Showing our gratitude and generosity, practicing the way of awareness which gives rise to benefits without limit, we vow to share these benefits of our practice, service, and gifts with all beings. We vow to extend our hand in an altruistic act to engage our family, our community, teachers, friends, and numerous beings who give us guidance and support or need our help along this path we have chosen. Let us be respectfully reminded that a life of engagement and compassion is supremely important. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to become aware of our connection to others, and not squander the fits of knowing the wisdom of engaging the Dharma. Sva Ha
May I awake to clarity / and throughout this livelong day sustain mindful awareness.
Let me observe my previous actions / so that I may insert reflection before I speak or act.
May I restrain my natural prejudice and pride / so that I my return to openness, empathy and joy.
Let all beings be as my friends / and let me so care for them.
Let me perceive the Dharma in the life of my teacher / setting aside his personal characteristics.
Let me pay attention to my teacher’s words / even if I lack understanding.
May I train my thinking so that my thought corrects itself / before any harm is done.
Choosing one path with which I feel affinity / let me pursue it with diligence without self-centered picking and choosing.
Let me put all beings before me on the path to awakening / setting aside my own ambition may I sincerely help others on the path.
Let me realize that life is only now.
I vow to enable people to be released from the truth of suffering.
I vow to enable people to understand the truth of the origin of suffering.
I vow to enable people to peacefully settle down in the truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering.
I vow to enable people to attain nirvana.
I take refuge in the Buddha; the consummating personal element.
I take refuge in the Dharma; the consummating methods, teachings, and universal realities.
I take refuge in the Sangha; the consummating social elements.
I will do no harm.
I will do only good.
I will do good for others.
I undertake the training of loving kindness; in all possible circumstances, I will abstain from hurting sentient beings.
I undertake the training of generosity; I will abstain from taking that which is not needed for my survival.
I undertake the training of moderation and contentment; I will abstain from sexual misconduct and the abuse of sensory pleasures.
I undertake the training of verbal empowerment; I will abstain from meaningless speech.
I undertake the training of kind speech; I will abstain from harsh speech.
I undertake the training of meaningful speech; I will abstain from frivolous speech.
I undertake the training of harmonious speech; I will abstain from slanderous speech.
I undertake the training of tranquility and patience; I will abstain from cultivating greed, envy and contempt.
I undertake the training of altruism and equanimity; I will abstain from cultivating hatred, prejudice and fear.
I undertake the training of wisdom and knowledge of our world; I embrace lifelong learning and the cultivation of selflessness. I will honor the Dharma.
With the wish to free all beings I will always go for refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha until the attainment of full enlightenment.
Enthused by Compassion and Wisdom today in our monastic communities’ presence and support, I strive to generate the Mind of Awakening for the benefit of all sentient beings.
For as long as time endures and for as long as living beings remain, until then may we together abide to dispel the unsatisfactoriness of the world.
Avalokitesvara, Bodhisattva of compassion, observing deeply the refinement of wisdom, Prajnaparamita, clearly saw the emptiness of personality, thus enduring adversity and pain.
O, Saripurtra, form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form; form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form, the same is true of feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness.
O, Saripurtra, all dharmas are forms of emptiness, not born, not destroyed; not tainted, not pure, not increasing, not decreasing, and so in emptiness there is no form, no feeling, no perception, no mental formations, no consciousness; no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no color, no sound, so smell, no taste, no touch, no thought, no realm of sight and so forth until no realm of consciousness, no ignorance, no end to ignorance and so forth until no old age and death, and no end to old age and death, no suffering, no desire, no cessation, no path, no wisdom, no attainment.
And so the Bodhisattva relies on the Prajnaparamita with no hindrance in the mind, no hindrance, therefore no fear, far beyond deluded thoughts, this is Nirvana.
All past, present, and future Buddhas rely on the refinement of wisdom and thus attain the cultivated enlightenment.
Therefore, know that the Prajnaparamita is the interdependent mantra, the interconnected mantra, the mantra of world making the mantra which relieves all suffering.
So proclaim the Prajnaparamita mantra, proclaim the mantra and say: Gate! Gate! Paragate! Parasamgate! Bodhi Sva Ha!
Great refinement of wisdom, Prajnaparamita, Heart Sutra!
May all beings be mindful and content.
May all beings be healed and whole.
May all beings have whatever they need.
May all beings be protected from harm and free from fear.
