Monastic Youth Dathüns
For practitioners in their early 30s or younger. The most recent monastic youth dathün was held July 13–August 10, 2013; see below for a report about this dathün. If you are interested in attending a future monastic youth dathün, write to email@example.com.
In ancient India, at the age of 29, Prince Siddhartha left his life of transient material occupations in search of liberation from the endless cycle of unease and dissatisfaction which no amount of distraction or entertainment could ease. The young prince was searching for deep inner meaning, understanding, freedom, and for a way to help the world around him.
Though times have changed since then, many of us in today's speedy and increasingly troubled world still feel this calling and some will pursue it by becoming monastics.
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the founder of Gampo Abbey, felt that it would be beneficial to do so temporarily. For younger practitioners it could become a powerful rite of passage. Temporary monasticism can be a way of exploring the possibility of life as a monastic or can be a way of discovering how helpful principles borrowed from the monastic tradition can support spiritual life as a householder.
It is in this spirit that Gampo Abbey holds monastic youth dathüns. They offer a powerful immersion experience of monastic training to young practitioners for the duration of one month. Over the years we have seen the monastic youth dathün play a poignant role in the paths of participants. As Lodrö Rinzler (author of The Buddha Walks into a Bar) said of his experience of monastic youth dathün:
"Even though I was raised within Shambhala, it was only during the monastic youth dathün that I realized that this meditation path was my own. I fully credit my time at Gampo Abbey as the foundation for my entire spiritual journey. It made me the man and practitioner I am today."
Shortly after their arrival, participants are given temporary monastic ordination, which last for the duration of the program. This includes shaving one's head, wearing monastic robes, and holding the five basic precepts of conduct for monastics: refraining from taking life, stealing, sexual activity, false speech, and intoxicants.
The youth dathün is open to practitioners in their early 30s and younger. As a prerequisite for taking temporary ordination and attending the program one must have formally taken refuge or have definite plans to do so.
If you are interested in participating in a future monastic youth dathün at Gampo Abbey, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2013 Monastic Youth Dathün
Gampo Abbey was very pleased to host "Empowering our Lives with Meaning: A Monastic Youth Dathün" from July 13 to August 10, 2013.
We had nine participants, ranging in age from 17 to 32 and coming from homes including California, Cape Breton, and the Netherlands. Seven took temporary monastic ordination for the month.
The program took place in Söpa Chöling, the Abbey’s long-term retreat facility.
The main activity of the dathün was sitting meditation with contemplative meals, movement, and liturgy used as supports.
The dathün was directed by Ani Lodrö Palmo whose talks focused on how the view and forms of monastic life can inform and inspire household practice, such as having a plan for life and a plan for each day involving mindfulness and contentment, joyful discipline, fearlessness, and wisdom as taught in the four dignities of Shambhala. She was assisted by Getsul Loden Nyima who taught the monastic forms themselves with an emphasis on their underlying themes, which apply to our entire dharma path, and who gave guided meditation on bodhicitta. The dathün was warmly and spaciously coordinated by Dawa Lhatso.
The month-long format allowed time to explore these themes as they apply to various aspects of life and practice. The participants and staff alike were grateful for the opportunity to practice intensively for a month and to have this taste of monastic life.
Participants returned home with a strong set of tools for enriching, strengthening, and further establishing their practices. They also took with them a heightened sense of the preciousness of a human life and the ability to help transform the world through a conscious use of intention and interdependent action grounded in meditation practice and inspired by basic goodness, an underlying theme throughout the month.
This was a deeply joyful and inspiring experience for all. We wish our participants the very best and hope to see them again along their paths!