BUDDHISM > Ten Great Vows

The fifth of the five guidelines is the ten great vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva in the Avatamsaka Sutra. These vows lead to the attainment of Buddhahood and are the practice of the highest-level bodhisattvas who have freed themselves from delusion. The ten great vows are to:

  • Respect all Buddhas

  • Praise Tathagata

  • Make offerings extensively

  • Repent karmic obstacles

  • Rejoice at others’ meritorious deeds

  • Request the turning of the Dharma wheel

  • Request the Buddha to remain in this world

  • Constantly follow the Buddha’s teachings

  • Accommodate all sentient beings

  • Dedicate all merits universally

Only when we apply the three conditions, the six harmonies, the three learnings, and the six paramitas in our daily lives are we genuinely learning Buddhism, emulating bodhisattvas, and beginning to resemble a bodhisattva.

Bodhisattvas cannot attain Buddhahood only by practicing the six paramitas. They also need to chant the Buddha-name and to seek birth in the Western Pure Land. In our chanting, we can achieve either constant mindfulness of Amitabha Buddha or one-mind undisturbed at the phenomenal level, but we cannot achieve one-mind undisturbed at the level of noumenon.

In other words, we have to move beyond the foundation of the six paramitas and progress to the next level of practice: the ten great vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva taught in the Avatamsaka Sutra.

This Dharma door leads to attainment of one-mind undisturbed in Enlightenment and attainment of Buddhahood. It is practiced by Dharmakaya Mahasattvas. Therefore, it is the last step of our cultivation and cannot be reached by skipping the previous steps. Venerable Master Chin Kung has said that if we do not succeed in our practice of the six paramitas, we are not even close to practicing the ten great vows.

The distinctive feature of the practice of Samantabhadra is that this bodhisattva has a mind as broad as the universe. As a result, each of his ten vows is ultimate and perfect in itself.