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What Vow Can You Make?

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfield talks about how Buddhists make a vow that seems on the surface impossible to achieve; “Suffering beings are numberless, I vow to liberate them all. Attachment is inexhaustible, I vow to release it all. The gates to truth are numberless, I vow to master them all. The way of awakening is supreme, I vow to awaken.”

Buddhists make these vows, not because they are exactly attainable, but because they want to remind themselves that this is their highest intention. I am playing with identifying my own deepest intention. What is it that I most want in my life? And then to have it in a form that I can remember who I really am, who I want to be every day. I encourage you to think about a similar vow you might make. It could be as simple as “I vow to be kind” or "I vow to be happy" or I bow to forgive myself and others" or it may be a longer more involved intention like the poem at the end of this post.

Kornfield suggests that we make this deepest intention and write it down. Place it on your altar or some place where you will see it each day. Repeat it to yourself each morning for a month. Then do that for two more months until you have repeated this vow 100 times. Then see how you are doing on it. When I first heard him say this I thought “Oh that’s a very good idea. I’m going to do that. I must set aside time to think about exactly what I want to vow.” And off I went into a long postponement of making a vow. Don’t over think it. Just give yourself five minutes of quiet right now and see what arises as a good vow for you. Go with what arises – don’t overthink it. Begin today!! It’s good if you also become public about this vow. Tell someone. It helps make it a real thing.

Mine is, “I vow to be kind”. It’s a lifetime journey.

(In a lighter vein, I also vow to post regularly in this blog! There. Now I must do that!)

School Prayer by Diane Ackerman

In the name of the daybreak and the eyelids of morning and the wayfaring moon and the night when it departs, I swear I will not dishonor my soul with hatred, but offer myself humbly as a guardian of nature, as a healer of misery, as a messenger of wonder, as an architect of peace. In the name of the sun and its mirrors and the day that embraces it and the cloud veils drawn over it and the uttermost night and the male and the female and the plants bursting with seed and the crowning seasons of the firefly and the apple, I will honor all life —wherever and in whatever form it may dwell—on Earth my home, and in the mansions of the stars.

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