In this post we will discuss how to embark upon the bodhisattva’s path by making a vajra commitment to others. A vajra commitment is a commitment to take personal responsibility for the eventual enlightenment of somebody else. We promise somebody that we will do everything we can to help them attain enlightenment as quickly as possible. We promise that we will continue working for their behalf for as long as it takes, even if that means countless lifetimes. We will never abandon them. We don’t have to directly do this with them, but internally we make such a commitment.
Who do we make these vajra commitments to? Our vajra family. Who is our vajra family? Our sangha, our future students, our close karmic circle of friends and family. Why do we start with our vajra family? Because they are closest in our spiritual karmic proximity. We can help people spiritually in proportion to our karmic connections with them. Making a vajra commitment to somebody is the highest possible commitment we can make to another living being. There is no higher commitment. Helping people spiritually is the method for providing the greatest possible benefit. If we can help somebody else attain enlightenment, we double the number of Buddhas working for others – like opening a second cash register at the supermarket.
Why do we make vajra commitments to others? Because doing so puts ourselves in perfect alignment with the Buddhas, so their power flows through us, and as a result, we naturally and easily have self-confidence. We credibly feel as if we can accomplish anything. Making such commitments to others is the best possible thing we can do for our practice. It changes everything in our life, like somebody having a child. But it is much more than being a parent, because we are concerned for others’ spiritual welfare and our commitment is for all their future lives. Vajra commitments make our bodhichitta real, not abstract. Bodhichitta is the wish to become a Buddha for the sake of others. When we have others who we are personally responsible for, we need to get serious about gaining realizations to be able to help them.
As unattainable as such commitments may seem, they are in accordance with reality. Things are empty, which means others are nothing other than projections of our own mind. They are a part of us, like our right hand. Anything we would do for ourselves, we do for others because we see no difference between us and them – everyone is ‘us’. We are their creator – we created them, so of course it is our responsibility to take care of them like any good creator should. We need to lead every appearance in our mind to enlightenment. This is the meaning of a ‘great enlightenment.’
How to fulfill our vajra commitment to others
There are several different means by which we can fulfil our vajra commitment to others, but I will explain two: ‘owing others faults as your own’ and ‘viewing your faults as those you have taken on’.
The first method is to own others faults as your own. When you see faults in others, ‘own their faults as your own.’ The only reason why others appear to have any faults is because we ourselves possess the same fault within our mind. When we see a fault in somebody else, we should see that person as a ‘mirror-like’ Buddha who reflects back to us our own faults. Then we should find that fault within ourself and purge it like bad blood. If we have difficulty identifying it within ourself, we can rest assured it is there. We can also make requests to Dorje Shugden, please help me clearly identify this fault in my mind.
When you do this, several things happen: First, you will gain the realizations you need to be able to help the other person overcome their fault because you do it yourself. Second, you will show the best possible example for the other person, namely the example of somebody overcoming, or being free from, their biggest fault. Third, you will be able to maintain pure view of the other person, or at the very least find them to be precious for you so you will cherish them. Fourth, amazingly, the fault will actually disappear in the other person. The fault in the other person actually comes from your own mind, when you eliminate it from your mind, it will disappear from the other person. In this way, a Bodhisattva gradually leads all beings to enlightenment. And fifth, even if none of the above occur, at the very least, you will have one less fault in your own mind!
The second method is to view your delusions and negative karma as those you have taken on (from your vajra family). When a delusion arises in your mind, imagine that it is one that you have taken on – that of your vajra family or your future students. Imagine that as you overcome it in your mind, you are eliminating it in their mind. For example, when you are sick, imagine you are removing their sickness; when you have a delusion, imagine you are overcoming all of their delusions, etc. We take on the delusions of our vajra family because we realize we are in a better position to work through them than they are. Our mind becomes like a computer monitor which reflects the aggregate nexus of the delusions arising in the minds of our vajra family. We become like a contaminated mind treatment facility. We bring in delusions and negative karma, we treat it within our mind and then return it back purified.
In the next post we will explore how we actually put this into practice.