The eight-gate precepts and fasting denote, first, no killing, second,
no stealing, third, no engaging in sexual activity, fourth, no lying, fifth,
no consumption of intoxicants, sixth, no sitting on large beds tall and
wide, seventh, no donning of flowers in hair and necklace of precious
stones or applying of fragrant ointments on body, and eighth, no music,
dance, or recreations (indicating performances in entertainment) and
no intended viewing or attendance as such.
Gate implies prohibition, disallowing and putting a stop to eight
behaviors, to destruction and violation. Cultivation and keeping of
these eight precepts enable closing of all doors that open to the evil
destinies of the hells, hungry ghosts, and animals.
Fasting, its Chinese character constituting two parts, of one and
mind, connotes inner cleansing and purifying to become adorned and
impeccable. As Buddhism stresses on assumption of the middle path,
the stipulation of no eating past noon does tally with practicing the
method of exit from the world as a whole. Such is the meaning of
the eight-gate precepts and fasting.
Observation of the eight-gate precepts and fasting usually runs for
seven days. But in this day and age when everyone has own work
schedule and tight routine, it does come down to three days or
two days and one night.