Why’m I thinking about this right now? Because tonight I am going to Toronto to take teachings on and receive the Bodhisattva vows. I’ve taken these vows before with HHDL in the course of Kalachakra. But somehow, and incredibly I might add, this seemed almost a “by the way” thing. Tonight is a formal taking of the vows.
The Bodhisattva vow seems a serious thing to me. A vow for all eternity really. A vow to be a practitioner. A vow to torment a perfectionist.
For those not sure, the Bodhisattva vow is essentially to lead the numberless sentient beings to enlightenment (in the most efficient way possible for each individual sentient being) no matter how long it takes. Ie. to keep returning to the world until the world is emptied of unenlightened ones. By the way, numberless is a Buddhist synonym for infinite. So we’re talking about a fairly long time here, I guess. The Bodhisattva agrees to forgo his/her own final nirvana until all are enlightened.
A tough choice for one whose predominant theme in life seems to be escape.
The Bodhisattva vow is a commitment to achieve the union of compassion and wisdom (as Buddhists understand these terms) and then act for the benefit of all sentient beings. The perfect amalgam of student and practitioner. He/she accomplishes this through the practice of the Six Perfections…the first of which is Giving or Generosity. There’s a one or two hundred page section of the Flower Ornament Scripture (Avatamsaka Sutra) which describes the myriad ways in which Bodhisattvas practise giving.
Me, I give down-and-outers under the Spadina bridge a toony. It’s a start.
PS. But the Puritans, or whoever, weren't too far wrong when they said Charity begins at home. And this too, is a tough hoe to row. I think when Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, he meant be kindest to the ones who annoy you the most...starting with yourself.