Making a Vow
One time-honored method for spiritual work consists of making and keeping vows, solemn & sacred vows that we uphold always, come what may. At the outset, it baffles us to understand that vows bring us into direct contact with God, deriving their holiness thereby. If one imagine God as the Purpose behind the universe, one would not be far from the truth. In making a vow, we partake in that immense Purpose by infusing an aspect of our own life with a definite purpose, that of keeping the vow. As befits any action relating us to the Divine, we treat a vow with the utmost respect and care. By making a vow – whether as a member of a religious community or as a consecrated hermit – one does not become a member of a hierarchy but becomes a member of a unique state of life which is neither Clerical nor Lay, the Consecrated State. Nevertheless, many members of the Consecrated life are members of some hierarchy or another, because they often are in a religious orders, but this is not a rule. A vow is an individual’s free response to a call on God and to follow closely under the action of Ajah in a particular form of spiritual living.
Vows, are vows made by the members of religious communities pertaining to their conduct, practices and views.
In the Buddhist tradition, in particular within the Mahayana and Vajrayana tradition, many different kinds of religious vows are taken by the lay community as well as by the monastic community, as they progress along the path of practice. In the monastic tradition of all schools of Buddhism the Vinaya expounds the vows of the fully ordained Nuns and Monks.
In the Christian tradition, such public vows are made by the religious life – cenobitic and eremitic – of the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Eastern Orthodox Churches, whereby they confirm their public profession of the Evangelical Counsels or Benedictine equivalent.
When to make a vow? Timing can help. Consider choosing a propitious moment for making the vow: Beltain, New Year’s, our birthday, a holy day in our faith, such as winter or summer solstice, a new moon, an big event like a marriage, a birth, or a death. Other than choosing a suitable time, we need to prepare our attention inwardly for the act of making the vow. Meditation, fasting, and prayer can help establish the appropriate attitude within us, reflecting the seriousness and sacredness of entering into the vow. Personally I find that the best time for a vow is on an important holy day in the wheel of the year.
The making and keeping of vows help us remember who we are,which is our spirit, creates positive self-confidence, diminishes attachment and clinging, organizes our energies, develops our soul, unifies our will, and serves Ajah. A completed vow increases both our freedom and our potential to play a more useful role in the drama of the evolving world. But we must not take a vow lightly. The utility of a vow grows in direct proportion to the wholeheartedness and resoluteness of our commitment to it.
1. I will maintain purity of body.
2. I will maintain simplicity in my possessions.
3. I will strive for clarity of words.
4. I will strive to live sustainably on the Earth.
5. I will place no commitment of the heart above my commitment to my spiritual path.
6. I will commit only to honorable work.
7. I will maintain clarity in all relationships.
8. I will strive for purity in my sexuality.
9. I will sustain clarity of faith.
10. I will submit humbly to honorable authority.
11. I will maintain loyalty to the endurance of my community.
12. I will strive always for mindfulness and clarity of soul.