Held in January
The ten to fourteen-day lamrim retreat is based on Lama Tsongkhapa’s writing, considered some of the most important texts of the Gelug Tradition of Buddhism.
The texts are founded on the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, and form a complete and gradual spiritual path leading to ultimate happiness and enlightenment. Through cultivating an awareness of our present conditions, we gain an understanding of the nature of our dissatisfaction and unhappiness, identify the causes for these states of mind, and find out how we can overcome them. Understanding this, we can then direct our energy to deal more effectively with any situation, be it positive or negative.
The retreat covers many important topics such as the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, the four noble truths, karma, the nature of our mind, conventional and ultimate truth, the twelve links of dependent origination and bodhicitta, just to name a few.
Many of the ideas presented will be new and sometimes contrary to western beliefs, so come with an open mind and a willingness to analyse, question and contemplate the teachings, as well as your own beliefs. The teachings offer a fresh perspective on a range of issues, which may be challenging. It takes courage and patience to complete this course. Courage, because you will see yourself in a new way, and will be listening to teachings that might sound strange and confronting; patience, because it takes time to change old habits. Developing a good heart, learning to be more tolerant, loving and compassionate all take time.
The annual Lamrim Retreat Course at Chenrezig Institute was inspired by the lamrim course taught in September 1974 in Diamond Valley by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa, the first lamrim course taught by the lamas outside of Kopan Monastery, Nepal. More recently, the retreat has become a tradition and is now held every January. It has been attended by hundreds, if not thousands of people looking for meaning and happiness in their lives.
Traditionally, there is a refuge ceremony at the end for students wanting to take the formal step of becoming a Buddhist.
* Events available here once dates are finalised
Usually – Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga Retreat
Within Tibetan Buddhism, there is an emphasis on creating a connection with a spiritual friend or teacher who will be able to support and nurture your personal development. This person will provide inspiration, encouragement, guidance and, most importantly, lead a life of example. In modern terms, they are the ultimate life coach, not only for this life, but for the lives beyond. When choosing this teacher, the Buddha advises students to look carefully for specific qualities and not to make any commitment until you are completely sure.
Lama Tsongkhapa is revered as the the Founder of the Gelug school of Buddhism and author of The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path (Lamrim Chenmo). Both His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa Rinpoche teach this powerful yet accessible practice. specifically because it is helpful for creating the karma to meet a qualified spiritual teacher. It removes obstacles for creating this important connection and increases the blessings that come from this relationship.
This retreat is ideal for students who have taken refuge with Geshe Tsultrim or who are starting to attend his teachings, but is also suitable for everyone else.
Easter 2023 – Arya tara retreat
In an effort to create conditions that will support our Chenrezig Institute community and generally inspire us, we have been placing special emphasis on the practices of Arya Tara through the first part of 2023. This is directly connected to Geshela’s request that we recite 100,000 Praises to the 21 Taras in order to remove all obstacles to being able to effortlessly realise the vision for the centre that he outlined at a recent community meeting.
Geshe Tsultrim has kindly agreed to lead the Easter retreat in 2023 and to continue the theme of Arya Tara practice through that. He will offer teachings each day including commentary on the practice of Arya Tara we will be using for the retreat.
For us this represents a great chance to cultivate virtue, to support Geshela and Chenrezig Institute now and into the future, and to subdue the inner and outer obstacles that hinder our experience of happiness.
It is not necessary to have received any initiation or lung to participate in the retreat. Included in the schedule will be an explanation of the Buddhist path and the various parts of the practice itself.
* Events available here once dates are finalised
Nyung nä Retreats
Held in the lead-up to Saka Dawa in April or May
Bring to light positive states of mind and discover for yourself the nature of serious retreat during this special annual event.
A nyung nä retreat is a two-day meditation, fasting and purification practice based on the sadhana of Thousand-Armed Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion. It is an extremely powerful way to heal illnesses, purify negative karma and open the heart to compassion. It is an effective spiritual, mental and physical detox. Each two-day nyung nä involves taking the eight Mahayana precepts, maintaining silence and doing prayer recitations and prostrations. The second day includes fasting for 24 hours (taking no food or water). We usually hold a series of three consecutive nyung näs.
Even doing just one nyung nä is an extremely powerful method of cleansing negativity and accumulating merit. No specific empowerments are needed.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche comments, ‘Nyung näs take such a short time, but bring strong purification. So many eons can be purified in this life; it makes it so easy to have attainments.’
