Bodhisattva Vows

All things related to beginning Zen Practice. Here is where to exchange information between those that have already started Zen training and those planning to do so.
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Nicholas
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Bodhisattva Vows

Post by Nicholas » Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:34 pm

The intention to encourage oneself and all people to become what we are within - a buddha - is essential. Here is a text with three exhortations to resolve so; one by Nagarjuna and the other two from Chinese bodhisattvas.

http://kalavinka.org/kp_book_pages/bcitta_book_page.htm

Also from Bhikshu Dharmamitra is this seminal teaching by bodhisattva Vasubandhu:

http://kalavinka.org/kp_book_pages/vbci ... k_page.htm

All of Kalavinka's translations have Chinese on facing pages.
Last edited by Nicholas on Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. -- MN 19

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Meido
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Re: Bodhisattva Vows

Post by Meido » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:07 pm

Nice resources from Kalavinka, Nicholas. Thanks for posting.

Would love for members to post here any other texts, passages, quotes, links etc. related to the subject that have inspired or been useful to them.

Here's a famous short bit from Torei Enji (translation here by K. Sekida). Some Rinzai groups recite this:
When I regard the true nature of the many dharmas,
I find them all to be sacred forms
of the Tathāgata's never-failing essence.
Each particle of matter, each moment,
is no other than the Tathāgata's inexpressible radiance.
With this realization, our virtuous ancestors
with compassionate minds and hearts,
gave tender care to beasts and birds.
Among us, in our own daily lives,
who is not reverently grateful for the protections of life:
food, drink, and clothing!
Though they are inanimate things,
they are nonetheless the warm flesh and blood,
the merciful incarnations of Buddha.
All the more, we can be especially sympathetic
and affectionate with foolish people,
particularly with someone who becomes a sworn enemy
and persecutes us with abusive language.
That very abuse conveys the Buddha's boundless loving-kindness.
It is a compassionate device to liberate us entirely
from the mean-spirited delusions we have built up
with our wrongful conduct from the beginningless past.
With our open response to such abuse,
we completely relinquish ourselves,
and the most profound and pure faith arises.
At the peak of each thought a lotus flower opens,
and on each flower there is revealed a Buddha.
Everywhere is the Pure Land in its beauty.
We see fully the Tathāgata's radiant light
right where we are.
May we retain this mind
and extend it throughout the world
so that we and all beings
become mature in Buddha's wisdom.
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

[Note: not reachable by PM. To get in touch please email through the website above.]

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Meido
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Re: Bodhisattva Vows

Post by Meido » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:11 pm

One more: some passages from Torei's Shumon Mujintoron (here from the Zen Centre of London's translation, published as The Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp). Ellipsis and brackets are my additions.
If...your spirit and morale slacken, all the more rely on this vow/aspiration [to practice for the sake of saving beings]. If faith in the heart is shallow and weak, all the more rely on this vow/aspiration. If obstacles are many, all the more rely on this aspiration. If you are intelligent and clever, all the more rely on this aspiration. If you are stupid and dull, all the more rely on this aspiration. If your seeing into the true nature becomes fully clear, all the more rely on this aspiration. If your insight and function become fully free, all the more rely on this aspiration. Right from the beginning, from the first aspiration of the heart to the final end, there is no time when you do not rely on the strength of this vow/aspiration.

Reciting the Four Great Vows, directing them from the mouth outwards, and inwardly ever holding them in the heart, invoking them as a prayer day by day and continuously pondering them, then just like a wondrous scent or an old strange custom, or like fine mist that yet drenches one's clothes, or as the smell of incense pervades and clings, so the awareness of Buddhas and patriarchs will ripen of itself and, benefiting oneself and others, everything will be accomplished.
...
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.
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

[Note: not reachable by PM. To get in touch please email through the website above.]

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Nicholas
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Re: Bodhisattva Vows

Post by Nicholas » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:33 pm

Beautiful teachings Meido. :bow2: :bow2: :bow2:

Here is how Vasubandhu begins - outline headings added by Dharmamitra:
Exhortation to Generate the Resolve
I. Chapter 1: Exhortation to Generate the Resolve
A. Declaration of Reverence to the Buddhas


I respectfully pay reverence to the boundless community
Of past, future, and present-era Buddhas,
The possessors of unshakable wisdom as vast as space,
The saviors of worlds, the greatly compassionate Bhagavāns.

