Q: Master Lu, many fellow Buddhist practitioners, including me, want to introduce Buddhism to others and help them become spiritually awakened. We want to make vows to do so but are afraid that we will not be able to fulfil our vows. Could you please advise how we should make such vows, and how we can encourage more people to learn Buddhism?
- It is considered a great vow to introduce Buddhism to a certain number of people and help them become spiritually awakened within a certain period of time. Many people are afraid that they would not be able to fulfil the vow, so they hesitate to make it .
- In fact, helping people to become spiritually awakened is the same as educating others. When a college professor teaches college students, he/she is an educator and when a kindergarten teacher teaches young children, he/she is also an educator. When Master Lu answers Buddhism-related questions raised by his disciples, he is helping his disciples become spiritually awakened. If you help your friends and answer their questions regarding how to recite the Little House or how to perform daily recitations, then you are also helping them spiritually awakened.
- A good way to help people become spiritually awakened is to answer their questions. For example, you may answer questions posted on Master Lu’s blog. However, you must ensure that you answer the questions in a manner in line with the correct Buddhist principles and values, including the right view, right faith, right mindfulness, and right thought. You must not mislead others or say anything that deviates from the proper path of Buddhism.
- Another good method to help people become spiritually awakened is writing about your own experiences and the insights you have gained. The sharing of your personal stories with others will demonstrate the benefits of practising Buddhism. By encouraging more people to have faith in Buddhism, and inspiring them to start cultivating their minds and change their behaviour, you are indeed assisting them with their spiritual awakening.
- If you are unsure about the number of people you can help, but possess great resolve, and wish to spread Buddhism and help others become spiritually awakened throughout the rest of your life, then you can make the following vow: “I, <full name>, vow that for the rest of my life, I will follow the teachings of the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva and help to save sentient beings from suffering. I will help as many people as I possibly can.”
However, you should always make sure that a vow is within your capacity, because helping “as many people as I possibly can” is a great commitment. Once this great vow is made, you must fully devote yourselves to spreading Buddhism, and you must not pursue personal enjoyment. You must be dedicated to awakening sentient beings spiritually. If an opportunity arises for you to help people become spiritually awakened and you fail to do so, you will have broken your vow. Similarly, if you waste a lot of time, then it is also unacceptable.
- People suffering from a serious or terminal illness can say the following prayer: “The Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva, if I, <full name>, can stay alive, I will share my experience with others to demonstrate the benefits of practising Buddhism. Throughout the rest of my life, I will try to help people to have faith in Buddhism, to cultivate, and to believe in Guan Yin Bodhisattva.”
- The merits and virtues that you will gain from helping others in their spiritual awakening after making a vow is greater than without a vow.
- Once again, when making vows, you must ensure that you have the capacity to fulfil them, and not break the vows you have made. Please refer to Q&A 41: What to do if you are unable to keep vows?