Four Great Vows online class series (starting Saturday, November 5)

The Four Great Vows in Chinese Characters (四 弘 誓 願)

The Four Great Vows describe the Way of the Bodhisattva, which is the Path to Buddhahood. In this series of classes you will learn how to write the original version of these vows in traditional Chinese characters. Many of the characters in the Four Vows are rather complicated, but in these classes you will learn how to decompose complex characters into simpler components. Many of these simpler components have only one or two strokes.

All of the classes will be conducted on Zoom. Only registrants will have the Zoom link, but the classes will also be live streamed, and will be recorded and publicly available on youtube. Registration (which is free) is only necessary if you want to participate in the discussion period at the end of each class. Although registration is free, there is an application process which must be completed.

The classes will meet monthly on the first Saturday of the month from November 5, 2022, to February 4, 2023. Each class starts at 3pm Eastern time and lasts for 2 hours.

Class Objectives:
1. Learn the 21 Chinese characters in the Four Great Vows.
1a. Learn to recognize the characters and what they mean.
1b. Practice writing the characters.
2. Learn how complex characters can be broken down into simpler components.
2a. The main characters in the Four Vows can be broken down into components.
2b. Many of the components can be broken down further into subcomponents.
2c. Many of these components are also standalone characters.
3. Learn which of the characters (and components) in the Four Vows are commonly used in modern Chinese (and especially which characters are found in the HSK tests).
4. Learn the difference between “traditional” and “simplified” characters.
5. Learn what “Sino-Korean” means.
5a. Learn about the history of “Hanja” – how Koreans use Chinese characters.
5b. Learn some of the differences between Hanja (Korean) and Kanji (Japanese).

What WON’T be covered:
1. This class won’t teach you how to speak Mandarin (but it might help).
2. This is not a class in “Calligraphy”. No brushes, fancy paper, or special ink required – just pencil or pen and regular paper.
3. The deep, hidden, secret, true meaning of the Four Great Vows will not be revealed.

Typical class schedule:
3:00 – 3:35 pm first lecture
5 minute break
3:40 – 4:15 pm second lecture
10 minute break
4:25 – 5:00 pm discussion

Before asking to register for the classes please read the Terms and Conditions:

1. All classes will be live streamed, recorded, and posted publicly on youtube.
2. All participants must register using their real name and provide a working email address.
3. All participants agree to have their cameras on during class with their faces visible. Your identity should be set to display your first name only (it is your responsibility to configure this on your end).
4. All participants are expected to participate in the discussion session at the end of each class, but to otherwise remain muted during the class.
5. Registration is only necessary if you want to participate in the discussion. All classes will be live streamed and posted on youtube. There is no charge for viewing the class videos or to register.

To request to register for the classes, send an email to with the subject heading: “4 Great Vows”.

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