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Daily Connect: You Must Be Crazy - The Bodhisattva Vow

Roshi Enkyo O'Hara (IDP lineage mentor and Soto Zen teacher extraordinaire) is going to be teaching on and offering the Bodhisattva Vow  this weekend at IDP. The Bodhisattva Vow is basically what crazy people do. We vow to completely awaken, to overcome all delusion, in order to exist in a perpetual state service for all sentient beings we encounter. Even Glenn Beck. Especially Glenn Beck. I have taken this vow and reaffirmed it many, many times. To do so, from the point of view of a profit-driven culture, is the literal definition of insanity. 


The image to the left is of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, who apparently became so frustrated with his limitations in being of service that his face split into 11, his arms split into 1000, and then he could actually have a little more agency in helping others. Avalokiteshvara was crazy. Totally f-in nuts. Everyone who takes the Bodhisattva Vow, from the point of view of habitual mind, has lost their marbles. Lock them up and throw away the key. I mean, don't they know that greed is good?

Below is a video of the Beastie Boys song Bodhisattva Vow. Hopefully you can read the lyrics as they scroll by.

Have you taken the Bodhisattva Vow? Do you plan to? Do you feel crazy?

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Sure, I've taken the boddhisattva vow and I'd do it again.

I only feel a bit crazy regarding it in certain contexts.

LIke when I wonder, "If I reaffirm the vow w/Roshi O'Hara, will I get a Zen name, too?"

Oh dear. Maybe revealing that helps all beings. It helped me--LOL.

But seriously, actually the vow makes me feel saner. Thinking that the vow is insane "from the point of view of a profit-driven culture" is only true when "profit" is defined as my individual profit and well-being. When it's defined as "well-being of the whole interconnected causes-and-conditions shebang of which I am a wavering, transient, but fun expression" the vow makes sense.

btw: "The middle path is not the middle path between lies and truth" is so right on.


I wondered about the name thing too.


why, o why was I logged out now when I logged in this morning? this is ellen s.
why can't we stay logged in? impermanence, yeah yeah yeah . . .

noir view

also, borrowing a page from film/fiction noir, maybe it's about being a sane, decent person in a crazy world. aspiring bodhisattvas aren't the ones who are crazy -- the ones who haven't realized their interdependence are.
nancy (not signed in apparently)

The Vow

I haven't taken the vow yet. In the past, my thoughts went like this: it's because of my ambivalent feelings about things that require vows, and particularly in regards to Buddhism - if the path is meant to reveal to everyone their true Buddha nature that we all already posess, yet most people are practicing Judaism, Christianity, or Muslim (and therefore wouldn't take the vow, as they would see it as "losing their religion") then is the vow just creating a Buddhist club?

But, after examining my own attachment to vow-less living, I realize that MY vow is just that - my vow - and is just a public/personal expression of committment to a path I've been trying to follow long before I ever learned about sitting practice, Buddha, or sangha.

This makes a lot of sense to

This makes a lot of sense to me.

I had a similar experience with observing what seems to go on around me, finding what seemed to be a path that felt right and made sense...and then discovering "holy crap, I think maybe I'm a Buddhist!" when I did some investigation.

You Must Be Crazy.

I attempt to read a Pure Land version of the Buddhist Vow every morning. It is crazy. I am training to become an automotive mechanic and it is crazy how taking that vow has spilled over into school. I feel like I am too much of a mother hen with my classmates (it does not help that I am 46 years old). My vow taking really took ahold during our schools' food drive. I have been donating a can of food a day for each day I am in school. Cynisism (excuse my spelling) reeks in my school. Why should we donate? what do we get out of it? Initally I was full of rage and stewing in thoughts of why they are so snarmy and why am I am so adamat to change them to donate to giving a very impassioned speech on why to donate that got alot of rave from my classmates.
Taking the vows at this stage of my life is crazy but it keeps me sane. It keeps buddha first. Thank buddha a thousand bows for the vows.


I have taken it. no, I don't feel crazy. not on account of this, anyway.

