The Liturgy for the Eight Precepts taken the transmission by lay people themselves
Venerable Guochi 20161221
Buddha realized that all living beings’ suffering comes from their previous negative karma, and so he developed the Eight Precepts for lay people to purify it. In order to facilitate people who learn Buddhism at home, they can undertake the precepts by their own in front of the Buddha statue. (Satyasiddhi-sastra says, “If there is no preceptor, one can read with a sincere heart that, I,________(state your name), devote to observe the eight precepts today. ) The dates for taking the Eight Precepts are called six vegetarian days, which are the 8th, 14th, 15th in the first half of the (lunar) month, the 23rd, and the last two days of the month. But Of course, if you are unavailable to follow the dates in some circumstances, you can observe the precepts earlier or later at your convenience. So, it is very flexible and convenient for lay people to take the precepts. It only takes about ten minutes to undertake the Eight Precepts in front of the Buddha statue. For example, we take the precept in front of the Buddha statue at 7 am this morning, follow the rules of the precepts, until the dawn of tomorrow when there is just a little light, the one day session completes.
【The Liturgy for the Eight Precepts taken the transmission by lay people themselves】
1.) First bow, prostrate three times, knee down and join palms
I, (state your name) observe the Eight Precepts in front of the Buddha
May the Three Jewels, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, heavenly beings and those in the spirit realms witness the transmission of the precepts. Make my root of evil can be perished. Make my practices and vows be fulfilled.
2.) Repenting (Visualize that you receive the compassion of the Three Jewels. All the karmic deeds are being cleaned by repentance)
I, (state your name)
All bad karma created by me, coming from greed, hatred, and ignorance since time without beginning, Arising out of body, speech and mind,
In front of all Buddhas I now repent.
(Recite three times, and prostrate while kneeling)
3.) Take Refuge (Recite and prostrate three times while kneeling)
I, (state your name)
Take refuge in the Buddha, take refuge in Dharma, take refuge in Sangha
For one day and one night as the Upāsaka who observes ascetic practices. The Tathagata’s true and proper enlightenment is my World Honored One.
4.) Finish Taking Refuge (Recite and prostrate three times while kneeling)
I, (state your name), have taken refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. For one day and one night as the Upāsaka who observes ascetic practices. The Tathagata’s true and proper enlightenment is my World Honored One.
5.) Recite and prostrate three times while kneeling
If I, (state your name), have bad bodily acts, bad verbal acts and bad mental acts, they are caused by greed, anger, and delusion. If I have had such sins in my current life and my previous lives, I repent wholeheartedly today, purify the Three Karmas of body, speech, and mind. Receive and keep the eight precepts.
- To undertake the precept to refrain from taking of life to the end of my life as the Buddha, I, (state your name), do not take of life for all of this day and night.
- To undertake the precept to refrain from taking things not given to the end of my life as the Buddha, I, (state your name), do not taking things not given for all of this day and night.
- To undertake the precept to refrain from engaging in sexual intercourse to the end of my life as the Buddha, I, (state your name), do not have sexual intercourse for all of this day and night.
- To undertake the precept to refrain from telling of lies to the end of my life as the Buddha, I, (state your name), do not tell of lies for all of this day and night.
- To undertake the precept to refrain from taking of intoxicants to the end of my life as the Buddha, I, (state your name), do not take of intoxicants for all of this day and night.
- To undertake the precept to refrain from wearing garlands, using perfumes, and beautifying the body with cosmetics to the end of my life as the Buddha, I, (state your name), do not wear garlands, perfumes and cosmetics for all of this day and night.
- To undertake the precept to refrain from lying on a high or large bed, dancing, singing, playing of musical instruments and watching of entertainments to the end of my life as the Buddha, I, (state your name), do not lie on high or large bed, dance, sing, play of musical instruments and watch of entertainments for all of this day and night.
- To undertake the precept to refrain from partaking of food at the wrong time to the end of my life as the Buddha, I, (state your name), do not partake of food at the wrong time for all of this day and night.
6.) Vow (Knee down, recite once)
I, with this merits of receiving the eight precepts, requite the fourfold kindness, benefit all the sentient beings universally, and may all be reborn in Pure Land.
Do not fall into the three evil destinies and eight circumstances where it is difficult to hear the Buddha’s teaching. Absorb the evils of all sentient beings with this merit, and actively bestow all merits to beings, to help them attain peerless perfect enlightenment. Wholeheartedly vow to pay homage to the Triple-gem, collect the mind to recite the Amitabha’s name, to be reborn in the West Land of Ultimate Bliss. See the Buddha when the flower opens, come back to the Saha world to save the people who are suffering, practice the Bodhisattva Way, and widely deliver innumerable sentient beings.
