The Power of VOW

12-Step tools and Buddhist vows not to harm, steal, misbehave sexually, lie, take intoxicants can help anyone find happiness. For addicts and non-addicts.
Darren Littlejohn
Portland, Oregon
United States
1 Team Member


I'm Darren Littlejohn. I wrote The 12-Step Buddhist (Atria/Beyond Words 2009) and Perfect Practice (2012). I've written a new book, The Power of Vow. This one is about 100 pages long and is intended to be a very specific treatment on what vows are, what they’re not and how we can take them, keep them and apply them in our daily lives. I explain in everyday language how anyone can benefit from practices such as taking refuge, non-harming, and truth telling.

This is important to me because the topic can be easily misunderstood. People may feel that it's not something that can be of benefit to them. Vows must be for monks, and I don’t want to be a monk! But if we can understand the difference between regular promises and sacred vows, we can see how they can work for our benefit and the benefit of others. When we take vows and keep them, we're able to find more power and freedom from attachments and addictions. 

This book will help people reduce harm to themselves and others. Here's an excerpt from the book explaining why we might take sacred vows:

Why Vow?

The Truth of Suffering

We might take a vow, such as the vow not to harm, because we understand that we suffer. The Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths. I’ve written about this elsewhere, as have many others. The first of these is the Truth of Suffering. Suffering happens on different levels. We suffer when we get a little bump on the head. That’s the suffering of, well, suffering. We also suffer when things change. This is called the suffering of change. We get a good feeling, but it doesn’t last. We find the perfect lover—they find someone else. We’re young and virile at one point in life. Then we get old and flabby. Any time, without warning, we can be healthy, and then get sick. We can be alive, then not alive.

We get used to the way things are and we identify with the people, places and things in our lives and with our selves. These things never stay the same. We don’t stay the same. Change comes hard for addicts. We say we want it, then we don’t know what to do with it. Somehow through our Buddhist practice we can learn to be Present as everything, even our life, changes.

There’s a deeper suffering than either of these. This is called pervasive suffering. This is the underlying suffering, the anxiety, and the fear that pervades our existence. It usually sits just beneath the surface of our awareness. When we meditate or practice hatha (physical, movement based) or other yogas (ethics, meditation, visualization, etc.) sometimes stuff comes up for us. We may not even know what we’re feeling or why we’re feeling it. But once we get sober for example we’re confronted will all kinds of things; feelings, responsibilities, bills, that we may have previously blotted out. Meditation is the same. We can come to understand and even to bear this pervasive suffering, the underlying, acute sense of our own imminent death. Who wants to be aware of that? Mostly nobody. But those with intelligence, guts and determination will learn to face it instead of seeking endless distractions or at least will face it a little in between distractions.

Sometimes we suffer a little, sometimes a lot. However we try to soothe ourselves, we still wind up needing more balm-whatever form the balm takes. Could be drugs, food, sex, people, concepts, thrills. When we live in ignorance of the patterns of attachment, ignorance and hatred, there’s no end-no way out of the struggle to become happy and pain free.

What is Needed

I need about $3500 to get this book out on Amazon, iTunes and for print. The cost, not counting time and effort to actually write the book, is at least $4000. I know what you're thinking, "I thought you were making a lot of money on books!" Actually, it's pretty hard to make money unless you're really famous. I do this for the love of it and for the amazing sense of self worth that I get from helping others. I feel a sense of completion when I finish a book. That helps keep me sober too! Eventually, after thousands of copies going out, my books can bring in a little income. But it’s a slow process. It’s hard to have enough cash on hand to fund the project. That’s where you can help.

Your contribution will help cover costs of several levels of editing, cover design, print on demand preparation, ebook formatting, getting an ISBN number (required to sell ebook and print versions), marketing and distribution. Here’s the breakdown of about how much it costs for each of these services:

  • Developmental editing: $1000-1500. This helps to ensure that the topics are clear, well developed and logically presented.
  • Copy editing: $800-1200. This level of editing corrects typos, grammar, style issues to make sure the book is very professional and easy to read.
  • Cover Design: $500. It’s critical that the book looks great! If it’s not appealing, people won’t want to read it.
  • Print on demand: $500-1000. The ebook formatting is one thing. But for a book to look good in print it has to be professionally laid out in Adobe Indesign and set up as a print ready PDF. The author can’t do this. Kind of like doctors shouldn’t operate on their own kids. Same principle.
  • Ebook setup: $300-500. The book needs to be formatted (hand coded) to work well in all of the different types of ereaders out there. Believe it or not, they’re not all the same. Sometimes we need to customize a particular file type, for example for Nook or Kindle, that won’t look right on an iPad.
  • ISBN: $250 for 10. That’s right. The author has to purchase ISBNs from the government in order to sell books. Without an ISBN, you can’t put a book on iTunes or Google Play.
  • Marketing: $1500 and up: Web site design, domain registration, hosting, email newsletter services, social media advertising. All of these cost money. It adds up quick!

What You Get

$10 – Level One: I vow to thank you publicly on Facebook and Twitter.

$20 – Level Two: I vow to send you a copy of the finished Ebook (Kindle or Epub)

$35 – Level Three: I vow to print and sign and deliver a softcover version of the book!

$50 – Level Four: I vow to give you 30 minutes of personal time via Skype call. We can do a meditation, I’ll answer questions, we can even do a reiki healing session.

$75 - Level 4.5 - I vow to send you an awesome Power of Vow book cover coffee mug!

$100 – Level Five: I vow to put your name in print! Your name goes in the Acknowledgements section of the book. 

$250 or more: I vow to tell the world about your work! Will link to your site in the eBook, printed link in the print version. That means as people are reading, they can click to open up your website instantly.

*If we don't reach the entire goal, all funds received will be used towards the above services required for successful production of the book., 

The Impact

  • Addiction kills people daily. 
  • Your contribution will help educate people who suffer and the people who love them. 
  • The 12-Step Buddhist has been in print for over 4 years and continues to sell at a consistent rate. This book will reach thousands of people, just like the 12-Step Buddhist has.
  • I've learned a lot since writing the first book. After more than 5 years of working people from coast to coast in workshops, retreats and over email, I realize there is a lot more that can be done. Help me do it. Your contribution will facilitate my contribution.

Other Ways You Can Help

Some people just can’t contribute, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help:

If you can't contribute financially, you can still help:

  • Tell friends about the book
  • Share the Indigogo Campaign
  • Write an Amazon review for the book
  • Tweeting, posting on Facebook and other social media sites

Use the Indiegogo share tools!

Thank you so much!


Find This Campaign On
raised by 33 people in 1 month
32% funded
0 time left
$3,500 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on May 24, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $10USD
    Level 1

    I vow to publicly thank you on Facebook and Twitter.

    5 claimed

    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $20USD
    Level 2

    Copy of the finished Ebook (Kindle or Epub).

    3 claimed

    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $35USD
    Level 3

    Signed softcover version.

    15 out of 25 claimed

    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $50USD
    Level 4

    I vow to give you 30 minutes of personal time on Skype to talk about anything that you want.

    1 out of 25 claimed

    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $75USD
    Level 4.5

    I vow to send you a Power of Vow book cover coffee mug!

    1 out of 10 claimed

    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $100USD
    Level 5

    Your name in the Acknowledgements section of the book.

    2 out of 15 claimed

    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $250USD
    Level 6

    I vow to link to you in the ebook@ Link to your site in the eBook, printed link in the print version. As people read they can click your link and go straight to your site to learn about your work.

    0 out of 10 claimed

    Estimated delivery: June 2013
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