questions on bodhisattva vow

Paul G. Hackett ph2046 at COLUMBIA.EDU
Wed Dec 17 18:32:48 UTC 2008

Dear Allen,

    If I remember correctly, it is said that there are two types of 
vows: actual and aspirational, that is, those that are actually 
accomplishable, and others that are merely aspirational.  This vow 
would fall into the latter category because it is not possible to 
actually fulfill it.
    I can't remember the exact reference, possibly Tsong-kha-pa's 
Lam-rim-chen-mo, but if I find it I'll post it.


Paul Hackett
Columbia University

At 12:44 PM -0500 12/17/08, Allen W Thrasher wrote:
>The bodhisattva takes a vow not to enter into Nirvana until all 
>other sentient beings have done so before him.
>1.  Does this mean never?
>2.  If so, is it because some beings are permanently disqualified 
>from nirvana?
>3.  Or is it that they are literally infinite in number, and so 
>though each will eventually enter it, there will always be more? 
>(I'm not sure this makes sense logically, but I'm asking what's 
>4.  Or do new sentient beings somehow get started, replacing the 
>ones that have entered into nirvana?  (I can't remember any S.Asian 
>source that says new sentient beings come into existence, except 
>(according to B. L. Atreya somewhere, the YogavAsiSTHa).
>5.  Are these or similar questions ever raised at all?
>Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D.
>Senior Reference Librarian
>Team Coordinator
>South Asia Team, Asian Division
>Library of Congress, Jefferson Building 150
>101 Independence Ave., S.E.
>Washington, DC 20540-4810
>tel. 202-707-3732; fax 202-707-1724; athr at
>The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the 
>Library of Congress.

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