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.
2017 Yarne Retreat March 12 to April 26th
Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche was the visiting teacher for the 2017 Yarne retreat at Gampo Abbey. He is the founder and spiritual director of Pema Karpo Meditation Center in Memphis, Tennessee. Having completed thirty years as a monk, fourteen years of teaching experience, and nine years of study at the Buddhist University of Namdroling Monastery in South India, he holds a Khenpo degree, the Buddhist equivalent of a PhD. Gawang Rinpoche came to the United States in 2004 at the invitation of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and Shambhala International. Rinpoche is the author of Your Mind Is Your Teacher (Shambhala Publications) and The Sadhana of Shakyamuni Buddha (Jeweled Lotus Publications).
Glimpses of Yarne is a feature length video prepared by award winning documentary filmaker Kent Martin who participated in the 2014 Yarne retreat. You may also enjoy this article which chronicles the 2015 Yarne retreat.