Planting such a seed as the bodhisattva vow undermines ego and leads to a tremendous expansion of perspective. Such heroism, or bigness of mind, fills all of space completely, utterly, absolutely. Within such a vast perspective, nothing is claustrophobic and nothing is intimidating. There is only the vast idea of unceasingly helping all sentient beings, as limitless as space, along the path to enlightenment…
—Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
This three-session course explores the moment in a person’s life when they decide to go one step further than “being Buddhist”—and make a profound commitment to put all others before themselves. It is open to all who are interested in the Bodhisattva vow, or to anyone who would like to reconnect with their original inspiration for taking this vow. It is also an excellent follow up to the Being Buddhist: Exploring the Refuge Vow course, but you do not have to have taken it to participate in this course.
The Bodhisattva Vow is a traditional vow that has been part of the Buddhist path for centuries. Taking a vow in a formal ceremony is a way to set our intention and to plant a deep seed of aspiration for the unfolding of our spiritual path.
One first takes the Refuge Vow, and this marks the decision to commit oneself wholeheartedly to the Buddhist path and to further one’s practice and training. It is the formal commitment to being a Buddhist, following the example of the Buddha Shakyamuni, his teachings (the dharma), and joining the community (sangha) of fellow practitioners.
After taking the Refuge Vow and a period of further practice, the Bodhisattva Vow is a further expression of commitment to the Buddhist path. This vow is the commitment to put others before oneself. It is a statement of willingness to give up one’s own well-being, even one’s own enlightenment, for the sake of others. And a bodhisattva is simply a person who lives in the spirit of that vow, perfecting the qualities known as the six paramitas [perfections]—generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and transcendental knowledge—in his effort to liberate beings.
Taking the bodhisattva vow is a powerful moment on a Buddhist practitioner’s path. Join us and explore if this is the right moment for you—or use this as a powerful opportunity to connect with your original inspiration for this moment on your personal spiritual path.
Session 1 – What is the Bodhisattva vow?
Session 2 – A personal exploration of why one would consider taking this vow – or has already taken this vow
Session 3 – An exploration of the the paramitas (generosity, discipline, patience, etc…), a key aspect of the Bodhisattva vow
Judith Simmer-Brown, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies Emeritx at Naropa University, where she has taught for over 40 years. Simmer-Brown is a compassion trainer for the Compassion Initiative at Naropa. She is author of Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism (Shambhala) and editor, with Fran Grace, of Meditation and the Classroom: Contemplative Pedagogy for Religious Studies (SUNY). For Shambhala, she teaches Shambhala Training levels, Mahayana and Vajrayana topics, with a special love of White Tara, feminine principle, working with emotions, compassion and social engagement.