The Vows


The following are scans taken out of my "monk book", at least, that's how I refer to it. Having one does not afford you any privileges, but, this is what you get after you take part in the "Taking Refuge" ceremony, and become a disciple of the temple and of one of the temple's masters.

The translation is finally finished, and is below the pictures of the book.  It was especially difficult to get through, because not only is it written and printed in Traditional Mandarin (as opposed to the presently used Simplified), but it is an older form of Traditional Mandarin. The grammar is different than what is commonly seen with the older Traditional Mandarin. I'd like to thank Lu Ruiling and his Buddhist professor friends for spending the time with this translation.

The booklet is basically a book of rules ("Don't kill people, don't follow other religions, don't have sex with women, etc). Generally, it offers a way of life, and a way of living. The first page will have the monk's or disciple's photo, along with the identity of his master, and the name that his master has bestowed upon him.

The monks also have government issued ID cards, which basically delineate them as "coaches" of the Shaolin temple.

Click on image to open slideshow








The Translation:


Page one in Chinese is a cover with the title "CERTIFICATE OF PROCLAIMATION!",  and a beautitiful picture.

Page two is the text of the CERTIFICATE the English translation of which is the following:  "This is to certify as follows: Richard Russell, an American of xxxx years old, determined to be proclaimed a believer of Buddhism at a ceremony, in witness of the Buddhist master DECHENG, was given XINGHENG as his Buddhist name. As from this moment he will observe the Buddhist Commandments, abstain from any evils and always adhere to the good, pray to the Buddha dilegently, vowing to convert self foreever and will never change his mind. Therefor he is proclaimed a Buddhist believer in accordance with the Buddhist dharma.

Buddhist follower: XING HENG

Buddhist master: DECHENG

Seal of the master,  Seal of the Buddhist Temple of Shaolin in the SongShan 30th Octobor, l997.



1, INVITING THE SAGE:  The master and the audience(monks) stand up and recite in chorus the following:  We respectfully invite your presence and welcome you with flowers, disciple so and so has been in search of Buddhism wholeheartedly but without any avail while in fact Buddhas, masters and monks are all over. Recitation is done three times each time followed by kowtowing sentence by sentence with the master at the leading.

2, CONFESSIONS: Then the master call the believer to be and the latter answered by his name. In the past I have committed many sins and that is because I was greedy, easy to get hateful and idiotic. My words, acts and ideas were wrong in many respects since I was born. I want to confess all that.

3, THE FORMAL PROCLAIMATION: The master calls the believer to be and the latter replies his name. My body and my life belong to the Buddha. My body and my life belong to the Buddhist Masters. My body and my life belong to the Monk. (repeat three times). I swear to the Buddha, the Master and the monk(thrice).

4, SAY PRAYERS(SWEAR): The master calls the believer to be and the latter answers by name. The living creatures are numberless, I vow to persuade them to follow the Buddhism. The worries are endless I vow to get away from. Buddhism is measureless I vow to learn; Buddhist dharma is supreme I vow to follow.

5, INDICATION OF GONGDE(KINDNESS AND VIRTURES DONE FOR OTHERS AND NEVER THINKING OF ANY RETURN OR BEING REMEMBERED): In the Guanding Scriptures it is said that as from the moment as being proclaimed a believer one is always escorted by thirty-six gods of benevolence and their numberless relatives to keep him in peace and happiness. It is said in the Jiao Liang Gong De Scriptures that if the three thousand boundless universes were full of Buddhas as the paddies and bamboos and human beings are provided for with support, they would live twenty thousand years. After passing away of all the Buddhists, temples are built with flowers. It is more fortunate yet not as if there are human beings. The human beings should be purged from the bottom of the heart and become believers of Buddhism. That is the real GONGDE.

6, GIVING : All GONGDE should be given to all the flesh so that everyone could go living in the other pure world(chanted by disciples sentence by sentence at the leading of the master). GONGDE of the Proclaimation is extremely benevolent . The boundless fortune is all giving away. Wishing all the indulging living creatures go the numberless brilliant Buddhist temples without any exception..


C, MASTER XIE HONGYI`S TRIRATNA VERSE(with slight additions or omissions)

FIRST, RESPECT THE BUDDHA:  Regard the Buddha statues as genuine Buddhas always in a dignified manner. Never make fun or lie down or squat in face of worshipping as if in presence of a friend from the overseas when you cannot be informal, not even let alone to face a Buddha. Worship should not be done in haste, one should rather do less worships. The worshipping furnitures and utensils shall always be kept clear. Worshipping should be before noon time and never later than that when it is easy to induce trouble. Because Buddhas are prohibited to take any food after noon time. Not even fruit. Offers to Buddha should be human edibles and should be fine cooking and never offer ingredients or canned food. Flowers offered must be fresh and the water should be replenished from time to time. All incenses and candles shoud be burnt each time. Buddha pictures should be glass-framed and statutes enshrined or covered and kept clean. Never do any of the following in front of a Buddha:  blow wind, (drying clothes should only be done to the side of a Buddha), poise in slanting, never water flower before the Buddha with urine. Never use urinal if the Buddha is worshipped in your chamber, nor be barebody or in shorts., one must cover up oneself completely while sleeping.

