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 snacks. 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.
THE ACTUAL PRACTICE
Stand up and make the following prayers with hands together:
REFUGE AND BODHICITTA
Guru is Buddha,
Guru is Dharma,
Guru is Sangha also.
Guru is the originator of all [goodness and happiness].
To all Gurus, I go for refuge. (3X)
To accomplish my and others' aims, I generate bodhicitta. (3X)
PURIFYING THE PLACE
May the ground of all realms be pure everywhere,
Free from roughness of pebbles and stones and so forth,
As even as the palm of one's hand
And smooth as the nature of lapis lazuli.
MULTIPLYING THE OFFERINGS
May offerings of humans and gods,
Those physically offered and those visualized
Become peerless clouds of Samantabhadra,
Pervading entirely all realms of space.
OM NA-MO BHAGA WATE, VENZA SARA TRAMA DANE TATHA GATA-YA AR-HATE SAM-YAK SAM BUDDHA-YA, TEYA-THA, OM-VENZE-VENZE, MAHA-VENZE, MAHA-TEDZA-VENZE, MAHA-VIYA-VENZE, MAHA-BODHI CITTA-VENZE, MAHA-BODHI MAN-DO PA-SAM TRAMA-NA VENZE, SARWA-KARMA AWA-RANA VISHO DANA-VENZE, SOHA (3X)
THE POWER OF THE TRUTH
By the power of truth of the Three Precious Gems
And the blessings of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas,
The power of both the completed collections,
And the pure Dharmadhatu, may these gifts be such.
Protector of all sentient beings,
Destroyer of maras with eternal love,
You fully see each and everything,
Bhagavan and attendants, please come to this place.
Do three actual prostrations while reciting three times:
OM NAMO MAN-JU SHI-RIYE, NAMA SU-SHRI-YE, NAMA UT-TA-MA SHRI-YE SOHA!
Sit down and recite.
HOMAGE TO THE BUDDHA
To the Guru and Founder, the Endowed Transcendant Destroyer, the One Gone Beyond, the Foe Destroyer, The Completely Perfected, Fully Awakened Being, the Glorious Conqueror, the Subduer from the Shakya Clan, I prostrate, go for refuge and make offerings. Please inspire me. (3X)
Respectfully I bow with body, speech and mind.
I present clouds of offerings, actual and imagined.
I declare all non-virtues I did since time began,
and rejoice in the merit of Aryas and others.
Please, remain here until the ending of samsara,
and turn the wheel of Dharma for all the sentient beings.
I dedicate all virtues to full Enlightenment.
LONG MANDALA OFFERING
OM VAJRA BHUMI AH HUM Great, powerful golden base.
OM VAJRA REKHE AH HUM Diamond-hard fence.
This iron fence encircles the outer ring.
In the center Mount Meru, king of all the mountains,
in the East is the continent Purva-Videha,
in the South Jambudvipa,
in the West Apara-Godaniya, and in the North Uttarakuru.
In the East, are the islands Deha and Videha,
in the South, are Chamara and Apara-Chamara,
in the West, are Satha and Uttara-Mantrina,
in the North, are the islands Kurava and Kaurava.
In the East is the treasure mountain,
in the south the wish-granting tree,
in the west the wish-granting cow,
in the north is the unsown harvest.
Here are the precious wheel, precious jewel, precious queen, precious minister, precious elephant, precious horse, precious general and the great treasure vase.
Here are the beauty goddess, garland goddess, song goddess, dance goddess, flower goddess, incense goddess, light goddess and the goddess of perfume.
Here are the sun and the moon.
Here is the precious parasol, the banner of victory in every direction.
In the center all treasures of both gods and men.
This excellent complete collection, I offer this base to You, Great Compassionate One, together with your deity-entourage.
Please accept with your compassion, these offerings made by all suffering beings and bestow your loving blessings, on me and my countless mothers.
