Venerable Master, Dharma Masters, Dharma friends, and classmates: Amitabha! I’m Kevin Lee, a eighth grader of Developing Virtue Boys School. I’m fourteen years old. Today, I'd like to share my experience of taking the eight precepts. The first time I received the eight precepts was in the summer of 1996. Although it lasted only for a day, I felt very uncomfortable.
During the Guanyin Dharma ceremony last October, there was another opportunity to receive the eight precepts. I wasn't sure I had the the endurance to observe them, because of the precept of “not taking food at improper times.” That meant I had to have my meal before noon and could not take any food in the evening. I enjoy eating at that time and had no idea whether I could accept the challenge of being patient with hunger. Finally, I made the decision to receive the eight precepts. The second day, after waking up, I went to the Buddha hall and received the eight precepts. At dinner time, most of my friends went to eat. Probably because I had just received the precepts, I didn't feel hungry at all. This situation lasted for two months. Gradually, I found that I was losing weight. My weight dropped from 145 to 125 pounds. If I hadn't lost those 20 pounds, I would still be a fat boy now.
The most inconceivable thing happened with my asthma. I used to suffer from it whenever the weather turned cold. Over the last winter break (after I had received the eight precepts), I suffered terribly from bronchitis and fever and could hardly endure it. However, my mom took very good care of me. She prepared Chinese herbal medicine and played the tape of the Shurangama Mantra for me to listen to everyday. Miraculously, I got well after 3 or 4 days and was no longer troubled by bronchitis or asthma. After I returned to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, my teacher told me that this was due to the blessing of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. I totally believe this. This was my experience with the eight precepts.
When I was sick, my mom took care of me as compassionately as Guanyin Bodhisattva. So that we can repay the kindness of our parents, our teachers bring us to recite the Sutra of the Difficulty of Repaying the Kindness of Parents in the Buddha hall. I remember once on my mother's birthday, my grandpa came to visit us. Mom bowed to him to show her gratitude. During my conversation with Mom, she told me that I should recite the Sutra of the Difficulty of Repaying the Kindness of Parents and transfer the merit to my grandma, who had passed away. I explained to my mom the reason we recite the Sutra. When a woman gives birth to a child, her life is in great danger and her blood spills everywhere as if a pig or a sheep had been slaughtered. When we recite this Sutra and transfer the merit to our mothers, we are repaying them for the suffering they endured for us and the kindness they showed in raising us. This will also help our parents and relatives of all lives to leave suffering, enjoy happiness, and ultimately obtain rebirth in the western Pure Land. Amitabha!