Sentient beings are numberless, I vow to save them all.
The deluding passions are inexhaustible, I vow to extinguish them all.
The way of the Dharma is impossible to expound, I vow to expound it.
It is impossible to attain the way of the Buddha, I vow to attain it.
Having Sat with Suzuki at the San Francisco Zen Center, he had learned the four-fold vows that emerged in the Zen tradition. I didn't realize until years later that there are other forms of the Bodhisattva Vows presented in other Mahayana traditions. Although some of them are quite beautiful and poetic in their English translations, Life placed me in a number of Zen settings over the first decades of Practice, I absorbed basic four-fold form of these vows and recite them three times at the end of my morning meditation.
Being exposed to different translations as I sat with different Zen teachers over the years, different words have emerged for me as well. I've learned to trust my heart to bring forth words that resonate deeply with the basic understandings and aspirations that inform my life as it unfolds towards its inevitable conclusion.
Sentient beings are numberless, I vow to serve them.
Endless blind passions are inexhaustible, I vow to see through them.
The Dharma Gates are boundless, I vow to open them all.
The Way of Awakening is unsurpassable, together, with and for all sentient beings,
I vow to (1)Observe it , (2) Practice it, (3) Embody it.
If interested, you can surf around to a number of other translations on the web these days. You may find that one resonates. You don't have to be a formal Buddhist, or even recite the vows daily. You can use your own words, one's that feel right. Essentially, it's pretty simple, though. From the highest and deepest place you can access, you accept the Mission, Impossible as appears to be. You affirm your personal pledge personal pledge to get your act together well enough to be in a position to really help out. Opening to a Love so Vast that it breaks your heart, you vow to save the world.
Obviously, there are many moments during the day that I get wrapped up in my own shit and lose sight of who I'm trying to be, what I'm trying to do. Love is an infinitely Yet, more and more, I can catch that happening on the fly, take a breath or two and hit the reset button. Again and again and again. This is a Ceaseless Practice. I can live with that. Hopefully, I can die with that as well.
It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it. Right?
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