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 Post subject: Eight Mahayana Precepts
PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:33 am 
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Both Mahayana and Theravadin Buddhism has the tradition of taking the eight precepts for a full day (sunup to sunup) for laypeople. In the Theravadin tradition laypeople must take these precepts each time from a monk. In the Mahayana, the first time they take the eight precepts they take them from a monastic and then they can take the precepts on their own.

Taking the precepts accrues a great deal of merit making it a good practice for laypeople.

The precepts themselves are the five precepts - refrain from killing, stealing, harsh speech, alcohol and intoxicants (except medicine), and refraining from sexual activity and additionally refraining from singing and dancing (entertainments, so no TV, but also makeup and perfume), avoid high beds and high seats (this is a reduction in pride and exercise in humility but you can sleep in your normal bed), and avoiding eating after noon (and in some versions eating once and finishing eating before noon as well).

These same vows are taken during Nyung Ne practice but taking the eight vows themselves outside of the Nyung Ne practice is a practice in itself.

Here's a link to Thupten Chodron's teaching on the eight vows
Here's a link to an FPMT teaching on the eight vows

Kirt

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:41 am 
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Karma Chagme mentions the eight vows at the end of chapter 11 of the namthar of Migyur Dorje:

Quote:
In these ways, those who pay homage, circumambulate sacred sites, recite the six-syllable mantra, observe one-day precepts or promise to engage in specific virtuous actions and so on will generate great merit.


The context is how beings can be benefited by practicing in sacred sites and how practice in sacred sites is much more beneficial than practicing at an ordinary site. However the point is that the practice of the eight vows is mentioned as a practice.

Kirt

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 2:24 am 
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Quote:
In the Theravadin tradition laypeople must take these precepts each time from a monk.

Some perspectives...
From my past experience, this is not entirely so. There are some variances.

Again, another perspective is to see:
1. which Theravada Tradition they belong to
2. and the local Sangha customary practices on top of that.

One can even take up the 8 Precepts on their own and then re-take back the 5 Precepts when they are done with the 8 Precepts observances.
If this is not possible then what about those who don't have a local Sangha in their locality or live in great distances away from one? Are they then to be deprived of practicing the Precepts as laity?
Nowhere do I recall in the Pali Canon that states that the basic 5 or 8 Precepts practice for the laity must be received from the Monastic or else their practice of it will not be possible, although for formality sake, it would be ideal and nice as well as solidarity with the local Sangha.

Perhaps those who take it from the Monastics are those: (from what was told to me and experienced)
1. who are doing from a one to few days/months retreat in the Vihara or
2. on one's own accord, approach Them for it.
3. or when they attend an Uposatha gathering in the Vihara, so they receive it collectively.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:17 pm 
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plwk wrote:
Quote:
In the Theravadin tradition laypeople must take these precepts each time from a monk.

Some perspectives...
From my past experience, this is not entirely so. There are some variances.


Excellent news!

Quote:
3. or when they attend an Uposatha gathering in the Vihara, so they receive it collectively.


Mostly Theravadin people in the discussion (this was on esangha) discussed the vows in the context of Uposatha gathering in the local Vihara.

Kirt

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 9:18 am 
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Hi Kirtu,

I am not sure that is entirely true about taking it for the first time from monastics in the Mahayana, or in the Gelug tradition at least. It is more a question of receiving the vows from someone who has them.

It has always been explained to me that one must take them first from someone who actually has the vows and thereafter can take the vows by themselves in front of images of the Buddha, visualised etc. Before giving them to anyone for the first time or not, the preceptor him/herself must take vows - that's all.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:58 am 
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Friday Feb 11 (12th month 8th day Tibetan) is Medicine Buddha Day. This is the last Medicine Buddha Day in this Tiger year. These monthly special days are perfect times to take the Eight Mahayana Precepts or to do Nyung Ney.

Also Losar starts Saturday 5 March. I will be taking the Eight Mahayana Precepts for the entire first month as each day of the first month is 100,000 times multiplied merit (except for the the Full Moon Day in the first month which is one of the four major holidays and multiplies merit 10,000,000 times).

The merit multiplication apparently is a sutric teaching and involves unseen beings, especially devas who are also Dharma practitioners, rejoicing in our meritorious activity.

Kirt

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 3:16 am 
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Dear kirtu,

no one can give you precepts, and you also can not take them. It is wholesome to focus on one and teach your self to keep it honestly. The rest comes by it self. No need to wear a black belt (dan), important is that you do not fall even one would look down on you as you just wear a white belt (dan).

