Vows, commitments and modern life:  Keep it simple with moral discipline

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.

2 thoughts on “Vows, commitments and modern life:  Keep it simple with moral discipline

  1. Becoming aware of ones inner moral code, right now, is important because
    these vows seek to ‘replace’ the mistaken rules currently in place,
    which are set by our self-cherishing mind. It’s interesting to note that
    Gen Tharchin said that our spiritual guide has lead us to the spiritual
    realms many times. His meaning was that we have relied on self-cherishing
    to guide our decisions and actions, this has lead us to hell. Based on our inner rules and decisions guided by self cherishing.

    Our inner rules/vows at present are largely guided by self-cherishing. They
    actually guide our actions and behaviours. We want to be guided and
    orientate ourself towards inner peace instead of just putting out the
    immediate fires of daily life and our daily needs to be free of suffering.
    The goals above will define ones identity and are a source of motivating
    oneself for self improvement, If there is no inner compass, there will be
    no motivation or movement towards something. This is why vows are said to
    be signposts. This is why vows are important. We get lost inwardly otherwise in samsara and it’s intellectual game.

    People also value what they want personally. How valuable are these vows?
    For many a Kadampa we want minds of compassion, love, giving and so forth
    but our morals also define how we see others. The other side of the coin
    with vows such as this is that the more we become what we aspire to be, the
    more we will notice that others do not share our same views. They do not
    care about being virtuous. This may illuminate to us as a polarisation
    whereby we are completely alien and may come to dwell in self-cherishing again. We get angry at different things now. We may get angry at people who do not follow our inner vows. We may see the behaviours of others as appaling, which is why we progress to the Tantric view of maintaining pure view. A sickening world of the charnel grounds.
    Our societies used to be filled with differing moral views, but over time,
    in the final view, we view all as self.

  2. Should read:

    Our spiritual guide has lead us to hell, many times. Meaning, we have relied on self-cherishing to guide our decisions and actions, this has lead us to hell. Based on our inner rules and decisions guided by self cherishing.

    We can transform this by relying on Buddha and notice how he did it by following his supreme advice given to us as vows or inner decisions to guide us to freedom.

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