Vajrasattva Preliminary Practice Retreat

February 2 to April 25 2019

This retreat is limited to a maximum of 12 participants – early registration is recommended.

Be embraced by the Chenrezig Buddhist Community as you dedicate three months to the practice of Vajrasattva.

The Vajrasattva purification practice, which is more powerful than negative karma, can prevent you from experiencing the problems that negative karma would otherwise bring you. Thus, the practice of purification is one of the most important solutions to our problems and is extremely necessary….
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. Experienced meditators have advised that, in general, it is more important to put your everyday life’s effort into the practice of purification. This is the way to attain spiritual realisation. – Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Nestle into our comfortable refurbished Tara room and be supported by an experienced sangha as you undertake this preliminary practice found in all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Designed for students completing their 100,000 mantra count and starting after Losar, the Tibetan New year, retreatants will begin their practice during the auspicious Days of Miracles. The retreat will end with a traditional fire puja ritual overseen be Geshe Phuntsok Tsultrim.

This is an opportunity to experience an authentic  Buddhist retreat in a highly supportive environment.

Geshe Tenzin Zopa will give teachings on the preliminary practices to students starting the retreat.
Venerable Thubten Chokyi, will gently guide students into the retreat and support students throughout.
Geshe Phuntsok Tsultrim will oversee the closing Fire Puja and support students with advice as they emerge from the retreat.

Retreat packages start from $4183 per person including all meals, retreat materials and accommodation in a twin Sangha House room, and $4267 per person for single accommodation.

PRE-REQUISITES TO JOIN THE RETREAT

In order to participate in this retreat, you MUST:

  • Be in stable mental health with no recent history of mental illness. During the Orientation Days, all retreaters will have an interview with the Retreat Leader and/or Spiritual Programme Coordinator.
  • Previous retreat experience would be an ideal foundation.
  • Come with a strong determination to complete the entire retreat! Some people doing this retreat will have a commitment to complete 100,000 mantras others may have no commitments at all. Because this is a group retreat, your presence in the group and your support of your fellow retreaters is essential in making this a positive experience for everyone. Therefore, we ask you to commit for the full retreat period, even if you complete your mantra commitment earlier.
  • Have read all information on this website about the retreat, including the guidelines for behaviour and gompa etiquette and agree to follow the discipline of the retreat. If a person’s behaviour becomes disruptive to the group, Chenrezig Institute management team has the right to ask them to leave.
  • Apply online – at the bottom of this page.

Vajrasattva Preliminary Practice Retreat Schedule

During the Orientation Days, there will be:

  • Interview with the Retreat Leader and/or Spiritual Programme Coordinator
  • Teachings on Vajrasattva and instructions on the practice with Geshe Tenzin Zopa and Ven Chokyi
  • Preparation of the retreat space
  • Opportunities to become acquainted with your fellow retreaters
  • Celebrations for Losar

The Vajrasattva practice will end with a fire puja on the final day.

Joining a Group Retreat

There are many advantages to doing Vajrasattva retreat as a group here at Chenrezig Institute:

  • Your retreat takes place in a completely supportive environment. Our community understands and supports you in your practice.
  • We have a Sangha experienced with the western mind in retreat.
  • Our resident teacher Geshe Phuntsok Tsultrim is available to support all ritual aspects of the retreat including the final fire puja
  • Our Big Love cafe team can support your Gluten Free and Dairy Free requirements.
  • Comfortable accommodation options – both single and twin rooms.
  • Our beautiful grounds allow you to stretch your legs between sessions and be inspired by our Garden of Enlightenment and natural bush setting.
  • A newly refurbished retreat space. Cool comfortable and just for your use.

As in any group situation, there can be challenges when we live and practice closely with others. This retreat invites us to reflect that we progress along the spiritual path in dependence on our relationship with these beings we have the karma to do this retreat with. We can learn how to be skillful in our thoughts, speech and actions so that we offer support to each person doing the retreat as best they can.

The Retreat Leader and Programme Coordinator will be available during the retreat to support participants.  Although much of the retreat will be in silence, participants should always seek support and guidance when needed.

Retreat Leader

Venerable Thubten Chokyi as retreat leader will guide students into the retreat with an introductory period of teachings and support for the first sessions. Gradually the retreaters take turns leading the sessions themselves and the Retreat Leader is then available for questions, to help with any difficulties that may arise and to give personal support. As the retreat comes to an end, the Retreat Leader will guide the group through the final stages.

Ven. Thubten Chokyi is a Buddhist nun in the Tibetan tradition, ordained in 2006 by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche. She has been teaching meditation and Buddhism since 2006 including Discovering Buddhism and has also led several successful annual retreats for Chenrezig Institute. Prior to ordination, she taught at university and in the community sector for over 20 years.

Geshe Tenzin Zopa guide students into the retreat with teachings on the Preliminary Practices and specifically Vajrasattva.  

Geshe Phuntsok Tsultrim will assist students as they finish the retreat with support as the reenter their normal routine and all aspects of the Fire Puja.

Silence

During the first and third months of the retreat, participants will keep silence from the last session at night until lunch the next day. Participants will keep silence for the whole of the second month of the retreat.

To help the retreat be a deep experience with as few distractions as possible, all conversations are restricted to within the group, retreat leader, and office staff. Retreaters must not leave Chenrezig Institute property for the duration of the retreat and will also not receive or send letters or e-mails during the retreat (emergency protocols will be established with each retreatant so that urgent messages can be personally delivered.)

