Guru Puja (Lama Chopa)
Twice a month, based on the lunar calendar, the practice of Tsog Offering or Guru Puja is done. It is a commitment for those practicing tantra to restore and reaffirm their vows and pledges. However, anyone and everyone is welcome to attend this ritual of making extensive offerings to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, accumulating the positive energy needed to progress along the spiritual path.
Lama is the Tibetan word for Guru, and Chopa is the Tibetan word for offering. Participants can bring food or flowers as offerings. The ritual and offering takes approximately one hour. If you have a bell and dorje, you are welcome to bring them and participate in the ritual. Everyone is invited and it's free.
Taking the Eight Mahayana Precepts: for one day, one can take the precepts to refrain from killing, stealing, any sexual conduct, lying, intoxication, not to take a high or luxurious seat, not to sing, dance or wear ornaments, and not to eat after midday. (The first time, one should receive the precepts from a qualified teacher, thereafter one can take them by oneself.) The Mahayana Precepts, taken before sunrise around 5.30 am.
( Practice text available on our website)
Nyung-Ney (Fasting Retreat)
Nyung-Ney (Fasting Retreat)
Nyung-Ney (Fasting Retreat) is an effective practice for purifying our negativities. The practice was revealed by Bhikshuni Phalmo, a practitioner who suffered from leprosy. She performed this practice for 12 years in conjunction with Chenrezig or Buddha of Compassion (Avalokiteshvara) practice and became a great Siddhi, attaining the Celestial Body. The retreat course involves fasting and multiple daily sessions of prostration and recitation of the sadhana and praises. This is an intensive spiritual practice to purify obscurities and negativities and accumulate merit. The practice involves taking only one vegetarian meal on Saturday and then fasting until an early morning breakfast on Monday. Practitioners will also recite the six syllable Mantra OM MANI PEDME HUNG. This mantra purifies the six seeds of the six realms within oneself and has the effect of pacifying the suffering of all beings. Click here to download the 1000-Arm Chenrezig Practice Text.
Prerequisites: For those who are planning to attend the Retreat, there is a prerequisite of having had either a Chenrezig empowerment or one of the highest yoga Tantra initiation.
Cost of the Retreat: Gyuto Center offers all teachings free of charge, but we request a $60 donation per person for the retreat.
What Are the Eight Mahayana Precepts
The Eight Mahayana Precepts are taken for twenty-four hours. It is especially good to take them on full and new moon days and on special Buddhist days. The essence of this practice is to be mindful of the Mahayana motivation; to take these precepts in order to lead all sentient beings to enlightenment.
Observing precepts for even such a short time has tremendous benefits: one accumulates a great amount of positive potential (merit) in a short time. One will receive pleasant rebirths and eventually will attain enlightenment. One is protected from harm and the place where one lives becomes peaceful and prosperous. One's mind is peaceful and calm; one gains control over one's bad habits; there will be fewer distractions when meditating. One gets along better with others. One will meet the Buddha's teachings in the future and can be born as a disciple of Maitreya Buddha.
The eight precepts are:
1. Avoid killing, directly or indirectly.
2. Avoid stealing and taking things without the permission of their owner.
3. Avoid sexual contact.
4. Avoid lying and deceiving others.
5. Avoid toxicants: alcohol, tobacco and drugs (except for medicinal purposes).
6. Avoid eating more than one meal that day. The meal is taken before noon, and once one has stopped eating, the meal is considered finished. At other times of the day one can take light drinks, but not undiluted whole milk or fruit juice with pulp. Avoid eating black foods: meat, eggs, onions, garlic and radishes.
7. Avoid sitting on a high, expensive bed or seat with pride. Also avoid sitting on animal skins.
8. Avoid wearing jewelry, perfume, and make-up. Avoid singing, dancing or playing music with attachment.
For a precept to be broken completely, four conditions must be present:
1. The motivation is a negative attitude such as attachment, anger, etc.
2. There is an object of the action, e.g. a being that is killed or an object that is stolen.
3. One does the action. If one tells someone else to kill, steal or lie, it is also a transgression.
4. The action is completed, e.g. the being dies before oneself or one thinks, "This is mine.
The rules about food (if you take precepts): You may have a light breakfast and your lunch (as large as you want) must be finished by noon: If this is not possible, eat it as soon as you can. When you have stopped eating for 15 minutes, you cannot eat again until you wake in the morning. No dinner or snakes. No "black foods" such as eggs, meat, onions, garlic and alcohol.
The first time one takes the precepts, it is done from a master. Thereafter, one can do the ceremony before a Buddha image by regarding it as the actual Buddha.
Also called: "The Ritual of Three Parts" this puja is said to be very powerful to eliminate obstacles which occur in one’s life and spiritual practice. It is often performed by lamas for the sake of one who is sick, when the illness is thought to be caused by a class of spirits. This ritual follows the injunctions of the Buddha, who taught that one should not harm any living being, even those who do harm to oneself, and therefore, rather than using wrathful means to harm the interfering spirits, one offers them tormas, praises, and various offerings such as water, flowers, incense, lights, perfume, food, and music.
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