Each year to celebrate Buddha’s Enlightenment Day on the 15 April, Kadampas around the world engage in Nyungne, a special purification practice. This two day retreat, which is done in conjunction with Thousand-Armed Avalokiteshvara, is very powerful for purifying the negative karma of body, speech, and mind, and pacifying strong delusions such as desirous attachment and hatred. In this practice, which involves taking Mahayana precepts and the practice of prostrations, we purify our mind and strengthen our compassion.
This practice is done over two days, with the eight Mahayana precepts being taken at the beginning of each day. The practice of taking and keeping the eight Mahayana precepts is a special practice of moral discipline that is performed with bodhichitta motivation – the supreme good heart. The essence of the practice is to take eight precepts – promising to abstain for twenty-four hours from eight actions: (1) killing, (2) stealing, (3) sexual activity, (4) lying, (5) taking intoxicants, (6) eating after lunch, (7) sitting on high or luxurious thrones or seats, and (8) wearing ornaments, perfume, singing and dancing and so forth – and to keep them purely for this period of time. These eight, however, are merely symbolic, for in reality we promise to abstain from all non-virtuous actions for twenty-four hours.
On the first day, it is customary to abstain from all meals apart from lunch. On the second day, we engage in a complete fast abstaining from all food and drink for twenty-four hours. On both days we do three sessions of the puja Drop of Essential Nectar – one first thing in the morning, one before lunch, and one in the late afternoon. Those who are unable to engage in a complete fast can participate in the puja on the second day, provided they take the eight Mahayana precepts on that day.
It is traditional to bring white offerings for the shrine, avoiding black foods such as alcohol, meat, eggs, onion, garlic, or spices.
You may choose to engage in one or two days of the retreat; please check the centre calendar for the session times. There is no cost for the retreat but please bring your own simple vegetarian lunch (avoiding the black foods listed above) for the first day. For any questions or further information please the centre.