OM TARE TUTARE TURE MAMA AYURPUNYE JNANA PUTIN KURU SVAHA.
An enlightened being who, out of compassion, forgoes nirvana in order to save others.
[Sanskrit bodhisattvaḥ, one whose essence is enlightenment : bodhiḥ, perfect knowledge + sattvam, essence, being (from sat-, existing).]
This Page Offers A Sampling of Many Ways of Engaging with the Vow of the Bodhisattva and Quotes on Generating Bodhicitta
Om Tare tutare ture svaha.
Translations of the vow vary, and so do modes of application. By reading about many you will learn whether the vow resonates with you, and if it does what ways you will find for engaging with or applying the vow of the Bodhisattva.
My own interpretation of the deeper vows of dedication to an enacting of the Bodhisattva vow on a very basic level is this:
The one responsibility of the bodhisattva is to not cause suffering.
The one commitment of the bodhisattva is to love all beings pervading space and time, regardless of any beings ability to return, or even receive, that love.
My own interpretation of the basic four-fold vow of the Bodhisattva:
Beings are without number; I vow to be one.
Suffering is inexhaustible; I vow to extinguish it.
Paths to enlightenment are innumerable. I vow to walk them all.
Enlightenment is not a goal. I vow to achieve it.
And more traditional interpretation, also by me:
Sentient beings are numberless; through my practice I vow to liberate them.
The veils of illusions arise again and again; I vow to penetrate them.
Paths to enlightenment are without number; I vow to walk them all.
Enlightenment is not a goal; I vow to achieve it.
And one more offering, my interpretation of part of the longer vow written in Tibetan script as part of the tattoo on my chest. (Yes, I do have the vow indelibly inked on my skin as a reminder of my spiritual purpose!)
Just as the enlightened beings
Who have gone before me
Generated the mind of enlightenment
And accomplished all the stages
Of the Bodhisattva training,
So will I too, for the sake of all beings,
Practice the work of attainment
And over time
Below this point is mostly quotation from other sources, starting with some links I love:
Bodhisattva Vows by Taitaku Pat Phelan
What is Bodhisattva?
The Bodhisattva Vow
Taking the Bodhisattva Vow
A very fine example of a Bodhisattva vow is found at the very end of the Avatamsaka Sutra by Samantabhadra. In Shantideva‘s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, the Bodhisattva vow is taken with the following famous two verses from Sutra:
||Just as all the previous Sugatas, the Buddhas/Generated the mind of enlightenment/And accomplished all the stages/Of the Bodhisattva training,/So will I too, for the sake of all beings,/Generate the mind of enlightenment/And accomplish all the stages/Of the Bodhisattva training.
Berzin (1997: unpaginated) links the mindstream to the bodhisattva vows:
The promise to keep bodhisattva vows applies not only to this life, but to each subsequent lifetime until enlightenment. Thus these vows continue on our mind-stream into future lives.
Four Trainings for Bodhichitta Resolve Not to Decline in This Life
(1) Each day and night, recalling the advantages of the bodhichitta motivation. Just as we readily overcome our tiredness and tap our energies when we need to attend to our children, we easily surmount all difficulties and use all our potentials when our primary motivation in life is bodhichitta.
(2) Reaffirming and strengthening this motivation by rededicating our hearts to enlightenment and others three times each day and three times each night.
(3) Striving to strengthen enlightenment-building networks of positive force and deep awareness (collections of merit and insight). In other words, helping others as effectively as we can, and doing so with as much deep awareness of reality as possible.
[See: The Two Enlightenment-Building Networks (The Two Collections).]
(4) Never giving up trying to help anyone, or at least wishing to be able to do so, no matter how difficult he or she may be.
We will now speak about the benefits of the bodhisattva vow. In the sutrayana teachings, there are 230 benefits talked about by the Budha. We will condense these and explain them in four points.
The first benefit of having obtained the bodhisattva vow is that through the practice of bodhicitta, we will learn how to remove suffering and obtain happiness. We will come to recognize that the root of all happiness is bodhicitta.