I see the vow as a formal statement of a belief I've had since I was little, telling god to give my prayers to the poor souls so they could get out of limbo. I see gandalf, then the grey, leading the band of heroes across the bridge at barad dur and getting sucked down by the balrog, only to emerge as gandalf the white.

what fun would nirvana be if everyone's not there? and since I don't believe in the rapture, I don't expect to be there in this physical form, and in the energy nebula we'll all become, we need different colors to make it pretty. everyone gets to be there.

love the song, "shambala," track right before bodhissattva vow, is pretty sweet. love the monks chanting forming into the rhythms.

love life, this day, this moment.

check back in an hour. or a minute.

favorite line of the blog

Nancy I LOVE this "what fun would nirvana be if everyone's not there?"

inspiring. thank you.

past life

just had the thought that maybe I took the vow in a past life and I'm just continuing it, and that's why it just feels right

Oops, sorry Sarah, I somehow

Oops, sorry Sarah, I somehow managed not to reply correctly...

Sarah, apologies if I touched

Sarah, apologies if I touched a nerve with you.

Mr. Beck is entitled to his opinions, and is within his rights to express them. I realize that in this venue it may put me in a minority, but I've moved on past the point in my life where I have an overwhelming need to shout down people who happen to have a different opinion than I do. My observation in the past has been that it caused pain for both the person in question and myself. What good did it do? Little, I think.

With respect, sitting around trying to judge who is "more extreme left or right" is a waste of my finite time in the world. For me, courage was defined when I finally began looking beyond my well-planted political flags, beyond the black and white of the parties.

I fear that I haven't expressed myself very well; please accept this with metta.

I have not taken the vow. For

I have not taken the vow. For one thing, I'm still on a journey to understand if one or another Buddhist lineage is the "right stuff" for me, and given that bit of limbo, I don't feel that it would be the thing to do just yet. Still giving it some thought.

And then, of course, there's what you point out, which is the dichotomy that exists between our culture and the pursuit of awakening..at least as I define awakening. I'm a 25-year vegetarian in the heart of the bible belt, so I've had "my differences" thrown in my face many an occasion. It's not that fun, sometimes. :-)

I've taken transmission of Thich Nhat Hanh's 5 Mindfulness Trainings, and I endeavor to live by them, or at least to be aware of them mindfully as I live my life. Not quite the Bodhisattva Vow, I think, but it makes relating to my coworkers, friends, and neighbors interesting. Hopefully I'm setting a good example, and not just that wack job that won't gossip and/or steal software. :-P

As to Glenn Beck, well, there are people with extreme views on both sides of the political fence. I try to be aware of the causes and conditions that put those feelings in their hearts and those words in their mouths, and sometimes it helps to make sense of things.


Thanks Ray

I get to be a thirty something omnivore Buddhist in the middle of Manhattan, which sounds a whole lot easier on an objective level than being a 25 year old vegetarian Buddhist in the Bible Belt.

I'm going to be doing some interviews for the IDP blog here with people who are living as Buddhists in circumstances very different from mine - if you have a half hour or so I'd love to talk. You can reach me at jerrykolber (at) gmail (dot) com -


I'm fine with talking with

I'm fine with talking with you...though I'm certainly no word master!

For clarity, I'm actually 43 years old..it'll be a quarter century in January that I've been a grassfed hippy. :-)

right on

drop me a line sometime we'll tawk.

similar discussion

(about being a Buddhist in a remote place) is taking place on Intro to Buddhism board, if you can access that.

Interesting..I'll take a look

Interesting..I'll take a look at that. Thanks!

One Question Re: False Equivalence


regarding Glenn Beck. Just wondering which Left Wing commentator you might be referring to who is:

A) as extreme as Beck
B) Has as large of a corporately subsidized platform and audience as Beck?

I can't think of anyone who fits both of these, which makes that statement similar to the false equivalence of "there are nuts on both sides" which dominates the Mainstream Media and just happens to be factually inaccurate. The middle path is not the middle path between lies and truth, and Buddhists need a bit more courage to point that out.



The Glenn Beck thing was meant to be playful, but I agree with both of you.

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