Buddhamind has the shape of a vow.

Community Mindfulness September 2011

Buddhamind has the shape of a vow.

The open, expansive, one-mind comes into the world of form in the shape of our mental intentions. Our vows and our aspirations shape the way our future unfolds. They become the consequences of our action and our karma.

It is important to bring into our awareness what our aspirations are.  What are our broadest vows?    What are the small practices that will help manifest that vow?   Practice period clarify our intentions,  gives support in our consistency, and unifies us as a sangha.

From Katagiri Roshi: (Living in Vow chapter from “You have to say something”):

“Habits are linked to our desires. If there is no satisfaction in a habit, you won’t continue it for long. Living in Vow, on the other hand, is to carry out your routines with no sense of attempting to satisfy your individual desires.  Under all circumstances, beyond your likes or dislikes, you have to carry on.  It’s pretty hard, but it’s very important.  The difference is total.”

Can we make doable intentions for practice period that we can do beyond our desires or our personal satisfactions?  Can we do these commitments under all our varied circumstances and beyond our likes and dislikes?


“The changes that occur through spiritual practice are not really your business.  If you make them your business, you will try to change your life directly.  If you try to change your life directly, no matter how long you work at it, you will not satisfy yourself.  So, if you truly want to change your life, you should just form the routine of doing small things, day by day.  Then your life will be changed beyond your expectations.”

A vow or intention becomes a focus. If we are tense about our commitments — we think we have to take care of it by ourselves. If we are relaxed about our commitments — we are acknowledging all the help visible and invisible we are getting from the universe. When we get exhausted by our vows, we have lost sight of emptiness.  We have lost sight of our faith and our commitment to non-doing. The non-doing that is beyond doing and not-doing, or success and failure.

We are experimenting with centralizing this fall’s practice period with an outer structure that revolves around two half day retreats:  Saturdays, 6am to noon: Sept. 17 (or Hokyoji sesshin for those of you who attend that), Oct. 22  and some participation in Rohatsu.  During each of these retreats, you will have an opportunity to discuss your practice with a practice leader. If you can’t attend the retreats, please make an appointment with a practice leader.