The countdown to eternity: taking the Bodhisattva Vow

Via on Oct 29, 2009

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I’m considering taking the Bodhisattva Vow in a few days. I’ve told a few people about it, one of whom was Waylon who has also taken the vow; he was told to sit down and write an essay explaining why he wanted to do it. I thought that was a great idea, so it’s my turn.

I guess the short answer is: why not do it? That sounds unbelievably flip, so let me explain. I’ve long believed that we are not here for ourselves; that we are here specifically to help others and to make their passage through their lives easier. I still stand by that belief, and if anything, I more firmly believe it. Taking the Bodhisattva Vow is a natural extension of that belief, carried to its logical extreme, if you will. In essence, I am setting aside my own full enlightenment and passage out of the cycle of Samsara until all creatures… cows, dogs, chickens, people (even the ones I don’t like) are able to achieve full enlightenment themselves. Quite the task. I read in someone else’s blog recently that the essence of the Vow can be summed up like this: “Last person out of Samsara, please turn off the lights. And, let that be me.”

While it seems incredibly daunting from a long range perspective… I mean, come ON… I have to stay here and go through this over and over and over again until every sentient being achieves enlightenment, regardless of what that might look like for them and regardless of how long it takes. And there are definitely days where I feel like I want out… it’s what motivated me to study Buddhism in the first place, and here I am, choosing to stay in… on purpose. But with purpose as well.

Taking the Vow resonates with me, even though I’ve been studying Buddhism for just under five years now. I can’t explain why, it just seems that this is what I am supposed to do. Perhaps I took the Vow in a previous life, and in essence, I am renewing it for this life (and all future lives as well, I add); kind of a “I did it before, time to remind myself again” type of thing. I wouldn’t doubt it, to be honest.

I talked with a friend of mine recently about taking the Vow, and that it seemed a little scary to me, especially when I looked at it in the long term. Tenzin told me to not look at it like that, to take it one day at a time. “The future is a dream,” he said, “all we have is now, which quickly becomes the past and also a dream.” A good reminder.

Why do I want to take the Bodhisattva Vow? Ultimately because I believe that all of us in this realm possesses the capacity for infinite good; that every creature can achieve full realization of our infinite potential and that we owe it to each other to help us achieve that potential. Because if I truly do believe that I am not here for myself, that I am here to make the lives of others somehow better, then I really don’t have any choice.


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About Alex Myles

Alex Myles is qualified as a Yoga teacher, Reiki Master, Teacher of Tibetan Meditation, Dragon Magic and a Spiritual coach to name just a few. Alex has no intention to teach others on a formal basis for many years to come, instead, she is collecting qualifications along with life’s lessons. One day, when the time is right, Alex will set up a quaint studio, in a quirky crooked building where she will breathe and appreciate the slowness of those days as life is just way too busy right now! Reading and writing has always been one of Alex’s passions. Alex likes to consider herself as a free spirit rather than a commitment-phobe. Trying to live as aligned to a Buddhist lifestyle as is possible in this day and age, she just does not believe in "owning" anything or anyone. Based on the theory that we ‘cannot lose someone that was not ours to lose’ she flails through life finding joy and magic in the most unexpected places. Mother to a 21 year old daughter and three adorable pups, she appreciates that some of the best moments in life are the 6am forest walks watching the dogs run, play and interact with one another and with nature. Connect with her on Facebook and check out her blog, Love and Madness. 

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