I recommend to abstain just from lying. Abstain from lying we will master all.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:00 am 
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Lama Zopa says:
from a Land of Medicine Buddha page (but you can also find this advice in several of Lama Zopa's books like the "Vajrasattva Retreat" (from memory) and also HE Dezhung Rinpoche said that people should take the Eight Mahayana Precepts on special days):

Quote:
Whatever merit is created on the special Buddha days multiplies. The four special days of our unequaled founder Guru Shakyamuni Buddha are as follows: From the first day of the Tibetan first month until the fifteenth is the great special time of Buddha showing miracle power - such as subduing the Six Founder [mu.tegs.pa or “anti-Buddhists”] and showing miracles with the holy body in different ways on different days. Also, different devas, such as Indra and so forth, and human beings, such as King Sal.gyal, made offerings on these different days, and so forth.

In the Tibetan fourth month, the seventh day is the special day of birth [lit. “coming out”] and the fifteenth is that of conception. Around dawn on the fifteenth is the time of enlightenment. That day is also the special day of passing from sorrow.

In the Tibetan sixth month, the fourth day is the turning of the Dharma wheel. In the ninth month, on the fifteenth Buddha accepted to descend from Tushita, and the twenty-second is the actual descent.

It is mentioned in the Vinaya, in the Treasure Store of Quotation and Logic:

On these four great days, whatever great merit is accumulated increases ten million times. On the days of the solar and lunar eclipse the negative karma or merit again multiples: on the solar eclipse it becomes 100,000 times ten million (Buddha’s day is 10,000 so on special days this is further multiplied), on the lunar eclipse 70,000,000. During these great times and eclipse days whatever merit is accumulated becomes far greater.

If one accumulates merit by depending on these powerful objects, then it is so easy, and with small hardships one is able to collect great merit. This is the highest method.

Therefore, I want to ask people especially to take the eight Mahayana precepts, which is such an easy thing to do - just 24 hours and inconceivable merit with each precept. Then, to take the Bodhisattva vows, do the practice of rejoicefulness, bodhicitta meditation, prostration, Nyung-ne’s and other practices. Accumulate merit with the highest, most powerful objects - the Guru and the Buddhas - whatever one can do.


Kirt

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:07 am 
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mudra wrote:
Hi Kirtu,

I am not sure that is entirely true about taking it for the first time from monastics in the Mahayana, or in the Gelug tradition at least. It is more a question of receiving the vows from someone who has them.

It has always been explained to me that one must take them first from someone who actually has the vows and thereafter can take the vows by themselves in front of images of the Buddha, visualised etc. Before giving them to anyone for the first time or not, the preceptor him/herself must take vows - that's all.


I think you are correct on this. However, it is considered more powerful, and is strongly encouraged, to take vows/precepts of any type from a qualified Mahayana master or from someone who has kept pure vows.

Shaun :namaste:


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 10:31 am 
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zerwe wrote:
mudra wrote:
Hi Kirtu,

I am not sure that is entirely true about taking it for the first time from monastics in the Mahayana, or in the Gelug tradition at least. It is more a question of receiving the vows from someone who has them.

It has always been explained to me that one must take them first from someone who actually has the vows and thereafter can take the vows by themselves in front of images of the Buddha, visualised etc. Before giving them to anyone for the first time or not, the preceptor him/herself must take vows - that's all.


I think you are correct on this. However, it is considered more powerful, and is strongly encouraged, to take vows/precepts of any type from a qualified Mahayana master or from someone who has kept pure vows.

Shaun :namaste:


Agreed, especially for the first time. But as it is an excellent practice, it is good for people to know how they can manage after the first time.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:04 pm 
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From Tulku Thondup's "Enlightened Living": Patrul Rinpoche says in "The Heart Essence, Advice on Two Ethics" - this is advice directed to a young person who has lost their way because their parents died when they were young:

from pg.42
Quote:
Keep the precepts of upavasatha and upasaka.


Upasaka precepts are the five layperson precepts. Upavasatha are the sojong or eight Mahayana precepts observance.

Kirt

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:58 pm 
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zerwe wrote:
mudra wrote:
Hi Kirtu,

I am not sure that is entirely true about taking it for the first time from monastics in the Mahayana, or in the Gelug tradition at least. It is more a question of receiving the vows from someone who has them.

It has always been explained to me that one must take them first from someone who actually has the vows and thereafter can take the vows by themselves in front of images of the Buddha, visualised etc. Before giving them to anyone for the first time or not, the preceptor him/herself must take vows - that's all.


I think you are correct on this. However, it is considered more powerful, and is strongly encouraged, to take vows/precepts of any type from a qualified Mahayana master or from someone who has kept pure vows.

Shaun :namaste:


Hi, I am a bit confused by the title.
I thought the reason why Tibetan people call it 'mahayana precepts' is to show that the vows belong to sutrayana?
In China, we just call them 8 precepts....
I mean, besides if you can receive it by yourself after the first time, and you got to be vegetarian or not, there's no big difference between mahayana one's and Theravada ones?
And my Nyingma Khenpo also told me that you have to get it from a monk once.
I believe it can't normally be given by lay people because only those who have the vow can give other people same vow; that's why a yogi master can't give monk vinaya (unless he attained at least the first Bhumi, base on Mahayana's point of view).
Maybe there are some mahayana texts saying 'if you really don't have a monk sangha nearby', then you can receive it from Buddha statue. I think I have read some similar ones but I am not sure. I think those great tibetan masters must have done a good research on it.