7.) Transfer of Meirts (Conclusion of the Precepts, stand up, bow, and three prostrations)
The merits of receiving the precepts are most auspicious. I hereby transfer all the limitless merits. May all sentient beings. Wish all indulged sentient beings, peed to Amitabha Buddha land.
Homage to all the Buddhas and great Bodhisattvas in the ten directions in the past, present and future. Homage to Mahaprajnaparamita.
The Eight Precepts is the bridge between death and life, the torch to cast out the darkness of all delusion. “Bodhisattva Dwelling in the Womb Sutra” says that the Eight Precepts is the parents of all Buddha. No matter clergy or laity, male or female, all should observe the precepts. Adult male lay disciple, adult female lay disciple and the rest good men and good women, should observe this Precepts to be the ladder of transcending the world. The five classes of disciples – bhikkhu, bhikṣunī, novice monk, novice nun, Śikṣamāṇā should observe the precepts again. That is because even though the form of the Eight Precepts is included in the Sramanera Precepts and Bhikshu Precepts, to advance merits, one can take these precepts again. Here I list the twelve merits of observing the Precepts. Under each one, I quote the facts of causes and effects stated by the Buddhas in Sutras as approvals. By doing this, I wish all the destined people motivate the mind of faith and delight.
The merits of observing the Eight Precepts
The merits of observing the precepts cannot be known without the Buddhas’ wisdom, cannot be believed without the Buddhas’ talks. Here we list the quotes from sutras to approve.
<1> Extricate from suffering of illness
Those who want to keep healthy, or relieve from illness should observe the precepts. According to Sutra of the Nine Difficulties, Buddha said the nine causes of dying an unnatural. The first four causes result from indulgent eating and drinking, and the fifth results from obstructed gastrointestinal problem. So, we can tell how appropriate eating and drinking can affect our physical health. If we follow the regulation made by the Buddha to fast after noon, then there will no indigestion, no Immune system disorders. Our minds can easily settle, do not feel drowsy, and our bodies can be at ease without illness。Note: The same Sutra says that there are five benefits not eating after noon, which are low sexual desire, less sleep, single-mindedness, no Immune system disorders, body is calm and at ease, and no indigestion. Also, Medicine Buddha Sutra says, “If a sick person who wants to relieve from illness, who can observe the Eight Precepts for seven days and seven nights.
<2> Remove karma obstacles
Those who want to repent karma obstacles should take the precepts. Sūtra of the Upāsaka Precepts says, “One who takes the Eight Precepts will eliminate Five Offences, and the rest of the hindrances will all be removed. According to the Nirvana Sutra, Buddha said, “There was a butcher, named GuangEr, in Varanasi States. He killed innumerable goats day after day. Then he saw Sariputra, and took the Eight Precepts for one day and one night. Due to the merits the butcher cultivated, he had a rebirth becoming Virupaksa’s son after he died. Even the butcher created such big felony of killing, the negative karma can be eliminated by the merit of taking the precepts, not to mention the other misdemeanors.
<3> Avoid unexpected disaster
Those who want to live in peace and security, and avoid unexpected disasters should take the precepts. The Caturmahārājakayikas Sutra Says, “If someone takes the precepts somewhere, devil will keep away, and the place will be in peace and security. As a result, take the precepts during Six Vegetarian Days will cultivate more merits.” Also, the Dharma-phrase sutra says, “King Udayana’s queen persevered with keeping the precepts without responding the king’s summons during the uposatha observance days. After three unanswered summons, the king got mad. He sent someone to drag the queen out of the room, and planned to shoot her. However, the launched arrows turned the direction to the King. He tried several times, and arrows all turned to him. The King was shocked. He asked the Queen what mystery she had made to make this happen? The Queen answered, “Only ministration of the Buddha, Homage to the Three Jewels. Follow the precepts without eating after noon, as well as the rest of eight rules. This is able to happen should due to the kindness of the Buddha.” The King then went to the place where the Buddha resided with the Queen. He listened to the Buddha’s teachings, and felt comprehensive and joyful.
