Eight Mahayana Precepts (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Genting View Resort, Malaysia 1997 (Archive #1048)

Audio and transcripts excerpted from a teaching Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave on the Heart Sutra, over four days in Malaysia, in April 1997. Here Rinpoche gives a commentary on and confers the eight Mahayana precepts.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, 2005.
Eight Mahayana Precepts Part A

…normally, that's how they do, so therefore, so during that time, that choice either prostrate or chant OM MANI PADME HUM, whichever you like best.

So it involves visualizing the merit field, the lama who grants the vows and then here it involves visualizing not only essence, not only visualizing, not only meditating from one's own side essence Buddha, not only that visualizing in aspect, so what you can visualize that is in the aspect of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, surrounded the lineage lamas of this Eight Mahayana Precepts, all the lineage lamas of the lam-rim, the steps of the path to enlightenment, then all the ten direction Buddhas, all the bodhisattvas, visualize all those and then in the presence of them then taking refuge and generating bodhicitta.

So one can look at the morning prayers, so one can have a look at the meaning of the prayer, those who are not familiar you can have a look in the meaning in English.

[lama sang gye...]

So next generating the bodhicitta. [prayer]

Next purifying the place, so one thing, visualize Amitabha pure land or whichever deity's pure land one think, that which has no suffering, completely pure place where there's no suffering and where there's perfect enjoyment, best quality, that has all the beauties. Offer to the merit field. [prayer]

So next one, blessing the offerings with the mantra, so blessing the ones that which are performed here, all the lights, all the electric lights here and those candle light offerings, all the offerings that are set up, water offerings. So without thinking water, one should think offering nectar, nectar what Buddha sees, not just any nectar but nectar that which Buddha sees, what Buddha experiences we are offering that, which is highest quality, most pure nectar.

So this way then we collect much more merit, so if we think just offering water, then you get merit just having offered water, but you don't get the greater merit having offering nectar. So flowers, so forth, whatever, everything, so what is performed here, all the lights on the ceiling, all the electric lights in the ceiling, everything, so then due to this mantra, this mantra has power that each Buddha, there are ten directions, there are Buddhas in the ten directions, there are numberless Buddhas, so each Buddha receives skies of offerings due to the power of this mantra. So think all those Buddhas, visualize from one's own side embodiment of the virtuous friend and then each one receives skies of offerings. So one can think, drinking water, nectar offering, then cleaning feet, that offering then also flower, incense, light, scented water, food, music, so forth, so as much as one can think, each one numberless. So blessing both, what is performed here and what is mentally transformed. So therefore this mantra is called mantra of clouds of offerings, so because it makes each Buddha to receive numberless offerings.

[prayer and mantra]

And generated great bliss in all their holy minds. So one visualize the front merit field and all other ten direction Buddhas.

So next, so the extensive offerings can be done here, right after the blessing, or can be done after having recited the offering prayer, from seven limbs, the second one there that which is offering, so can be done also that time. So, when we recite the seven-limb practice, so where it says I'm prostrating with the body, speech and mind respectfully, so even one is not actually doing prostration by whole body lying down on the floor, but if one put palms together like this to the merit field, so this is also prostration, it becomes prostration. So at the same time while you are reciting the prayer, from the seven limbs doing prostration, seven limbs, the first limb, the prostration, as well as reciting the prayer, with that one do the visualization, meditation, numberless of one's own body, either in human form, like mountain ridge, very tall body, so numberless lie down on the ground from all the sides, from the four directions, from the four corners from where, toward the merit field, towards the altar, covered the whole earth from all the directions, lay down doing prostrations, so that is one of the meditations, [gap] one can visualize, one's own body can visualize hundred or thousand, how many, one hundred thousand, how many one can think of, so that many prostrations done, how many bodies one can visualize, one get the same merit as that many actual bodies have done prostrations, same merit one collect.

[seven-limb prayer, first two lines]

So here we're going to do a meditation making extensive offerings. So while we are making offering also we should prostrate at the same time, by putting palms together at the heart. So each time, each group of holy objects one make offering, so at the same time also prostrating to them with the two palms together.

