First Summer Rains Retreat (Yarne) for Bhikshunis (Nuns) in Buddhist History Begins at Shravasti

The Buddhist Channel, 3 August 2023

Shravasti, India -- A historic event unfolded in Shravasti, a sacred Buddhist site where Buddha spent 25 of his retreats, as 145 nuns from different countries gathered to participate in the first-ever annual rains retreat (yarne) on 1 August 2023.

The rains retreat became possible through the kind support and benevolence of Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche. The participating nuns come from various nations, including the United States, Taiwan, Vietnam, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, and France.

This noteworthy gathering follows the 2019 annual summer retreat, where 108 senior Theravada monks from Myanmar and Sri Lanka convened at Shravasti under the same program.

The event aims to foster harmony among Mahayana Bhikshunis from different traditions in the Dharmaguptaka lineage. They will live together harmoniously for one half-Varsa (vassa), sharing knowledge, experiences, and teachings on the path of Dharma. This unique opportunity seeks to revitalize the power of Dharma in this new monastery for the benefit of future monastics and lay practitioners alike.

His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche has established the Great Shravasti International Buddhist Temple, offering suitable spaces for meditation, study, and Sima for bhikshuni practice. Shravasti is one of the four avijahitatthanam, or 'unchangeable spots,' in the lives of all Samma Sambuddhas.

It holds significance as the holy place where Buddha taught 800 Sutras and spent 25 Varsas, or summer rain retreats. The remains of Jetavana, a significant site, lie one kilometer from the Great Shravasti Buddhist Temple.

During the retreat, the nuns will focus on Sangha education, diligent practice, and openhearted sharing within the faith community, exploring themes like Precepts, Samadhi, Wisdom, and Community. Vinaya teachings will intersperse with Samadhi retreats and community discussions. The retreat will delve into reflections on 21st-century monasticism and how to apply the Dharma to address the current needs of the world.

To ensure the wisdom and teachings from the retreat are preserved and accessible to a broader audience, efforts will be made to document the retreat through audio recordings. Ven. Khenmo Trinlay, a Drikung editor, will compile a book based on the proceedings, allowing participants to share the jewels of their practice traditions and the wisdom of their community with one another. This collective endeavor seeks to benefit the greater Sangha in a lasting manner.

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