On August 12, 2019, the ceremony for conferring precepts for the deceased was the highlight of the night. The recipients of the precepts include our ancestors and karmic creditors. We have students coming from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Indonesia, and other places to attend the Water, Land, Air Dharma Assembly. This is a place to transform karmas. Let’s transform the karmas stained by the three poisons to purity. This is where ordinary conceptions are turned into wisdom. It is where karmas are transformed into aspiration.
Starting from the understanding at the outer-shrines, we go on a course of contrition. The most important activity of this Dharma assembly is contrition. Transformation can only take place through contrition. Beginning from the Emperor Liang Shrine, the power of contrition has been in effect for days. The energy field generated for the precept ceremony was wonderful! Tonight, the living and the deceased received the refuge vow and the five precepts. On behalf of our ancestors, karmic creditors, and all the deceased, we’ve received the Bodhisattva Vow. May their lives be at a new turning point.
Upon the moment of receiving precepts until the attainment of Buddhahood, our objective is to benefit all sentient beings. The essence of Bodhisattva vow is “bodhicitta”.
“From the moment of aspiring until anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, thus it’s named the bodhisattva vow.” The merit and benefit of precepts can safeguard our mind and keep us away from afflictions. Precepts can ensure that we don’t inflict any harms or troubles on others. When we have a strong intention in receiving the precepts, aversion from non-virtues would take effect spontaneously. As a result, we’d be fulfilling the bodhisattva path for lifetimes to come. The pure imprint is made with the bodhisattva vow until Buddhahood.
Piety is the key for a special feeling to rise. The deceased is in great suffering that they need to rely on the living ones to accumulate merits on their behalves. That way, their karmas can be transformed and become free from suffering. If we invite them with sincere piety, they would surely attend. Together, we recite the sutras, prostrate, contrite, and dedicate the merits. By the compassion of Buddhas and bodhisattvas, the spiritual resonance occurs. All of us would be inspired to the path of Dharma and receive the great blessing of the assembly. The preliminary for conferring the precepts for the deceased starts from genuine conviction, taking refuge. Then, one can return to the origin of life. The genuine bodhicitta can, therefore, be generated.
The main practice of the Three Pure Precepts, the precepts conferred to the deceased. These three are to be observed in lifetimes. They were passed down by the Seven Buddhas of the Past:
1. Ceasing all evil non-virtues: to refrain from evil acts.
2. Cultivate all virtues: to engage in all goodness.
3. Act for the benefit of others: to magnetize and benefit all sentient beings. Furthermore, vow to liberate all beings.
The Ten Bodhisattva Precepts include:
No killing in respecting lives. No stealing is no acquisitiveness of others’ possessions. No sexual misconduct. No lying is to refrain from untruthful speech. No intoxicants. No false words on the fourfold sangha. No praising oneself to speak ill of others. No stinginess. No harboring anger to those who remind you out of good intention. No slandering the Three Jewels.
Precepts are a safety net that provides protection and security. The basis of precepts is emptiness. After receiving the precepts, our mind can be stabilized. The genuine conviction for the Three Jewels will rise after the purification of body and mind. The seed of bodhicitta can be inspired. We can genuinely refrain from non-virtues, engage in all virtues, and purify one's intention. One can practice the Bodhisattva path without ever regressing.
The foundation of the Water, Land, Air Dharma Assembly is to liberate all from suffering. The root of suffering is this very ignorant mind. It is also the source of the five poisons (greed, aversion, ignorance, and affliction). When we are confused about the direction of life, we’d put ourselves and others in suffering. Being lost in falsity without guidance, sentient beings undergo cyclic existence. Besides engaging in virtuous acts, we must commit to Dharma learning on the Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path.
While these teachings are foundational, they are also ultimate. All of you must practice diligently, cultivate right mindfulness, and realize the emptiness of mind. By “emptiness”, it is referring to our mind that is free from phenomenon and materialistic conditioning. The mind is notionless with clarity. Also, we must take sutras, the direct words of the Buddha, as our primary reference. As well, spiritual teachers and friends are the companions and navigator in our course of the journey. The Four-stage Training of Ling Jiou Mountain (LJM) is learning to engender right views. The learning of the Peace Meditation of LJM is a good starting point for everyone. I hope that all of you can become habituated with the practice of ethical disciplines, meditative stabilization, and wisdom. Ethical disciplines act as a guideline of living. Meditative stabilization serves as the direction of living. Wisdom brightens our living with clarity. Integrate Dharma into our living, we’d uphold a steady mindset of unarising and unceasing.
The Water, Land, Air Dharma Assembly is all about liberating beings from suffering and become parted from pain. It serves as a platform for accomplishing great awareness and enlightenment. I’d encourage all of you to recite sincerely to invite our ancestors to receive the bodhisattva vows.