So, just putting two palms together, prostrating to a picture of Buddha, even a statue of Buddha, even a picture of Buddha, one collect eight very important advantages, benefits. It causes to achieve perfect body in next lives, just simply by putting the palms together like this to even a statue of Buddha or a painting of Buddha, a picture of Buddha.

Then next lives, it causes to achieve, to have perfect surrounding people, who support, who help you.

Then third advantage, benefit, then this great merit to be able to live in pure morality, again to be able to practice morality in the next lives, anyway, in the future. Doesn't have to be only next life, it could be also in this life. And then, that which is to be able to live in pure morality, which is the foundation for the realizations of the path to liberation and to enlightenment.

And the next advantage is it creates the cause to have devotion. So without devotion, again no attainment. The devotion is also the root of the path to enlightenment, so without that no attainment. The devotion, not only guru devotion but devotion Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.

Then, having a brave mind, so that can do activities to benefit others among other sentient beings, so having brave mind able to do things, able to accomplish, able to do works for other sentient beings.

Then next one is, one is able to achieve deva, human rebirth in next lives.

Then next one is able to achieve arya path. So the bodhisattva arya path or the arhatship or the bodhisattva arya path, so that one do not experience any more the rebirth, old age, sickness and death, all these things. So that time then one has overcome all these, so cause to achieve this.

Then last one is enlightenment, full enlightenment.

So eight benefits, so eight very important benefits we achieve immediately, the minute we put palms together to even a statue of Buddha or painting of Buddha.

So that means in a temple where there are many thousands, so many thousands of paintings of Buddha or statues of Buddha, so as soon as you prostrate by putting palms together to all these holy objects so you make the best business or the real business that you receive these eight very important benefits from each holy object. So that means so many thousand times, how many holy objects there in the temple, so many thousand times, so as there are many thousands so that many thousand times you collected in that minute or in that few seconds, unbelievable, inconceivable merit one has collected.

So it is same, I normally mention also, if one is looking art book of Buddhas, then also that time same if you put palms together where you are looking through, if you put palms together to every one, to every picture of Buddha like this, then by the time when you finish the book, watching the paintings of Buddhas, the pictures of Buddhas, so there's so many there, so then when you finish the book, looking at it, inconceivable numbers of the eight benefits one has collected, so many times.

So this is something especially when we go to the temples or when we go for pilgrimage, so it's very important to remember, such easiest way, you just need to move two hands, putting together, respecting, so just only that, there's no need great hardships for that, but if it's done then it becomes, because collects unbelievable merit, so therefore it becomes quick way to achieve full enlightenment, it becomes means to achieve enlightenment and it becomes, so because unbelievable merit you collect in such a short time, so it becomes, more extensive merit we are able to collect, that means quicker you become enlightened.

Then also every day in your own houses, towards the altar, so able, even at your own house, so able to, just by the way, by seeing the holy objects even one is able to do like this, again and again, even the holy objects at your own home, so it becomes not only cause to achieve enlightenment, but quick way to achieve enlightenment, such an easy way to practice Dharma. So therefore, more holy objects we have in the house, statues of Buddhas or pictures of Buddhas, more holy objects you have at the house, then so if you do prostrations to all of them, every time when you do prostrations, lying down prostrations or offerings, whatever offering, one tiny, offering one tiny stick of incense or one tiny flower or one tiny light offering, so one can make at the same time towards all the holy objects that which are at home.

So therefore, more, if there are more holy objects there, more pictures of Buddha, more statues of Buddha at home, that means you are more lucky, when those holy objects go away from home, you are giving away your luck, it is mentioned in text. However it doesn't mean one can't, well, in the sense, to one picture of Buddha or statue, by doing prostration, making offering, by doing circumambulation, so all this becomes cause of enlightenment, immediately, first thing it becomes cause of enlightenment, the highest success, then by the way it becomes cause to achieve liberation from samsara, then by the way it becomes cause to achieve all the good rebirth, so forth, all the happiness of future lives, then by the way it purifies negative karma. So therefore, that takes care even this life, to not have obstacles for life, obstacles for health, obstacles for education, obstacles for Dharma practice, especially, so by the way, even without intention, by the way, it helps even for the happiness of this life.

So therefore, so each statue of Buddha, each small picture, even a small picture of Buddha becomes so unbelievably precious for us, that much more precious than, each of these holy objects, one statue of Buddha or one picture of Buddha is much more precious than billions of dollars or the sky filled with wish-granting jewels.

