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  • Katinka Hesselink
    I found this information on Tibetan Buddhism Vows. Hope you enjoy. http://www.nyingjecompanions.com/vows.html This is a basic introduction for those interested
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 8, 2002
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      I found this information on Tibetan Buddhism Vows. Hope you


      This is a basic introduction for those interested in taking
      Refuge, Bodhisattva or Genyen vows.

      You take Refuge once. Regardless of tradition, you are then
      a �refugee.� The Bodhisattva vow is renewed as often as
      possible. It's a �mind� vow, and we tend to break it often.
      Intent is the watchword.

      There have been many inquiries about Refuge and Bodhisattva
      vows. The answers, from the point of view of the various
      traditions and lineages are as varied as the fish in the
      sea. Nyingje Companion's view attempts to be broad and all
      encompassing, but it is only one of many points of view.
      For other articles visit our Resource Library and follow
      the appropriate links.

      Genyen Vows are also a possibility. After taking Refuge and
      Bodhisattva vows, you might wish to continue by engaging
      the precepts. A description of Genyen vows is given below.
      If you are interested, please consider what is written
      there and discuss the vows with your teacher.

      These vows are not about joining something specific, but
      about your own personal journey. You may �carry� your vows
      from tradition to tradition as you walk the path. The vows
      are not particularly religious in nature, although you may
      wish to use the strength and power of your religious
      conviction as support in keeping the vows. Many Christians,
      for example, have taken these vows. Nothing wholesome need
      be surrendered.

      Teresa or Yeshe (or any Companion) would be happy to talk
      to anyone who has concerns in this area. We sometimes take
      vows or make resolutions in life. To do this in a ceremony
      reinforces our conviction and sets a mark, a specific time,
      in our lives, like a birthday or anniversary. For those
      interested, Nyingje Companions offers vows annually. Vows
      can also be accepted spontaneously and individually at any

      What we are marking is our conviction and determination in
      the path of meditation and kindness. We see, intuitively,
      that we would like to get our mind clear of the
      obscurations that are hindering us. We feel that this path
      is working for us, and we celebrate our journey by
      establishing our conviction and determination through
      taking refuge. A refuge name is given that is chosen on the
      basis of the person's personal strengths and convictions.
      It is an inspirational name. Some people take on their new
      name, or use their name in practice situations, some don't.
      All of this is a personal choice.

      Refuge Vow:

      We have been following the path of meditation off and on
      for some time and we have come to the conclusion that it is
      helping. Even so, we find it difficult to establish a
      regular practice. The Refuge vow is taken to mark this
      realization, and establish our determination. It provides

      In Buddhist circles, it is traditionally accepted that one
      takes refuge only once. It doesn't matter if the teacher
      giving refuge vows is in your tradition. Someone following
      the Tibetan tradition, for example, might take refuge from
      a Zen Master. Many Christians, etc., have taken refuge as
      they find mind training techniques helpful in their daily
      life and spiritual growth. It does not negate or interfere
      with one's religious convictions. It's more like achieving
      a level in martial arts, but in this case we're wrestling
      with the mind.

      One takes refuge in three aspects:

      In the Buddha, as an example that a human being can wake up
      in this lifetime. The term Buddha is a descriptive word or
      title, like president, referring to one who has �awakened�
      or fully trained his or her mind. The historical Buddha was
      Sidhartha Gautama. One doesn't �become� a Buddhist. It's a
      state of mind.

      In the Dharma, the teachings and techniques handed down all
      through history from all cultures and traditions, as well
      as �the way�. Dharma is not just the cookbook, to give an
      analogy, but includes the active skill of mixing the bread,
      kneading it, and baking it. It is an active thing. Dharma
      is not Dogma.

      In the Sangha, as the fellowship of our fellow travelers on
      the path to clarity. This term is very broad and transcends
      culture or belief system. It doesn't have a �membership
      list� or specific structure. Lily Tomlin put it well:
      �We're all in this together - alone.� Sangha is a support
      and inspiration.

      Nyingje Companions
      P.O. Box 261
      Dorchester, ON
      N0L 1G0
      Teresa Bryant
      Yeshe Wangpo

      � Copyright 2002

      Back to Top
      Bodhisattva Vow:

      This vow it usually taken a year or so after taking refuge.
      We have come to the point on the path where we realize that
      most of our �problems� revolve around the fact that we are
      centered, habitually, on our self and our personal
      preferences. We come to the conclusion that the only way we
      will ever achieve peace is to take care of others' needs
      before our own. It doesn't mean we neglect our personal
      needs, we see them more clearly, but we focus more
      outwardly. It's about getting our personal self interest
      tamed a bit. It is traditional, for example, to give the
      preceptor (the teacher giving the vow) a gift of something
      we hold dear. It should be something we don't really want
      to part with, although it may be of little value otherwise.
      Much insight comes from long pondering of what we will
      give, and seeing the impact this has on our habitual

      One can take the Bodhisattva vow over and over as we
      progress along the path, as we will often break it. It is
      an aspiration.

      Genyen Vow:

      Having taken Refuge in the Three Jewels, and having come to
      grips with the pith of the Lesser and Greater Vehicles, we
      might decide that we would like to work with the precepts:

      I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living

      I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which
      is not given.

      I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.

      I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech.

      I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks
      and drugs which lead to carelessness.

      The precepts are not particularly moralistic rules that we
      decide to take on, but practices that we wish to explore.
      They are an adventure into our inner selves. Genyen vows
      are temporary. They are taken for a specific period of
      time. There are many translations of these vows, but the
      five listed above offer the essence.

      When I (Yeshe) took monastic vows there was a sixth vow
      that was particularly meaningful to me. It was:

      I undertake the precept to not harm another's faith.

      Perhaps, in today's world, this precept is especially
      helpful. Please consider including it in your own vows.

      Genyen vows should never be taken lightly. Taking monastic
      vows in this lifetime is a very auspicious occasion. Genyen
      Vows are basically lay monastic vows. You may become a monk
      or a nun in this lifetime! This is not a step UP into
      greater credentials - It is a gesture of total surrender -
      it is outrageous!. Our sincerity and devotion to the path
      is paramount in making this decision. If our decision is at
      all connected with claiming territory then it is initially
      perverted. We must examine our own motivation. At some
      point we have to get real. Can it happen in this lifetime?
      The precepts are not so much moral rules to follow but
      practices to explore in our journey toward personal growth.
      The readiness to actually commit is what is most needed.
      The vows are not an addition to our legend, they are an act
      of surrender.

      Within the context of Nyingje Companions, Genyen Vows
      should follow earlier vows by perhaps a year. A program of
      personal study and introspection should be undertaken.
      Close interaction with a worthy mentor is important during
      this period. One must connect with someone outside oneself.
      The mind is slippery! Ego mind is the great trickster - go
      with it if you must, but forget about taking vows. A little
      effort brings little result - a greater effort brings
      greater result (and it is said that too much effort brings
      no result!) That's the way of it! It's really all up to
      you. If you can get beyond you, even for a moment, than
      you're ready to take Genyen Vows. Safe journey!

      Katinka Hesselink
      -Those who observe, learn, a whole life long.
      -Wie observeert, leert , een heel leven lang.

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