A New Beginning

With great respect, we turn towards the conqueror of afflictions,

offering heartfelt words of repentance.

We have lived in forgetfulness for a long time.

As we have not had the opportunity to encounter the Dharma,

our habit-energies have led us into suffering.

We have made many mistakes out of unskillfulness.

We have been blinded by our wrong perceptions

for a very long time.

Our heart's garden is sown with attachment, hatred, and pride.

In us are seeds of killing, stealing, sexuaI misconduct, and lies.

Our everyday deeds and words do damage.

AlI these wrong actions are obstacles to our peace and joy.

Let us begin anew.

(BELL)

 

We see that we have been thoughtless,

straying from the path of mindfulness.

We have stored up afflictions and ignorance,

which have brought about so much aversion and sorrow.

There are times we have been weary of life

because we are so full of anxiety.

Because we do not understand others,

we are angry and resentful

First we try to reason with each other, then we blame.

Every day the suffering increases, making the rift greater.

There are days when we are unwilling to speak to each other,

unwilling to look each other in the face.

And we create internai formations, which last for a long time.

Now we turn to the Three Jewels.

Sincerely recognizing our errors, we bow our heads.

( BELL)

 

We know so well that in our consciousness

are buried all the wholesome seeds -

seeds of love and understanding and seeds of peace and joy.

But because we do not know how to water them,

the wholesome seeds do not sprout fresh and green.

We continue to allow sorrow to overwhelm us

until there is no light in our lives.

When we chase after a distant happiness,

life becomes but a shadow of the reality.

Our mind is occupied by the past,

or worrying about this or that in the future.

We cannot let go of our anger,

and we consider of no value the precious gifts of life

which are aIready in our hands,

thereby trampling on real happiness.

As month follows month, we are sunk in sorrow.

So now in the precious presence of the Buddha,

fragrant with sandalwood incense,

we recognize our errors and begin anew.

( BELL)

 

With all our heart we go for refuge,

turning to the Buddhas in the Ten Directions

and all the bodhisattvas, noble disciples, and self-achieved Buddhas.

Very sincerely we recognize our errors

and the mistakes of our wrong judgments.

Please bring the baIm of clear water

to pour on the roots of our afflictions.

Please bring the raft of the true teachings

to carry us over the ocean of sorrows.

We vow to live an awakened life,

to practice smiling and conscious breathing,

and to study the teachings, authenticaIly transmitted.

Diligently, we shall live in mindfulness.

(BELL )

 

We come back to live in the wonderful present,

to plant our heart's garden with good seeds,

and to make strong foundations of understanding and love.

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Sitting and watching our breath is a wonderful practice, but it is not enough. For transformation to take part, we have to practice mindfulness all day long, not just on our meditation cushion.
- Thich Nhat Hanh