A few weeks back, my best friend and long-time partner, Anne-Marie, and I took on lifelong vows to support each others life journey :) It was a small gathering with an intention of simplicity, joyfulness, and sacredness. Our day was anchored by a short ceremony and a meditation/sharing circle. In the ceremony, both Anne-Marie and I committed to the vows that are shared below. They are iterated from the inspirations of Nipun/Guri and Lama Thubten Yeshe. The intention was to invite vows to support the inner transformation of ourselves and our partners towards compassion and wisdom.
Anne-Marie and Birju, do you pledge to help each other to develop your hearts and minds? cultivating generosity, gratitude, patience, enthusiasm, concentration and wisdom as you age and undergo the various ups and downs of life? and to transform these vicissitudes into the path of love, compassion, joy and equanimity?
Recognizing that the external conditions in life will not always be smooth and that internally your own minds and emotions will sometimes get stuck in negativity. Do you pledge to see all these circumstances as a challenge to help you grow, to open your hearts, to develop in authenticity, to see your own unconscious, to accept yourselves, and each other; and to generate compassion for others who are suffering? Do you pledge to avoid becoming narrow, closed or opinionated, and to help each other to see various sides of situations?
Understanding that just as we are a mystery to ourselves, each other person is also a mystery to us. Do you pledge to seek to understand your selves, each other, and all living beings, to examine your own minds continually and to regard all the mysteries of life with curiosity and joy? Do you pledge to hold the spirit of awe and reverence for the mystery of life?
Do you pledge to preserve and enrich your affection for each other, and to share it with all beings? To take the loving feelings you have for one another and your vision of each other's potential and inner beauty as an example, and rather than spiraling inwards and becoming self absorbed, to radiate this love outwards to all beings?
When it comes time to part, do you pledge to look back at your time together with joy and gratitude-- joy that you met and shared what you have--and acceptance that we cannot hold on to anything forever?
Do you pledge to keep awareness of the disadvantages of ignorance, anger, aversion and clinging attachment, to apply antidotes when these arise in your minds, and to remember the kindness of all other beings and your connection to them? Do you pledge to work for the good of others, with all of your compassion, wisdom and skill?
Do you pledge to work to develop the wisdom of understanding the nature of reality and existence – going beyond the relative and apparent towards the unchanging and subtle? Do you pledge to grow in understanding of nature’s law?
Do you pledge day to day, to be patient with yourselves and others, knowing that change comes slowly and gradually, and to seek inspiration from your guides and not to become discouraged?
Do you pledge to continuously strive to remember each others inner beauty, as well as the inner beauty of all living beings? To support and grow the qualities of love in each other?
I also read a short reflection as part of the ceremony:
Anne-Marie, I love you! You have helped me understand what the word love even means. I understood it not because of an intellectual definition, but by having it shown to me through your embodiment of it. How you treat me, how much you listen, that you suspend judgment, offer invisible acts of kindness, speak caring words, pay attention to our subtle interactions, and so many other things that’s its hard to categorize into a list, even though I want to.
Small things, like quickly taking my car to get washed so I look decent in front of my boss and family! And big things, like doing intensive meditation retreats together and moving across the country to support my life’s calling. I so appreciate you, and I feel grateful to make a commitment to support your well-being for my life. That is my intention, and I intend to work so that I can be better and better at putting those intentions into action. Thank you for choosing me as I choose you.
May all grow in compassion, courage, and wisdom!