November 27, 2010
This year’s retreat, under the guidance and supervision of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa, began on November 23rd at Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya. The retreat is part of the preparations for the Akshobhya Fire Ritual, and the Fire Ritual occurs on the penultimate evening of the annual Karma Kagyu Monlam Chenmo. The ritual takes place in the shrine room opposite His Holiness’ living quarters, on the roof of the temple at Tergar.
The retreat lasts for two weeks. This year there are sixteen retreatants, drawn from Kagyu communities worldwide and comprising three laypeople, five nuns and eight monks. On the first day the Gyalwang Karmapa conferred the Akshobhya empowerment (Tibetan: wang) on those taking part and gave the transmission (Tibetan: lüng). During the retreat he will give a daily teaching to the participants on the ritual’s significance.
The Akshobhya ritual is a very powerful purification practice done for the benefit of all sentient beings. It can liberate not only the practitioners themselves from the fear of an unfortunate rebirth, but other beings as well. The Buddha Akshobhya promised that the merit generated by reciting one-hundred-thousand of his long dhayani mantra and making an image of him could be dedicated to other people, both living and dead, and this would assure their release from lower states of existence and rebirth in spiritually fortunate circumstances.