Yarney-Summer Retreat


The retreat is a three-month, or one month and half period in the Tibetan tradition, depending of the way of counting, generally beginning after the full-moon day of the eight lunar month (usually July), during which monks are required to remain in residence in one place. The Buddha instructed monks to stay in one place during the monsoon period in order to prevent the killing of insects and worms while walking on muddy roads. It is one of the three basic rituals of the Vinaya.

This retreat practice comes from the Indian custom established by the Buddha in the Vinaya Sutra. At the time of the Buddha, the retreat was three months long and done during the summer monsoon. It was a practical response to the monsoon weather. It was also considered not appropriate to travel with the increased likelihood of walking on insects during the rains.Shechen Monastery does the Tibetan version of a one and a half month retreat. During this time none of the monks leave the monastery grounds and they observe other special vows and restrictions.

The first day of the Yarney began with the sojong vows. Sojong is a practice for purifying and restoring broken vows. “So” means "to restore”, i.e. to make broken vows and replenish positive virtues. “Jong” means “to purify”, i.e. to clear away negative karmas and harmful deeds. Traditionally, Sojong is practiced bimonthly by members of the sangha to restore any broken Pratimoksha vows. This purification practice is also observed by some lay Buddhists.

During Yarney the wooden monastic bell called Gendi (used since the time of the Buddha and only for Yarney and Sojong) is beaten to call for lunch and morning prayers (this ancient implement.

Every day the monks take breakfast and lunch in the temple using the traditional monks bowl called “lungdze”. Most of the monks take a vow not to eat at night, in accordance with the Vinaya tradition.Every evening Aspiration Prayers (Monlam) are recited, which the public can also participate in.


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