Nov 2, 2021
Martin Goodson

Bodhisattva (fragment) Gandhara 4th Century

Images of Truth

The Bodhisattvas vow to stay in this world of Samsara until every last sentient being is saved. While such ideals may seem distant from our own lives, at it’s core, the Bodhisattva vow has much to offer us in our own practice.

Gandharan  Bodhisattva (fragment) 4th Century


Image copyright to John Eskenazi

Bodhisattvas (fragment)


Circa 4th century

Grey schist

Height : 54cm (21.26")

Width : 37cm (14.57")


 The Four Great Vows

 Sentient beings are numberless, I vow to benefit them all.

The afflicting passions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them all.

The Dharma teachings are manifold, I vow to learn them all.

The Buddha Way is supreme, I vow to go it to the end.

 The Four Great Vows are chanted in every Zen monastery at least twice a day, morning and evening. They are also chanted after zazen, Teisho*, and after other ceremonies and observances. After each chanting and also at other observances, the merit of it is offered to Buddha, Bodhisattvas and all Beings - nothing is ever kept for ourselves only. Whatever we have gained in our training is handed over to benefit others.

 … With this insight we are not only liberated from the loneliness and terror of our separateness but are also back in harmony with everything that is. In the Tao Te Ching, at the end of the twenty-fifth verse, it says, ‘Man obeys the laws of the earth. Earth obeys the laws of heaven. Heaven obeys the laws of Tao. And Tao obeys its own inherent nature.’ When that harmony is once more re-established, then, ‘The heart rolls with the Ten Thousand Things. This rolling is truly mysterious.’ That is the harmony of being ‘at one’ with what is, with the Dharma. It informs all forms, and all forms conform to it. In our case, it expresses itself in conformity with being human, and this natural obedience goes harmoniously all the way, at one with the Tao.”

*   A talk given by a Zen master

 (The Daily Devotional Chants of the Zen Centre by Ven. Myokyo-ni, pub. The Buddhist Society 2008)


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