Nyung-nay (or "fasting retreat" in English) is a Vajrayana practice from the kriya ("action") class of tantra. It is a powerful practice to develop compassion and bodhichitta – the mind that strives for enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. It is also a quick and effective method to purify negativities and collect merit. Meditators of the past have been known to purify such diseases as leprosy through this practice.
We will be running four nyung-nays. One nyung-nay requires being resident here for three nights, in order to incorporate two full practice days. Check-in is on day 1, days 2 & 3 are the practice days and, if you are not continuing for another nyung-nay, check-out is on day 4. Participants may join for one, two, three or the complete set of four nyung-nays.
If you haven't done this practice before, you will be required to join the first one where full instruction will be given.
In each session we practice the sadhana ("method of accomplishment") of Chenrezig, the Buddha symbolising compassion. The sadhana involves meditating on bodhichitta (the aspiration to attain enlightenment in order to help all beings), visualizing Chenrezig, reciting prayers and mantras, and performing prostrations. Each session lasts approximately 3 hours.
Each nyung-nay consists of seven practice sessions spread over this time, the first starting at 3:30am on day 2 (which is why you have to stay here the night before) and ending after breakfast on day 4.
These sets of nyung-nays wil be led by Richard Meijers.
To enhance a focused and contemplative atmosphere, this retreat will be held at our nearby retreat place – Stupa Garden of Compassion.
The spiritual impact of engaging in nyung-nay practice is extraordinary, as explained in these references:
Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche's advice on the nyung-nay practice, Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archives
Nyung-nay retreat and its benefits, from the FPMT's Chokyi Gyaltsen Center, Malaysia.
You should be a Buddhist, having formally taken refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Those who have not formally taken refuge or who have not participated in Nyung-nay Retreat before will need to have an interview with the Spiritual Programme Coordinator and/or the retreat leader.
You should have taken the Great 1000-Armed Chenrezig Initiation, which will require taking the Bodhisattva Vows; if you haven't you should at least have received a complete initiation (wang) from one of the three higher classes of tantra.
You must be familiar with the Lam Rim (the Graduated Path to Enlightenment as presented in the Gelugpa Tibetan Buddhist tradition) and have attended at least one introductory course in Tibetan Buddhism.
You must have read all information on this website about the retreat, and agree to follow the discipline of the retreat, including fasting, strict silence, attending all sessions, and wearing appropriate clothing (no shorts or sleeveless shirts).
If you have never done nyung-nays before you must attend the first nyung-nay, where all the explanations of the practice will be given.
Nyung-nay 1: Check-in Sun 18 – Mon 19 & Tue 20 Nyung Nay practice – Check-out Wed 21
Nyung-nay 2: Check-in Wed 20 – Wed 21 & Thu 22 Nyung Nay practice – Check-out Fri 23
Nyung-nay 3: Check-in Thu 22 – Fri 23 & Sat 24 Nyung Nay practice – Check-out Sun 25
Nyung-nay 4: Check-in Sat 24 – Sun 25 & Mon 26 Nyung Nay practice – Check-out Tue 27
First day of Nyung-Nay:
4am: 1st Session ~ take precepts to eat only lunch, drinks and talking permitted.
8.30am: 2nd Session
3.30pm: 3rd Session
Second day of Nyung-Nay:
4am: 4th Session ~ take precepts to not eat, drink or talk for 24hrs
8.30am: 5th Session
3.30pm: 6th Session
Check out day:
4am: 7th Session ~ your final session
9.30am: Check out from reception
On the first day of the nyung-nay, we take the 8 Mahayana Precepts: avoidance of killing, stealing, sexual activity, telling lies, taking intoxicants, eating more than one meal, singing / dancing / playing music, wearing jewelry, and using high seats or beds. Three sessions of the sadhana are practised on the first day.
On the second day of the nyung-nay, we take the 8 Mahayana Precepts as above, with the additional vows of not eating, drinking or speaking for 24 hours. Three sessions of the sadhana are practised on this day. Although we vow to keep silence, we continue to recite the prayers and mantras of the sadhana. If communication between participants is necessary, it must be done through writing notes.
The second day is the most difficult part of the retreat. We experience hunger, thirst, tiredness and pain from doing prostrations. Some people feel ill from the fasting. However, if we understand the purpose of the practice, we will not mind the discomfort.
By experiencing hardships in our Dharma practice, we are able to purify a great deal of our negative karma accumulated over countless previous lives. We can also build up positive habits and states of mind to counteract the negative ones.
The Buddha advised the "middle way" – not too soft, not too tough. During nyung-nays we do experience discomfort, but it is bearable and not too tough. By experiencing this discomfort, we have a better understanding of the suffering experienced by animals, hungry ghosts, and some humans, and thus develop greater compassion for sentient beings, and greater renunciation of samsara.
Mala to be used only for Chenrezig mantra – best is crystal (preferably in a small bag)
Vajra and bell (only for those who have received initiation)
Mandala set (if you would like to offer during the sadhana)
Dharma book to read during break times
Many clean clothes, as Kriya Tantra emphasizes cleanliness; clothing should be comfortable and loose-fitting, and appropriate for a semi-monastic environment (no shorts or sleeveless shirts)
Your own cup (big or medium) and thermos, if possible
If desired, additional nutritious food (such as nuts, dried fruit, energy bars) to supplement the one meal on the first day of the nyung-nay; and any special drinks such as dehydration salts
Pain relievers might be helpful in case of developing sore muscles from prostrating.
Finalised schedule available on arrival.
WHEN YOU APPLY PLEASE LET US KNOW WHICH NYUNG-NAY YOU WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND
Root Institute is a delightful, semi-monastic meditation centre.
To maintain a conducive, spiritually harmonious atmosphere for inner reflection and meditation, we kindly ask all our students, guests and visitors to observe the following guidelines:
Respect all life: do not intentionally kill any living being, even small insects.
Respect others' property: do not steal or take anything not freely given.
Be honest and straightforward: do not lie or intentionally deceive others.
Be celibate: no sexual activity; this also includes no romantic holding hands, hugging, massages and other physical displays of affection.
Be alert and mindful*: avoid intoxicants such as alcohol, drugs and cigarettes; we encourage you to stop smoking while here, but if this is impossible, you can smoke outside the gates.
Be considerate of others' silence: keep silence in the appropriate areas and at all times during residential courses, especially in the meditation hall (gompa) and dormitories; no singing or playing music and, in general, maintain a quiet demeanour while on the property.
Be considerate of the monks and nuns: dress respectfully; please no shorts above the knee, tank-top shirts, or tight and revealing clothing.
Couples: can stay in the same room for two weeks or less under the celibacy policy.
Please be aware:
* The Bihar state government has passed laws totally prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol in the state, with very severe penalties! Please ensure that you do not carry any alcohol with you in Bihar.
Also, please note that those in service or teaching in FPMT centers and projects do not engage in the practice of Shugden.
Our spiritual programme now runs from beginning of September through to end of April.
On the appropriate dates in the Tibetan calendar year-round, however, we observe the standard pujas of the Gelug tradition and these are drop-in sessions which anyone can attend. If you are in Bodhgaya and would like to come along, please feel welcome to join us for:
Unless otherwise indicated, registration is required for all spiritual programme events except drop-in sessions, Festival of Lights & Merit, and Mahabodhi Stupa events.