Only when we have applied the first four of the five guidelines: the Three Conditions, the Six Harmonies, the Threefold Learning, and the Six Paramitas, will we truly be a student of the Buddha and be close to Bodhisattvas. Based on the foundation of the Six Paramitas, we can progress to the next level of our practice, which is comprised of the Ten Great Vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva.These vows were taught to us by the Buddha in the Avatamsaka Sutra. This is the last stage of our cultivation leading to Buddhahood. We cannot practice the Six Paramitas and advance to the Ten Great Vows until we have fulfilled the first four guidelines. The main characteristic of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva is an immeasurably broad and compassionate heart. Every one of his vows is complete and perfect.
The Ten Great Vows of Samantabhadra are:
1. To respect all Buddhas
2. To praise Tathagata (one of the ten names for Buddha)
3. To make offerings extensively
4. To repent karmic obstacles
5. To rejoice at other’s meritorious deeds
6. To request the turning of the Dharma wheel
7. To request the Buddha to remain in this world
8. To constantly follow the Buddha’s teachings
9. To accommodate all sentient beings, and
10. To dedicate all merits universally
The distinctive feature of the practice of Samantabhadra is that this bodhisattva has a mind as broad as the universe. As a result, each of his ten vows is ultimate and perfect in itself.