This ground I offer, as Buddha-fields, resplendent with flowers, incense and perfume in the center Mount Meru, four lands, sun and moon, may all sentient beings enjoy this Pure Land.
IDAM GURU RATNA-MANDALAKAM NIRYATAYAMI
TAKING THE ORDINATION
Kneel down on your right knee and put your right hand palm on top of your left while reciting the following two prayers:
[*Note: to be said only when taken with teacher.]
All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas dwelling in the ten directions, please pay attention to me. *[Master, please pay attention to me.]
Just as the Tathagatas of the past, the Arhants, the complete and perfect Buddhas who, like the wise horse and the great elephant, have done what was to be done, have performed their tasks, have laid down the burden, have accomplished their own purpose, have cut their ties with existence and who possess perfect speech, well-liberated minds and well-liberated wisdom, have taken fast-day vows for the sake of all sentient beings, in order to benefit them, in order to liberate them, in order to eliminate famine, in order to eliminate sickness, in order that the thirty-seven aids to enlightenment be perfected, and in order that the highest, complete and perfect enlightenment be truly realized, so do I, called [..SAY YOUR NAME..], from now until tomorrow sunrise, for the sake of all sentient beings, in order to benefit them, in order to liberate them, in order to eliminate famine, in order to eliminate sickness, in order that the thirty-seven aids to enlightenment be perfected and in order that the highest, complete and perfect enlightenment be truly realized, take the [Mahayana] fast-day vows." (3X)
After the third repetition, think you have received the ordination in the form of light and that your whole body is radiant with that light.
You should feel very pleased. Remember the Bodhicitta motivation.
PRAYER OF THE PRECEPTS
Henceforth I shall not take life,
I shall not take other's goods,
I shall not do sexual acts, I shall not lie.
I shall avoid all alcohol, the cause of many faults.
I shall not use great or high seats and beds.
Likewise, food at the wrong time, perfumes, garlands, ornaments, dance, song and so forth I shall avoid.
Just as Arhants never do actions such as taking life, I too shall abandon these.
May I quickly gain supreme Bodhi.
May this world, disturbed by many sorrows, be freed from the ocean of samsara.
DHARANI OF IMMACULATE MORALITY
OM AMO-GHA-SHILA-SAM-BHARA, BHARA BHARA, MAHA-SHU-DDHA-SAT-TU PADMA VI-BHU KITE VEN-ZA, DHA-RA DHA-RA, SAMAN-TA, AWA LO-KITE, HUM PHAT SOHA (21X)
By keeping moral law purely and without pride, may we attain the ethics-gone-beyond.
Just like the brave Manjushri and great Samantabhadra have realized the truth of emptiness, I dedicate these merits in their [exalted] ways, that I may follow their perfect example.
Like Tathagatas of all three times have praised as the best dedication there is,
I dedicate all roots of virtue collected, to the excellent conduct of all Bodhisattvas.
PRECEPT DEDICATION PRAYER
May all beings everywhere,
Plagued by sufferings of body and mind,
Obtain an ocean of happiness and joy
By virtue of my merits.
May no living creature suffer,
Commit evil or ever fall ill.
May no one be afraid or belittled,
With a mind weighed down by depression.
May the blind see forms,
And the deaf hear sounds.
May those whose bodies are worn with toil
Be restored on finding repose.
May the naked find clothing,
The hungry find food.
May the thirsty find water
And delicious drinks.
May the poor find wealth,
Those weak with sorrow find joy.
May the forlorn find hope,
Constant happiness and prosperity.
May there be timely rains
And bountiful harvests.
May all medicines be effective
And wholesome prayers bear fruit.
May all who are sick and ill
Quickly be freed from their ailments.
Whatever diseases there are in the world,
May they never occur again.
May the frightened cease to be afraid
And those bound be freed.
May the powerless find power
And may people think of benefiting each other.
Make three prostrations to complete the ceremony.
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