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Wednesday
Mar142007

Four Great Vows of Bodhisattvas, Third Vow


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Sentient beings are innumerable;
I vow to help them all.
Afflictions are inexhaustible;
I vow to end them all.
Dharma doors are boundless;
I vow to master them all.

Buddhahood is supreme;
I vow to attain it.
 

Learning many Dharma doors, methods of learning and practice, is where most people start. This is understandable because when we are unfamiliar and do not know the right order to do something, we start with the most obvious. For many people that's the Internet and bookstores. If there is a local practice center, then people might also go there to see where to start.  

But as my teacher, Ven. Master Chin Kung, says, starting with the third vow is like trying to build the second floor of a building without having first constructed the foundation and the first floor. 

We undertake the third vow of mastering all the teachings once we have vowed to help all beings and have striven to end our afflictions. Accomplishing this, we will have a clear mind and be able to learn different methods without becoming confused or attached.

With our clear understanding and learning, we will then be able to skillfully help others. Different beings have different needs and capabilities. If we mistakenly use the wrong method to help someone, we may do much harm. So we need to wisely master all Dharma doors to progress further to the fourth vow.
 
 
 
Tuesday
Mar132007

Four Great Vows of Bodhisattvas, Second Vow

Sentient beings are innumerable;
I vow to help them all.
Afflictions are inexhaustible;
I vow to end them all.

Dharma doors are boundless;
I vow to master them all.
Buddhahood is supreme;
I vow to attain it.

As long as we have afflictions, our minds will be impure and we will not be able to selflessly help others.

So the second vow is to end our afflictions, the causes of suffering. Desire, anger, ignorance, arrogance, doubt, and wrong views are the major afflictions—the six poisons. 

What is our ultimate reason for ending afflictions? Because we want to help innumerable beings. There are so many beings waiting for us to help them end their suffering forever. How can we do so if we have no virtues, no knowledge, and no abilities? The reason we vow to end afflictions, cultivate virtues, extensively learn Dharma doors, and attain Buddhahood, is for the purpose of universally helping all beings. It is not for ourselves. This is the force of great compassion.

 

Monday
Mar122007

Four Great Vows of Bodhisattvas, First Vow

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Sentient beings are innumerable;

I vow to help them all.
Afflictions are inexhaustible;
I vow to end them all.
Dharma doors are boundless;
I vow to master them all.
Buddhahood is supreme;
I vow to attain it.

With much enthusiasm to learn and practice the teachings, most people start by reading books and listening to teachings by various teachers and writers. But in the vows above, we see that mastering the many Dharma doors, the different methods of learning and practice, is the third vow, not the first.

Our first step in becoming a bodhisattva is to give rise to the vow to help all beings. If we practice just to help ourselves or those we love, our mind will not be broad and spacious. It will be narrow and constricted, and our practice will be selfish.

With the first great vow, the aspiration to help all beings, our great compassion will be generated and it will compel us to be diligent on the bodhisattva path. Without this compassion and diligence, we will give up when encountering obstacles. Thus the first vow is imperative if we are to truly help others.

 

Sunday
Mar112007

Desire

The cause of suffering is selfish desire,

whether it is the desire for pleasure,

desire for revenge

or simply desire for a long life.

~ Buddha 

 

Saturday
Mar102007

Human Potential

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Of the different realms in samsara, the cycle of rebirth, being reborn as a human offers the greatest potential for spiritual advancement.

In some existences, everything is so wonderful that there seems to be no suffering in sight. In other existences, beings suffer so much themselves that even thinking of alleviating the suffering of others is virtually impossible.

But as humans, we personally know suffering and can empathize with the suffering of others around us. As humans, we have both the ability to find our own happiness and the compassionate wisdom to help others find their way to happiness.