Q: Dear Master Lu, can you please explain the difference between making vows and fulfilling vows? What should we do?
- Performing recitations, making vows, performing life liberations are the Three Golden Buddhist Practices given by the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva. We must learn to use them well. Among these, the power of vows is very important for every Buddhist practitioner.
- Making vows involves saying your prayer quietly or softly before Guan Yin Bodhisattva, praying to the Bodhisattva for protection, blessings, or to perform miracles, to resolve your problems, confusions, disasters, misfortune, etc. In the meantime, you will do one or more of the following things:
- Adopt a vegetarian diet on the 1st and 15th day of every lunar month for the rest of your life ;
- Do not eat freshly killed seafood or other creatures for the rest of your life;
- Do not perform acts of killing for the rest of your life ;
- Persistently perform good deeds every day;
- Offer gold plating for statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas;
- Introduce Buddhism to <number of> people within <a certain period of time>, helping them become spiritually awakened and be free from suffering;
- Accumulate merits and virtues by performing meritorious deeds, such as making donations to print <number of> Buddhist scriptures or books, etc.
- In particular, the power of making the vow to help people become spiritually awakened by practising Buddhism is immense.
- If you have made a vow to adopt a vegetarian diet on every 1st and 15th of the lunar month, but then forgotten later, or you cannot keep the vow due to special circumstances, you can inform Guan Yin Bodhisattva in advance, and practise vegetarianism on an earlier or later date. However, you can only do this once in a while; you must not make it a habit.
Alternatively, when you make this vow, you do not have to specify that you will adopt a vegetarian diet on the 1st and 15th of the lunar month. Instead, you can say that you will do so for two days every month. This allows more flexibility.
- Once you have made a vow, you must consistently keep your vow. If you cannot keep your vow simply due to personal reasons, then you will certainly receive punishment.
- For those who have not practised Guan Yin Citta Dharma Door, they should return to the same temple where they originally made their vows to fulfil them before the statues of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. They fulfil their vows by making incense offerings, making prostrations, making donations, and performing meritorious deeds.
If you have started practising Guan Yin Citta, that means you have taken refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and have been following Guan Yin Bodhisattva to cultivate your mind and practise Buddhism. No matter which temple you previously visited, or which Bodhisattvas you prayed to and made your vows, you can simply pray to the statue of Guan Yin Bodhisattva at home or at your Buddhist friend’s house (if you do not have a Buddhist altar) to fulfil your vows. You should kneel and make a full bow to Guan Yin Bodhisattva, express gratitude to the Bodhisattva and the temple at which you originally made your vow. Fulfil your vows simply by carrying out what you previously promised.