May all beings be in harmony with themselves and others.
May all beings live an awakened life.
May there be peace in this world and throughout the entire Universe.
Upon putting on the Kesa
Vast is the robe of liberation,
A formless field of benefaction.
I wear Siddhartha Gautama’s teachings,
To enable all beings to attain nirvana.
The great Buddhist ancestors of our lineage who’s karmic energy continues to resonate in the actions through our practice, we humbly offer our thanks for the many lessons they have given. We extend our compassionate thoughts and gratitude for the unsatisfactoriness they have endured so that we may not suffer as greatly. We honor the legacy of their teaching. We take this moment to invoke their memory to further guide us to a higher understanding of the Dharma and a more encompassing dedication of compassion for all beings. May their wisdom guide us to a greater unity and stronger understanding of Buddhist thought and values that leads us to awaken to Universal realities. Our practice stands on the heritage and legacy that they have left us to uphold and sustain as we continue our monastic practice for the liberation of ourselves, and all beings.
The Dharma, incomparable profound and infinitely subtle, is rarely encountered, even in millions of ages.
Now we see it, hear it, receive and maintain it.
May we completely realize Siddhartha Gatama's true meaning.
Harmony is my mantra. All things reside in the ceaseless flow of balanced becoming: they are impermanent and selfless.
Knowledge of interdependence is made know through my mindfulness of the dependent origination of all things. I sit in watchfulness. The Universe is limitless; my awareness is manifest.
Knowledge of interconnection is made know through my mindfulness of the dependent origination of all things. I sit in awareness. The Universe is infinite; my practice is expanding.
My awareness, thoughts, words and actions arise and fall by the dictums of causality. Emerging from the process of dependent origination, I am an expression of the Universe.
I have no fear, for I can never be separated from anything. Mutability is the foundation upon which I am build. Seeing the need wherever it may be, I am here to fulfill it.
My obligation is to all sentient beings. My altruistic hand embraces everyone with equanimity. I am a Social Self.
I reside in the present and embrace liberation. Honoring my Bodhisattva vows in working to promote human flourishing, I dedicate my life to help realize the best world for all sentient beings. I walk the path of awakening.
Let me respectfully remind you, life and death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost.
Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken. Take heed.
Do not squander your life.
Bodhi mind has no tree. The mirror also has no stand. Buddha nature is always clear and pure. Is there room for dust?
The barn's burned down; now I can see the moon.
It is when we are near the end of a book that we enjoy it and begin to sense its loss. Guests whom we anxiously expect often fail to come. So the world runs always contrary to our wishes. How rarely in a hundred years do we encounter the Dharma. Look up and look out the window.
When a man's inner observer is hidden from him, he loses sight of how he is. He is lost in a world that seems to be his. Where is the mistake?
Contemplation does not arrive at reality after a process of deduction, but by an intuitive awakening in which our free and personal reality becomes fully alive to its own existential depths, which open out into the mystery of the Universe.
The contemplative is not merely a person who likes to sit and think, still less one who sits around with a vacant stare. Contemplation is not and can't be a function of this external self.
Contemplation can't be taught, or even clearly explained. To describe reactions or feelings one experiences as contemplation is considering a state of consciousness that does not exist. It is not the static awareness of metaphysical essence or abstract ideas. Contemplation is a sudden experience of awareness, an awakening to the reality within all that is real including our own Universal expression. It is a brief moment in connecting the dots, where the dots are only sensed but not defined. If you do not understand that, it can't be explained.
(The Trappist Monk, Fr. Thomas Merton, was a spiritual and contemplative monastic who explored Buddhism's valued history of the inner journey. He was a friend of the Dalai Lama and other spiritual leaders regardless of their traditions. What mattered most to him was their enlightened worldview.)
The most wonderful moment of the day is that when creation in its innocence asks permission to "be" once again, as it did on the first morning that ever was.
My worship is a blue sky and ten thousand crickets in the deep wet hay of the field. My vow is the silence under their song.
The reality of now --- the unreality of all the rest.
Although we know no hills, no country rivers, here in the jungles of our waterpipes and iron ladders, our thoughts are quieter than rivers, our loves are simpler than the trees, our prayers deeper than the sea.
It becomes very important to remember that the quality of one's night depends on the thoughts of the day. Still, the quality of one's nights depends on the sanity of the day. I bring there the sins of the day into the light and darkness of truth to be adored without disguise -- then I want to fly back to the disguises.
