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The Commitments of the Bodhisattava Vow – Part I of Series

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By Bardor Tulku Rinpoche

The commitments of the bodhisattva vow are divided into three categories: 1) the commitments of bodhichitta in general, and 2) the commitments particular to aspiration bodhichitta and 3) those particular to implementation bodhichitta.

The first of the three categories, the commitment of bodhichitta in general, are:
• to respect teachers of the mahayana;
• to avoid the four negativities;
• and to never mentally abandon any sentient being.

The four negativities are:
• to deceive the venerable or those worthy of veneration (it does not mean elderly);
• to cause another to regret an action that is not regrettable, so to cause someone unnecessary or inappropriate regret or guilt;
• to revile or denigrate the holy;
• and to deceive all beings.

Deceiving all beings means to give up bodhichitta, because since you have promised to bring about the awakening of all beings, if you give it up, that is called deceiving all beings.

In this first category of the commitment of bodhisattva vow, the commitment of bodhichitta in general, of the three commitments—respecting teachers of the mahayana, avoiding the four negativities, and never mentally abandoning any sentient being—the most important one is never mentally abandoning any sentient being.

The second category of the commitment to the bodhisattva vow, the commitment particular to aspiration bodhichitta, is to maintain the intention to achieve buddhahood for the benefit of others.

And the third category of commitment to the bodhisattva vow, commitments particular to implementation bodhichitta, are: to dedicate any virtuous deed you perform to perfect awakening for the benefit of others; and to avoid avoidable wrongdoing.

In addition to this summary of the commitments of the bodhisattva vow, it would be good if you would study the extensive treatises on the training of bodhichitta such as the Bodhicharyavatara, its commentaries, and other books.

If we can develop this kind of perspective of the commitments, then we will be able to develop stable bodhichitta. One instant of that kind of stable bodhichitta accumulates so much merit that, if it had physical form, it would be larger than all space in the universe. Furthermore this merit continues to accumulate even when we are not thinking about it, even when we are asleep, because the commitment to bodhichitta remains.

For this to work, we have to actually take responsibility for the development of our bodhichitta and to train our minds.

It is not enough simply to hear lamas talk about aspiration bodhichitta and implementation bodhichitta, and how great they are. Even if you hear hundreds of lamas extol the benefits of bodhichitta, even if you take the bodhisattva vow hundreds of times, if you do not take responsibility for training your own mind in bodhichitta, then you will have generated it, but it is not really going to develop. So I hope that you will train your minds and cultivate bodhichitta, and I offer you my best wishes.

First blog from a teaching on The Commitments of the Bodhisattava Vow given by Bardor Tulku Rinpoche at Kunzang Palchen Ling in May, 2010. Translated by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso, transcribed by Alan McCoy, edited by Basia Coulter, adapted with permission by Annie Bond. Copyright 2010 Bardor Tulku Rinpoche and Peter O’Hearn. All rights reserved. Please do not reprint without permission.

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