Through taking refuge we become Buddhists, through taking the bodhisattva vow,we become followers of the mahayana.
The bodhisattva vow is the commitment to become a Buddha for the benefit of all beings.
Before taking this vow we will usually have heard teachings on the bodhichitta, the thought of enlightenment, and will have confidence that the mahayana teachings provide means to develop bodhichitta ourselves, as countless men and women have done before us. We take this vow with our teacher, reciting verses composed by Shantideva:
“Just as the previous Buddhas gave birth to bodhichitta
And just as they successively dwelt in the bodhisattva practices,
Likewise for the sake of all beings, I give birth to bodhichitta
And likewise shall successively follow the practices.”