2021 RAINS RETREAT
Hello dearest friends and devotees: On Saturday, 24th July we will begin the holy time honored Rains-Retreat. As you know this is a very blessed season for monasteries around the world, and for many lay people, who will reduce worldly activities as much as possible. We deeply hope and pray that those of you who are able will use this opportunity to support and offer dedications through these pujas to gather vast merits for yourself, your loved ones, and all beings in the six realms. See the full schedule (in both English and Tibetan), and sponsorship opportunities, below the history.
History of Rains Retreat (Vassavasa)
“When the rainy season has come and it is raining, many living beings are originated and many seed just spring up. Knowing this one should not wander from village to village, but remain during the rainy season in one place.” – Acaranga Sutra, Jaina Sutras.
This passage refers to the Jain mendicants’ practice during the Buddha’s time in India, from whom the custom of rains-retreat was developed in Buddhism. During the rainy season the Jain mendicants developed the notion of non-injury (ahimsa) and paused their wandering habits. Respecting this as well, the Buddha ordered his followers to pass the rainy season in settled dwellings.
The term vassavasa means ‘residence during rains’; also known as rains-retreat. Well known in the historical story, the Buddha preached his first sermon to the five ascetics at Sarnath. In those times, his preaching tour was reduced by the three-month period spent in vassavasa. However, as this practice was not yet a formal discipline, many monks continued to wander here and there. Two considerations worth mentioning about this rainy period are 1) the difficulties of travel in historical India, and 2) the potential harm to living species.
Paths were muddy, roads were covered with water, rivers overflowed – thereby restricting the movements of travelers. Secondly, when monks traveled during the rainy season, they potentially injured all forms of life including plants and creatures that surfaced with the rains. People criticized the monks for this and thus the Buddha laid down the precept and enjoined the monks to enter a rains-retreat in a fixed location. The specific dates of the rains-retreat period vary somewhat.
During the rains-retreat, the monastic Saṅgha was advised to settle where alms-food and other requisites would be available without extensive travel, neither too far from a village nor too near, suitable for coming and going, accessible for people whenever they want, not crowded by day, having little noise at night, little sound, without folk’s breath, haunts of privacy, suitable for seclusion.
For rains-retreat, two types of settlements were generally indicated in Buddhist monastic code: avasas and aramas in Pali; viharas in Sanskrit, The avasas were constructed by monks themselves as a monastic dwelling place made with natural boundaries such as a mountain, rock, tree and so on, and that no one infringed upon another. These were temporary places set-up and at the end of the rains-retreat removed by monks.
In contrast to the rather temporary avasas, the dwelling place of viharas, were more permanent in nature, where a number of monks would dwell together. The word Sangharama indicates a dwelling for the Buddhist Sangha and it is a monks’ private property donated by lay devotees. Several donations of these viharas are mentioned in the Tipitaka; one notable example being King Bimbisara’s donation of Veluvana in Rajagriha. Symbolically, this gesture represented the first offering of its kind to the Buddhist Saṅgha. With the ascendancy of the powerful Mauryan king Ashoka (3rd century BC), who admired and followed the Buddha’s teachings, these viharas flourished throughout northeast India. Later developments of the viharas became known as monasteries, or Buddhist temples, where large numbers of monks resided. The viharas are the institutional precursors of the great Buddhist monastic centers of South and Southeast Asia and India
Though the significance and impact of the rains-retreat evolved from the early temporary locations, the viharas, or more permanent dwellings, influenced the Buddhist Saṅgha in such a way that longer-term communities began to form and a collective life emerged with numbers of monks living together in one place permanently. This idea was seeded originally with the institutionalization of rains-retreat. Additional structures like meeting halls, storerooms, bathrooms, and kitchens were later added for the Buddhist Saṅgha to meet their community needs. Rules and regulations for the management and administration of these communities developed as well. What began simply as a 3-month pause in the practice routines of itinerant monks became an institutional development that would greatly influence lay and monastic cooperation. Additionally, the formalized rains-retreat would impact the monastic rules for practice and development of spiritual life. Often in present day, the rains-retreat practice is not limited within the Buddhist Saṅgha, but lay followers can be found observing the period. During rains-retreat, lay followers take certain vows and observe the precepts rigorously, engaging in activities such as: providing alms food to monastic Sangha, giving up certain activities such as smoking and intoxicants, observing the eight precepts, practicing meditation, chanting Buddhist Sutras and listening to Dharma talks. It is well documented in the texts that during the rains-retreat, many monks and nuns achieved spiritual goals. The rains-retreat affirms that both the monastic and lay community has developed over time in mutual co-operation and observance of the Buddha’s teachings.
Rains Retreat Schedule: 24 July – 6 Sept 2021
Sat 24 July: Rainy Season Retreat begins with Monastic Confession Ceremony (ordained Sangha only), and preparation for 13 Deities Yamantaka Intensive Sadhana Session.
