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In the Mahayana Tradition of Buddhism, a Bodhisattva is one who has made a commitment, a promise to attain complete awakening in order to benefit all sentient beings. While the focus of the Bodhisattva path is primarily the benefit of others, our motivation to take the vow and follow the Bodhisattva's path is always driven at least in part by the recognition of the harm we are doing to ourselves through ill-will, angery, greed, various conflicting emotions, and more. Having recognized how we hurt ourselves, we are naturally inclined to stop.
We will explore important elements of the path and the vow, and have teachings and discussions on The Six Perfections, practices which constitute the core of the Bodhisattva’s path.On Saturday afternoon, anyone interested in taking the vow will have an opportunity to do so. The prerequisite for taking the vow is to have previously taken the vow of refuge in the three jewels of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Refuge will not be given at the Bodhisattva Vow ceremony; you must have taken it prior to this event.
When deciding to take the Bodhisattva vow, it’s important to have pondered the value of the vow. Taking the vow with a lackadaisical attitude can actually be counter productive and make future Mahayana practices difficult. It will be important to see how taking and keeping the commitments will be useful for you, the vow taker. At the end of the teaching on the vow, we will take a break and some may decide not to take the vow at that time. There is no harm in deciding to not take the vow at this time. If you decide to take the vow, it’s important to make a strong determination to keep the vow. We will talk more about this during the explanation preceding the vow ceremony.
Suggested Reading: “Taking the Bodhisattva Vow,” by Bokar Rinpoche. San Francisco, ClearPoint Press, 1997.
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