B. Introducing Bodhi Exhortation and the Practices Flowing Therefrom

There exists among the mahāvaipulya teachings the most superior
and sublime of dharmas. Drawn from the mātṛkā treasury and cultivated
by the Bodhisattvas and the Mahāsattvas, it is:
1. The exhortation to delight in cultivating and accumulating
[the bases for realization of] the unsurpassed bodhi.

C. The Practices Flowing from Exhortation to Resolve on Bodhi

By resort to it, one is able to influence other beings:
2. To generate the profound and vast resolve;
3. To establish the vows to carry out the most definite form of adornment;
4. To relinquish lives and wealth in subduing covetousness;
5. To cultivate the five groups of moral precepts, teaching and
leading forth those transgressing against the prohibitions;
6. To practice the ultimate patience by which they control and
subdue the hindrance of hatred;
7. To generate the heroic vigor through which they establish
and stabilize beings;
8. To accumulate the dhyāna absorptions for the sake of
knowing the minds of the many varieties of beings;
9. To cultivate wisdom, destroying and eliminating ignorance;
10. To enter the gateway of according with reality, thus abandoning
all forms of attachment;
11. To propagate and explain the extremely profound practices
of emptiness and signlessness;
12. And to proclaim praises of the associated merit, thus
preventing the lineage of the Buddhas from being cut off.
One of Dharmamitra's Notes -
Generally speaking, a mātṛkā is a treatise or essay which expands
upon the basic meaning of a more straightforward idea or text. It
functions to develop wisdom in the reader and is explained as meaning
“mother of wisdom.”
Whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. -- MN 19

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Nicholas
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Re: Bodhisattva Vows

Post by Nicholas » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:43 pm

Now Nagarjuna begins:
I. The Seven Bases for Generating the Bodhi Resolve

Question: The initial generation of the resolve [to realize buddhahood]
is the root of all vows. What then is meant by this “initial generation of resolve”?
Response:
The initial resolve to realize bodhi
May involve three or four types of causes and conditions.
When beings initially generate the resolve to realize bodhi, it may
find its origin in a set of three causal bases or else in a set of four
causal bases. Thus, when one combines them, one has a total of
seven causes and conditions associated with generating the resolve
to gain anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi.

Question: What then are those seven?
Response:
In the case of the first, the Tathāgatas
May influence one to generate the resolve to realize bodhi.
Second, observing that the Dharma is on the verge of destruction,
One generates the resolve in order to guard and protect it.

In the case of the third, when in the midst of beings,
One feels compassion for them and therefore initiates the resolve.
As for the fourth, one may have a bodhisattva
Instruct one in generation of the resolve to realize bodhi.

Fifth, one may observe the conduct of a bodhisattva
And, in emulating him, one may generate the resolve.
Or alternatively, in the aftermath of an act of giving,
One may generate the resolve to realize bodhi based on that.

Or else, on seeing the characteristic signs of a buddha’s body,
One may feel delight and then proceed to generate the resolve.
Thus it may be on account of seven causes and conditions
That one generates the resolve to realize bodhi.
Whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. -- MN 19

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Nicholas
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Re: Bodhisattva Vows

Post by Nicholas » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:49 pm

From 18th century China:
Exhortation to Resolve on Buddhahood

By Śramaṇa Sheng’an Shixian
of Hangzhou’s Brahma Heaven Monastery

I. The Introductory Section
A. First, The Mind’s Vows as the Root of Cultivation.


This unworthy, foolish, and lowly common monk, Shixian, weeping
tears of blood, bows down and makes this deeply felt proclamation
to the present Great Assembly as well as to the rest of this world’s
men and women of pure faith. I only pray that, extending kindness
and compassion, they will briefly listen and reflect [upon this].

I have heard that among the essential gateway methods for
entering the Path, generating the [bodhi] resolve is paramount.
Among the critically urgent responsibilities involved in cultivation,
the establishment of vows is foremost.

Once vows have been established, then beings may be brought
across to liberation. When the resolution has been brought forth,
then the path to buddhahood may be perfected. If one only fails
to generate this expansively great resolve and establish solid vows,
then, even if one courses on through kalpas as numerous as dust
motes, one will still continue to abide in cyclic existence. Even
though one may possess some achievement in cultivation, it is all
only futilely-endured suffering.

