With Sincerity, We Vow to Deliver All Sentient Beings

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With sincerity, we vow to deliver all sentient beings.
With integrity, we vow to eliminate all afflictions.
With faith, we vow to learn all Dharma doors.
With steadfastness, we vow to attain buddhahood.

The teachings on sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness are arranged according to the year that the teachings were given:

1990: Sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness.

2004: Living Bodhisattvas are like farmers; sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness are like the earth; and the wisdom of the wondrous Dharma is like pure water. We must widely invite good people to cultivate this field of blessings.

2006: When we establish our faith with vows, we will have no worries. When our resolve is steadfast, we will have no expectations. When we are sincere, we will have no regrets. With integrity in our thoughts and actions, we will have no resentment.

2007: Sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness are like the earth. Loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity are like a gentle breeze. The wisdom of the wondrous Dharma is like pure water. Earnestness and diligence are like the sunlight.

2008: We must do good deeds with sincerity, handle matters with integrity, speak with faith, and be steadfast in serving others.

2011: Comprehending the great path with sincerity, we delve into the sutras with pure minds and guide sentient beings with our vows.

2013: With sincerity, we vow to deliver all sentient beings.
With integrity, we vow to eliminate all afflictions.
With faith, we vow to learn all Dharma doors.
With steadfastness, we vow to attain buddhahood.

2015: We must treat people with sincerity, guide them with integrity, lead them with faith, and accompany them with steadfastness.

2016: With sincerity and integrity, we can uphold the precepts, Samadhi, and wisdom. With faith and steadfastness, we can flawlessly retain the Dharma.

We need to cherish our causes and conditions, maintain our resolve, give rise to deep faith and understanding, take the Dharma to heart, and put it into action.

The Jing Si Dharma Lineage is a path of diligent practice. We must inwardly cultivate sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness.

We must make the Four Great Vows:
With sincerity, we vow to deliver all sentient beings.
With integrity, we vow to eliminate all afflictions.
With faith, we vow to learn all teachings.
With steadfastness, we vow to attain buddhahood.

The Tzu Chi School is a path for working with people in the world. We must outwardly practice loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity, and with a heart of sincerity, work to liberate all sentient beings.

The Four Great Vows are the universal vows of all buddhas and bodhisattvas.

1. There are countless sentient beings, and I vow to deliver them all.
With this vow, we acknowledge the truth of suffering and seek to deliver countless sentient beings. This is because the affinities of bodhisattvas are with suffering sentient beings.

2. There are endless afflictions, and I vow to eliminate them all.
How can we possibly attain buddhahood when our afflictions are innumerable and boundless? We must first rid ourselves of all ignorance in order for our intrinsic nature of True Suchness to emerge. We must make great vows and eliminate our habitual tendencies one by one; we must not only remove them, but cut them off at the source.

With this vow, we acknowledge the truth of causation, that the suffering of sentient beings arises from “causation.” “Causation” refers to the small instances of ignorance which eventually accumulate to form habitual tendencies. As our habitual tendencies continue to multiply, they cause us to form limitless afflictions. If we wish to walk the Bodhisattva Path, we must eliminate our habitual tendencies so that we will be able to alleviate the suffering of sentient beings and serve as role models for them.

3. There are infinite Dharma doors, and I vow to learn them all.
The Buddha’s teachings are innumerable and endless. For all the afflictions that sentient beings have, the Buddha gave just as many teachings to help them. In the same way, for all the illnesses that people have, there are just as many medicines to cure them.
With this vow, we acknowledge the truth of the path. Therefore, we must learn the Path and its teachings, and understand how to apply the teachings of the path in the world. When we fully understand the Dharma and everyone is able to accept it, we will have realized the truth of the path.

By upholding the truth of the path, we will know how many bricks we will need in order to pave this road so that we can connect to the Bodhi Path. We must practice perseverance and patience, demonstrate our wisdom, and take the Dharma to heart. In doing so, we must also go among people to help them and steadily advance, step by step, to learn the infinite teachings.

4. The path to Buddhahood is unsurpassed, and I vow to accomplish it.
With this vow, we acknowledge the truth of cessation. “Cessation” refers to the elimination of all afflictions. If we do not engage in spiritual practice and go among people, we will be unable to realize the principles.

Take the truth of suffering, for example. Most ordinary people indulge themselves with only their immediate satisfaction in mind. How can they possibly understand the truth of suffering? They cannot!
Do we have afflictions? We need to be vigilant and hastily eliminate them, ridding ourselves of any habitual tendencies and afflictions that we have accumulated in the past. After observing others, we must then turn around and educate ourselves in order to remove our afflictions layer by layer. When we do this, we will naturally realize the truth of cessation and give rise to the vow to attain unsurpassed buddhahood.

These are the Four Great Vows, which extend from the Four Noble Truths of suffering, causation, cessation, and the path.