SECOND, RESPECT BUDDHISM: Buddhism dharma is the mother of all the Buddhas and the teacher of Bodhisttva, i.e.: the Tathagata relics . As described in the JINGGUANG scriptures where there is a Buddha there should be respect from the Buddhist followers; that everywhere there are scriptures over all the world. And from the sky and human beings to the AXIULO all should be worshipped. And that all Buddhas and all Buddhist Amio Bodhisttvas are from there. So you have to be most pious. Master OUYUN said that when reading the Buddhist scriptures it is as if you are seeing the living Buddha. When you close the scripture books it is still in front of you and you read it again and again and never forget it , sleeping or awake. In this way you learn. Always hold the Scriptures in both hands instead of a single one and do that as high up as to your bosom . Never salute or bow with Scriptures in hand. Close the scripture book when you leave but never fold any part of the page to help you to remember.You can put in a piece of paper instead. Do not make any marks or alterations on the scriptures book or dirt it. A broken or damaged scriptures book should be repaired but not burnt.

THIRD, RESPECT FOR THE MONKS:  Trinatna depend on monks, therefore any body cut clear-headed and in a Kasaga is regarded a Buddhist disciple and he shoud be respected wihout any discrimination and no difference between those having broken and those holding up the dharma.. either  virtuous or not. Everyone is a teacher for the Budddhist. In talking always self address yourself a follower. It should be the same in worshipping. Buddhists from any section of the religion must be respecful and honest to be beneficial. So Master YINGUANG said the Buddhist dharma can be sought only through respectfulness. As far as the respect goes the sin would be prevented and happiness and wisdom come along. The more the respect the less the sin and the more the luck and the wisdom. Without respect with blasphemy, sins will increase and luck with wisdom decreases.Therefore one wishing to be the proclaimed will encounter a unprecedented situation with full respectful mind to listen to the Buddhist voice and he will become lucky and wise. I wish all fellow disciples encourage one another in our behaviours. Being proclaimed one must understand what the masters explains and if one does not understand or did not get it clearly could not be proclaimed until the master repeat it to give him a clear understanding. So the master must have a very clear correct understanding of the scriptures.The above guidelines of old master YINGUANG and master HONGYI are quoted to declare myself and for all our fellow followers to learn. What is most important for a believer is that he comes back home like the son back to his mother or repent. Because he deviated from the Buddhist dharma and now comes back. There are two kinds of conscious abbots. The first kind are very conscious act instinct like Buddhas. Dharma means norm i.e. norms of virtues and morals observed by living creatures. Monks mean peace and quiet i.e. the hearts are taintlessly clear. The abbot in a Buddhist temple. Buddhas mean all the statues there, dharma means all Buddhist Scriptures. Monks are those away from home living in a Buddhist temple including those cut clear-headed and in a Buddhist cape. Furthermore Buddhas are everywhere including all Buddhas, Dharma is all the norms observed by all the monks everywhere . Monks are all the sages everywhere in the world including all the worldly monks. Therefore believers should not say that he follows master so and so but rather he follows all masters and monks, from Buddhisattva and arhats down to Buddhist novices. This point should never be misunderstood which if so would lead to a situation the important is forgoten and and the minors remembered. And forget the public interest for personal ones. Any master in witness of the proclaimation is but one to be a witness.

Therefore the teachings of masterYINGGUANG and master HONGYI are quoted to declare myself.

 ESSENCE OF THE PROCLAIMATION:  From this moment as proclaimed a Buddhist believer, one will never follow any other religion; from the moment as proclaimed to follow the Buddhist Dharma one will never follow doctrines in any other claasic books; as from this moment of proclaimation to follow monks, one will never follow any evil ways. It is said in the Fangang Scriptures as an additional admonish that the five hundred arhats worshipped by some people are not even as good as an ordinary monk. It is important that a monk learned that anywhere should never say anything irresponsibly. This is strictly probibited by Buddhism. It is said in Fanguang Scriptures that the monks , nuns in the temples and those not living in the temples are really overcautious. It indicates but a follower must be very very careful. The above records examples of common errors, so all our fellow followers could better observe the dharma. so that one gets further away from sins and closer to fortunes. In a word, Buddhist dharma can be learned only through respect. No short way. Let us encourage one another in our endeavours.

FIVE ADMONISHES TO OBSERVE : Never kill any living creatures, one lives a long and healthy life; never steal or rob any assets , one gets properties and wealthy; never be licentious or wicked, one gets ones lover and repayed; never tell lies, one is honest and trustworthy; never drink wine so one gets cleverer and wiser.

TEN BUDDHIST MONASTIC DISCIPLINES: Never kill any living creatures; never steal or rob; never be licentious or be wicked; never talk empty words; never be a doubledealer; never curse; never be covetous; never hate or bear grudges against any one; and never make a fool of yourself.

Publisher and date.


End translation. First draft English translation done by R. LU with help of a few Buddhist friends. May 20th, 2001.


The Ten Commandments

Just out of curiosity, the following is a list of the Ten Commandments, which form the backbone of the Christian religion. The Ten Commandmenst supposedly were given by God to Moses, to form what would become the moral background of the societies throughout the world. The parallels are intriguing.

    * "I am the Lord thy God.... Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

      "And God spoke all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Ex. 20, 1-3.

    * "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images.... Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them."

      "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me: And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." Ex. 20, 4-6.

    * "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain."

      "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." Ex. 20, 7.

    * "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy."

      "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son nor thy daughter, thy man servant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle. nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." Ex. 20, 8-1 1.


    * "Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long."

      "Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." Ex. 20, 12.

    * "Thou shalt not kill." Ex. 20, 13.


    * "Thou shalt not commit adultery" Ex. 20, 14.


    * "Thou shalt not steal." Ex. 20, 15.


    * "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." Ex. 20, 16.


    * "Thou shalt not covet they neighbor's house."

      "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, not his manservant, not his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's." Ex. 20, 17.