Opening Liturgy




Incense has just begun to burn in the censer
Permeating the entire Dharma realm;
My mind is filled with sincerity and respect;
May the Buddhas compassionately be my witnesses.

Homage to Vairocana Buddha,
Lord of the Brahma Net.

* *


The Dharma incomparably profound and exquisite
Is rarely met with, even in hundreds of thousands of millions of eons
I am now able to see, listen, accept and hold it;
I vow to understand the true meaning of the Tathagatas' wonderful teachings.

Homage to our Teacher Sakyamuni Buddha. 

* *


Assembly of precept-holders,

Please listen attentively!

I take refuge in Vairocana Buddha (1)

I take refuge in the Diamond Buddhas of the Ten Directions

I bow to the Bodhisattva Maitreya, who will descend to earth and become a Buddha.

I shall now recite the Three Root Precepts

All Bodhisattvas should pay heed.

The precepts are a light shining brightly

Dispelling the darkness of the night.

The precepts are a precious mirror

Clearly reflecting one and all.

The precepts are a wish-fulfilling gem (2)

Showering treasures upon the destitute.

To escape suffering and attain Buddhahood swiftly

These precepts are the supreme way.

Therefore, Bodhisattvas

Should keep them steadfastly.


Most Virtuous Ones (orUpasaka/Upasika)!

It is now springtime (or summer or winter). Four months make a season. (3) Half a month (or one month, one month and a half, two months, etc.) has elapsed, less one night (or plus one night). Three and a half months remain (orthree months, two and a half months, two months, etc.).

Old age and death weigh upon us. The Dharma will soon disappear. Most Virtuous Ones (Upasaka/Upasika)! To attain Enlightenment, practice diligently and singlemindedly. By practicing diligently and singlemindedly, all the Buddhas attain Supreme, Perfect Enlightenment -- not to mention other virtues.

Seek the Dharma diligently while young and healthy. How can you fail to seek the Way and, unguarded, let old age overtake you? What pleasures are you still awaiting?

The day is done. Life dwindles with it. 
For fish stranded in shallow water, what joy is there? (4)


Question: Is the Sangha (5) assembled? (by the reciter).

Answer: Yes, it is (by the monk in charge).

Question: Is the Sangha united and harmonious?

Answer: Yes, it is united and harmonious.

Question: Why has the Sangha gathered?

Answer: To recite the Bodhisattva precepts.

Question: Have those who have not taken the precepts and those who are not pure left this assembly?

Answer: In this assembly, there is no one who has not taken the precepts, and no one who is not pure. (If there are, they should be asked to leave and the monk in charge should say: "Those who have not received the precepts and those who are not pure have left.")

Question: How many are there of pure mind who wish to attend but cannot and have asked others to represent them? (6)

Answer: In this assembly, there is no one of pure mind who wishes to attend but cannot and is represented by another (or, if there is, the representative should step forward to state his name and that of the absent monk and confirm that the absent monk is pure and would have wished to be in attendance.) 


Most Virtuous Ones (or Upasaka/Upasika)! Join your palms together and listen attentively! I am now about to recite the preamble to the great precepts of the Buddhas. Most Virtuous Ones! Be silent and attentive. In this assembly, those who are aware that they have transgressed should repent. With repentance, peace of mind is restored. Without repentance, your transgressions will become heavier. Those who have not transgressed may remain silent. By your silence, I know that you are pure (have kept the precepts).

Most Virtuous Ones (or Upasaka/Upasika)! Listen attentively: In this Dharma-Ending Age following the demise of the Buddha, we should reverently keep the Pratimoksa. (7) The Pratimoksa is none other than these precepts. Those who keep these precepts are like wanderers in the dark stumbling upon a light, like the destitute coming upon a treasure, like the sick finding a cure, like prisoners set free, like wanderers discovering the way home. Let it be understood that the precepts are a worthy teacher to us all, as though the Buddha were still here among us.

If we do not fear transgressions, it is difficult to develop a wholesome mind. Therefore, the sutras contain this teaching: Do not regard a minor misdeed as inconsequential. In time, drops of water may fill a large vessel. Offenses committed in a moment, may result in eons of suffering in the hells. Once the human state is lost, it may not be regained for myriads of lifetimes.

Youth is like a galloping horse. Our life is more fleeting than the waters of a mountain stream. Today we are alive; tomorrow, who knows? Let each of us practice diligently and singlemindedly. Do not be lax; guard against laziness. Do not indulge in rest and sleep. During the night, singlemindedly recite the Buddha's name and meditate. You should never while away the time, causing deep regret in the future.

Members of the assembly! Keep these precepts singlemindedly and respectfully; study them and cultivate in accordance with the Dharma.

Most Virtuous Ones (or Upasaka/Upasika)! Today is the fifteenth (or fourteenth) day of the month; the moon is full (or is not full). We are holding theUposatha service, (8) reciting the Bodhisattva precepts. Members of the assembly should listen attentively.

Whoever has transgressed, confess now. Otherwise, remain silent. By your silence, I shall know that this assembly is pure and may recite the precepts.

Now that I have finished the preamble to the Bodhisattva precepts, I ask you once more, members of the assembly, are you pure? (three times)

Members of the assembly, by your silence I know that you are pure. This is something of which you should all be aware.

Homage to the Brahma Net Assembly of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas (three times).