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Production Credits:

Bodhisattva Vow Click for Lyrics

First Appearance: Ill Communication LP May 31, 1994
Written by: Beastie Boys/Mario Caldato
Performed by: Beastie Boys
Production Notes: Produced by Beastie Boys and Mario Caldato, recorded and mixed at G-Son Studios, Atwater Village CA and Tin Pan Alley, New York, NY. Engineered by Mario Caldato and assistant engineer Settly. Sequenced at Bundy's Playhouse, mastered at Futuredisc by Tom Baker. Proceeds from "Bodhisattva Vow" go to Aboriginal Children's Service, Tibet House and the Office of Tibet.

Behind the Beats and Lyrics...


  • "Kissing My Love" by Afrique from the album Soul Makossa (1973)
  • Chanting of Tibetan monks


  • Bodhisattva - a person who has attained enlightenment, but who postpones nirvana to help others attain enlightenment
  • Enlightenment - intellectual or spiritual light
  • Bodhisattva Vow - a Buddhist vow to attain supreme enlightenment for the sake of all beings; a bodhisattva does not aspire to leave the round of birth-and-death (samsara) before all beings are saved
  • Buddha - "awakened one"; one who has eliminated the last obstacles to enlightenment, is perfectly accomplished in the qualities of wisdom, compassion, and power, and who has obtained liberation from samsara
  • Shantideva - 8th century Indian Buddhist scholar and saint who wrote the Bodhicaryavatara (sometimes known as A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life or Entering the Path of Enlightmenment)
  • Dharma - Buddhist teachings; the methods by which sentient beings may be freed from samsaric suffering
  • Bodhisattva Path/Noble Eightfold Path - the way that leads to the extinction of suffering
  • Samsara - in Buddhism, the process of coming into existence as a differentiated, mortal creature


Beastie Boys

"The main thing I'm striving for right now is integrating the ability to only put out positive energy toward all other beings. I want to integrate that into having fun and functioning in the band." - Adam Yauch, 1994

"[It's about] someone who has decided to strive to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all other beings, to better assist all other beings in avoiding suffering and attaining happiness -- following the spiritual path to end the cycle of death and rebirth, learn whatever lessons need to be learned on this planet." - Adam Yauch, July 1994

"I have taken the Bodhisattva Vow, but I would like to clarify something. A lot of people have the misconception that taking the Bodhisattva Vow delays enlightenment until all other sentient beings attain enlightenment, and that is not really it. The Bodhisattva Vow means striving for enlightenment to better help all other sentient beings attain enlightenment. That's an important issue -- the objective of that Vow. Being enlightened is the best way to benefit all other beings -- from that place you're able to help more." - Adam Yauch, 1997

"[The Bodhisattva Vow is] a pledge to attain enlightenment not only for one's benefit but for the benefit of all beings. If you attain it for yourself, then you're better equipped to assist others and therefore help alleviate suffering." - Adam Yauch

"The first time I ever attended a teaching by the Dalai Lama was in the spring of '93, right in the middle of the scheduled recording time for what would become the Check Your Head album. Adam and Mike, knowing how important it was to me, agreed to take that week off. So I signed up for the five-day teaching and then began to study the recommended texts. There were several books that we were asked to read before attending the course, but the most important one, the one that the course was based on, was by Shantideva, an Indian Buddhist scholar who lived in the 8th century. In fact the entire five-day course was to be based on one chapter of that book, the chapter on patience. The book was called the Bodhicaryavatara, which translates into English as A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life. I worked hard at studying the texts. Although I had taken prior interest in spirituality, I had never seriously studied it in Buddhist terms. The general concept behind the song was to take the meaning of Shantideva's text, at least on the level that I understood it, and compress it into a modernized, three-verse rhyming song. In retrospect, it was rather a bold move. People who write Buddhist texts generally spend most of their lives studying them beforehand. The idea that a person could read a couple of books, go to one teaching, and then attempt to write an updated abridged version of the Bodhicaryavatara is presumptuous at best." - Adam Yauch, 1999


"The hypnotic soul of 'Bodhisattva Vow' mixes chanting Buddhist Monks with an echo-drenched Beastie vocal" - Mix, 1994

"...featuring a sample of Tibetan monk chanting, [it] was written in an instant [in 1993] after Yauch had an audience with His Holiness himself, the fourteenth Dalai Lama. The title refers to the decision not to attain enlightenment for oneself until all other sentient beings are saved from cyclical suffering" - Interview, August 1994

"One well-intentioned song offers lessons on Buddhist thought, but the underlying music is a snore" - Time, 1994

"The Tibetan inspired 'Bodhisattva Vow' was the Beasties contribution to the new-found political and religious beliefs" - Consumable, November 1999


Released Versions:

Bodhisattva Vow
Bodhisattva Vow (Instrumental)
Bodhisattva Vow (Live)
Bodhisattva Vow (Long Version)


Performed in 5 known Concerts.

First known Performance:
28-May-1994 : Radio Music Hall, Washington, DC, United States

Last known Performance:
15-Jun-1996 : Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, United States

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