Beings are numberless, I vow to free them.The "Sixth Ancestor" to which Mallard refers was Hui-neng Duck (638-713). But tell me, is it possible to fulfill a vow to save all the beings? Is it possible to fail to fulfill it? But if you can't fail to fulfill it, how is there meaningful content to the vow? Hint: Yes, the vow does have meaningful content. So how do you fulfill it?
Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them.
Dharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter them.
The Buddha Way is unsurpassable, I vow to embody it.
Mallard appeared in the circle after a trip and asked, "The first of our vows is to save the many beings. You told us that the Sixth Ancestor said this means, 'You save them in your own mind.' Is that all there is to fulfilling this vow?"Verse
Raven said, "Completely fulfilled."
Mallard said, "But what then?"
Raven said, "Not just your skull."
I tell you my failures lie piled at my feet
And thick to the horizon in all directions,
Thinner in spots, or more transparent.
It is a landscape of lapses.
Were you accessory to some of them? I don't know; it's possible I suppose.
I say each one fulfills the vow.
Each one breaks it.
Each one whispers vigilance.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith GarmonRaven 60