Hence the Floral Adornment Sutra states: “If through forgetting
it, one loses the bodhi resolve while cultivating all manner of
wholesome dharmas, these amount to demonic karmic actions.” If
this is the case for merely “forgetting” it, how much the more would
it be so where one has not yet even generated it. Thus, one should
realize that if he aspires to study the vehicle of the Tathāgata, it
is essential to first become equipped with the generation of the
bodhisattva vow. This is not something which can be delayed.
Whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. -- MN 19

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Nicholas
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Re: Bodhisattva Vows

Post by Nicholas » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:53 pm

Now back to the Tang dynasty:
Dhyāna Master Zongmi’s Original Preface
By Śramaṇa Guifeng Zongmi of Zhongnan Mountain’s Caotang Monastery

As for generating the bodhi resolve, it is a matter of towering virtue,
vastness of karmic deeds, bringing emptiness to one’s mind, and
treating one’s body as merely external. This is as stated in the Perfect
Enlightenment Sutra
. If one has not penetrated through to the path
of magnanimity and expansiveness, been endowed with a nature
inclined towards humanity and empathy, and also equipped oneself
with a far-reaching and grand resoluteness, who would be able
to generate this resolve?

Could it be that, in the final five hundred years after the
Tathāgata’s cessation, when the Buddha Dharma has deteriorated
to its endpoint and only a few men of the world maintain faith in it,
there now appears this superior Confucian eminence, the noble Pei
from east of the River, who has taken on this sort of humanity?

For a long time now, I have been linked up with the noble Pei
on the Buddhist path. I had become aware that he had entered the
Buddha’s gateway and arrived at the mind state of the Buddha.
When I came to the point of examining his “Exhortation to Resolve
on Buddhahood,” I realized right then that he is an emissary of the
Buddha engaged in carrying on the Buddha’s work. How could I, as
a son of the Buddha, not be overcome with gratitude and leap up
in delight?
Whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. -- MN 19

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Nicholas
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Re: Bodhisattva Vows

Post by Nicholas » Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:14 pm

In Eastern Asia the Ten vast vows of Samantabhadra Mahasattva are revered & practiced by many on the bodhisattva path. Here they are from chapter 40 of the Huayen Sutra (or Avatamsaka in Sanskrit), in verse and prose.

http://www.cttbusa.org/avatamsaka/avatamsaka40.asp
What are the ten? The first is to worship and respect all Buddhas; the second is to praise the Thus Come Ones; the third is to extensively cultivate making offerings; the fourth is to repent of karmic obstacles and reform; the fifth is to follow along with and rejoice in merit and virtue; the sixth is to request the turning of the Dharma Wheel; the seventh is to request that the Buddhas remain in the world; the eighth is to always study with the Buddhas; the ninth is to constantly accord with living beings; the tenth is to universally transfer all merit and virtue.
Whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. -- MN 19

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Anders
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Re: Bodhisattva Vows

Post by Anders » Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:22 am

It took about five years of practise before I wanted to take them. As a mahayana practitioner, I knew there was an expectation that I ought to do so, but I resisted these. If I was going to take a vow, it had to come from me and me alone. Although I had an altruistic mind and wished to be able to help liberate those I might come into contact with, it wasn't something that meaningfully translated to me as a vow to save all beings everywhere. And I didn't feel any compunction to try and get there either, though I was open to the possibility that it could happen and might even become more likely down the line if my practise deepened.

It was while reading the chapter on Samsara in Longchenpa's Great Chariot that something shifted for me. I was perhaps in a sensitive mood, but as I was reading the many descriptions of the various states one can be reborn in samsara, hell states, intermediate states, animal states, etc - Most of which offer few opportunities for escape or respite besides "time enough passing". I was moved to tears and found myself thinking "who will they have to help them in such states if no one vows to come for them?" It's fortunate to be human - one has the option of seeking out kalyanamitras. But a great many beings, even many humans, rely on the kindness of others for their wellbeing.

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Bodhisattva Vows

Post by Great Sage EofH » Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:36 pm

Nicholas wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:34 pm
The intention to encourage oneself and all people to become what we are within - a buddha - is essential. Here is a text with three exhortations to resolve so; one by Nagarjuna and the other two from Chinese bodhisattvas.

http://kalavinka.org/kp_book_pages/bcitta_book_page.htm

Also from Bhikshu Dharmamitra is this seminal teaching by bodhisattva Vasubandhu:

http://kalavinka.org/kp_book_pages/vbci ... k_page.htm

All of Kalavinka's translations have Chinese on facing pages.
So five stars out of five??? :109:
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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