts.
As I acquire the Ten Powers, I wish all sentient beings
To realize the two truths and to end their wrong views.
As I acquire the vajra power, I wish all sentient beings
To understand the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising and to end their doubts.
As I illuminate all dharmas everywhere, I wish all sentient beings
To recognize the impermanence of dharmas and to end the mind of stinginess.
As I acquire the five eyes and the Three Supreme Clarities, I wish all sentient beings
To develop the Three Clarities and to end the mind of delusion.
As I bring harmony to the world, hindrance free, I wish all sentient beings
To uphold the Three Jewels and to end the mind of anger and dispute.
As I acquire radiant great wisdom, I wish all sentient beings
To realize the emptiness of dharmas and to destroy the store of ignorance.
As I acquire the thirty-two physical marks, I wish all sentient beings
To acquire sublime appearances and to end their karmic requitals.
As I use my response bodies, I wish all sentient beings
To ride the great Dharma ship and to sail the ocean of the Buddha Dharma.

I have completely stated my vows on the cause ground and on the effect ground,
Which encompass all action vows.
These twenty-four vows encompass immeasurable actions.
I begin with faith and vows, and will end with great wisdom.
Before all Buddhas, I make these great vows.
Upon fulfillment of my vows, I will further train in other actions.
After taking such meritorious actions for hundreds and thousands of kalpas,
I will then enter the inconceivable state and relinquish my vows.”

Bodhisattvas who make these vows
Will never fail to enter the ocean of sarvajña.

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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:07 am 
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shel wrote:
Hello All,

I'm curious about the Bodhisattva vows and what they might mean to serious practitioners who make these vows. People who've taken the precepts, refuge, or just recite them regularly.

I've had a recent experience that leads me to believe that many "serious" practitioners may not actually take these vows very seriously. That is they readily abandon them when they become too challenging. Granted they are "impossible" vows, never the less does it not disparage the Buddhadhamma to make such vows and subsequently not try so hard to live up to them?

Please share any thoughts you might have on the subject, thanks.


The thing which opposes us being able to keep the Bodhisattva Vows purely is our self-cherishing, so keeping the vows is possible if we make identifying and controlling our self-cherishing our main practice. We try to do everything for others, but it's a gradual process and we need to be patient. Of course we will fail and we need to be kind to ourself, purify the downfalls of the vows with the Mahayana Sutra of the Three Superior Heaps and retake the vows frequently. The main point is that we also have a commitment to practise the six perfections. The practice of the Bodhisattva Vows is absolutely crucial as we will never attain enlightenment without them so they are a 'must' for all serious Mahayana practitioners - generating Bodhichitta is not enough.


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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:31 am 
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Tsongkhapafan wrote:
The thing which opposes us being able to keep the Bodhisattva Vows purely is our self-cherishing, so keeping the vows is possible if we make identifying and controlling our self-cherishing our main practice. We try to do everything for others, but it's a gradual process and we need to be patient. Of course we will fail and we need to be kind to ourself, purify the downfalls of the vows with the Mahayana Sutra of the Three Superior Heaps and retake the vows frequently. The main point is that we also have a commitment to practise the six perfections. The practice of the Bodhisattva Vows is absolutely crucial as we will never attain enlightenment without them so they are a 'must' for all serious Mahayana practitioners - generating Bodhichitta is not enough.


Maybe I've misunderstood, but you seem to be saying here that negating self-cherishing is somehow superior to generating bodhicitta.
You also seem to be saying that bodhicitta is somehow not adequate to practising the paramitas. This doesn't make sense to me.

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 Post subject: Re: The Bodhisattva Vows
PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:54 pm 
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futerko wrote:

Maybe I've misunderstood, but you seem to be saying here that negating self-cherishing is somehow superior to generating bodhicitta.
You also seem to be saying that bodhicitta is somehow not adequate to practising the paramitas. This doesn't make sense to me.


It is impossible to generate bodhichitta without subduing self-cherishing because selfishness is the main obstacle to developing that mind. Subduing self-cherishing is not superior to generating bodhichitta but, along with improving love and compassion, it is the practical method for generating it.

Generating bodhichitta alone is not enough to attain enlightenment - we must also practise the six perfections. Bodhichitta enables us to enter the path to enlightenment but the actual path is the practice of the six perfections. The actual sequence is to generate aspiring bodhichitta, to take the bodhisattva vow which transforms our aspiring bodhichitta into engaging bodhichitta, and then to practise the six perfections as the actual path to enlightenment.


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