January 23, 1974 | Wednesday evening
On Instructions Concerning Vows
Ven. Master Hsuan Hua
Members of the fourfold assembly at Gold Mountain Monastery have made a commitment to seek unsurpassed bodhi, and have made great vows. In the recent past, this was rarely done in Buddhism anywhere in the world. If we are talking about the past—up to limitless eons ago—there have been many Buddhists who made vows. In this century, however, there have been very few. That’s why we have entered the Dharma-ending Age, where everyone has forgotten about cultivation.
Just now, people have made their individual vows. You should constantly review your vows and become very familiar with them. Keep them securely in mind. Don’t just forget your vows after you’ve made them. That will never do. At all times, you should remember the vows you’ve made.
The two monks bowing once every three steps also made vows in the past to practice what others could not practice. These two made vows to follow me wherever I go and be my great protectors, enduring what others cannot endure and practicing what others cannot practice. They wanted to engage in such ascetic practice. Regardless of whether or not they succeeded at it, they were determined to undertake ascetic practice. In cultivation, making vows is very important. Patience is also of the utmost importance. Anyone who can be patient will surely succeed in realizing the Path. Patience is the ability to endure adversity as if it were as pleasant as eating honey, without getting the least bit upset or angry. In the future, I hope everyone can cultivate patience. It is so important.
Today when people made their vows, I listened carefully and noticed that no one made a vow to be patient. However, before you made your vows, I couldn’t very well tell you what vows to make. Your vows have to be made of your own initiative; people cannot tell you what kind of vows to make. Vows that other people tell you to make are their vows, not yours.
Timely Teachings, page 212 - 213.