Mahayana Nuns Invited to Return to Shravasti for the Rains Retreat in 2020

In 2018 His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, Supreme Head of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage, established the Great Shravasti International Buddhist Cultural Assembly. Every year a different international assembly of an era of Buddhism will be hosted for the traditional monastic Rains Retreat. In July 2019 Venerable Bhikkus from Theravada  countries completed the first retreat.

2020 Varsa Information 11.19

In 2020, the Mahayana Bhikshuni Sangha is invited to return to Shravasti India July 3 – August 19th for the first time in 2000 years. There we form a harmonious international Mahayana Dharmaguptaka Varsa retreat exploring: Precepts, Samadhi, Wisdom. The retreat will contribute to Sangha education, diligent practice and openhearted intrafaith sharing.

This retreat is fully sponsored by His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche.

Online Registration Form:

PDF Registration Form to download (Please apply by Dec 31 2019)

Shravasti is one of the four avijahitatthanam – ‘unchangeable spots’ in the lives of all Samma Sambuddhas. This is the holy place where our Supreme Buddha spent 25 Vassas or summer rain retreats. The remains of Jetavana monastery and Purvaram Vihara and the Ananda Bodhi tree are inspiring places to worship and remember the Supreme Buddha who preached many discourses in this place. 

A  monastery has been built about 1 KM from this holy spot by His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche and inaugurated in 2018.  The main purpose of this program is to bring together Mahayana Bhiksunis in the Dharmaguptaka  tradition from different countries and traditions and live harmoniously for one Vassa and learn from each other, and to vitalize the power of Dhamma in this new monastery for the good of future monastic and laity. 

We respectfully with folded palms invite Venerable Bhikshunis in the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya tradition to take up Varsa in this holy place of SAVATTHI, India, where Supreme Buddha spent 25 Varsas. 

The program will host 108 Bhikshunis, from countries  holding the Dharmaguptaka ordination lineage and those who took ordination with them. (This includes Vietnam, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Mainland China and US/Europe/Australia)  There are suitable places for meditation, study and Sima for bhikshuni procedures. It will be a rare opportunity for bhikshunis from different countries to live together and share their knowledge and experiences on the path of Dharma. 

The retreat iwill incorporate three components of study and practice: Precepts, Samadhi/Wisdom/Community.  Precepts, or Vinaya Study will have a team of esteemed teachers from different Monasteries. The team will have different areas of Vinaya expertise and there will be both practice and discussion time. We are happy to announce that Vinaya Master Wu Yin of the Luminary Temple in Taiwan and assisted by Ven Jenkir. will lead the actual precepts section of study.  Ven Guo Kai, of the Dharma Drum tradition in Taiwan, expert in ritual and Ven. Thubten Chodron of Shravasti Abbey, expert in the Karmans,  have agreed to lead the additional sections of Vinaya along with Ven. Heng Ching of the National Taiwan University advising and consulting.

Interspersed with the Vinaya teaching will be Samadhi retreats. We are inviting senior teachers from the participating monasteries/traditions to be responsible for  successive silent retreats. They each will lead  in the style of their tradition. For example, we will invite Dharma Drum to conduct a retreat of their Silent Illumination  meditation style. From the Drikung Kagyu we will introduce the new Shravasti Curriculum that uses the Anapanasati Sutra as a base to present the three yanas including beginning mahamudra instructions.

The third portion, Community,  will be a thread throughout the retreat. We will lead reflection on 21st Century monasticism, how we engage in the public action, applying the Dharma and concluding ceremonies. Every effort will be made to document the retreat so the wisdom is shared and benefits the greater Sangha in a long-lasting manner. Ven Khenmo Trinlay, Drikung editor, will create a book of our proceedings.

We believe this general plan will allow us to share the jewels of our practice traditions, as well as our community’s wisdom with each other. 

Planning: 

Lead by Khenmo Drolma of Vajra Dakini Nunnery, we have formed a bhikshuni planning team; Ven. Thubten Chonyi of Shravasti Abbey and Ven Chang Hwa of The Chan Meditation Center of New York, a Dharma Drum Temple. All senior nuns in their tradition, they along with a diverse advisors, are outlining the outreach process and curriculum. They are actively gathering support with monastery visits, at conferences, and with advised referrals.

In November we met with the Vinaya teaching Team in Taiwan for a full discussion of curriculum.

Logistics

Shared double rooms are available. As many are unused to the climate, air-conditioning has been built into the facilities. Every effort will be made to insure comfort and health. The transportation from respective countries will be provided along with healthy food and pure water. 

Ritual Dates:

July 1  Arrive in Shravasti, preparations and ceremony organization

July 4  Opening Ceremonies and Set Boundaries

July 5 Opening Ritual/Full Moon Posadha

July 6 Enter Varsa

July 20 New Moon Posadha individual retreat day

Aug 3 Full Moon Posadha individual retreat day

Aug 19 New Moon Posadha individual retreat day

Optional Pilgrimage Invitation Oct 28 – Dec 14 light of the Buddha Foundation

Proposed Sample of Daily Schedule during Precepts Section

5:00 a.m.           Wake up

5:30 – 6:30        Chanting and Meditation practice

7:00                    Breakfast

7:30                    Light group cleaning of shared spaces

9:00 – 10:30     Teachings

11:00 – 11:50     Teachings or Group discussions

12:00 noon         Lunch

2:30 – 4:00        Teachings or Discussion

4:30                     Study time or personal interviews with teachers

6:00 p.m.           Medicine meal and clean up

7:00 – 8:15        Meditation practice

Note:
1. There will be Uposatha on the Full moon day and new moon days
2. There will be few special puja on some days

 

Proposed Sample of Daily Schedule during Samadhi Section

Conducted in Noble Silence

4:30 a.m.            Wake up

5:00 – 6:30        Meditation practice

7:00                     Breakfast

7:45                      Light group cleaning of shared spaces

8:00 –9:30         Meditation practice/Teaching

9:45-10:45          Walking Meditation

11:00 – 11:50     Meditation practice

12:00 noon         Lunch

12:30- 2:00        Study or rest

2:00 – 2:30       Walking Meditation

3:00- 4:30          Meditation /Teacher interviews

5:00 p.m.           Medicine meal

5:45-7:00           Study or rest

7:00 – 8:15        Meditation practice

Note:
1. There will be Uposatha on the Full moon day and new moon days
2. There will be few special puja on some days