<4> Depart from evil destinies
Those who usually behave in a disorderly manner, and worry about falling to evil destiny should take the precepts. The Sūtra of the Ten Good Karmas as Precepts says, “Those who observe the Eight Precepts, will firstly, not falling into hell; secondly, not falling into the beast road; thirdly, not falling into hungry ghost road, and fourthly, not falling into Asura Road. So, these eight precepts are also called the Eight Self-Restraining Methods.
<5> Attain enriched Blessed Rewards
Those who worry about suffering from hunger because living in the world in chaos where food is very expensive, should take the precepts. According to a Sutra, “Taking the precepts for one day can attain grain surplus of six hundred thousand periods.” Quote from another Sutra, “Being the King of Jambudvīpa was a treasure among human beings, because he could be at ease in everything, but the blessed rewards he attained were less than one-sixteenths of observing the eight precepts.” Buddha told King Pasenadi that the blessed rewards of observing the precepts are enriched. Such as sixteen kingdoms gave alms of all of their treasure, the merits of the giving were not as good as Mālika who took the precepts for one day and one night. Compare with the merits of taking the precepts and giving, they are like Mt Sumeru and bean.
<6> Speed Fulfillments
Those who are aged and weak, and worry about not long for this world; or who are imprisoned and are in imminent danger of death should take the precepts if they want to achieve the most auspicious merits in a very short period of time. The Eight Precepts can be taken in one day and one night period. Even the time frame is short, the merits are auspicious. A story from a Sutra that the concubine of a King who only had seven days left to live, asked for the King’s permission to become a nun. Due to the deep affection to the concubine, the King hadn’t agreed with her request until the sixth day. The concubine then left home right away and received the Eight Precepts. She died in the morning of the seventh day, and was reborn in celestial realms. Also, the Sutra of the Meditation on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life says, “King
Bimbisara was incarcerated by Prince Ajatashatru, he prostrated to the Buddha, and asked Maudgalyayana to transmit the Eight Precepts to him. That’s because taking the precepts can speed fulfillment.
<7> Be distinguished in future life
Those who want to be distinguished in the future life should take the precepts. According to a Sutra, “When the former king was still alive, a little child received and held the Eight Precepts with the king. After the child died, he was reborn to be the king’s son. He could have such distinguished birth was due to taking the precepts.” At another Sutra, The Sutra of Gandhara , “The Buddha said, at the time of Kanakamuni Buddha, King Gandhara and an ox were brothers. Both of them were uasakas. King Gandhara observed the precepts for one day and one night. He was very dedicated to follow the rules with no slack. So, in this life he can be the king.” Also, the One Hundred Buddhist Parables says, “the Buddha said, at the time of Kashyapa Buddha, two Brahmins received and held the Eight Precepts. One wished to be reborn in celestial realms, and the other one wished to be born as a king. However, all Brahmins convinced these two Brahmins to eat with them. One who wished to be reborn in celestial realms broke the precept of fasting, so his wish didn’t come true. The other Brahmin who kept the rule of fasting is now a king.”
<8> Attain rebirth in the celestial realms
Those who want to be reborn in celestial realms should take the precepts. One sutra says, “One Lakṣmī had very good and delicate features. All the divinities were amazed by her rare beauty. Śakradevānāmindra asked her how she could get this blessed reward. The laksmi replied that she took the Eight Precepts in her past life at the time of Kashyapa Buddha. The same Sutra says that one day five hundred princesses who were very eminent and elegant came to visit the Buddha in Srovasti. Ananda asked the Buddha what the causes and conditions made the five hundred princesses be born like what they were. The Buddha said that once upon the time, there were five hundred sons of the Dragon King that observed the Eight Precepts. After they died, they all were reborn in Trayastrimsa. The current five hundred princesses are the past five hundred sons of the Dragon King.
<9> Help be reborn in the Pure Land
Those who want to be born in Pure Land should take the precepts. Quote from a sutra that “if beings that are born in the middle form of the highest grade take and practice the Five Precepts, the Eight Precepts, various great commandments, not violate the ban of not talking about the faults of monastics and laity Buddhist, and transfer the merits of these good qualities, seek to be born in Sukhāvatī – the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss”. Also, “If the beings who be born in the middle form of the middle grade observe the Eight Precepts, and the fasting for one day and one night, or observe the prohibitive precept for Sramanera for the same period, and by bringing their respective merits to maturity seek to be born in Sukhavati. Approved from the Sutra, those who want to be reborn in the Pure Land should observe the precepts.