The Jing Si Dharma Lineage requires us to walk the path with diligence. As we engage in inner cultivation, we must make the Four Great Vows. These are the original vows of every buddha and bodhisattva. As Tzu Chi volunteers, we all must have sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness.

1. With sincerity, we vow to transform all sentient beings.
With utmost sincerity, we must vow to transform sentient beings. Every buddha that comes to the world has vowed to transform all beings.

2. With integrity, we vow to eliminate all afflictions.
Our afflictions are endless, and as long as they have yet to be eliminated, our suffering will not cease. If we wish to put an end to suffering, we must vow to eliminate all afflictions.

3. With faith, we vow to learn the Buddha Dharma.
When learning the Buddha Dharma, we absolutely need to have faith. With sincerity, integrity, and faith, we will have confidence in ourselves. We must vow to learn the Buddha Dharma and take all of its teachings to heart.

4. With steadfastness, we vow to attain buddhahood.
As Buddhist practitioners, we must absolutely seek to attain buddhahood. If we do not seek to attain buddhahood, then we are learning the Buddha’s teachings in vain.

These vows form the foundation of Tzu Chi, and we must all accept and uphold them faithfully.

In order to put an end to the ideology of the four-caste system, the Buddha made the Four Great Vows.

The first vow is to relieve sentient beings of hardship. Sentient beings were trapped, unable to escape the caste system, not to mention the cycle of birth, aging, illness, and death and the various afflictions of desire. As such, they were unable to break through deviant views to find the right path.

Therefore, the Buddha made this vow, “There are countless sentient beings, and I vow to deliver them all.” Because he made this vow, he had to seek out the true principles in order to liberate all sentient beings from the hardships that entrapped them.

Next, he vowed to rid sentient beings of their delusions. The second vow is, “There are endless afflictions, and I vow to eliminate them all.” If we want to transform sentient beings and liberate them from hardships, we must first dispel our own afflictions and ignorance and break through the barriers of delusion. Only then can we teach and guide sentient beings to eliminate their afflictions.

What methods can we use to eliminate our afflictions? “There are infinite Dharma doors, and I vow to learn them all.” There were many religions in India, and it was impossible to find a common, clear path to enlightenment in all religions. In order to help everyone find the right path, the Buddha vowed to eliminate sentient beings’ deviant views. Once he had mindfully explored, experienced, and understood all kinds of religions, he chose the one right path to enlightenment, which is the Bodhi Path.

Next, he vowed to deliver sentient beings from the cycle of suffering. The cycle of suffering refers to the Six Realms of Cyclic Existence. Sentient beings are dragged along by their karma and cannot help but transmigrate endlessly through the Six Realms and Four Forms of Birth.
The Buddha intended to liberate sentient beings from this cycle of suffering, and so before attaining buddhahood, he resolved, “I absolutely must succeed in this!”

These vows were great, as vast as the universe, and they embraced all Dharma realms. Therefore, they are called the Great Vows. The power of his vows was tremendous; he would never give up until he attained buddhahood.

When we have the Buddha in our hearts, everyone we see is a buddha. When we spread the Dharma, we need to employ the Tzu Chi spirit of loving and helping others regardless of their religion. We must pave the path before us with love, and use this awakened love to guide others. This is the Dharma essence and foundation of the Tzu Chi School of Buddhism.

“With compassion and wisdom, we exercise the Four Infinite Minds.” This requires sincerity. “With sincerity, we vow to deliver all sentient beings.” We must have sincerity to be able to transform sentient beings. If we do not possess sincerity, no matter what we say, others will not listen. Then, how could we transform them? This requires not only sincere intentions, but also right mindfulness.

“With integrity, we vow to eliminate all afflictions.” It is only when we eliminate our afflictions that we can liberate ourselves from the suffering of ignorance. Sometimes, those who have a lot of money also have many afflictions. Afflictions cannot be erased with money – they can only be swept away with the Buddha Dharma, which allows our hearts to give rise to joy. This is Dharma joy.

“With faith, we vow to learn all Dharma doors.” If we lack faith, it is impossible to learn these Dharma doors, and we will never know the direction we need to take to deeply enter the Dharma. “With steadfastness, we vow to attain buddhahood.” I hope that I can attain buddhahood, and I also hope that all my disciples attain buddhahood together.

I hope that everyone can use sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness to cultivate fields of blessings in China. “With sincerity, I vow to deliver all sentient beings.” This is the vow that all Tzu Chi volunteers should make.
“With integrity, I vow to eliminate all afflictions.” The work of Tzu Chi requires us to go among people. When we go among people, it is hard to avoid different kinds of noises, but we must practice wisdom and integrity to eliminate our afflictions. As long as we are serving others, then no matter how turbid our environment is, like a lotus which grows out of the mud, we will always be pure at heart. If we wish to bring purity to people’s hearts in this turbid environment, we must certainly have faith.

