Fulfilling Vows

The eighth parami (quality of Buddhamind) is Resolve or Determination, the capacity to set a direction in life and pursue it with courageous energy and patience despite obstacles to its attainment. It is the unshakeable spirit in us that calls us to stick to our course with the kind of dedication the Buddha had on the night of his enlightenment, when he vowed not to arise from his seat until he came to see the cause of suffering in his own heart and in the world, and come to freedom from it.

Resolve encompasses four qualities: discernment—setting reasonable goals and knowing the causes that will lead to their fulfillment; truth—being true to intention and determination; relinquishment—willingness to relinquish what needs to be relinquished;  and peace—keeping the mind calm and easeful while working steadily to fulfill our vows.

Our determined sitting practice is a wonderful metaphor for the development of resolve in the midst of difficulty. Gradually, we learn to sit and open to sadness, restlessness and pain with compassion for however long we have vowed. To practice in such conditions is like pouring soothing balm onto the ache of the heart. Marshalling that spirit, we discover how to tenderly create and nourish our capacity for persevering.

Having the determination to stay the course, like the Buddha, we trust in the freedom that is the fruit of practice and develop true strength. The great forces of greed, hatred, and ignorance in us are met by equally great determined courage of the heart.  Steady on!