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Taking the Eight Mahayana Precepts
Having made three prostrations, kneel on your right knee with your hands together in prostration and your head and shoulders bowed, visualize Guru Avalokiteshvara before you, generate the profound bodhichitta motivation for taking the precepts, and repeat three times:
All buddhas and bodhisattvas dwelling in the ten directions, please pay attention to me. Just as the previous tathagathas, foe destroyers, perfectly completed buddhas who, like the divine wise horse and the great elephant, did what had to be done, performed actions, laid down the burden, subsequently attained their own welfare, completely exhausted the fetters to existence, and had perfect speech, well-liberated minds, and well-liberated wisdom, for the welfare of all sentient beings, in order to benefit, in order to liberate, in order to eliminate famine, in order to eliminate sickness, in order to fully complete the thirty-seven practices harmonious with enlightenment, and in order to definitely actualize the unsurpassed result of perfect, complete enlightenment; similarly, also I, who am called [say your name], from this time until sunrise tomorrow, for the welfare of all sentient beings, in order to benefit, in order to liberate, in order to eliminate famine, in order to eliminate sickness, in order to fully complete the thirty-seven practices harmonious with enlightenment, and in order to definitely actualize the unsurpassed result of perfect, complete enlightenment, shall perfectly undertake the restoring and purifying ordination.
Upon completing the third recitation, think that you have received the vows in your continuum and rejoice. Then regenerate the thought of bodhichitta, the altruistic aspiration to attain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings, by thinking:
Just as the foe destroyers of the past have abandoned all misconduct of body, speech, and mind, such as taking the lives of others, so shall I, for the sake of all beings, abandon for one day these wrong actions and devote myself to the pure practice of the training.
The Commitment Prayer to Keep the Precepts
From now on I shall not kill,
Steal others’ possessions,
Engage in sexual activity,
Or speak false words.
I shall avoid intoxicants,
From which many mistakes arise.
I shall not sit on large, high, or expensive beds.
I shall not eat food at the wrong times.
I shall avoid singing, dancing, and playing music,
And I shall not wear perfumes, garlands, or ornaments.
Just as the arhats have avoided wrong actions, such as taking the lives of others,
So shall I avoid wrong actions such as taking the lives of others.
May I quickly attain enlightenment,
And may the living beings who are experiencing the various sufferings
Be released from the ocean of cyclic existence.
The Mantra of Pure Morality
Recite twenty-one times:
OM AMOGHA SHILA SAMBHARA / BHARA BHARA / MAHA SHUDDHA SATTVA PADMA BIBHUSHITA BHUDZA / DHARA DHARA / SAMANTA / AVALOKITE HUM PHAT SVAHA
Prayer to Keep Pure Morality
May I maintain faultless morality of the rules
And immaculate morality.
May the perfection of moral conduct be completed
By keeping morality purely and untainted by pride.
Make three prostrations.
May the supreme jewel bodhichitta
That has not arisen, arise and grow;
And may that which has arisen not diminish
But increase more and more.
Because of the merits of taking the ordination and keeping the precepts, may I and all sentient beings achieve the two enlightened holy bodies created by the two vast accumulations of merit and transcendental wisdom.
Dedication from His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama
Reading about the Eight Mahayana Precepts, observing them, or even rejoicing when others observe such practice creates great positive potential in our minds. In order that this [positive potential] be of greatest benefit to ourselves and others, it is very helpful to dedicate it following the example of the bodhisattva Shantideva:
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.
- H. H. Trijang Dorje Chang, from his Collected Works, commentary by Trusang Rinpoche.
- H. H. Trijang Dorje Chang, A Whole Single Collection.
- H. H. Trijang Dorje Chang, The Method for Taking the Mahayana Precepts Written in a Clear Explanation As an Ascending Stair to the Mansion of Great Purification.
- Geshe Lamrimpa (in Tibet).
This section of taking the eight Mahayana precepts has been compiled on the basis of the original booklet published by Wisdom Publications entitled A Direct and Unmistaken Method, by Lama Zopa Rinpoche. The English versions of the prayers of taking the precepts, the commitment prayer, and the prayer to keep pure morality have been lightly edited using the translations in A Direct and Unmistaken Method and those of Ven. George Churinoff, edited by Ven. Thubten Dondrub and Jampa Lamsang, in the Nalanda Prayer book by Ven. Constance Miller, FPMT Education Services, February 2001.
Statements of Appreciation
A few days ago I completed a year of retreats…at two FPMT centres (though I have visited and am very familiar with several others). The staff of the two centres could not have been kinder and more supportive. It is especially through appreciating their cultures of care and support for retreatants that I have renewed my admiration for the FPMT, and thereby for your [Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s] extraordinary holy activity for sentient beings…
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