The Dalai Lama and the Bodhisattva Vow

There were thousands of people at the Dalai Lama seminar in Glasgow, back in 2004; Isaac and I were amongst them.

Quite frankly, it was boring as watching paint dry.

Not that I was not enchanted by the Dalai Lama, or that it wasn’t a treat being entertained by his bright smile and laughter. However, along with that came seriousness that was so heavy.

I could feel it – a rope-like connection travelling back thousands of years to ancient times in pre-history, effectively tying the present to the past. As I feel my way back in time to that moment in the conference I am yet again aware of how this effectively cuts off any chance of freedom for the individual as it makes it impossible to be completely in the present moment. It feels like I am bound to what has occurred in the past, which feels like an incredible pull on my energy.

Later on in the conference, after an interminably long talk on the nature of something I have completely forgotten about, we were then invited to take the Bodhisattva vow. What we were to read was given to us in writing to ensure we got it right. There was no suggestion of running this past your own discernment to see if it was right for you to do, nor was there an opportunity to have a break and go away and give it consideration. No, it was taken as understood that we would do this and as one would predict, it looked like most of the people in attendance were prepared to do just that. Having spent the previous few years going through a process of un-doing vows taken through many lifetimes, I was not about to add more at this stage. So I did not partake and instead had a good look around the room as thousands of souls fell under the spell – literally, the words do constitute a ‘spell’ as in spelling of a word). Everyone was committing to stay on the Earth plane until every soul is set free from suffering – this is achieved by returning, or re-incarnating, and hanging around, presumably doing good deeds, until each and every soul wakes up. The words were read aloud and then repeated by the audience.

So, given that there are many millions of Buddhists and non-Buddhists taking this vow, then this karmic wheel is going to continue to be the most popular ride at the fairground, with folks just queuing up to go around and around and around and around and around and around, ad nauseum and ad infinitum, and indeed I’m starting to feel physically nauseous just thinking about that.

Something must have clicked in my consciousness this morning, here in this present moment. I was having thoughts about the nature of teaching and demonstrating conscious awareness, as regards the life and times of the Dalai Lama and that vow, and how that compares to the enlightenment of the Buddha. What I don’t understand is that if the Buddha could become enlightened and chooses not to return time and time again, then how come the Dalai Lama thinks he has to do so, and get everyone else to join him in this insanity? How does it line up that on one hand, he is teaching peace, freedom and love, and on the other, enslavement to the system that he is trying to help everyone break free from? Even if one does manage to break free of the bonds of earthly attachment, there are always the bonds on non-earthly attachment to hook you back into the game!

Maybe the Dalai Lama believes he is tied into coming back again and again and wants everyone else to do the same. I’ve played that game before. It’s called, “Let’s all agree that what I’m doing is the right thing to do and you demonstrate your agreement by promising to do the same.” It’s a very familiar program and I am especially aware of it in connection to my female friends.

Taking this vow from a position of non-awareness of the implications of it because ego tells you it is the right and compassionate thing to do is I feel, a false compassion born only of imitating the a divine act which is akin to the tail wagging the dog, or arse over elbow is another way of saying it. I can see from my own experience that when I fall into imitating the beliefs of another, I am in fact creating limiting beliefs of my own. Then, if I am joined in this by enough other people we have effectively created a consensual agreement that others will be encouraged to literally buy into. And once you’ve bought into something it is very hard to let go of it as anyone will testify in having purchased something they don’t ever use – this is because we are determined not to let it go for fear of having wasted our resources, or of reminding ourselves of our own stupidity for having bought the unneeded item in the first place.

Imitation = limitation. I reckon it’ll be easy for me to remember this given the spelling of these words.

It is not my intention to be overly critical of the Dalai Lama or Buddhism (thousands of people did find this conference to be a wonderful experience) for I know that what is being demonstrated here is not just an individual or a group belief that is within all of us. We all carry this programme, and so I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to see what does not serve and to root that out and let it go. It would not serve Love to blame those who have brought this awareness to me…that is shooting the messenger. And yet, it does not serve Love to keep quiet either. It is a function of the angelic self that brings us these messages.

