On November 2, 1974, precepts were transmitted to laymen at Gold Mountain Monastery. It was a special occasion, because in addition to the Five and Eight Precepts, four cultivators of the Way received the Forty-eight Minor and Ten Major Bodhisattva Precepts: Upasaka Kuo Chen Clowrey, Upasaka Kuo Keng, Upasaka Kuo Hsiang Wilzak, and Upasika Kuo Mo. During the ceremony each of the Ten Major and Forty-eight Minor Bodhisattva Precepts was read aloud, and each person receiving these precepts spoke aloud his intention to maintain the precepts. The Ten Major Bodhisattva Precepts prohibit l) killing, 2) stealing, 3) deviant sexual activity, 4) false speech, 5) taking intoxicants, 6) speaking of the offenses of the four-fold assembly, 7) praising, oneself and disparaging others, 8) deliberate stinginess, 9) deliberate anger, 10) slandering the Triple Jewel.
In some places where Westerners are beginning to study Buddhism it is thought that the Four Great Vows constitute the Bodhisattva precepts. This is incorrect, and serves to dilute and thereby destroy the teachings of the Buddha. Disciples of the Buddha should be well advised that there are fifty-eight Bodhisattva precepts all very specifically described in the Brahma Net Sutra, and that these precepts can only be transmitted by one who holds the complete Bhiksu precepts.
The time of the Winter Solstice is coming, as long wintry nights absorb nature. Snow covers the disintegration of living things in a vast expanse of quietude and peace. But this quietude does not comfort all mankind. Millions of people are suffering for lack of food, and thousands die of starvation every day. During the time of the Winter Solstice, yin forces scatter their intermediate skandha bodies and they disperse into the darkness, freed by death from emaciated shells. What can we do?
The birth of the new year, January first, coincides with the anniversary of the birth of the Buddha of Infinite Light and Life. This Christmas season, Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery will hold a ten-day mantra recitation session for the benefit of starving humanity. The session will utilize the mantra for rebirth in the Pure Land, a powerful spell that invokes the spirit and the compassionate regard of Amitabha Buddha. The power generated by the recitation of the mantra will be dedicated every evening by the Great Transference of Merit to victims of the global food shortage to insure that Amitabha Buddha will lead them to an auspicious rebirth in the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. Born there, neither men nor women have any desire, hunger, or craving. There they are born pure from lotus flowers.
The boundaries of the field of enlightenment will be secured on Saturday, December 21st at seven p.m. Following this formal opening on the Solstice, which is the birth of light-giving yang energies, the session will continue every day for ten days, from four a.m. until ten p.m., and culminate on January first, 1975, with the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of Amitabha Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Light and Life.
During the session, the members of Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery will transfer the merit of their continuing practice of eating only one meal a day to those who are starving throughout the world. A second meal in the morning will be served to those who wish it. Participants should bring extra warm clothing and a sleeping bag. After meeting expenses, the remainder of the $250 donation for this session will be contributed to the United Nations fund for hunger relief. The public is welcome to attend the January first festivities, beginning at 9 a.m., which will include a vegetarian meal.
Although the anniversary of Amitabha Buddha's birthday falls on December 30th this year (17th day of the 11th month on the Chinese lunar calendar) it will be celebrated on January 1st for the convenience of those who have to work.