<10> Be happy at the Last Moments of Life
Those who dedicate to chant the Buddha name in their daily lives, but haven’t achieved one single mind with no delusion, nor feel confident about their after lives, should observe the Precepts. According to the Medicine Buddha Sutra, “Those who receive and uphold the Eight Precepts for one year or even for three months, they will have established good roots. Due to their cultivation, they wish to be reborn in Amitabha Buddha’s Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss after death. However, they may not have yet fully developed the necessary resolve to be reborn there. In this circumstance, when they approach the end of life, if they hear the name of the Medicine Buddha of Pure Crystal Radiance, eight great bodhisattvas will come to their aid: Manjushri Bodhisattva, Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, Maha Bodhisattva of Great Power of Heal and Save, Unlimited Intention Bodhisattva, the Medicine King Bodhisattva, the Supreme Bodhisattva, and Maitreya Bodhisattva. Gliding through the sky, they show these beings the path to the Pure Land of numerous precious multicolored blossoms, which each is instantly reborn in the heart of the flowers.” So, those who are habitually receive and uphold the precepts purely and peacefully, even they haven’t fully cultivated enough good roots to see the Amitabha Buddha at the last moment of their lives, they can see the eight great bodhisattvas come to show them the path to the Pure Land. The Buddha wouldn’t deceit us. If practitioners believe in Buddha’s words with strong faith, they won’t be hurried or terrified. Due to the Medicine Buddha of Pure Crystal Radiance’s vow, the Pure Land practitioners obtain great security when the end of their lives. So, Master Ou-I wrote in one of his books that “If someone is suffering from arthrodynia of extremities and all of the family members depart at the end of his life, thinks over that with the merits of upholding the pure precepts, he won’t need to worry or scare but feel peace in body and mind instead.”
Wish my fellow Pure Land practitioners uphold the pure precepts to grape the last moment of happiness.
<11> Aquire the idealized appearance
Those who admire and are delighted with the Buddha’s idealized appearance, and wish themselves can be born as such excellent physical body as the Buddha in their future lives should take the precepts. The Sutra of Dirghanakhabrahmacārin says, “A Brahmin asked Buddha how he could acquire all of his good physical characteristics? Buddha replied his questions one by one that what good karma he cultivated for acquiring these effects as below:
Question: How to acquire indestructible, diamond – like state of body?
Answer: It resulted from not killing sentient beings in previous lives
Question: How to acquire the long fingers and having netlike lines on palms?
Answer: It resulted from not stealing in previous lives
Question: How to acquire the godlike form and countenance, as well as complete roots of sensations?
Answer: It resulted from not having sexual intercourse in previous lives
Question: How to acquire large and long tongue that large enough to cover the whole face?
Answer: It resulted from not telling lies in previous lives.
Question: How to acquire an immense torso, like that of a lion?
Answer: It resulted from not taking intoxicants in previous lives.
Question: How to acquire the subtle and completely perfect forms?
Answer: It resulted from not sing, dancing, playing music instruments and entertainment in previous lives.
Question: How to acquire the smell-naturally-good body?
Answer: It resulted from not wearing perfumes and ornaments in previous lives.
Question: How to acquire high and rich throne and bed as those made of jewels and so forth?
Answer: It resulted from not lying on high and big bed in previous lives.
Question: How to acquire forty white and even-spaced teeth?
Answer: It resulted from not eating in inappropriate time in previous lives.
Question: How to acquire royal-turban head?
Answer: It resulted from revering to wherever and whoever should be in respect of, executing full prostration with no arrogance. Worship devotedly.
At that time, the Brahmin saw the Buddha explained the law of cause and effect for him, and then asked the Buddha, “How to name the above refrains? How to receive and hold them?” The Buddha said, “This is called the Eight Precepts. If someone can receive and hold the Eight Precepts for one day and one night, or even longer under the guidance of a preceptor, will attain such glorious and radiant fruit and benefits”
<12> Help accomplish the Buddhahood
Those who want to speedily accomplish Buddhahood should receive and observe the precepts. According to the Agama Sutra, “Keeping the eight precepts can cease taints, and enter Nirvana.” Also, “Those who wish to become Sravaka or Pratyeka Buddha, their wishes will come true. “ The Sutra of Miscellaneous Jewels says, “When the Buddha was in Rajagriha, Devadatta went to where the Buddha resided, swore the Buddha in harsh language. Ananda heard and had very strong aversion. He drove Ananda out of the place. So, the Buddha talked Ananda the causation about himself, Ananda and Devadatta.” Observing the Eight Precepts can eliminate Five Offences and the rest of the hindrances will all be removed.