Friday 19th December, 2008
Following some changes, the retreat began on Friday 19th December, a day later than originally planned, and will last for fifteen days, concluding on 2nd January 2009. There are 16 monks, drawn from all the Kagyu monasteries, in retreat. The retreat is a preparation for the Akshobhya Ritual to be held on the 9th and 10th January 2009, during the 26th Kagyu Monlam. This year’s ritual will be especially dedicated to all those who lost their lives in the typhoon which hit Burma, the March disturbances and demonstrations in Tibet, the Sichuan earthquake in China, and the November terrorist attack on Mumbai (Bombay).
During the retreat the monks, who must have already completed a three year retreat in order to qualify, offer four sessions each day of the Akshobhya Saddhana, and keep strict soljong. They do not eat after midday. They do not eat meat or any ‘black’ foods – onion, garlic, eggs – and their food is specially prepared by a small team of volunteers: a Taiwanese nun is the chef, assisted by two Sikkimese laymen. During the retreat the monks will receive teachings on Akshobhya from the Gyalwang Karmapa.
His Holiness teaching on Madhyamika