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!

Truth Telling

As the Buddha lay dying, he said to his disciples, “Be a lamp unto yourself, be a light, let yourself shine.”  With Truthfulness, the seventh parami (emanation of an awakened being), we vow to illuminate our lives through discovery and openness to the truth.

To follow the path of meditation is to open our eyes and our hearts to see and sense clearly the naked truth of our lives in a new and open way.

Close your eyes for a moment.  Sense, as you sit quietly, your breath, this life, and this body.  Sense your desire and capacity to see the truth, to tell the truth, to know and live the truth.  Listen quietly and attentively.  Ask yourself: “what truth in my life needs to be told?”  What truth do you need to admit—about your body, your heart, your mind and relations in the world around you?  What do you know is true that it is time to acknowledge, honor, listen and attend to?  Sense your capacity to rest in the truth, in the very center of your being, to open to and live in it.

This is the spirit of the perfection of Truthfulness, the basis of spiritual life.  When our practice is based on fierce love of the truth, we’ve begun the journey, stretching the mind and heart to include tenderly all aspects of experience:  the “good,” the “bad” and the “ugly.”  When we see truthfully the work to be done, it may be difficult, but immeasurably rewarding and onward leading.