Nyunyel is more different than that, it's a bit more... kriyatantra I think. And traditionally it takes two days, the second day you can't eat, etc.

But I have received a wonderful text written by Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok (I think it's his own terma), which is a Kriyatantra Avalokesrivara sadhana, in the end it says: keep precepts until the next morning.... so actually it's quite like mahayana precepts. And Khenpo told me that I can do it at home since he already gave me LUNG. So it not even requires first time with a monk (of course I still got the teaching from a monk).


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:14 pm 
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narraboth wrote:
Hi, I am a bit confused by the title.
I thought the reason why Tibetan people call it 'mahayana precepts' is to show that the vows belong to sutrayana?


The 8 precept practice in Tibetan Buddhism is expressly motivated by the intention to gain enlightenment for all beings. In the Theravadin observance the intention is to purify and accumulate merit for oneself. The practice is most often written of in a Gelug context and these writings and websites usually call the practice the Eight Mahayana Precepts. However the actual practice is the same.

I don't think my Sakya lama has referred to them as the Eight Mahayana Precepts but just as sojong.

Quote:
I mean, besides if you can receive it by yourself after the first time, and you got to be vegetarian or not, there's no big difference between mahayana one's and Theravada ones?


I haven't done the practice in a Theravadin context (although I intend to this year) but my understanding is that there is no real difference in the practice itself.

Quote:
And my Nyingma Khenpo also told me that you have to get it from a monk once.
I believe it can't normally be given by lay people because only those who have the vow can give other people same vow;


In Tibetan Buddhism you take it once from a lama or a monk and then you can take it on your own before a Buddha rupa. So after you have taken the vows once you can take them from a lama or monk again but they are often busy and can't often give them twice a month or more. So afterwards one can take them on their own.

You can actually take the vow from a layperson if they are currently holding the vow. I doubt that that is done nowadays though.

In fact Jamgon Kongtrul addresses these questions in "Ethics".

Quote:
Nyunyel is more different than that, it's a bit more... kriyatantra I think. And traditionally it takes two days, the second day you can't eat, etc.


Nyung Ney is in fact a kriya tantra practice. But Khenpo Norgay (Palyul) has said that it is a kriya yoga tantra practice with a highest yoga tantra result (i.e. Nyung Ney can actually result in complete enlightenment after death).

Actually my local Sakya lama emphasizes the Eight Mahayana Precept practice and our local nun says that it is because HE Dezhung Rinpoche emphasized it.

However many of the local Palyul students try to fit a Nyung Ney in once a year just before the Palyul retreat in New York. Various Nyingma and some Kagyu groups are increasingly offering Nyung Ney practice.

Quote:
But I have received a wonderful text written by Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok (I think it's his own terma), which is a Kriyatantra Avalokesrivara sadhana, in the end it says: keep precepts until the next morning.... so actually it's quite like mahayana precepts. And Khenpo told me that I can do it at home since he already gave me LUNG. So it not even requires first time with a monk (of course I still got the teaching from a monk).


WOW! Excellent! :applause:

Kirt

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:56 am 
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Hi Kirt, just a quick note: in the Gelug tradition it is not unknown to receive these from a lay Lama, and then those lay people (non-lamas) who have received them and teach can give them as well as long as they have taken themselves (that morning) before giving them.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:08 am 
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From "Buddhist Fasting Practice: The Nyungne Method of Thousand-Armed Chenrezig" by Wangchen Rinpoche - an excerpt on situating the Mahayana Eight Precepts within aspiring Bodhicitta:

Quote:
While the eight precepts are the same, there is a slight difference between taking the general eight precepts and the mahayana eight precepts, which is referred to as the Restoring and Purifying Ordination. The mahayana eight-precepts vow is taken by spiritual practitioners on the path of the Great Vehicle (mahayana). Taken in the context of the mahayana tradition, you are not only making a commitment to abide by the vow, but you are also making a completely enlightened commitment, meaning a bodhisattva commitment. This vow is aspiration bodhichitta, meaning generating the enlightened aspiration to benefit all sentient beings, and you must receive it from an authentic teacher within the lineage of the vow. Once you
have received it from an authentic teacher, you can take the vow by yourself from then on. Although the commitment of preserving the eight precepts is only for a period of twenty-four hours, the aspiration bodhichitta associated with it will remain until your enlightenment; that is, if you do not violate the aspiration bodhichitta.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:54 pm 
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More Eight Mahayana Precepts material! Here is Lotsawa Tony Duff's translation of the ritual for taking the Eight Mahayana Precepts together with some commentary.

Kirt

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