Yarne Winter Retreat
Yarne is the traditional monastic "rains season" retreat held annually at Gampo Abbey since 1984. The practice stems from the Indian custom established by the Buddha. At that time the retreat was three months long and done during the summer season of rains. The summer retreat in India was a practical response to the monsoon weather. As well, it was considered not appropriate to travel with the increased likelihood of walking on insects during the rains.
At Gampo Abbey the Tibetan version of 1½ months is practiced. Plus, this "summer" retreat takes place in the winter, which gives rise to hilarity to visiting Tibetans. But there are too many tourists and visitors during the pleasant summer months to close off the Abbey. Thrangu Rinpoche approved this arrangement.
Properly considered, a monastery in the Tibetan tradition has three main commitments:
- Sojong, the confession liturgy, is performed every two weeks with the new and full moon.
- Yarne, the seven-week yearly retreat. Yarne is marked by the taking of the eight vows daily as well as a commitment not to cross the physical boundaries.
- Gagye, the lifting of the restrictions in force during Yarne.
2012—13 Yarne Retreat
The 2012–13 retreat was held from December 23, 2012 to February 12, 2013. The Abbey residents and 12 guests from North America and Australia participated.
Gampo Acharya Ani Pema Chödrön came out of her year-long retreat to lead Yarne this year. She taught on the four marks of existence (impermanence, egolessness, suffering, and peace). She drew from teachings from Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Thich Nhat Hanh, Anam Thubten, Karl Brunnhölzl, and, of course, from her own deep experience.
Ani Pema is famous for her ability to make Buddhist teachings accessible and personal, and her teachings at Yarne were no exception. We all got to better know the nature of our experience while we contemplated the truths of impermanence, egolessness, suffering, and peace. We clearly saw where we are stuck in the self-referential world that we have constructed through ignorance and the suffering that results. We also clearly saw those moments of expansion, when we sense what it is to be beyond ego-clinging, open to all our experience and open to the needs of others. Silent weeks were an important part of Yarne, helping us to intimately touch and work with our own experience. An added attraction this year was a day of intensive Zen practice, led by Ryumon Sensei.
Participants in the 2012–13 Yarne retreat
Ani Pema's teachings from this (and other) retreats are available from Great Path. The 2012–13 Yarne teachings are item 177 in the Great Path catalog. The teachings are available on DVDs, audio CDs, and as MP3 files.
2011 Yarne Retreat
The 2011 retreat was held from Jan 13 to Mar 6. The Abbey residents and 12 guests from North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand participated.
Gampo Acharya Ani Pema Chödrön led the retreat and taught on the Four Limitless Ones (love, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity). She taught from her own book Places That Scare You as well as from Awakening Through Love by John Makransky and Wake Up To Your Life by Ken McLeod.
The retreat was full of inspiring teachings and guided meditations. We were truly steeped in the Four Limtless Ones. We explored how the four qualities manifest in our own experience, and we trained in their cultivation. We learned that by acknowledging our basic goodness, we can nurture and expand our connection to these four qualities in order to create a more uplifted, caring, and loving society. During the retreat, several people commented on how the atmosphere in the Abbey was particularly infused with love and compassion during Yarne. May such blessings continue!
Participants in the 2011 Yarne retreat
Teachings available: Ani Pema's teachings from this (and other) retreats are available from Great Path. The 2011 Yarne teachings are item 153 in the Great Path catalog.
- Eight talks plus guided meditations and discussions
- Audio: audio CDs, MP3 CDs, or MP3 downloads
- Video: all or individual sessions