I have seen that erroneous thinking and the behaviour that arises from it is not restricted to those who demonstrate it, for we all carry it. I may exhibit and demonstrate one type of falsehood, whilst another will demonstrate a different one and yet we all share all of it – there is only One. Just because I may not be acting out a particular evil does not mean I am not carrying the pattern for it within my sub-conscious. Remember, we do not know what is in our sub-conscious and so one of the gifts in witnessing the action of another is that we may feel its effect on us so we can get in touch with it from within. A misunderstanding arises in Oneness theory when we choose to believe that we are all One and yet continue to believe that wrong or harmful acts are limited to another, and are not in truth shared. If we are One in love and light, then we are One in darkness and despair also. In truth, there is only One Mind and we all share in that. This is why and how we can affect the whole simply by removing a limiting belief that we have become aware of.

So, back to the Dalai Lama conference. Shortly after the vow we were given little bracelets of woven coloured string – they have become quite popular in recent times and were intended to serve as a reminder of the event. Appropriate that I felt that string and bracelets were used, echoing the bonds and the ties to servitude not borne of compassion but of ignorance. We didn’t stick around much after that, escaping like truant school kids to a nearby cinema where, due to the school summer holidays, there was a limited choice of decent films and so we plumped for ‘Troy’, which was an interesting experience to say the least. I found myself being catapulted back to a previous life as a lover of Paris – and, that is as they say, a story for another time.

An amazing epilogue to this entire experience happened when Isaac returned to the U.S. the next day. After spending the first night back in Oakland, California, he drove to Mt. Shasta in the north, and planned to stay there a couple of nights before heading back to Oregon. The next morning he sat down to have breakfast at a local café with a friend. Sitting at an outside table enjoying the crisp mountain air and warm sunshine, he got to the part of his story-telling about the experience of seeing the Dalai Lama four days earlier. In the midst of the story, he went back inside to get a warm-up for his coffee and when he returned to the table he sat down he let out a tired sigh. A rather large cloud of smoke came out of his mouth, and hung in the space between him and his friend. The strong scent of temple incense began to permeate the atmosphere, and Isaac could taste it in his mouth and nostrils. A soft breeze wafted in and began to dissipate the cloud and gradually it disappeared. Immediately he asked his friend “did you see that?” The friend, open mouthed and wide-eyed, nodded in the affirmative. Then Isaac exclaimed “did you smell it too?”, and she said “yes, I sure did.” Nothing was said, for what could be said in the face of such a manifestation?

In telling me about this event later on during a phone call, we came to understand that this apportion or manifestation was the clearing and releasing of a number of past lives that he had spent as a Buddhist monk. Attending the Dalai Lama’s conference had been the trigger in letting go of what no longer served.

For a radically different view on the event:

5 thoughts on “The Dalai Lama and the Bodhisattva Vow

  1. Hairstyles January 4, 2021 / 6:25 pm

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I抣l try to get the hang of it!


    • lynnpaterson January 7, 2021 / 5:16 pm

      Hi Hairstyles, thanks for your comments and I’m glad you find the articles helpful. It wasn’t always clear to me and in fact, it is often just looking back on things that clarity comes. Other times it takes a considerable amount of inner contemplation and then perhaps conversations with others, or journaling to bring out more information.


  2. Hairstyles December 31, 2020 / 12:27 am

    Heya i抦 for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and help others like you helped me.


  3. liveheaven May 20, 2013 / 3:04 am

    Right On! Guru/Disciple karmic monads are some the stickiest. The Bodhistattva vow is one of the hardest to break. Your analysis/discernment was very clear and on point. Thank you. ~Zaz


    • lynnpaterson May 20, 2013 / 10:28 am

      Thanks Zaz, much appreciated feedback! Blessings, Lynn


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