Pope Francis and the Dao De Jing
By: David Xi-Ken Astor, Sensei
Over the past few months we have been experiencing the social reaction to the election of the 266th Christian Catholic Pope. Like many former Catholics, I have been drawn by curiosity to see what this change may be all about. If what the early days of his pontificate may teach us, it will be quite a change. Pope Francis is bringing an old message back into the light of day, one that seems to have been muddled over the recent decades in our technological and capitalistic driven age. This old message was also one that was echoed 2,500 years ago by Siddhartha, the Buddha. Pope Francis is wasting no time in issuing an appeal that in the limited time he has in Rome we must return to the basics of social justice as it is reflected in responsible economic policies, having compassion for the less fortunate in our communities, in the focus of doing good, and in protecting the world environment. He said, “We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness.” A statement that is universal to a spiritual path. He went on to say that, “Let us never forget the authentic power is service. Only those who serve with love are able to protect.”
As I think about his message I am reminded of the expansive thoughtfulness found in Chapter 60 of the Dao De Jing that speaks to this encompassing ideal. When I say encompassing, I mean universal. So lets look at this Chapter, and my commentary on it, to experience the lessons that point directly to the responsibility of social governance.
“Bringing proper order to a great state is like cooking a small fish.
When way-making (dao) is used in overseeing the world,
The ghosts of the departed will not have spiritual potency.
In fact, it is not that the ghosts will not have spiritual potency,
But rather that they will not use this potency to harm people.
Not only will the ghosts not use their potency to harm people
But the sages will not harm people either.
It is because the ghosts and sages do not harm
That their power (de) combine to promote order in the world.”
First remember the historical context and language of this text. It is Chinese and developed over the period 403-221 BCE, which was also during the time of Alexander the Great. This period of Buddhist expansion in China paid homage to how ancestors influenced world order in many ways. Like in the time when Siddhartha lived it was believed that the realm of ghosts existed. In our 21st century reality some creative re-description is called for in bringing this chapter into contemporary understanding, but in doing so takes nothing away from it’s core message.
While this verse identifies the expectation of the state, the importance of social responsibility can also be extended to all social institutions: governments, religious, courts, military, educational, and the like. For effective leadership requires patience and a light touch on those that assume control. The first line can be interpreted in several ways. The reference to small fish for example can be pointing to the importance not to over cook them taking care to fry the fish briefly and without much ado. The message here is subtle and the language used is deliberate. The word “overseeing,” suggests a need for a soft hand in concentrating and crafting governing policies in order to achieve useful and productive outcomes for the greater good, the importance of a pragmatic approach to applying social control.
We can consider the world around us as being transitory with an element of the spiritual in how we come to realize human experience. Such power can be either positive or negative depending on how it is directed. This reservoir of spiritual renewal is available to promote human flourishing within the world community, as it can be channeled to maximum advantage by utilizing it as a way forward toward a better place. This process of concentrated power can be either strong or weak depending on how those in power proceeds with considerable care and awareness for achieving positive effects.
The lessons of the Dao is like the preparing of small fish, it should be a simple activity. Similarly, a leader’s (sage‘s) actions should not be over powering, and should give clear and concise direction that promotes the common good. In this simple form of governance it is necessary to let things take their natural state and fulfill their natural functions. In ancient China it was believe that the world was ordered by interaction between man and those in the other world (ghosts). In an orderly world man and ghosts do not disturb each other. Let us consider a contemporary interpretation that ghosts is about the past. How often are we under the influence of past expectations that we do not see a new path ahead. So we continue to trod the “path of the past” without thinking that change is not only a good thing, but enviable. Institutions are often the last to see value in change. New policies will experience reluctance among those in control. But the past and future do not have to be adversaries. Thus the last stanza would mean that if two, past and the future (or then and now), will work together it could enhance the progress for every human to flourishing, no matter their beliefs . It is about bringing the power of our institutions for doing good in line with the natural expressions of the Universe. Not always an easy task as Pope Francis is about to find out. The new does not have to be a break with the past, however. The challenge is to find elements of the new in past actions to discover new meaning in what was and will continue to bring to those not in power the social justice that is only a natural state for their human flourishing.
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Tagged as Buddhist thought, commentary on the Dao, Dao De Jing chapter 60, David Xi-Ken Astor, Pope Francis