* Events available here once dates are finalised
Mani Retreat (in June 2023)
A mind committed to compassion is like an overflowing reservoir: a constant source of energy, determination and kindness. When compassion is cultivated, it gives rise to many other good qualities, such as forgiveness, tolerance, inner strength and the confidence to overcome fear and insecurity. His Holiness the Dalai Lama says that compassion, the wish for everyone to be free of suffering, lies at the heart of the Buddhist path.
A mani retreat focuses on developing compassion through a joyful and uplifting practice of visualising Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion and reciting his powerful mantra of. It is easy to remember, easy to recite and its meaning is extremely profound. The benefits of reciting OM MANI PADME HUM are immeasurable: the mantra purifies our negative karma, develops our compassionate heart, and ultimately creates the causes for us to actualise the entire path to enlightenment.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche says, ‘Without compassion you can’t have the realisation of bodhicitta, you can’t enter the Mahayana path, you can’t achieve enlightenment, you can’t achieve the infinite qualities of the holy body, holy speech and holy mind of Buddha. Without great compassion you can’t do perfect work for sentient beings, bringing them to enlightenment’.
End of year
Vajrasattva Purification Retreat
Purification within the Buddhist tradition involves looking over our lives and considering times where we may have thought, said or acted in ways that caused harm to ourselves or others. We do this without guilt but rather with a sense of regret, recognising that it was harmful and not beneficial. With the power of resolve, we firmly envision how we can improve our behaviour in the year ahead. We overcome self-doubt and confusion, and instead focus on the clean clear state of mind that is always present.
Participants are guided through the text Vajrasattva Purification Practice, which involves meditation sessions throughout the day, some parts conducted in English and some in Tibetan, along with visualisation and mantra recitation. This disciplined method encourages practitioners to skillfully regret wrongdoings, purify them, and resolve to transform their efforts into benefiting all beings.
‘Doing Vajrasattva retreat is not simply about reciting the mantra and saying some prayers. It is about making the practice effective for your mind, making it the quickest, most powerful way to transform your mind.’
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
In this fast-paced, busy and overwhelming world, with little time or emphasis given to contemplation, we have the opportunity to give ourselves this gift, which will inevitably be a gift for others.
This retreat is suitable for beginners or experienced practitioners alike, but a basic understanding of karma will be helpful. Senior members of the Sangha will lead students through the practices.
Home Mani Retreat
Update on the Home Mani Retreat
It is with great joy on behalf of all the home retreat participants, Chenrezig Institute offers to Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche the 8,386,600 manis that have been recited over
the past year accumulating in a total of 714,844,489 manis over the 22 year period of our combined Mani Retreats. Although we have not completed 100 million manis in each retreat as initially requested by Rinpoche, we persevere and understand that the most important aspect of the practice is not the number of mantras that are recited but the development of a good heart and a compassionate attitude and rejoice in our continuing efforts.
This year for the 23rd year the Home Mani Retreat will begin on Tuesday 15th November, 2022 (the Wheel Turning Day of Buddha’s Descent from Tushita) and will finish on Saka Dawa 4th June, 2023.
INSPIRATION for the Mani Retreat
“ In your room, even if you recite one mala of mantra, whatever prayer you recite with bodhicitta, even with no realisation but with effort for bodhicitta, even some short prayer that you did for sentient beings, and then you come out. You see dogs, you see cats, or you see birds, you see insects or ants or things in the road, you see people. So you have done that one mala of mantra for everybody, every sentient being, for their happiness, for their enlightenment. When you come out, you have done that one mala of OM MANI PADME HUM or short prayer or whatever, for every being in the sky, trees, shops, people, on the road. Even one OM MANI PADME HUM recited one time is for everyone’s happiness, especially for enlightenment. So you should remember, you have already prayed for them, when you see dogs, birds, you have already done prayers for them in your room. Remember that. So amazing!” Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
If you would like to participate in the Home Mani Retreat 23 please contact the Home Retreat Co-ordinator, Caroline Crossman via email firstname.lastname@example.org who will send all of the details through to you. At the end of each month there will be a monthly reminder to submit your mala count for that month. Please note that it is the mala count that participants should submit not the mani count i.e.1 mala = 108 mani recitations.
For any errors in the accounting of manis I accept full responsibility and request your forgiveness and patience with all of this.
Mani Retreat 23 Volunteer Home Co-ordinator,
Updated information about retreats will be made available each year on our facebook page and in our calendar and newsletters.