We bow the Jeweled Repentance at the City of 10,000 Buddhas,
Delighting both people and gods.
Developing blessings, joy, and prajna,
We see 10,000 Buddhas with their Three Bodies and Four Wisdoms.
The Great Precepts are introduced at the City of the Dharma Realm.
Cultivators from the East and the West all gather in harmony.
Together we practice, study, and bow in repentance,
With the Eight Renunciations and Ten Powers, we pervade all Dharma realms.
從四月廿四日開始，八月十二日圓滿結束的二○○五年戒期，開創了法界佛教總會戒期的首例──女眾戒子分別在兩個道場 (萬佛聖城及法界聖城) 展開108天的上課及受訓。在法界聖城，來自各分支道場的二十六位戒子齊聚一堂，體驗她們人生中最特別、最珍貴與最有意義的日子。
Starting on April 24th and concluding on August 12th, the 2005 precept training period set a precedent in Dharma Realm Buddhist Association (DRBA)—the 108-day training was held at two different monasteries: the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and the City of the Dharma Realm (CTTB and CDR). Twenty-six female preceptees from various branch monasteries gathered at CDR to experience some of the most special, precious, and meaningful days in their lives.
The main instructors for this precept training period were Dharma Masters Chih, Liang, Yun, Gwei, and Shr. The harmonious interaction among the preceptees of different cultures and backgrounds brought a certain dynamism and challenge to this precept period. In addition, the interaction between the instructors and the preceptees affected everyone positively and brought a serendipitous result.
This year’s preceptees enjoyed an abundance of blessings. A total of ten Dharma Masters (i.e., Dharma Masters Chih, Liang, Yun, Syin, Gwei, Shr, Tai, Yang, Syun, and Yi) explained the Bodhisattva Precepts and the Bhikshuni Precepts in their entirety. The Dharma Masters responsible for their daily regime were Dharma Masters Cai, Mao, You, Nian, and others. They went all out to take care of the preceptees’ living arrangements and needs. Best of all, on the day of the Venerable Master’s enlightenment, each preceptee received the Venerable Master’s drawings of the 42 Hands and Eyes in a deluxe full-color edition. According to Dharma Master Gwei, this book had been brewing for exactly ten years and was finally published during this precept training period. The preceptees really are blessed.
Per invitation, Theravadan Bhikshu Ajahn Pasanno came on July 18th to give the preceptees a Dharma talk. To convey the preceptees’ welcome and respect for Ajahn Pasanno’s Dharma, the preceptees requested the teacher and his teachings in a solemn and dignified ceremony. Ajahn Pasanno did not disappoint the preceptees. From his inherent wisdom, he offered his personal experiences as a cultivator. The preceptees gained a lot from it.
One hundred and eight days flew by as the regimented days had a tight schedule of memorizing precepts, attending classes, bowing, exercising, and doing community work. The other side of anxiety and nervousness, though, was harmony, joy, and ease. Especially precious was how well the preceptees got along. Everyone took care of each other and cheered each another on. This will be an experience that they will find difficult to forget. Here’s a verse wishing all the preceptees the best:
The precepts are like a strand of pearls, respect them so.
Hopefully we’ll protect our Sila and transcend the Triple Realm.
This round sun shatters darkness and reaches liberation.
This full moon gives off coolness so we are new people.
Below are some thoughts from several preceptees:
The Sangha Training that Shall Never End (Jin Zheng Shr)
These 108 days were an excellent training. I saw different strengths in each fellow preceptee. It would be perfect if I could emulate them all. This is the first time that I stayed with so many people on a long-term basis; the power of a group cannot be denied. We have had an effect on each other and will improve as we head toward an even better direction.
Having gone through this precept period, I feel that Sangha training is crucial; it should not just be 108 days but start the day one leaves home and continue on for several decades and even until the end of one’s life. There is no end to training for a monastic. The moment we left home, we started to hear Bhikshunis tell the Shramanerikas on a frequent basis, “Monastics nowadays cannot compare to those in the past; they’re getting worse and worse.” These negative comments hurt the younger generations, knocking down their confidence in reaching their future cultivation goals. We would rather hear those of the older generation lead us through encouragement. Some of the Dharma Masters during this precept period encouraged us with these words, “The upcoming generations are strong; they’re getting better and better.” We are grateful for the Dharma Masters’ compassion.
Full Force Ahead (Jin Ji Shr)
When people live together, they learn from each other. I felt this strongly during this 108-day precept period. The training took place at two places this time, with pros and cons to each. It’s easier to focus the mind at CDR; at CTTB I was full of joy bowing and repenting with a large group. This format could be a reference for future precept periods.
Two-thirds of the preceptees this time are between the ages of 30 and 40. They still need more confidence and courage to face future challenges and adversities. Their youthful energy, though, makes me full of hope for the future of Buddhism. A cohesive force seems to have gathered on their propagating the Buddhadharma.
Since the preceptees are extremely talented, everyone seems to have reached a consensus: may the various DRBA plans in the future have a wider field of vision and a greater tolerance. A more comprehensive and systematic organizational plan should exist for the Venerable Master’s Dharma that goes into press.
Cultivation Has Just Begun (Jin Yu Shr)
Instead of calling this precept period a final exam, I’d rather say it’s a review. After all, it’s only one little step for me.
Besides being grateful at this point in time, I am still grateful. I am grateful for all the kind lessons. Starting with orientation, the Dharma Masters kindly instructed us: remember that the purpose of leaving home is to nurture a heart of compassion. Were I to observe things through this angle, I would see that we’ve been soaking in the teachings based on compassion every day. Although I’ve been studying Buddhism for many years, there remains a gap between the sutras and myself. Although there are 84,000 practices, all of which serve as antidotes for affliction, in the face of certain situations, I don’t seem to remember any of those practices. Instead, I constantly complain about how the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are unkind and don’t help me. I only realized the following after being told by our precept teacher: we hang on tightly to joy, anger, sadness, happiness, love, hate, and desire and dare to say that we want to be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Quite impossible!
Before bowing this afternoon, I had a little affliction. I had my palms together and was telling the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas sincerely that I was losing faith again. Let me hand over my body and mind. May you draw me in with your light so that I have the Buddhas’ ears and eyes that see all beings as equals. All of a sudden, I felt so tiny and helpless, but the great father of compassion has never given up on me or forgotten his stubborn children. I made another sincere vow: though I am incapable of it today, I hope in the near future, I and all beings will rejoice in others’ goodness and never commit any evil, and that all beings the Dharma Realm will be happy and peaceful.
Receiving the precepts is one small step for me. I really feel that cultivation has just begun. I hope that I will move on carefully and unceasingly along every step of the way, until I reach my ultimate destination.
To be continued