So by making offering to the wish-granting jewel, by prostrating to the wish-granting jewel, by circumambulating the wish-granting jewel, or doing those things, you pile up billions of dollars and you circumambulate or make offering or prostrations, anyway, jewels, that action doesn't become cause to achieve enlightenment, so forth, all the rest. So therefore, that these holy objects, the one statue of Buddha or one picture of Buddha is most, much more, far more wish-fulfilling to us, the real wish-fulfilling jewel than those other materials. How much benefit we achieve, merit we collect, so we achieve from this, by doing these practices with these holy objects, it's like sky, like limitless sky, beyond our concept. So therefore as many as there are one can, able to have, that means more purification and more merit.

So now here going to make the extensive offering. So now all the offerings, all the light offerings in the ceiling and all the offerings here at the altar, the flowers and the nectar, so everything, so if you have garden at home, so lights and whatever there is, if one has flowers in the garden at home, so all together can make offering. So we dedicate the merits for sentient beings, then those animals who died because of growing these flowers, plants, animals, insects who died, they get benefit, all those others who suffered.

So first thing we make offering all this towards the Guru Puja merit field, those who are familiar, then those who are not familiar, anyway, so as I explained before, the lineage lamas of this ordination, then all the ten direction Buddhas, bodhisattvas, so one make offering and then think, so by visualizing embodiment of, from one's own side visualizing them embodiment of root virtuous friend, and then generated great bliss in all their holy minds.


So now we make offering towards the holy objects that which are here and that which are at your home, by visualizing all those pictures of Buddha, statues of Buddha, all are, by visualizing embodiment of the root virtuous friend from one's own side. And generated great bliss in all their holy minds, that which is the essence of the offering, experiencing great bliss in the holy mind of the merit field, that is the essence of the offering.

…and by visualizing embodiment of, in order to collect most extensive merit, then we do the offering practice with guru yoga, visualizing all those holy objects embodiment of the root virtuous friend, from one's own side.


So what we are going to do is, the rest of the part of the, the extending the practice of making offering, I think maybe we do at the end, after having taken the precepts so there's more, because that way the merit is so much increased, it increases so much.

So, two things, so anyway I mention here, so two things that we should remember, two great advantages that we should know, that we should remember, that we should rejoice, by taking the precepts. So one thing is, since the precept is taken, so if it's up to next morning, then continuously you collect merit, since from the time the vow is taken, continuously one collect good karma, collect merit. So if one vow is taken, that much merit, then if it's eight precepts taken, so until tomorrow then eight merits continuously, non-stop, day and night, one continuously create, since from the time the vow is taken. So if it's taken up to the death, then continuously one collect that much merit, during sleep, while one is eating, while one is walking, so even one become coma, you take precepts and you become coma, after having taken precepts, then one become coma that one take rest, taking rest - anyway, I'm joking. So even one become coma, for many years even one stay in a coma, the merit, because the precept, the vow is taken up to the death, so the whole life, so that much merit, how many number of precepts is taken, that much merit, even during the coma one is collecting the merit all the time. So the time that the vow is taken is just a very short time, and then the ceremony itself is short time but in the whole life, since from that time, one collect merit continuously day and night. Then if it's taken up to enlightenment then continuously one collect merit up to enlightenment, like the bodhisattva vow.

So now the second thing, so that's how it makes the life unbelievable, by taking vow, precepts, makes the life so rich, makes your inner life so rich, with cause of enlightenment, cause of liberation, cause of happiness of future lives. Also the cause of happiness of this life.

So on the top of this the other thing is, so the merit, by having taken the vow, for example, Eight Mahayana Precepts, then you make one light offering, one prostration, one tiny flower offering, whatever one, the merit is so much more, so usually that one merit but after having taken the vow, after having taken precepts, offering is same but the merit hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands it increases, merit collected after having taken the vow. So there's huge differences, without any vow, without living in any precept, collecting merit by making offering so forth, making charity, making offering so forth, then after having taken the precepts, then you do these practices there's huge differences. So it becomes incredibly profitable.

