Guard both as you would your life.
Here both refers to the two types of commitments we have taken. The two commitments are the specific commitments, namely the 18 commitments of training the mind; and the general commitments, which are all our other commitments, such as refuge, pratimoksha, Bodhisattva, and Tantric vows. We should guard our commitments as we do our life because they are the best way to overcome our faults.
When I started this series of posts, I discussed at length how we tend to completely neglect training in our vows and commitments. We go from viewing them as something we fear to something we pay lip service to until finally they are just something we ignore. This vow reminds us to not make that mistake. In reality, our vows are like the condensed meaning of the entire path. Instead of upteen books with countless pages, all of our practices have been reduced down to the 240 or so essential instructions. Each of these, in turn, can be reduced down further. The Pratimoksha vows can be reduced down to “do no harm,” either to yourself or to others. The refuge vows can be reduced down to “rely on the three jewels to solve your inner problem.” The bodhisattva vows can be reduced down to “put others first.” Our Tantric vows can be reduced down to “maintain pure view.” Our task is to see how all of the books can be condensed into the vows and commitments, and how the vows and commitments can be condensed down into these basic principles.