FPMT Direct and Unmistaken Method: Practice and Benefits of the 8 Mahayana Precepts
Lama Zopa Rinpoche recommends taking the 24-hour eight Mahayana precept vows on days on which the karmic effects of positive actions are multiplied, such as Buddha days, full moon, new moon, and eclipses.
The eight Mahayana precepts are a powerful and effective way for you to build, maintain and increase deep propensities for spiritual practice and attainment and thus is a profound method for giving meaning to your precious human life. Lama Zopa Rinpoche quotes this passage from the King of Concentration Sutra:
“For ten billion eons equaling the number of sand grains in the Pacific Ocean, if one offers umbrellas, flags, garlands of light offerings, food and drink with a calm mind, or offers service to one hundred billion times ten million buddhas, when the holy Dharma has become extremely perished and the teachings of the Gone to Bliss One have stopped, if somebody who is enjoying (living in) one vow for one day or night, this merit is particularly exalted than having made all those offerings.”
Here we offer a few helpful guidelines for those considering taking the eight Mahayana precepts:
* Whomever you first take the eight Mahayana precepts from does become your guru. Because of this, Lama Zopa Rinpoche says if the student is not ready (or confident) to make that
commitment to that person then it is better for the student to take the precepts from the altar until they are ready to take from someone whom they are willing to accept as their guru.
* It is fine to take the precepts from the altar, although of course having the lineage makes it stronger, but you are still taking and keeping the precepts when you take them from the altar.
* You can take the eight Mahayana precepts before you have officially taken refuge – in fact with faith taking the eight Mahayana precepts is taking refuge, in the heart sense. Anyone who has faith and is sincere is in fact in the heart taking refuge.