So it is mentioned in the sutra text called Heap of Flowers, yeah, might be this way, so there it mentions the person not living, one person took vow, first I start this way, the three realms' sentient beings, they all become wheel-turning king, so who has the most power, wealth, then each of them make oceans of butter and Mount Meru of wicks, then make light offering to Buddhas. So unbelievably huge, inconceivable offering. That and one person by living in the ordination, by taking vow, precepts, then you make a tiny offering, butter size of mustard seed and then size of hair, wick, then you make light offering to Buddha, this merit is far more greater, much more than the previous, all those three realm beings, uncountable number of them, each of them become wheel-turning king, most powerful, wealthy one, then make oceans of butter by putting Mount Merus of wick and then making light offering, huge light offering. So in reality because they are not living in the vow, so then even the offering is unbelievable extensive but merit is much small than that one person who is living in the vow and make tiny offering to Buddha. So these are advantages of living in the vow explained in the sutra.

So therefore, especially Eight Mahayana Precepts is mainly for lay, it's one day, it's mainly for lay to, because Buddha is so compassionate, so skillful, so compassionate, so even though people can't take vow the whole lifetime, so difficult, so it's easy way, still opportunity to practice, to take ordination, to collect so much merit, to achieve the liberation from samsara, enlightenment. So because skillful means, made easy for us sentient beings to liberate from suffering, to achieve enlightenment. So therefore, if we are going to do a lot of charity or something, or going to make extensive offerings at the temple or something, then it's good that day to take Eight Mahayana Precepts, then because the merit is far more greater so therefore, so this is the very wise way to practice Dharma, quick way to achieve enlightenment.

So therefore the rest of the, the extending the practice of making offering, so do later, after having taken the precepts, we just go through the practice of seven limbs. So next one is confession. So think, all the negative karmas, everything is purified in one's own mental continuum, so all the negative karmas that which appear to one's own mind something real from there, which is hallucination, so that non-existent, so look at that hallucination, which means non-existent, so you purify, then it becomes unbelievably powerful purification. You purify by meditating on the emptiness, purified in emptiness, by meditating on the emptiness of negative karma, so this is how should meditate, the practice, when we recite, when we practice the third limb, the confession.

Then next one then, rejoicing.

[seven-limb prayer]

So here now we rejoice. So the way to, if we cannot feel happiness with the merit, then the way, the technique is that, without merit, no happiness at all, no opportunity to have happiness at all. So therefore, the merit, so without merit no opportunity to have any happiness, including enlightenment. So, the merit is so precious, the merit is so important, so precious. Then think, I have collected merit, so much merit in the past, now and which will be collected in the future, so how precious they are, so how happy I am or how wonderful it is or how happy I am that I have collected all this. So, repeat this over and over. All this merit collected by me, past, present and future, so precious, so how happy I am or how wonderful it is. So repeat over and over. So each time when you practice rejoyfulness, meditating on rejoyfulness like this, with your own merit, your merit get increased inconceivable number, skies of merit, it increased. It's like investing money in the stock market or bank, then you get so much interest, so much profit you are making, just putting there, so it's like that. So each time one rejoice the merit double, skies of merit one collect each time. So do this a few times.

[very long pause]

…one rejoice other sentient beings' merit, other sentient beings, then Buddhas and then particularly bodhisattvas, their three time merits. From this they can have so much enjoyment, happiness, their three time merits what they collect, what they have collected, so much happiness, enjoyment, they can have. So how wonderful it is, actually I should create all this merit for them, but their own side, they created all these merits, how wonderful it is. So generating, feeling happiness in your heart. Like how mother feels when her one beloved son or daughter got degree or received billions of dollars or something, then how the mother rejoices, what happened, so what achievement happened to them, so like that, one feel happiness in the heart other living beings that they have collected merit, so how wonderful it is. From this they can have so much success, temporary happiness, ultimate happiness, so then to think over and over. Rejoice. [long pause]

