Four Bodhisattva Vows
Shu jo muhen sei gan do
Bo no mujin sei gan dan
Ho mon myryo sei gan gaku
Butsu do mujo sei gan jo
Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to save them all.
Desires are inexhaustible; I vow to put an end to them.
The dharmas are boundless; I vow to master them.
The Buddha's Way is unsurpassable; I vow to attain it.
Just as all the previous Sugatas, the Buddhas
Generated the mind of enlightenment
And accomplished all the stages
Of the Bodhisattva training,
So will I too, for the sake of all beings,
Generate the mind of enlightenment
And accomplish all the stages
Of the Bodhisattva training.
Why We Recite The Four Great Bodhisattva Vows
The Four Great Bodhisattva Vows are recited daily in Buddhist Temples and monasteries at the close of the service (Sanzenkai).
We recite the Four Great Bodhisattva Vows to encourage us in our study and pursuit of the Enlightement of the Buddha.
These great vows express the infinite Compassion of the Buddhas, and, in chanting them we express our desire to become as the Great Bodhisattvas and Buddhas.
The Bodhisattva is an enlightened being who, deferring his/her own full Buddhahood, dedicates his/herself to helping others attain Liberation.
In one's self-mastery, Wisdom and Compassion, a Bodhisattva represents the Highest stage of Buddhahood, but one is not yet a supremely Enlighteneed, fully Perfected Buddha.
Bodhisattvas, like Buddhas, are not merely personifications of abstract principles, but are prototypes of those states of highest knowledge, wisdom and harmony which have been realized in humanity and will ever have to be realized again and again.
Our Mahayana Buddhism requires that the enlightened ones and those advanced along the path show the way to others. Our tradition emphasizes that each person who practices Buddhism should see his or herself as holding a candle in one's hand. This candle will help one to light (see) the way, and others will benefit from the light. For this reason, Mahayana Buddhists do not wait until perfect enlightenment before one acts, we begin to act when we begin our practice.