Secondly, having developed bodhicitta, not only do we experience our own happiness that is free from suffering, but with the bodhisattva vow, we are able to benefit others by giving happiness and removing suffering. For example, a long time ago Buddha Shakyamuni turned the wheel of Dharma in India in a place known as Bodh Gaya. Because the Buddha turned the wheel of the Dharma and revealed the teachings, they spread to many other countries where people practiced them and achieved the complete realization of Buddhahood, the experience of ultimate happiness free from suffering. How did all those beings obtain Buddhahood? They did this by following the instruction of Shakyamuni Buddha. How did Shakyamuni Buddha himself obtain the level of the ultimate experience of happiness? In the very beginning he developed what is known as bodhicitta. Through the development and perfection of bodhicitta, the Buddha was able to benefit limitless beings.
When we begin to develop the altruistic attitude of bodhicitta, it may seem to be quite limited, as a very small number of such thoughts arise in our mind, and we think this really cannot help anybody. However, in the long run, as bodhicitta develops, we become more familiar with it and realize that this buddha activity is the source of all happiness, and the method to remove suffering and benefit uncountable beings.
The third benefit of obtaining the bodhisattva vow and developing bodhicitta is that since we all have our greatest enemy within ourselves, the conflicting emotions, through which we experience endless suffering, it is bodhicitta that gives us the strength to overcome these conflicting emotions. Bodhicitta is like a sword that cuts through all suffering .
The fourth benefit of developing pure bodhicitta is that it is the root of obtaining ultimate happiness for self and others. If it is not pure, we can not experience happiness, nor can we teach others to experience happiness. Bodhicitta is like a precious, wish-fulfilling jewel.
This teaching was given by the Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra on November 9, 1985. It was translated by Chojor Radha.
The passions of delusion are inexhaustible.
I vow to extinguish them all at once.
The number of beings is endless. I vow to help save them all.
The Truth cannot be told. I vow to tell it.
The Way which cannot be followed is unattainable. I vow to attain it.
Corollaries or Vows that Follow from the Bodhisattva Vow:
We pledge to AVOID:
1. Praising yourself and belittling others because of your attachment to receiving offerings, being respected and venerated as a teacher, and gaining profit in general.
2. Not giving material aid or teaching the Dharma to those who are pained with suffering and without a protector because of your being under the influence of miserliness and wanting to amass knowledge for yourself alone.
3. Not listening to someone who has previously offended you but who declares his offense and begs forgiveness, and holding a grudge against him.
4. Condemning the teachings of the Buddha and teaching distorted views.
5. Taking offerings to the Three Jewels of Refuge for yourself by such means as stealth, robbery or devious schemes.
6. Despising the Tripitaka and saying these texts are not the teaching of the Buddha.
7. Evicting monks from a monastery or casting them out of the Sangha even if they have broken their vows, because of not forgiving them.
8. Committing any of the five heinous crimes of killing your mother, your father, an Arhat, drawing blood intentionally from a Buddha or causing a division in the Sangha by supporting and spreading sectarian views.
9. Holding views contrary to the teachings of the Buddha such as sectarianism, disbelief in the Three Jewels of Refuge, the law of cause and effect, and so forth.
10. Completely destroying any place by means of fire, bombs, pollution and black magic.
11. Teaching Sunyata to those who are not ready to understand it.
12. Turning people away from working for the full enlightenment of Buddhahood and encouraging them to work merely for their own liberation from suffering.
13. Encouraging people to abandon their vowed rules of moral conduct.
14. Causing others to hold the distorted views you might hold about the Hinayana teachings, as well as belittling the Hinayana teachings and saying that their practice does not lead to Nirvana.
15. Practising, supporting or teaching the Dharma for financial profit and fame while saying your motives are pure and that others are pursuing Dharma for such base aims.
16. Telling others, even though you may have very little or no understanding of Sunyata, that if they obtain as profound an understanding as you have, that then they will become as great and as highly realized as you are.
17. Taking gifts from others and encouraging others to give you things originally intended as offerings to the Three Jewels of Refuge.
18. Taking anything away from those monks who are practicing meditation and giving it to those who are merely reciting texts.
~ from The Complete Six-Session Guru-Yoga Primer,
courtesy K. McD.
It is the practice of bodhisattvas
To dedicate the merit accomplished through their efforts
By means of completely pure insight
Free of concepts of giver, receiver, and gift
In order to clear away the suffering of sentient beings.