Monday, March 16, 2009

Four Vows

Sentient beings are numberless
I vow to save them

Desires are inexhaustible
I vow to put an end to them

The Dharmas are boundless
I vow to master them

The Buddha way is unattainable
I vow to attain it

We close every day of sitting at the Zendo by chanting the Four Vows. I thought of them when I saw this sign -- and our distinctions between "good" animals and pests, and our ideas about which sentient beings are worth saving, and which aren’t.

(Photo: Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Feb. 2009)


  1. I've been thinking about paradox - the key to Zen, eh? It's the way ya'll unlock your brains. It's a strenuous discipline. I salute you!

  2. Pest Critters...those that pee on my front door. All other critters, including the armadillo that is plowing up my front lawn, I let alone. Pee on me, though...and your days are numbered!

  3. That landlord has obviously not experienced a Buddhist awakening. Poor hungry birds.

  4. You bring up interesting points. I'ver tried to let go of desires and not to feel held hostage by them, part of the reason I was drawn to Elgin and other writers of his ilk. I also respect all critters, even those which frighten me.

  5. none of us are pests we all contribute in our own way