requires that the enlight
ened ones and those with more practice and who are further advanced along the path
show the way
to others. However, beginners can also help other beings in this world. Mahayana Buddhist tradition
emphasizes that each person should see himself as holding a candle
in his hand. This candle will help him to see the way, and others should also benefit from the effulgent emanations
of this candle. For that reason, Mahayana Buddhists do not wait until they have attained perfect satori
, or enlightenment
, before they act. Their efforts to aid others in their search for enlightenment begins when they begin their own practice. Therefore,these Four Great Bodhisattva vows are recited daily in Buddhist temple
centers at the close of services and meditation
. By the practitioner
reciting these and practicing them in their daily routine
, they will be encouraged in their studies and spurred on in efforts to obtain Nirvana. These vows express the infinite compassion of the Buddha
and by chanting them the Zen practitioner expresses a desire to become as the great Bodhisattva
s and Buddhas and is willing to both improve themself and share his happiness and enlightenment with others.
The Four Great Bodhisattva Vows
Sentient beings are innumerable,
I vow to save them all.
The deluding passions are inexhaustible,
I vow to destroy them all.
The gates of the Dharma are immeasurable,
I vow to enter them all.
The Buddha-Way is supreme,
I vow to attain it.
Zen Philosophy, Zen practice by Ven. Dr. Thich Thien-An