Performing recitations, making Great Vows, performing Life Liberation are the three Dharma Gems given by the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva. We must use them appropriately. The power of Great Vows is very important for every Dharma cultivator. Making Great Vows is presenting yourself in front the of the statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, quietly or softly ask Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to protect and bless you, to perform miracles, and to help you to resolve your difficulties, worries, disasters, or calamities. At the same time, you will[1]:

  • be vegetarian on the 1st and 15th of the lunar month for the rest of your life;
  • not eat live creatures for the rest of your life;
  • not perform the act of killing for the rest of your life;
  • persistently perform good deeds every day;
  • offer gold plating for statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas;
  • cross over <number of> people, and help them to be liberated from the sea of suffering within <amount of time> (the power of the Great Vow to cross over people is immeasurable);
  • perform virtuous deeds, make donations to print <number of> Buddhist books, etc”; or
  • distribute or donate <number of> books and CDs to people.

1. If you have made a vow to be vegetarian on every 1st and 15th of the lunar month, but then forget later, or you cannot fulfil the vow due to exceptional circumstances, you can inform Guan Yin Bodhisattva in advance, and practise vegetarianism on an earlier or later date. An alternative is that when you make your vow initially, you do not specify that you will be vegetarian on the 1st and 15th of the lunar month, but instead you state that you will be vegetarian for two days every month. This would be more flexible.

2. Once you have made Great Vows, you must persistently keep to your vows. If you cannot fulfil your vows simply due to personal reasons, then it is very likely that you would receive karmic retributions.

3. Fulfilling Great Vows is expressing your gratitude when Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have helped you to have your wishes come true. You must return to the Buddhas or Bodhisattvas in the temple where you originally made your vows. You fulfil your vows by making incense offerings, making full prostrations, making donations, and performing virtuous deeds. The amount of donations that you make and the amount of virtues that you accumulate do not matter, as long as it is within your ability and you are sincerely expressing your gratitude. If you have made the Great Vows to be vegetarian and to cross over people, etc, then you should persevere in your practices. This is also a form of fulfilling your vows.

[1] You can perform one or more from the list.