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Tuesday, 15 December 2020 16:23

2020 Dharma Assembly – Safeguarding Beings with Ethical Disciplines

2020 Dharma Assembly – Safeguarding Beings with Ethical Disciplines

On December 14th, 2020, the ceremony for conferring precepts for the deceased was the highlight of the Water, Land, Air Dharma Assembly. Starting from setting boundaries, we’ve entered the network of bodhicitta. Through sincere praying and making grand offerings, we’re leading sentient beings of the six realms to receive the bodhisattva vow.

2020 Dharma Assembly – Safeguarding Beings with Ethical DisciplinesObserving precepts is fundamental. It can safeguard our minds and stay away from karmic delusions. The bodhisattva vow helps one to transform into a noble being from an ordinary one. The dependent arising for attaining Buddhahood is crucial. Therefore, we must uphold our minds with mindfulness and be pious with pure faith. The preliminary requirements for taking the precepts are faith, taking refuge, contrition, and bodhicitta. Sentient beings are obscured by karmic debts. Without sufficient merits, one could hardly encounter the opportunity to generate faith. However, the prerequisite for cultivating faith is none other than sincere contrition. We should strive for the accumulation of merits and the lessening of our obscuration.

After we've developed faith, we should take refuge. Taking refuge is like a voyager finding a lighthouse amidst a vast ocean. It is the reliance for a boat drifting away. We can connect with Buddhas and bodhisattvas by taking refuge. It is to set the direction for navigation. The five precepts of the laity, the eight vows of sojong, and the bodhisattva vow are like the software of navigation. Our wandering life will improve and eventually, we’d come to recognize our primordial awareness. At last, we can uncover the potential that is holistic and positive. This ceremony for conferring precepts for the deceased works in the same manner.

2020 Dharma Assembly – Safeguarding Beings with Ethical DisciplinesBeings of the hell realm suffered gravely by karmic obscurations and obstacles. By receiving the precepts, the power of the precepts can remove the obscurations. A stubborn and unruly mind can transform into a tender and gentle mind. Furthermore, we can recognize our primordial awareness. At the same time, we can realize the Dharmata and that everything is merely the projection of the mind. As a result, we can let go of clinging and fixations. We’d be free from the impartial treatment towards loved ones and resented ones. As we become free from the suffering realms, we can take rebirth in the three upper realms. Even better, one could take rebirth into Dewachen, the Pure Land.

The main practice of the Three Pure Precepts constitutes the Mahayana bodhisattva vow, which we’d be delivering for the deceased.

1.     Ceasing all evil non-virtues: to refrain from evil acts. From the aspect of the practice, we must vow to cut through infinite afflictions. 

2.     Cultivate all virtues: to engage in all goodness. It is to contemplate on the dependent origination and skillful means. We must vow to acquire the infinite Dharma teachings.

3.     Act for the benefit of others: to magnetize and benefit all sentient beings. We must vow to liberate the infinite number of sentient beings with bodhicitta.

2020 Dharma Assembly – Safeguarding Beings with Ethical DisciplinesThe Three Pure Precepts encompass all Dharmas. It is mentioned in The Advice of the Seven Buddhas that one should “refrain from non-virtues, engage in all virtues, purify one's intention”. Then, one approaches the aspiration of, "Buddha's way is unsurpassable, I vow to become it,” from the Four Great Vows. As well, there are ten precepts for the deceased, they are no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no lying, no intoxicants, no speaking of the faults of the fourfold assembly, no praising of oneself but belittling others, not be frugal and ridicule the patience of others, not generating aggression and refusing apologies from others, no slandering of the Three Jewels. By upholding these ten precepts, a pure "body of precept" would arise. It is like a protective shield that prevents one from outer influences. In that sense, our minds would become clearer. We'd gradually see our primordial kindness which is connected to the compassion of Guan Yin (Avalokiteshvara). Lastly, we can return to the original face that is free from duality.

When we engender bodhicitta, we can resonate with all sentient beings. Consequently, a spiritual network is formed. The power and transformation it could offer are phenomenal. Take a look back at 2020, mankind experienced much anxiety from the Covid-19, forest fires, international disputes, and more. Only when we let go of our three poisons (greed, aversion, ignorance), uncover our spirituality, connect with the entity of interdependence, and recognize our interconnectedness – so to transform the environment.

The blessing of the Water, Land, Air Dharma Assembly traverses the three times and reaches all directions. While our deceased friends received the precepts, I hope that you could all engender great bodhicitta as well. With pure precepts and an undefiled mind, may all sentient beings safeguard the harmony and sustainability of planet Earth.

With this prayer in mind and by the merit of receiving precepts, we pray that,

All beings in the Dharmadhatu could refrain from non-virtues, engage in all virtues, purify one's intention.

May the pandemic comes to a swift end. May the deceased be liberated and the surviving ones are free from suffering.

May a global cease-fire come immediately so the planet and the world restore peace.

Namo Amitabha

Extended reading
2020 Dharma Assembly – The Positive Network Beyond Space and Time