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Verse 6-1: Robes of integrity

Verse 6-1: Robes of integrity

Part of a series of talks on the 41 Prayers to Cultivate Bodhicitta from the Avatamsaka Sutra (the Flower Ornament Sutra).

  • Integrity necessary to live a wholesome life
  • Our own dignity, our own self-respect

41 Prayers to cultivate bodhicitta: Verse 6-1 (download)

The next of our 41 prayers, number six says,

“May all beings wear the robes of integrity and consideration for others.”
This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when putting on clothes.

We get dressed everyday and take our jackets on and off several times during the day. This is a practice to do whenever you are putting on clothes, to think, “May all sentient beings wear the robes of integrity and consideration for others.”

Integrity and consideration for others are two very very important virtuous mental factors that are necessary to live a wholesome life and to keep our precepts and to, basically have good relationships and be at peace in our own heart and mind.

Integrity is the mental state that abandons what is unwholesome by reason of our own sense of integrity, our own self-respect. It’s more like, there’s the opportunity to lie (or we could cheat somebody, or we could do something that’s not very nice to somebody else) and that thought is in the mind, but then we restrain ourselves because we have a sense of our own integrity. We say, “No, if I do that, that’s against my own precepts, that’s against my own values, that’s not the way I want to live, that’s not going to bring me happiness. I’m a Dharma practitioner and for my own sense of being a Dharma practitioner that kind of behavior doesn’t fit in with the kind of person I want to be.”

It’s that sense of our own dignity, our own integrity, our own self-respect that restrains us from acting negatively. It’s a very very important mental factor and the more we cultivate that, I think, the more we have confidence in our own decisions. We’re not so waffly about “well, what do others think about me”, “is this right, is this wrong”, “they’re going to call me names”, they’re going to think I’m a prude”, “I’m not sure what I really want to do”, all that kind of doubt and confusion that we get into sometimes regarding the proper behavior to follow and the improper behavior to abandon. All that is just completely dispelled by having this clarity and this sense of our own integrity as a human being who wants to live properly.

That’s that first one. I’ll talk about consideration for others tomorrow.

The reason that these two are together with putting on the robes is because I think this is really reminding those who are monastics that when you get dressed in the morning, your robes represent your commitment to following the Buddhist’s path. Especially your commitment to training in higher ethical conduct, and so the robes represent that ethical conduct and so having integrity and consideration for others are the two mental factors that help you keep your precepts well. You see that’s why they’re tied, this one’s tied to putting on robes.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.