35. Always abide by the three basic principles.
The three basic principles are keeping the vows you have taken, refraining from outrageous conduct and cultivating patience.
The primary vows are the Refuge Vow and the Bodhisattva Vow. The Refuge Vow (also known as “taking refuge”) is the vow to become a refugee from comfortable circumstances by entering the path of awakening. The Bodhisattva Vow is the vow to be of benefit to all sentient beings and to postpone one’s own awakening until all sentient beings are awakened. We can also think, “refuge = not afraid of myself” and “bodhisattva = not afraid of others.” Together these vows encourage me to make friends with myself in order to help others.
I love the second principle in this slogan, “refraining from outrageous conduct.” It is such a great reminder to notice when my ego wants to climb on stage and be the center of attention. The more skillful alternative is to stay in the audience, observing the play of phenomena inside and outside of my mind.
Finally, cultivating patience seems to be a vital part of transforming my habitual patterns. As Slogan 25 tells us, “Whichever of the two occurs, be patient.” This is an invitation to recognize when I am tempted to grasp what I want or run away from what I don’t want, to drop the storyline and be in my present moment experience just as it is. It is also a call to develop nonaggression and to learn how to wait. I can use my own reactivity and speediness as reminders to slow down and pay attention.