Living By Vow:
My teacher, Samu Sunim, often talked about “vow power” and the strength, stability and persistence that can be developed when we “give voice” to our ideals and aspirations. The word “vow” can be traced from the Latin votum, which was “a promise, solemn pledge, dedication; a wish, desire, longing, or prayer” through the Anglo-French voe. Tellingly, it is cognate with the Sanskrit vaghat, “one who offers a sacrifice” and the Greek eukhe, “wish.”
Making or taking vows is a central practice within the buddhist traditions. One formally becomes buddhist when one vows to go to buddha, dharma and sangha for refuge, along with taking the five precepts. In Mahayana buddhism (and zen is a Mahayana school), the fundamental practice of vow-making is the bodhisattva vow.
In the following series of talks, I review the various gathas and chants that we practice within Empty Mountain Sangha, beginning with the Bodhisattva Vow. This series of talks was inspired by Shohhaku Okumura’s book, Living By Vow. Additionally, I have used Bodhisattva Archetypes by Taigen Daniel Leighton and Great Disciples of the Buddha by Nyanaponika Thera and Hellmuth Hecker as resources. -Poep Sa Frank Jude Boccio