Taking Mahayana Precepts

Borobodur sunrise

Fri, 24 July, 2020


The Eight Mahayana Precepts are a set of vows that are taken for 24 hours, from first light before dawn to sunrise of the following day.

Taking the eight Mahayana precepts is a way to make life meaningful, to take its essence all day and night, by taking vows,” Lama Zopa Rinpoche has taught. “It is so simple. It is just for one day. Just for one day. It makes it so easy.”

They are to:

  • not kill any sentient being, even an insect.
  • not steal, that is, to not take what has not been given.
  • not engage in sexual activity.
  • not tell lies.
  • not take intoxicants, including alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.
  • not eat food at the wrong time, that is, after noon.
  • not sit on large and high seats and beds.
  • not wear perfume, garlands, and ornaments, and to not sing, dance, and so forth.Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Rinpoche has given special permission for anyone who wishes to do so to receive the lineage of these 24-hour vows and practice from him at any time, using the special video he has created. The opportunity to receive precepts from Lama Zopa Rinpoche is precious and to be able to do so at home is extraordinary.

The video, with full explanation and associated resources

Rinpoche advises taking these one-day precepts on Buddha multiplying days (Chokur Duchen, July 24 is the next one) and on the 8th, 15th (full moon) and 30th (new moon) days of the Tibetan lunar month, when the karmic effects of positive actions are multiplied.

Tibetan Lunar Calendar 2020 download in full or monthly online

Note that “you can take the eight Mahayana precepts before you have officially taken refuge – in fact with faith taking the eight Mahayana precepts is taking refuge, in the heart sense. Anyone who has faith and is sincere is in fact in the heart taking refuge” – Taking the Eight Mahaya Precepts