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The eight Mahayana precepts are best taken for the first time from someone qualified to pass on the lineage of the practice. For example, Lama Zopa Rinpoche has given certain FPMT teachers permission to grant the eight Mahayana precepts. However, since this person becomes one’s guru, if you are not ready (or confident) to make that commitment, it is permissible to take the precepts in front of an image or statue of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. This is also the case when a qualified person is not available to pass on the lineage. However, when the opportunity arises, it would be best to receive the actual lineage. The eight Mahayana precepts can also be taken before you have officially taken refuge.
Compiled by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
The eight Mahayana precepts are special one-day vows based on the Mahayana motivation of bodhichitta.
“Taking the eight Mahayana precepts is another way to make life meaningful, to take its essence all day and night, by taking vows,” Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaches. “It is so simple. It is just for one day. Just for one day. It makes it so easy. It’s not for a lifetime.”
The eight Mahayana precepts can be taken on any day of the year, but their karmic effects are particularly powerful on merit-multiplying days, such as the four annual Buddhist festivals (the first fifteen days of the first Tibetan lunar month—the Fifteen Miracle Days of Chotrul Duchen; the fifteenth day of the fourth month—Saka Dawa Duchen; the fourth day of the sixth month—Chokhor Duchen, the First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma; and the twenty-second day of the ninth month—Lhabab Duchen, Buddha’s Descent from the God Realm of the Thirty-Three), full moons, new moons, and solar and lunar eclipses.
24 pages, 2020 edition.