Purify the Mind, Deepen Your Compassion
Originally offered on April 15, Buddha’s Enlightenment Day, due to practitioner requests this course will be offered again on Saturday, May 16. In this special practice, we engage in a traditional fasting purification practice. During this practice, we emphasize compassion—the essence of enlightenment—by engaging in prostrations to 1,000-Armed Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion.
It is a special method for improving our minds of love and compassion and receiving the compassionate blessings of Avalokiteshvara. The essence of the Buddhist path is compassion. In this practice, which involves taking Mahayana precepts, making prostrations, and engaging in prayer while meditating extensively on compassion, we purify our mind, fully. This is a very powerful way to purify our negative karma of body, speech, and mind, and to pacify strong delusions such as desirous attachment and hatred.
Everyone is welcome to this practical, livestreamed course.
To participate in this retreat, you must take precepts in the morning. There is no cost to attend. Donations are accepted for your participation. To register, or for details about taking Precepts, fasting, or any elements of the practice, please contact Ryan at 860.874.1970 or email at email@example.com.
With Resident Teacher Gen Kelsang Khyenwang
Gen Khyenwang is an inspiring example of a contemporary Buddhist practitioner and is known for her warmth and sincerity, putting time-tested teachings into practice in daily life. She has been practicing and teaching Buddhist meditation for many years under the guidance of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche, the founder of the New Kadampa Tradition. The teachings she shares are clear, heartfelt and extremely practical for modern life.
What to Expect
Precepts will be granted by the teacher using A Pure Life prayer booklet and include a brief teaching and explanation of this practice. For the sessions that follow, we will be chanting a special prayer called Drop of Essential Nectar to 1000-armed Avalokiteshvara. Within that prayer, you will stand (if you are able) and make physical or mental prostrations on behalf of all living beings for about 25 minutes while chanting a verse of praise. This part of the retreat is self-guided along with the audio of the prayers and mantra recitations.
About Precepts and Sessions
In order to have a qualified retreat, you must first take precepts at 7:00am. This part of the retreat is guided. As part of this practice, we abstain from wearing makeup, perfume, and jewelry; engaging in song and dance; and taking part in idle chatter for the whole day. After taking precepts, you can attend any and all sessions in the retreat. Sessions are self-guided and include chanted prayer, mantra recitation, and prostrations.
7:00–7:30am | The Eight Mahayana Precepts*
7:45–9:00am | Chanted Prayers and Prostrations
10:30–11:45am | Chanted Prayers and Prostrations
3:30-4:45pm | Chanted Prayers and Prostrations
5:30–6:30pm | Heart Jewel with Meditation (optional)
What To Have For Lunch
You should try to eat one vegetarian meal for the whole day, typically lunch before 1pm, having no food after lunch. You can drink water throughout the day. Do what you can and don’t ever put yourself at risk. If you need to eat or drink for health reasons, then do so.
The essence of the practice is to take eight precepts and to keep them purely for a period of twenty-four hours. By doing this practice, again and again, we acquaint ourselves with the practice of moral discipline and thereby make our human life meaningful.
We receive many great benefits from practicing moral discipline in this way. It helps us to solve the problems of this life by avoiding the causes of suffering, and it creates the cause for us to take fortunate rebirths in future lives and thereby protects us from the sufferings of lower rebirth. In particular, because it is performed with bodhichitta motivation, this practice is very powerful for purifying negative karma. It accumulates a vast collection of merit and creates the cause for us to attain the unsurpassed happiness of enlightenment.
We first need to receive these precepts from a qualified Preceptor, and then we can take them on our own as often as we wish. Instructions on both these methods are included in this sadhana. If we wish to take the essence of this precious human life we should strive to engage in this practice as often as we can.
An explanation of the practice
When we take the eight Mahayana precepts, we explicitly promise to abstain for twenty-four hours from eight actions:
- Sexual activity
- Taking intoxicants
- Eating after lunch
- Sitting on high or luxurious thrones or seats
- Wearing ornaments, perfume, etc, and singing and dancing, etc.
These eight, however, are merely symbolic, for, in reality, we promise to abstain from all non-virtuous actions for twenty-four hours. Taking and keeping these precepts is a special purification practice. Buddha realized that all living beings’ suffering comes from their previous negative karma, and so he taught special practices to purify it.
To purify our negative karma we must practice the four opponent powers: the power of regret, the power of reliance, the power of the opponent force, and the power of promise. These are explained fully in the book, Joyful Path of Good Fortune. and in Universal Compassion. Within these four, we are here emphasizing the power of promise – promising not to repeat non-virtuous actions.
There are many levels on which we can make this promise. We can promise not to commit non-virtuous actions for the rest of our life, for a year, for a month, for a week, or, in this case, for a day. If we manage to keep our actions of body, speech, and mind pure for one day we can then extend it to two days, then to three days, and so on, until eventually, we can keep pure moral discipline all the time.
If we reach the point when we can keep our actions of body, speech, and mind completely pure all the time, we shall have accomplished the Pure Land. With a pure body and a pure mind, there is no basis for experiencing suffering; instead, we shall experience only unceasing happiness from within.
We all want to be happy—living in a pure environment with pure friends, pure enjoyments, and so on—but this is unattainable for as long as we have negative karma in our minds.
Therefore, we need to rely upon Buddha’s skillful method for purifying our negative karma. This practice is very simple, and it lasts for only a day at a time, but it leads to very great results.
There is no cost for this retreat. Donation are welcomed and can be made through the website.
To register or for more details about taking Precepts, fasting, or any elements of the practice, please contact Ryan at 860.874.1970 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.