Sun 25 – Tues 27 July: 13 Deities Yamantaka Intensive Sadhana Session and Increasing Fire Puja.
Wed 28 – Thur 29 July: Reading of 105 volumes of texts (Kagyur) of Buddha’s teachings.
Fri 30 July: Tara Thread Cross Ceremony preparation (Dolma Yuldog Dadig)
Sat 31 July: Tara Thread Cross Ceremony (Dolma Yuldog).
Sun 1 – Mon 9 Aug: Heruka Chakrasambara Sand Mandlala preparation and construction.
Sat 7 – Mon 9 Aug: Monthly Protector Puja and start of Simhanada Nagas Rite for 2 days (gesgra’ikluchog).
Tues 10 – Fri 13 Aug: Heruka Chakrasambara Intensive Sadhana Sessions with Fire Puja Offering (Sdrop Chod).
Sat 14 – Wed 18 Aug: Increasing Pujas (Yangdrup) of White Mahakala (Gonkar), Veshermana (Namsey) and Ratna Shugden (Gayzid).
Thur 19 – Fri 20 Aug: Reading of 225 volumes of translated commentaries of Buddha (Tripitaka).
Sat 21 Aug: Great Consecration (Rabne Chinmo) preparation.
Sun 22 – Mon 23 Aug: Guhyasamaja Intensive Sadhana Session with Great Consecration (Rabne Chinmo) and Fire Puja Offering (gsangba ‘duspa’ isgrubmchodsbyinsreg).
Tue 24 Aug: The International Great Protector Dorje Shugden Celebration Day, and the conclusion of Great Consecration (Rabne Chinmo) with peaceful Fire Puja.
Wed 25 Aug: Great Kangso preparation.
Thur 26 – Sun 29 Aug: Great Kangso offering to Mahakala, Kalarupa, Sridevi, Kubera, Dorje Shugden, etc.
Mon 30 Aug: Death Anniversary Offerings Day of Great Master Dhulwa Zenpa Palden Sangpo.
Tues 31 Aug: Chapter Guhyasamaja Tantra texts reading (dpalgsangba duspa irgyudgzhungle u 17 rgyudphyi ma bcas).
Wed 1 Sept: Vajrayogini waxing moon period (Tibetan tenth) offering.
Thur 2nd – Sun 5th Sept: White Umbrella Goddess offering puja for averting epidemics (gdugs dkar gtordog Dasdrik).
Mon 6th Sept: Final day of Rainy Season Retreat: Confession Ceremony and start of monks’ 7-day holiday (dga gdbye).
As always, we try to offer auspicious opportunities to all of our friends who are not here to accumulate vast merits. Sponsoring pujas or caring for a monastic community is always beneficial, but greatly increased during this retreat season. When you sponsor any part of a puja you can give us your dedications or special prayer request wishes for yourself, your family and/or friends, people who have passed, or any challenge or difficulty you might be facing. These dedications and requests are read during each puja. Though we are always praying for all living beings, this is extremely gratifying for us to be able to extend these opportunities to our friends to be a part of these special events in which the merits are multiplied and strengthen your connection to this precious monastery. Below is a list of ways to sponsor:
If you would like to sponsor any of the following, for PayPal users please click on the ‘Donate’ button below. For other payment option, use this FundRazr link: https://fundrazr.com/bu4h6?ref=ab_5kzVf (This is our Ongoing Segyu Monastery and Prayer Hall Support page but is also used for puja donations.) After donating, please send us a message through our CONTACT page informing which puja and any dedications you would like us to read.
Tea: 30 USD
Bread: 30 USD
Lunch: 90 USD
Meals for one whole day: 150 USD
Monks alms for 100 monks. We are grateful for any amount you wish to offer each monk.
General puja offerings. We are grateful for any amount you wish to offer.
Butter lamps: small 1 USD / large 5 USD
Robes: small 25 USD / large 35 USD
Sponsoring Puja Substances:
Any of the Fire Pujas: 60 USD
13 Deity Yamantaka Intensive Sadhana Session with Great Consecration Ceremony and Fire Puja Offering: 50 USD
Tara Thread Cross Ceremony (sgrol ma g‐yulmdosgrasgrig dang dngosgzhi’ichogargyas pa): 50 USD
Guhyasamaja Intensive Sadhana Session with Fire Puja Offering (gsangba ‘duspa’isgrubmchodsbyinsreg): 30 USD
Simhanada Nagas Rite preparation and actual session (Sangey dar jebtsun seng gesgra’ikluchog): 20 USD
Heruka Chakrasambara Intensive Sadhana Session with Fire Puja Offering (Drup Cho): 50 USD
Great Kangso offering to Mahakala, Kalarupa, Sridevi, Kubera etc. 50 USD
Death anniversary offerings day of great Master Dhulwa Zenpa Palden Sangpo: 30 USD
Vajrayogini Waxing Moon Period 10th Offering: 30 USD
White Umbrella Goddess offering for averting epidemics (Dukkar Lok Chen): 50 USD