So each time when we rejoice their merits we collect so many times of skies of merit, inconceivable numbers of merits. So for example, Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, the great enlightened being, explained in the lam-rim teaching, that by rejoicing one bodhisattva's one day merit, you get half of the merit, what one bodhisattva collected merit in one day, so half of that one is able to, that much amount one is able to collect. So, now without rejoicing, without doing the practice of rejoicing, then it takes, to collect that much merit, half of the merit that a bodhisattva collect, half their merit, so without practicing rejoyfulness then how long it will take for us to collect that much merit, it is said 13,000 years to collect that much merit. But if we rejoice then in that second, if we rejoice the one day, one bodhisattva's one day merit, if we rejoice, then in that second we collected, how much merit we collected is half day merit, from that one day merit, half. So that means now, bodhisattva is not just one, there are numberless bodhisattvas and there are numberless Buddhas, there are numberless other sentient beings, so that means unbelievable, so many skies of merit we collect by rejoicing all these numberless of other beings. So this is unbelievable, another powerful method, means to quickly to finish, quick way to collect extensive merit, to finish the work of collecting merit and so that means means to achieve enlightenment quickly.

So by rejoicing your own merit it always increases, by rejoicing others' merit whose level of mind is lower than yours, your mind, then you get more merit than what other living being collected. But if the other living being's level of mind is higher than yours, then if you rejoice that other living being's merit then you get half of the merit what other being collected. Just like the example the bodhisattva, oneself who is not a bodhisattva rejoicing one who is a bodhisattva. So example like that.

So now next one is requesting to, those who show, merit field who show the passing away, so to those beings then requesting to have stable life by offering, to have stable life until samsara ends by offering the golden throne beautifully decorated with jewels, with the double vajra in front, the snow lions, four, eight snow lions lifting up, so by offering in the hand, so one can visualize numberless of oneself, not just one but numberless of yourself in all the directions making offering golden throne. Then, absorbed at the throne of the merit field after the request is done.

Then the next one is requesting to turn the Dharma wheel, so numberless of yourself holding Dharmachakra, thousand-spoked, radiating one, golden Dharmachakra then requesting to turn the Dharma wheel.

Then next one, dedication. Due to this merit may I achieve enlightenment in order to benefit for others.

So after the request is done then accepted your request, either in dharmakaya way, which means in silence, they accepted in silence, or rupakaya way, it's saying everyone expresses, Yes, yes, respond to your request.

So visualize numberless of yourself holding, offering golden throne.


Then next, mandala offering. So as it is mentioned in the prayer, so you visualize like that, so whatever, how much elaborate one can visualize, one visualize, so those who are familiar, so at least what the prayer says, so one visualize that. The whole entire universe, so the very short mandala offering, so all those continents one visualize pure realm, golden base and then all those things, also the continents, pure land, so whichever pure land you wish to be reborn, Amitabha pure land or other deity's pure land, so you visualize, transform into pure land. Then think all sentient beings born there, many of them already enlightened in the pure land, and some are on the way to be enlightened, pure land where there's no suffering, only pure enjoyment. So visualizing this way then you create the cause to be born in pure land. In the center the Mount Meru, silver towards one's own side and then ruby on the other side, the west side, then the left side, lapis lazuli and then right side is gold, all those levels, sides of the Mount Meru, jewel like this. On top, the Thirty-three Realm, there's the palace, with all the rich enjoyments and those deva realms.

Then, sun and moon, right side, left side, so one side sun, one side moon. So sun to the left side and moon can be right side, so which numberless suns and numberless moons, which signify the path of method, sun wisdom and moon method. Two paths to achieve two kayas. Then, umbrella, numberless umbrellas, the western side of Mount Meru. The front, eastern side, is towards oneself so back side, so there are numberless umbrellas, beautiful umbrellas, which essence is perfect work for other sentient beings. And then in front of oneself, in the eastern side of Mount Meru, then there's banner, which signifies the perfect works for self, the qualities of cessation; the other one is complete, one has complete qualities of cessation, what is signified by banner, and what is signified by umbrella is complete qualities of realizations.

So by offering this, by making offerings, visualizing the essence are path, then it creates the cause to achieve, to actualize the path to enlightenment within one's own mind. Then from each atom of the universe, beams emitted and each beam carries mandala offerings, whole entire universe. Then from each of those mandalas, atoms of those mandalas, beams emit then again each of these beams carries a mandala offering, so like that, whole sky filled with mandalas, the merit field, each merit field receives whole sky filled with mandala offerings. [pause]

So immediately offer to the merit field, as well as visualize these things... merit field, by visualizing the embodiment of the root virtuous friend.

[short mandala, inner mandala]