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Lions Roar : September 2019
BEGINNER’S MIND Vows are common in the world’s religions. What vows do Buddhists take and why? There are many different kinds of vows in Buddhism. Some are very detailed, while others address our ethics and intentions generally. Monastics in the Theravada world, for example, vow to follow the many specific rules in the vinaya that govern their day-to-day conduct, including celibacy. Lay Bud- dhists in all traditions vow to follow the five basic precepts (not killing, steal- ing, lying, engaging in sexual misconduct, or taking intoxicants), although there are wide differences in how these are interpreted. In some traditions, one formally becomes a Buddhist by taking the refuge vow. Recognizing there is not freedom from suffering anywhere in samsara, one takes refuge only in the Buddha, dharma, and sangha. Mayahana Bud- dhists may also take the bodhisattva vow, in which they express their intention to forego their own enlightenment until all beings are liberated from suffer- ing. In Vajrayana Buddhism, the basic vow is to see everything as sacred and enlightened: all beings as buddhas, all sounds as mantra, and the outer world as mandala. Buddhists use their vows as a kind of compass, a way to stay on the path. You may not know where you’re ultimately headed, or if you’ll ever get there, but your vows tell you what direction to keep moving in. Following one’s vows in every moment—living in vow, as is said in Zen—can be seen as the path itself. DHARMA FAQS We answer your questions about Buddhism & meditation. BUDDHISM BY THE NUMBERS THE FIVE POWERS (Pali: pancabalani) are one of the seven sets of qualities that are conducive to awakening. Also known as the five strengths, the five powers are: 1. Faith 2. Energy 3. Mindfulness 4. Concentration 5. Wisdom The five powers work in sequence: Faith in the dharma creates energy, which in turn makes it pos- sible to be mindful. Mindfulness leads to deep con- centration, which finally gives rise to wisdom. They are called powerful because they master their opposites. Faith controls doubt; energy controls laziness; mindfulness controls heedlessness; concen- tration controls distraction, and wisdom (or discern- ment) controls ignorance. When the five powers are well-developed, the mind isn’t bound by these negative energies and understanding and compas- sion flourish. The other qualities that are conducive to awakening are: the four establishments of mindfulness; the four right exertions; the four bases of supernatural power; the five spiritual faculties; the seven factors of enlight- enment; and the noble eightfold path. RAYFENWICKILLUSTRATIONSBYNOLANPELLETIER LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2019 28