Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute | A Day in the Monastery
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A Day in the Monastery

At the beginning of each day, as Buddhist practitioners, we contemplate the direction of our lives. We prepare to have a clear mind daily and vow to live each day fruitfully. We must strive to eliminate any harmful intentions, and, instead, work on benefitting everyone.

3:50 Arise Before Dawn
4:20 Morning Prayer

Morning and evening prayers allow practitioners to accumulate merits very quickly. Using earnest prayers, praising Buddha, and sharing with the Buddha our inner thoughts, we hope to attain Buddha’s great compassion and wisdom. The sound of the Sangha chanting in unison is unforgettable and transcendental. Many sages attained enlightenment during morning and evening prayers. We also aspire to achieve this goal every day.

Before starting our meals, practitioners sincerely offer the food in front of us to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. In this process of expressing our gratitude, we imagine the food we offer to be pure, plentiful, and auspicious. We are also aware that each meal is provided by the sacrifice and hard work of many people, such as the farmers who tend the fields, our benefactors who provide us with food, and the nuns who spend time to prepare each meal. As we make our offering, we imagine that all beings are amongst us, and hope they also receive blessings from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. With careful contemplation, even mealtimes can be used to practice the Teachings.

6:00 Breakfast
7:00 Recitation

The purpose of recitation is to reach enlightenment. By memorizing Buddha’s Teachings, we can easily think of his words and put it into practice. With a focused mind, we recite every word of the Sutras and strive to remember each word in our minds and in our hearts. We hope that, in each life, we can view the world with the Buddha and Bodhisattva’s perspective.

8:10 Studying Buddhist Teachings

In order to change our behavior, we must first change our perspectives. The only way to gain new perspectives is by listening to the Teachings. Therefore, practitioners value listening to the Teachings as much as we value our lives. While listening, we continuously compare the views set forth by Buddha with our own views. This process allows us to discover our incorrect behaviors and correct them accordingly. Furthermore, many of our classes consist of group discussions. By hearing others’ perspectives, we can quickly correct and broaden our understanding of the Buddhist scriptures as well as our teacher’s Teachings. Listening to these Teachings is how we can constantly improve our lives.

10:20 Daily Chores

By doing chores around the monastery, not only are we helping the Sangha community, but we are also developing a habit of always benefitting others. While completing chores, we learn to observe those around us. For example, if someone is not feeling well, we can bring her some water; if someone is struggling, we can provide her with assistance. This allows us to practice an attitude of being responsible for the welfare of all lives. In addition to completing each task, we must learn to observe and care for people surrounding us. This part of the curriculum is an important method to accumulate merits necessary for our learning.

11:20 Lunch

At all times, we should ask ourselves, “Why am I here? What is my goal in life?” “I am here to learn from Buddha to benefit all beings. In order to achieve this goal, I must use this body; to maintain this body, I must eat.” Therefore, as a practitioner, taking meals is an important course in our practice. We should not be greedy for the foods we like, or care too much about our diet. We should remember we eat this food so we can eventually help all beings. To help us complete this practice, there are five points to contemplate:

1. Where did this food come from? To whom should I feel grateful for this meal? The foods we have are hard-earned.

2. Do I deserve this food? Have I done my duty as a practitioner?

3. Am I being greedy? Do I desire certain foods I like and reject other foods I dislike?

4. This food is necessary medicine for the body. I take it only to keep myself alive, and thus continue on with my practice.

5. For the sake of attaining Buddhahood, I receive this food.

13:35 Prostrating to Buddha

Buddha entered our lives with a wish to eliminate all of our suffering and to give us absolute happiness. We prostrate to Buddha with a heart of admiration and gratitude. To symbolize our immense gratitude, we imagine and infinite number of ourselves bowing respectfully in front of an infinite number of Buddhas. Prostrating to Buddha is also a form of repentance. A sincere prostration to Buddha can remove and immeasurable amount of our bad karma. By reducing our bad karma, we lessen the suffering in our life. Many practitioners are able to improve their physical and mental health by way of prostrating to Buddha.

14:25 Reciting The Great Prajnaparamita Sutra
誦經 預科

The Great Prajnaparamita Sutra (The Sutra on the Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom), where all Buddhist teachings originated, is a primary text within the lineage of Buddha’s Teachings. Without reaching the state of emptiness, there is no way to escape the immense suffering of life and death. Practitioners hope that though sincere recitation of The Great Prajnaparamita Sutra, we can one day achieve emptiness and actualize each word within the sutra.

19:00 Evening Prayer

When troubled, having a cup of coffee, finding friends to chat with, or watching a movie might bring some relief, but the crux of our problems usually remains. Practitioners realize that our view of a situation influences how we feel. During evening prayers, we let our hearts connect with the divine hearts of the Buddha. As we are mindful of Buddha’s great compassion and wisdom, we feel humbled and completely rely on Him. When we turn our focus away from ourselves, we can view our situation from a different perspective; we often find that the problem at hand is actually quite small. In the end, we will gain the courage and wisdom to overcome these challenges in our lives.