Daily Schedule

On the advice of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, each day will begin with a 2-hour session of Combined Jorcho and Lama Choepa practice, with time for Vajrasattva mantra recitation. Then throughout the day, there will be three 2-hour sessions of the Vajrasattva sadhana with mantra recitation. All sessions will include Prostrations to the 35 Confessional Buddhas and a Lam Rim meditation as a motivation. There are breaks for breakfast and lunch and for relaxing!

Retreat sessions:

5:00am – 7:00am

9:30am  – 11:30am

2:00pm – 4:00pm

6:00pm – 8:00pm

Eight Mahayana Precepts

We encourage retreatants to take the Eight Mahayana Precepts for the entire three months of the retreat. Please discuss with the Spiritual Programme Coordinator during your registration process if you feel you are not able to follow these recommendations.

Recommended Reading

It is a good idea to read at least some of these books before coming to the Vajrasattva retreat. You will get a better idea of what to expect and more awareness of why it’s so beneficial to do this retreat. With the help of these books, you’ll attain a firm understanding of how to get the most benefit from the retreat.

It is a requirement of the retreat that all prospective retreatants read Becoming Vajrasattva; The Tantric Path of Purification by Lama Yeshe (Wisdom Publications) before arriving for the retreat.

We also encourage you to read Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche’s Teachings from the Vajrasattva Retreat (Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive).

Other suggested titles include:

  • Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, The Door to Satisfaction, Wisdom Publications
  • Lama Thubten Yeshe, Introduction to Tantra, Wisdom Publications
  • Chogyam Trungpa, Journey Without a Goal, Shambhala
  • Lama Tsong Khapa, Preparing for Tantra, Classics of Middle Asia
  • Pabonka Rinpoche, Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. Wisdom Publications

There is a comprehensive Library here at Chenrezig Institute and our lovely librarians would be happy to help you.

You will be supplied with a sadhana and photo of Vajrasattva and a prayer book containing all of the prayers that you will need during the retreat.

What to Expect

Weather

February, March, and April on the Sunshine Coast have a temperature range between 29 and 16 degrees. The days are typically sunny with an average of 10 days of rain each month. Our rainforest setting will be alive with beautiful birdlife and you’ll enjoy walking around our property throughout this period. 

Food & Accommodation

Chenrezig Institute offers delicious vegetarian food from a range of cuisines. All meals for the retreat will be precepts friendly with no onion, garlic, eggs or radish. Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Vegan meals will be provided as required. Retreatants will have their own dining space.

Our accommodation is clean, comfortable and conducive to retreat. It is not luxury accommodation. Both twin and single rooms are available. Our reception team are happy to talk you through the different accommodations and make suggestions for you.

Retreat Packages

All Retreat packages include:

Teachings with Geshe Tenzin Zopa, Geshe Phuntsok Tsultrim and Venerable Chokyi

All retreat materials and what is required for the Fire Puja

Breakfast, Lunch and Supper from 2 to 7 February during retreat preparations and Losar. Breakfast and Lunch from 8 February to 25 April.

Your accommodation option as detailed below.

Sangha House Twin Package $4183 per person
Lotus House Single Package $4267 per person
Sangha House Single Package $4603 per person
Tashi House Single Package $4603 per person (women only)

Guidelines for Behaviour

Since Chenrezig Institute is a semi-monastic meditation center and not a guesthouse, we ask all of our retreatants and visitors to observe the following guidelines in order to maintain an atmosphere conducive to inner reflection and meditation:

  • 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. This is easy when observing silence!
  • Be celibate: no sexual activity. This also includes no 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, one can smoke at a designated place within the center boundary).
  • Be considerate of others’ silence: keep silence in the appropriate areas and at all times during residential courses, especially in the Gompa and the dormitories. No singing or playing music and in general, maintain a quiet demeanor 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).
  • Please settle all outside communication before the course begins. Telling friends and family that you will be out of contact for the duration of the course and sticking by that decision significantly reduces distraction from the investigation into the workings of your own mind! Likewise, please settle your travel arrangements etc before you come to Chenrezig Institute!
  • Retreaters are expected to observe silence. During the first and third months of the retreat, participants will keep silence from the last session at night until lunch the next day. Participants will keep silence for the whole of the second month of the retreat. To help the retreat be a deep experience with as few distractions as possible, all conversations are restricted to within the group, retreat leader, and office staff.
  • Retreaters must stay onsite and not leave Chenrezig Institute for the entire course.
  • Participants must attend all sessions of the course and come to sessions on time.
  • Please put all communication / entertainment devices (laptop / mobile phones /cameras / MP3/CD players) etc into our safe at check-in.
  • Please be gentle in your behaviour and sensitive to fellow group members.

Gompa Etiquette

“Gompa” is a Tibetan word which we use for Meditation Hall. Because a Gompa is the location of study, meditation, and devotional practices, Buddhists consider them to be holy places. In this tradition, the following modes of behaviour are considered respectful in a Gompa and we ask you to follow them while here:

  • Do not point your feet towards the teachers, the altar or any holy object.
  • Do not put Dharma materials – prayer books, texts, Dharma books or notebooks with Dharma in them – on the floor, or sit or step over them.
  • Do not lie down or do any yoga exercises in the Gompa at any time.
  • No chit-chat in the Gompa (ie. You can ask the teacher questions during class, but do not talk with other students).
Vajrasattva Retreat Application