Saturday, May 13, 2006

Taking the 8 precepts

At about 10.45pm on Wesak eve, i was happily tired, showered and wrapped snugly in bed. While Webby was showering, i logged on idly to see who was on MSN. Joe popped me and invited Faery in.. saying URGENT... i said what's up? He said can we come to the 8 precepts ceremony at Damekhang. It wasn't compulsory but TR had said it would be good if the writers could come. Without hesitation, I said sure.. what time? He said oh..11 to 11.15!

Webby and I promptly went into hyperdrive, picked up Faery on the way and rushed to DK. In the car, we all said we weren't going to take the precepts and just observe. When we stumbled in breathlessly, TR was already there. With about twenty people sitting reverently on the floor in front of him. Stunned into stupidity by everything (they say moving too fast drains the blood from your brain - well, that's my excuse), we even forgot to prostrate to our Guru! Anyway, we quickly settled down and TR warmly welcomed us, explaining to the audience that we were just there in our capacity as writers and then he began his talk on the eight precepts.

The precepts are basically promises in front of Lord Buddha to do something for the benefit of others. The reason to take vows is to give a positive messsage to our sub-conscious mind that we are good people and that we can be better, and that we are better. That we want to focus our energy and mind on something higher.

The Mahayana vows were specifically for lay people who wanted to have a clearer feeling about Dharma practice. Taking vows mean taking responsibility. Taking vows means that we directly cut off any negative distractions that are negative attachments which we have, and on a higher level, to indirectly cut the roots of negative actions.

I learned something interesting - if you do something without a vow.. eg if you don't drink alcohol, it's neutral. You don't gain any merit. But if you take vows, you collect merits for NOT doing the things you vow not to do. So if you don't do something anyway e.g. you don't drink alcohol, you might as well vow not to, so at least you gain merits for that. In my mind, I was thinking that's not really fair. It's not really giving up something if you don't like it anyway. As usual, TR immediately responded by saying that when we don't do something in this life, it means that we have the imprint from a previous life, so if we don't like alcohol now, we probably abstained from alcohol in a past life and did the sacrificial thing then.

At the end of the evening, Webby, Faery and I all decided to take the 8 precepts. After all, it was only for 24 hours and it was on such an auspicious day - Wesak.

The next 24 hours were interesting. I had never been so mindful of my actions. Webby and myself caught ourselves singing/ humming and once, while walking in the mall, we tried some lotion and inhaled the fragrance appreciatively before catching ourselves!! A bit late, but better late than never!

All in all, it was a great experience and I find myself more aware of what I am doing, even now. So thank Buddha for TR's invitation to us and Joe for conveying the message just in time!