Dharma Teachings

Ten Great Vows of Samantabhadra - I

Ten Great Vows of Samantabhadra - I-MasterHsinTaoIn the Avatamsaka Sutra, the “steps to enlightenment” are introduced as the: Ten Great Vows of Samantabhadra: revering; offering, praising, contrition; rejoicing; requesting to turn the Dharma Wheel; requesting not to pass into parinirvana; emulating Buddhas; complying with the needs of beings; and dedicating the merits. Should one follow these ten steps, one is taking the path of the bodhisattva. Gradually, the path would lead to the realization of the Avatamsaka realm. Therefore, the Ten Great Vows of Samantabhadra are the most important instruction provided in the Avatamsaka Sutra.

Ten Great Vows of Samantabhadra - I-MasterHsinTao1, 2. Revering and Praising Tathagatas
What's the meaning of prostration and praising tathagatas? It is to revere all sentient beings as Buddhas and bodhisattvas. All beings possess the same nobility and wisdom as Buddhas. Sure enough, everyone has faults and flaws, yet, every being is perfect in the eyes of the buddha. Thus, we should practice to revere and praise others instead of picking on their faults. This would be the practice of revering and praising tathagatas.

3. Offering
Making an offering is a way to make a positive connection. It is to perform generosity, to serve, and to devote. As we make offerings, we shouldn't hold a selfish intent. If we do, our merits and favorable conditions are weakened. That's why we should make offerings with a selfless mindset.

4. Contrition
Too often, we are fixated on something that becomes an obstacle for us. If we do not perform contrition, these fixations would remain to cause further troubles and conflicts. The best method to eradicate obscurations and obstacles is through contrition, “All the troubles and hardships I’ve experienced are my faults.” Finally, the attachments and fixations will dissolve and our minds would be free and be at ease.

For someone who examines his or her misdeeds, one’s mind will become free from obscurations and obstacles. That’s why contrition is a very noble practice. When one has nothing more to hide and is honest with the wrongdoings, one would have a direct mind without any manipulations. He or she would become very genuine. Just like the saying goes, “The nature is the genuine Buddha” which describes the unfabricated nature of a genuine Buddhist practitioner.

5. Rejoicing
Rejoicing others is a way to reinforce kindness. Whenever an opportunity arises, we should encourage others to practice Buddhadharma. When we speak, the language is for the welfare of sentient beings. As well, we can rejoice in the virtues of others.

Ten Great Vows of Samantabhadra - I-MasterHsinTaoSometimes, when we see people who actively engage in kind acts, we might give rise to jealousy inside. We should think about the benefits that the people would get for doing virtuous acts and be happy for them. When they engage in virtues, they will stay away from suffering. Conversely, one would suffer tremendously with lots of trouble for committing non-virtues. So, when one is performing kindness happily, we must share the same happiness instead of being jealous or trying to bring one down. These malicious ideas are not the teachings of the Buddha. The Buddha encourages rejoicing when we see the goodness in others. Rejoicing is a way to cultivate genuine happiness when seeing a cycle of kindness and generosity. This would help us to become open-minded without the slightest sense of jealousy or envy.