Over several thousand years of traditional Chinese culture, oaths and vows have played an important role. Ancient people were very reverent and humble before their vows. When ancient people made vows, they held branches. Once they finished making the vow, they broke the branch to signify that if they did not fulfill their vow, they would be broken just like the branch. They also kneeled and vowed to the heavens, “If I do not fulfill the vow, I will willingly suffer any heavenly punishment including lightning strikes and other severe punishments.”
Master has told us many times of the consequences of Dafa disciples not fulfilling their vows. Dafa disciples’ vows are very different from ordinary people’s vows. Ordinary people generally refer to a single task when they make a vow. However, Dafa disciples’ vows penetrate the entire process of cultivation from beginning to end.
Dafa disciples all know that “assisting Master in Fa-rectification and saving sentient beings” is in their vows. In the past, I simply understood this as: if I go out today and distribute truth clarification materials, validate the Fa, sue Jiang, etc. then I have fulfilled my vow. Of course, any work involving validating Dafa is fulfilling the vow. Later, when I read “Fa Teaching at the 2013 Western U.S. Fa Conference”, I suddenly had a new understanding of vows.
Master said in Fa Teaching at the 2013 Western U.S. Fa Conference, “I know that among the practitioners seated here, some are not diligent, and some aren’t diligent whatsoever. But Master is thinking: what are you going to do with yourself? Why can’t you have righteous thoughts? Isn’t Master here to save you? Isn’t this Fa here to save you? And moreover, you shoulder the responsibility of saving others. But if you don’t even handle yourself well, what’s going to happen? If you don’t fulfill the vows that you made to gods, the consequences will be what is set forth in your own vows.”
I had never thought about it before, but not being diligent is not fulfilling the vow. This section of Master’s Fa awakened me. I used to think that I followed closely with the progress of Fa-rectification, did the three things, and was not part of the group of people who are “not fulfilling vows”. I never associated myself with that group.
In Hong Yin IV, the phrase that appears with the highest frequency is “vow.” I understood that when it comes to “fulfilling one’s vow at every moment”, many Dafa disciples have not done well, which is why Master repeatedly emphasizes it. Ever since Dafa disciples’ cultivation shifted completely towards cultivation during the Fa-rectification period, our every day and every moment has been a test of whether we are fulfilling our vows. Since the moment we signed the vow with Master to “assist Master in Fa-rectification and save sentient beings” before coming down to earth, the word “vow” has penetrated our entire cultivation process from beginning to end. Just because we once stepped out, once kept in line with the progress of Fa-rectification and did the three things, it does not mean that we are fulfilling our vows. In my understanding, our every day and every moment involves whether we are fulfilling our vows.
Sometimes we do all three things in one day, but our thoughts are not on the Fa and instead follow our own attachments. This is actually not fulfilling our vows. At the very least, in that moment, we did not fulfill our vow well. Then isn’t our not being diligent, our not paying attention while studying the Fa, having a wandering mind while sending forth righteous thoughts, etc. all manifestations of not fulfilling our vows well?
Today’s time has been extended via Master’s infinite sacrifices. In other words, the time now is actually not our own. According to the old forces’ arrangements, this event would have long concluded. How could we make up for our unfulfilled vows?
Master said in Teaching the Fa at the Conference IX – Fa Teaching Given at the NTDTV Meeting, “Each life would be made to bear responsibility for each and every one of its actions in history. And this would be especially true for during the time of the universe’s Fa-rectification, where one would be held accountable for everything—be it one’s motives, what one did, or even the little things; and it was set that gods, those who had played both a negative and positive part in the Fa-rectification, as well as demons and even tiny life forms, would all be subjected to judgement. Even those who had a positive effect would be judged just the same, in which case it would be asked how many sentient beings could not be saved on account of your failing to do well in the course of what you were doing? And in the case of a Dafa disciple, it would be asked how many of your vows went unfulfilled? Failing to make good on them would be just one aspect of it, for when you do not do something, or do it well, there are consequences of varying sizes, and you would be held accountable for all of these. Would it work if you weren’t held accountable for the shame that your actions might have caused Dafa or for your having deceived the Lord? I haven’t talked about any of this before. I didn’t want to mention these things. But you really, truly should sober up. Don’t you know what time it is yet?”
Now for us, for the sentient beings of the universe, Master has continued to extend the ending time, so that we can have the opportunity to make up for our unfulfilled vows. What excuse do we have to not seize the time?
I hope that all Dafa disciples can think about our vows every day, every moment, and in every thought and notion, use righteous thoughts to walk well the last bit of Dafa disciples’ paths and not miss this one-time opportunity.
The above is a shallow bit of my understanding. Please kindly point out anything inappropriate.