The Eight Mayahana precepts is a celebrated practice within Mahayan Buddhism that is meant to help someone purify bad habits and to accumulate a wealth of merit that can support one in their practice. In otherwards, merit creates momentum that will push someone forward in their path. These precepts involves abstaining from doing 8 things for 24 hours.

The Eight Mahayana Precepts

These following 8 things are listed below:

  1. Avoid killing, directly or indirectly.
  2. Avoid stealing and taking things without the permission of their owner.
  3. Avoid sexual contact.
  4. Avoid lying and deceiving others.
  5. Avoid intoxicants: alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs. (You may take prescription drugs.)
  6. Avoid eating more than one meal that day. The meal is taken before noon, and once one has stopped eating for thirty minutes, the meal is considered finished. At other times of the day one can take light drinks, but not undiluted whole milk or fruit juice with pulp. Avoid eating meat, chicken, fish, eggs, onions, garlic and radishes.
  7. Avoid sitting on a high, expensive bed or seat with pride. Also avoid sitting on animal skins.
  8. Avoid wearing jewelry, perfume, and make-up. Avoid singing, dancing or playing music with attachment.

Bringing Awareness

By avoiding engaging certain things for 24 hours, the practice does a great job of bringing awareness to our relationships to the things we are avoiding. For instance, eating one meal a day puts a spotlight on our attachments to food or attempting to not lie puts a spotlight on any habits we have regarding habitually lying on autopilot.

As Jeffrey Hopkins once stated, taking the Mahayana precepts for a day simulates what it could be like to be an Arya being, or someone completely aware of their actions of body, speech, and mind.

More about this wonderful practice

The following video by Venerable Thubten Chodron gives some insightful pointers about this practice. For information about the ceremony that is done prior to taking the precepts, and auspicious days to take the precepts, click here.