“With faith, I vow to learn all Dharma doors.” Everyone here has taken in the fragrance of the Dharma. Those who have taken in the fragrance of the Dharma have methods to eliminate afflictions. Those who have not taken in the fragrance of the Dharma lack a way to transform themselves. Only when we take the Dharma to heart can we deliver sentient beings and remain uninfluenced by their afflictions.

“With steadfastness, I vow to attain buddhahood.” If we seek to attain buddhahood, we must walk the Bodhisattva Path, which is the seed, the cause for attaining buddhahood. When we have this seed, this cause, we must also actualize the Six Paramitas, giving, precepts, patience, diligence, Samadhi and wisdom, in all our actions in order to cultivate blessings and wisdom. This is called the Bodhisattva Path, or the great and direct Bodhi Path. The final destination of the Bodhisattva Path is the fruit of buddhahood.

If there is a seed, there will be fruit. When we plant a Bodhi tree, there will be Bodhi seeds. When we plant a Bodhi seed, this is the cause for becoming a bodhisattva. The cause for becoming a bodhisattva leads to the attainment of buddhahood, which is when we return to our intrinsic nature of True Suchness. Our intrinsic nature of True Suchness is our pure buddha nature. It is revealed when we turn our eighth consciousness into the ninth consciousness. Free of ignorance and afflictions, it is the pure buddha nature intrinsic to us all.

The Medicine Buddha firmly made the Four Great Vows. In his vows to deliver countless sentient beings and cure all illness, his sincerity never wavered. Tzu Chi volunteers need sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness, and they must also make the Four Great Vows. To learn the Buddha’s teachings, we must cultivate the ground of our minds. To do this, we need the right seeds.

To develop the sincere will to help sentient beings, we must first have the proper mindset and attitude. Only in this way can we eliminate our deviant thoughts and views so that we can develop right thoughts, right views, and right mindfulness in order to eliminate our afflictions.

“There are endless afflictions, and I vow to eliminate them all.” We wish to transform sentient beings, but if we have yet to eliminate our own afflictions, then we are still being constantly pulled along by the causes and conditions of our karmic seeds. This is why we remain unenlightened beings. How can unenlightened beings possibly transform other sentient beings?
“There are infinite Dharma doors, and I vow to learn them all.” This definitely requires sincerity, integrity, and faith. If we do not possess genuine faith as we learn the Buddha’s teachings, then we cannot take the Dharma to heart; it will leak out. When the Dharma leaks out, all that remains is our afflictions.

“The path to buddhahood is unsurpassed, and I vow to accomplish it.” If our root of faith is not deep and steadfast, what can we do? It is only because we are human beings and have this body that we are able to hear the Dharma and have the opportunity to engage in spiritual cultivation. The body is a vessel for spiritual cultivation. According to the laws of nature, we do not know whether our lives will be short or long. However, we are still responsible for determining their breadth and depth. Although we are all Living Bodhisattvas, we are still newly-inspired bodhisattvas. We must make the Four Great Vows with sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness. We are all unenlightened beings. Thus, it is only by witnessing the suffering of others and realizing our blessings that we will understand the importance of reverence and vigilance. We must always keep sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness in mind and give with loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. This is what Tzu Chi volunteers must learn.

Tzu Chi volunteers must inwardly cultivate sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness and outwardly practice loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.

The practice of “sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness” comes from the Four Great Vows:
“With sincerity, I vow to deliver all sentient beings.
With integrity, I vow to eliminate all afflictions.
With faith, I vow to learn all Dharma doors.
With steadfastness, I vow to attain buddhahood.”

The Four Great Vows are the foundation for any Buddhist practitioner:
“There are countless sentient beings, and I vow to deliver them all.
There are endless afflictions, and I vow to eliminate them all.
There are infinite Dharma doors, and I vow to learn them all.
The path to buddhahood is unsurpassed, and I vow to accomplish it”

We need to practice sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness to be able to advance. We need to be sincere in order to eliminate the suffering of sentient beings and help people. We also need integrity; when our minds and thoughts are upright and free of deviant thoughts, we can naturally eliminate our afflictions. We also need faith to learn the Buddha Dharma; “faith is the source of the path, the mother of merits.” Without faith, this would be impossible. Finally, we need steadfastness in order to attain buddhahood.

Teachings
February 8, 2013
Meeting with Tzu Chi Volunteers from Huadong, China
June 25, 2013
Wisdom at Dawn
October 13, 2013
Closing Ceremony at the Taiwan Northern Region Faith Corps Training Retreat
August 11, 2015
Wisdom at Dawn Dharma Talk
June 26, 2016
Teaching at the Tzu Chi 50th Anniversary Musical Sutra Adaptation (Kaohsiung Site)
November 9, 2016
Meeting with Tzu Chi Volunteers from China
January 17, 2017
Wisdom at Dawn
January 21, 2017
Hualien Year-end Blessing
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