Event Blog

Transmitting Under the Bodhisattva Precepts

Happy Birthday to all newly initiated Bodhisattva   By Wen-Chiao Peng

2016 Bodhisattva Precept IIThose coming from 13 States in the US, Canada, Taiwan, and China were congregated at Dharma Drum Mountain Retreat Center at Pine Bush,New York. On the 22nd, May 2016, they received the transmission of Bodhisattva Precepts. Three Bodhisattva Dharma Master, Ven. Guo Fong, Ven. Guo Cing, and Ven. Guo Ping witnessed and transmitted the precepts with the Chinese monastic tradition.

Repentance is the important change to flourish our Bodhi mind; therefore, repentance service once a day before the ceremony was led by monastics. Through prostration, we regret what we have done in the past, in front of Buddha, we repent and make vows to change.

Understanding the precepts is the essence in order to uphold those precepts, taught by the Master Sheng Yen. Through the precepts, wisdom arises and Bodhi mind manifests, said the Abbot President.

104 Bodhisattva Precepts receivers (or called newly initiated Bodhisattva,) among whom are couples, sisters, family, and friends, were wished “Happy Birthday” at the end of the ceremony by Abbot President as if they were reborn with a pure precept/ dharma body, and now they are ready to spread Buddha’s teaching and to benefit all sentient beings.                                                                                                                                     []


Bodhisattva Precepts Ceremony May 2016, Dharma Drum Retreat Centre, New York By Fiona Nuttall

2016 Bodhisattva Precept I

I had wanted to take the Bodhisattva Precepts for many years and more recently it had seemed even more relevant as I became more involved in the work of our Chan organization in the U.K. Making the trip to the U.S. seemed a small price to pay for that opportunity, but it was a long way to go. Fortunately, I was able to break the journey with Rebecca Li and David Slaymaker in New Jersey before setting out on trains and taxis to DDRC.

The organizational aspects were very well covered with Wen-Chiao Peng’s efficient administration before the event and a team of welcoming reception volunteers in the main house. As I registered, the purification practice group, led by Ven. Guo Dong Fa Shih passed through the area sprinkling water and I knew that I had really arrived with a chance to be still and hear the chanting and observe the ritual.

People were arriving in large numbers and there were lots of excited voices and greetings going on making me realize that I wished that I knew more than a few words of Chinese! As I wandered about, there were no faces that I recognised and yet I still felt somehow at home, as we were all united in a common purpose. I got introduced to Greg who was sitting waiting to be taken to the dormitories and a bond was formed. Similarly, I introduced myself to Kathleen from Florida and, by coincidence we were sitting next to each other throughout the retreat, in the Hall and the dining room.

From the orientation onwards the style and nature of the retreat became apparent. Instruction, rehearsal, understanding and practice, practice, practice. The role of the Helper at the end of each row became key to our progress as we learned how to fold, make movements and deport ourselves. At times, I got frustrated with myself for not picking these things up earlier, but the ‘Bodhisattva Dharma Protector’ helpers were very patient with us and I was grateful for that patience.
but a network after all.

Being a European put me in a minority, but we were well catered for in terms of translation, with excellent, skillful, simultaneous translation via headphones. Watching the videos of Shifu’s talks from a similar retreat in Taiwan brought back memories of retreats with him and of his kindliness and compassion. There were a few nostalgic tears and also warm smiles. The videos were subtitled so again we could fully understand what the teachings behind the precepts were. Those talks left me in no doubt about the seriousness of the undertaking and also the need to proceed with it.

The days passed and the practicing got more intensive. I was tired some of the time and jet lag crept in but the food was amazing and sustaining – those kitchen volunteers really pulled out the stops for us! I have very fond memories of the gluten balls and they disappeared really quickly with people going back for more. All the food was colorful, appetizing and nutritious. Who knew that ‘salutary medicine’ would be so delicious?

2016 Bodhisattva Precept IIII’m not a chanting practitioner, but I enjoyed getting to grips   with the chants and the voices of the dozens of women behind me chanting their hearts out meant that I managed a   rudimentary attempt at the chants myself. The Precentor also  had a wonderful voice that added to the quality of the ceremony and the practice beforehand. Similarly, the                 crispness and precision of the Master of Ceremonies voice added to the sense of occasion giving gravity and pacing the     event for us. Those announcements were the most ‘Chinese’ aspects for me and yet I did not feel like an outsider, but part of the group. I must apologize for my terrible renditions of the Chinese parts of the text, but I did my best. Repentance was a major feature of the preparation and the style of the practice was new to me with chanting alongside the prostrations and it was beneficial and releasing.

The final ceremony on the last morning brought it all together and we were initiated as ‘infant bodhisattvas’. We have committed to work with the precepts for as long as it takes. There is no going back now! People were very happy and joyful afterward and then chance to speak to people with whom we had shared this ‘silent’ space came about. I could finally talk to the two women on either side of me; Anchi and Kathleen; who were great companions along the way. And my friends in the work practice periods chatted about their lives outside the retreat which was great.

Finally, I got a ride back to New Jersey after my travel arrangements changed. Who was in the car with me but Greg who I had met on that first day! So Gene and Greg and I chatted all the way to Jersey about all kinds of things, from martial arts to Dharma, to mainland China, finance and writing books! It seems that being an aspiring bodhisattva is not a solitary practice,

Fiona Nuttall
Western Chan Fellowship
U.K.                                                                                                                                                   []

Category: Event Blog

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Our Sunday programs are open to people to explore and learn more about Buddhism. Everyone is welcome to participate.

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Experience the great depth of Chan practice through the combination of Ta-chi with Chan meditation.

The modern people are often busy, stressed and tense. Tai Chi Moving Meditation helps to unify and ease the body and mind.

Moreover, it is an expedient to improve physical health.

Fee: $80 for 16 classes or $25 per month

[ First class is free for newcomers.  All levels are welcome! ]

Please call 718-592-6593 for registration.

Instructor: David Ngo

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