Bodhisattva Vows

Does anybody know about on how to take Bodhisattva Vow and its rituals?
In Theravada Buddhism, it is common that people will take five or eight precepts, in front of buddhist monks. Is it similar to Theravadin ritual?


Bodhisattva Vows

I would like to share my view on the Bodhisattva Vows.

In the Chinese Mahayana Buddhism, there are six types of Bodhisattva Vows that can be undertaken by the serious practitioners.
1. The most famous Bodhisattva vows is from the Brahma Net Sutra, which can be undertaken by both the Buddhist monks and nuns, and also the lay disciples. It has 10 major precepts and 48 minor precepts. Usually the precepts are undertaken in a very grand ceremonies which are conducted by the several High Monks from the Mahayana tradition. It is usually conducted in the Chinese (Mandarin) language which took several days. But the Bodhisattva Precept ceremony for the monks and nuns are usually and specially conducted in the Three Platforms of Great Precepts, which is separated from the ceremonies held for the lay dsiciples only. These precept ceremonies are usually held in the big monasteries in Taiwan.
2. For the lay disciples, there is another set Bodhisattva Precepts specially meant for them. It is known as the Upasaka Bodhisattva Precepts which has 6 major precepts and 28 minor precepts. It is usually conducted in many countries every year. It is too usually conducted in Mandarin. High monks are invited to conduct these ceremonies too.
3. It is very important for all serious practitioners of the Mahayana Buddhism to undertake the Bodhisattva Precepts if one wish to become a Buddha in the future.

May you all become the future Buddhas !

With Metta,
Student Hiew Boon Thong

Alejandro Cardeinte's picture

The Arahant

I'm working on a paper about the bodhisattva and the arahant, and it seems to me that the arahants are selfish because they strive only for their own to escape from samsāra instead of working for the liberation and happiness of all beings. What do you think?

Wong Fook Ming's picture

Arahant and Bodhisatva

The path of the Arahant is to purify the three noxious; greed, aversion and delusion. As the root cause of sufferings are these three as the delusion of the existence of 'I' or self causing the suffering where in fact there is no 'I' or self, but a constant flux of the five aggregates. This delusion causing the greed (attachment to self) and aversion of the pleasant and unpleasant conditions. Thus, we are subjected to the sensual pleasures and pain without control which in fact it was a delusion of 'self'. When there is a realization of non self, then where is the selfishness. When one reach the situation of the Arahant, one is selfless. And only the sympathetic joy and compassion manifested.

The path of Bodhisatva emphasize the paramita of perfection of generosity besides the other five perfection. The perfection of generosity is very important as the purpose of our existence is for the benefits and serving all other sentient beings. AS one serve with sincere heart, one will open up and the attachment to self will be loosen or purified. This is a path of egoless.

So, the notion of selfishness of the Arahant is a misunderstanding.

Alejandro Cardeinte's picture

What Causes Our Suffering

I believe the one you shared has much deeper insights. Let me share part of a very interesting article I’ve read recently about the cause of sufferings....
What Causes Our Suffering
According to Buddhism, suffering arises from attachment to desires. These desires can vary from material objects, sensual pleasures or even your relationships. The reason desiring causes suffering is because attachments are transient and loss is inevitable. Buddhism says that the only constant in the universe is change, and by desiring you are trying to control and make something fixed. Suffering will follow because you are going against the forces of the universe, which is what causes anxiety, depression and negative emotions.
Suffering Ceases When Attachment to Desire Ceases
The end to suffering is when the mind experiences freedom from attachment. It’s letting go of any craving or desiring. This state of enlightenment is called “nirvana” which means freedom from all worries, anxieties and troubles. They say that it isn’t comprehensible for those who have not attained it.

Earl Hardie Karges's picture

Arahat or Bodhisattva?

It's the age-old Buddhist dilemma: Do I save myself or do I save the world? Maybe a better question is: what am I capable of accomplishing in this short lifetime? So, I don't think that the goal of arahant is selfish, but just realistic. But there is a way to combine the two: first you achieve your own enlightenment, THEN you work for that of others. After all, how many people are truly enlightened anyway? That'll take a lifetime...

i would never take the bodhisattva vow

Personally, I would never take the Bodhisattva vow under any circumstance.
I am also not vegetarian.
I listened recently to the teachings of a venerable Korean Zen master, Daehaeng Kun Sunim.
She says that in a way we carry within ourselves through the path to liberation all the sentient beings we have eaten.
It makes some sense.
As they do in Japan, paying Shinto respects to all creatures humans feed on.
Only once I heard a Buddhist teacher dissuade people from taking the Bodhisattva vow.
Also, noted spiritual teacher Adyashanti says there is nothing wrong with individual liberation.
As we are all part of the whole, as one particle gets liberated, in a way the whole is liberated also.
Also, one needs affinities (with the message or with a deity) to trod the path.
If the need does not click, there is no point.
the ascetic Upaka scoffs at Gautama's bombastic proclamation of Buddhahood, and takes a bypath.

Gregory Hamilton Schmidt's picture

Berzin Archives

In the handouts for Unit 5, the Berzin commentary on the bodhisattva vows is referenced.
Here are links to the pages in the Berzin archives for the vows and commentarty

root bodhisattva vows
secondary bodhisattva vows


pspitze's picture

References in the Lam Rim Chen Mo


These two references may help you understand the rituals within the Tibetan School of Buddhism:

Volume 1, Chapter 11 outlines "Going for Refuge"
Volume 2, Chapter 5 outlines "Ritual for Adopting the Spirit of Enlightenment"f

Both chapters and both rituals are similar to what you will find in other Buddhist schools, such as conducting the ritual before a monk (or group of monks), making offerings, and taking the vows for the benefit of all sentient beings.