Great Vows for All

Though the many beings are numberless, I vow to save them.
Greed, hatred, and ignorance arise endlessly, I vow to abandon them.
Dharma gates are countless, I vow to wake to them.
Buddha's way is unsurpassed, I vow to embody it fully.

These are recited every morning in most Zendos. As I said on Sunday, there is so much to do. Nothing like starting the day off with a challenge, right? These Vows are thought to be as old as Mahayana Buddhism itself, and they echo the Bodhisattva vows. At times, I've been discouraged by these impossible tasks; I would mumble things like, "Yeah, like I'm gonna' save everybody. I have no idea where the car keys are, and I can't even balance my checkbook." Recently though, it occurred to me that the numberless, countless, endless quality of the vows is actually just job security, Buddhist style... the Great Vows simply recognize that humanity will always have need of people who struggle in the name of saving others.

My roomie and I sat this morning, and wrestled with the noises and distractions inherent to sitting in the living room. There is a lot to do; I'm glad we got started again.

We must acknowledge that there can be no hope of gratifying the senses permanently. At best, the happiness we derive from eating a good meal can only last until the next time we are hungry.

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama


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