2010 Endless Knot
innumerable all beings are
We vow to save them all
However inexhaustible delusions are
We vow to extinguish them all
However immeasurable Dharma teachings are
We vow to master them all
However endless the Buddha's way is
We vow to follow it
As students of Zen Buddhism, which belongs to the Mahayana
Buddhist tradition, we chant The Four Vows every single day. By chanting
it so many times, it may become just like a mantra for many, empty
repetition. It is important to really think deeply about the true meaning
of each vow and make an effort to honestly practice them in everyday life.
These vows crystallize the essence of Buddhist practice.
With clear insight and many years of zazen, one’s
understanding of these vows deepens; or we can say that the only way to
understand them is through zazen practice. When one’s karma is purified by
doing endless zazen, one is able to embody these vows in everyday life.
In one of his teishos, Eido Roshi encouraged us to make a
vow, a deep vow.
He said, "everyone should have a vow."
What is this
Of course almost everyone makes vows at the beginning of
the year, such as: I will loose weight, or I will not waste time and
watch TV, or some other self-improvement aspect. Zen students may vow: I
will do more zazen, I will be kind, I will not gossip. Of course nothing
of this is kept, since there are endless excuses. And again, one vows the
same at the beginning of next year…
This is not this kind of vow, I think.
A True vow can be made only to yourself, to your own True
Being. Something only you can truly do for yourself, something that no one
else will evaluate or judge, something no one else will even know. You
are in charge!
And it needs to be a vow which has a deep meaning for your
Such a profound vow will give your zazen not only energy and inspiration,
but also deep meaning for your life. This vow has a transforming power.
The energy of your being will transform all beings around you and the
Nen after nen,
Let true Dharma continue!