Turning point of Life – Reflections on Eight Purificatory Precepts and Chanting
Written by Tung Yun-Na
Translated by Brenda Lu
In the past, I have been participating Eight Purificatory Precepts and Chanting in mornings during numerous seven-day retreats of Buddha recitation, to me, the practices were never a particular way to cultivate Buddha’s virtues. After watching Master Sheng Yen’s video regarding precepts and listing to the compassionate sermon of Venerable Guo Chi, I realized the true meaning and merits of eight precepts. Since then, their sermon on the purpose of eight precepts was clearer to me and thus I understand how it nurtures sentient beings.
Life is just like a long river and once in a while we encounter unexpected waves. One encounter in a lifetime will change our perceptions of life. Ven. Guo Chi hoped every participant change inside out completely by practice the eight precepts. I knew it wouldn’t be me because I never had such good luck and advantageous rewards. All my life, I got my tiny merits through walking hardly step by step in windy storms. Those tiny merits were marked as a shallow ripple in my life.
During the Precepts rituals, reciting Buddha’s name is like an impregnable golden shield covering my body all the time. Sometimes, I was aware of distracting thoughts due to external objects. Reciting the Buddha’s name helped me to practice correct mindfulness. Venerable Guo Chi kept reminding us to take the day as the last day of our life. When my hands played the ground bells, I thought of many participating practitioners and sentient beings. At this moment, their Dharma-body and wisdom count on reciting the Buddha’s name. Therefore, it reminded me to focus on mindfulness with fear to fail the meaning of Buddha recitation. The harmonious uniformity chanting of Buddha’s name was like the heavenly sound and the land glowed luminously.
After I received Eight Precepts under Master Sheng Yen at Pine Bush Retreat Center 16 years ago, I always remembered the words Master Sheng Yen said, “It is a true Bodhisatva who transgresses the precepts. On the contrary, it is non-Buddhist who never transgresses the precepts.” These words changed my life regarding taking responsibilities, introspection and facing mistakes, especially confession. Due to nescience, I was unaware when I made mistakes and it prevented me from seeing my sins occurred tens of kalpas ago. This time, participating the Eight Purificatory Precepts and Chanting to Buddha, I confessed my sins of words, thoughts and deeds through chanting sincerely and prostrating respectfully on the ground. When I repented, I vowed to let go those obstacles that I seized mistakenly without regret and those barriers that I got due to grudge without complaining.
Having performed the Buddhist ceremonies on the severe winter night, I dragged my tiresome body and prepared to drive home. In the parking lot, a senior Buddhist cultivator, Ms. Su, softly said, “Venerable Guo Chi is still standing outside.” At that moment, I saw Venerable Guo Chi gently waved goodbye to us with smile when the cold wind blown her long gown on her petite body which made her like a erectly standing lighthouse in a severe storm. This image made my tears rolling. Venerable Guo Chi devoted her whole life to help the sentient beings to relieve from sufferings. She lets go the family bonding of herself and takes the responsibilities of greater self that Buddha represents. Not like her devotion of life with whole body and mind, we got away the secular world shortly for just one day and one night. We are lucky to obtain moments of purification and tranquilness and be able to plant good roots to relieve from sufferings and to cultivate this precious spiritual affinity, otherwise we fail the meaning to live in Buddha’s family.