Sojong Vows

Sojong (Healing and Purification) Vows

Participants may choose to take sojong (Healing and Purification) vows every morning at 8:30 am in the shrine hall.

These vows concern our ethical behaviour and discipline. Traditionally, sojong vows are held sunrise to sunrise. You may find taking sojong vows beneficial, but there are precepts you should observe. Taking sojong vows is not mandatory.

 

Background

According to His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa’s website, the Tibetan word sojong is the equivalent of the Sanskrit uposatha. They are often referred to as Mahayana sojong vows. The reason why the vows are taken is the unique motivation. Ordinary uposatha precepts are usually taken with the intention to purify one’s negativities and to attain one’s own liberation. However, if we take these ethical vows with the intention of benefiting all beings, then – owing to the great power of motivation – the results of maintaining self-discipline are immeasurably bigger.

 

Precepts

If you take sojong vows in the morning, you should observe these eight precepts until dawn the next day:

  • Not killing
  • Not stealing
  • Not engaging in sexual activity
  • Not lying
  • Not consuming intoxicants
  • Not sitting or lying on high seats or beds
  • Not eating at inappropriate times
  • Not wearing perfume, jewelry, or ornaments
  • and Not singing or dancing.

 

Not sitting or lying on high seats or beds means not sitting on seats or beds that are fancy, expensive, large, or higher than one cubit (about 38 centimeters). However, the exception is if there is no place to sleep except on a bed that is too high. No eating at inappropriate times means not to consume any food from noon until sunrise the next day. You are allowed to drink tea or translucent liquids in which you can see your reflection, However, you may eat if you are sick and you may take medicine. Since the mahayana sojong vows come from the kriya tantra, cleanliness and purity are of utmost importance, You should therefore abstain from eating meat of any kind, eggs, onions, or garlic during the period you have taken the vows. Not wearing jewelry or ornaments means not wearing jewelry or ornaments that you do not normally wear. If you normally wear a ring, pendant, or other piece of jewelry, you may continue to wear it while observing the vow.

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