Taking the bodhisattva vows

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Those of you who have learned the meditation steps for generating bodhicitta and have studied the bodhisattva vows know that taking these vows is a big commitment. In particular, we are committing ourselves to uprooting our self-centeredness and generating compassion for all sentient beings, no matter who they are and how they treat us. You can imagine that training ourselves to think and feel in this way in a prison environment is totally opposite to everything you see around you. Many bows to Rob, Mark, and William and to Venerable Robina who gave the vows to R. S., who shares here the experience of taking the bodhisattva vows in prison.

My practice had been slacking and suffering for some time, and I hadn’t been too much of a “good” practitioner as of late, which you know. But for the past two weeks or so, I have been motivated to practice, to study, and to put forth much effort into living the Dharma. So, even though I felt terrible for not practicing too well, I felt ready and happily eager to meet with precious Robina.

It was planned that we would meet with her early, before the regular Buddhist class with the entire group started, to take the bodhisattva vows from her. Two friends, Mark and William, and myself met with her early, and by the time we got everything ready and set up, it was practically time for the regular class. The Buddhist volunteers, Herb and Ben, talked to the guys in the class, while we three sat at the feet of wonderful Robina in the corner of the room and took the vows of the bodhisattva.

Cover of Candragomin's Twenty Verses.

We can uproot self-grasping by developing bodhicitta and wisdom.

After we finished she spoke to all gathered and really spoke to all of us on many levels. We had the fortune to be able to take a few pictures with her.

I had been reading The Bodhisattva Vow you sent to me a while ago and memorized Chandragomin’s Twenty Verses in preparation for the ceremony. I will try to live in accordance with the vows and try to uproot selfishness and self-grasping by developing bodhicitta and wisdom.

I just wanted to share that with you and thank you so much for all you have done to help prepare me for practice and for the vows themselves. I have a long way to go obviously, and I pray you will continue to be a true spiritual friend and guide and teach me all along the way.

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