Q: Master Lu, may I ask you, before practising Guan Yin Citta Dharma Door, I made a vow to Bodhisattva in front of the altar that I would recite a certain sutra 100 times for my parents and myself to eliminate our karmic obstacles. This sutra is not included in Guan Yin Citta Dharma Door. I recited that sutra several times, but then my friend introduced me to Master Lu’s blog and Guan Yin Citta Dharma Door, which I found to be very suitable for me. Since then, I have been following your Buddhist practice and started reciting the Little Houses and performing daily recitation. I have experienced many positive results.
My question is: Since I have made the vow, should I continue reciting this sutra which is not included in the Guan Yin Citta? Can I recite Little Houses while I recite this sutra? Please kindly advise.
- First of all, you need to determine whom you made the vow to, is it Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, foreign spirits or karmic creditors?
- If you have made a vow to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to recite a certain sutra or mantra a specific number of times, but now you practise Guan Yin Citta, perform daily recitations and recite Little Houses, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are aware of this.
For example, you originally planned to go to Beijing, and now you have decided to go to Shanghai instead. You do not need to go to Beijing first, and then go from Beijing to Shanghai. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are merciful and compassionate, and are aware of the practices we follow to learn Buddhism. The most important thing is that we sincerely cultivate our minds and change our behaviour.
- You do not need to specifically tell Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that you have decided to practise another Dharma Door (method), because they are aware of every proper Dharma Door. Furthermore, beings in the spirit world will be aware as well. If you have followed a proper Buddhist method in the past, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas from this method will be aware of it. Now that you have decided to follow another method, they would also understand and would not prevent you from continuing your cultivation.
- You can also tell Guan Yin Bodhisattva of your decision by saying the following prayer: “May the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>. I have started reciting Little Houses to repay my karmic debts. For the time being, I am postponing my recitation of <name of the other sutras and mantras> until a later time. When the conditions are satisfied, I will continue my practice.”
- This is not considered an act of breaking vows.
You are breaking your vow if you have vowed that you will never eat freshly killed seafood or other creatures, or that you will cultivate your mind and practise Buddhism, but you can no longer keep your vow. Generally, it is an act of breaking a vow when you give up on performing or practising a good deed or action.
- However, if you have vowed to spirits or karmic creditors to recite a certain sutra or mantra a specific number of times, then it is best for you to keep your vow.