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I think what we’ve faced is a lot of people taking vows at the wrong level and taking vows out of “ought” and “should,” not out of the inner readiness. It’s like surrender that is real surrender is no surrender. It’s that kind of thing. It’s no vow, it’s merely a form for it to happen in. In the West we’ve seen it in marriages. We went from where marriage was ‘til death do us part and a statement under God, to the point where it became a social contract for convenience. And now we can see among the young people who are seeking, an attempt to hear what it means to make a long-term commitment. They are saying, “We will share karma and it is my dharma to work with you to awaken.” I think that is what vows start to finally mean. They’re living statements of “This is going to see my vehicle through. I agree that if it turns out to be horrible, I’ll work with that horror rather than walk away from it.” That’s the value of the vow. But that’s got to be done by a conscious being and we haven’t been conscious enough to make vows. So they have been made by unconscious people and then they are just what they are.

http://www.gratefulness.org/readings/dsr_LayMonasticism.htm