Saturday, July 12, 2014

VAS: Buddhist "Rains Retreat" period begins

Wisdom Quarterly; Ven. Abbot Dhammarama, Los Angeles Buddhist Vihara LENT/VAS 2014
How shall I spend the rainy season, hopping around or meditating? (

On Sunday, July 13, 2014 from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm, the Los Angeles Buddhist Vihara (LABV) temple will celebrate the commencement of the Rains Retreat period, often called "Buddhist Lent."

It is a period of intensive practice for monastics and a time when lay practitioners visit temples, monasteries, and pagodas to hear the Dharma (Teachings), engage in devotional activities, meditate, and establish their ties with monastics.

LABV will have weekly Dharma talks open to all on Sundays followed by Sri Lankan island cuisine. Many visiting monastics will deliver sermons, hold question and answer sessions, and be available to clarify points of controversy and uncertainty regarding the Buddha's teachings.
Sunday is the Super Moon of the ancient month of Asala. The lunar observance for those dressed in white includes an all-day virtue (sila) program where visitors are invited to observe the Eight Precepts for the day according to ancient Indian tradition from at least the time of the Buddha.

Rains Retreat

According to the ancient Theravada Buddhist tradition, the Asalha Full Moon Day marks the beginning of the Vas (Vassana) Season. Supporters of the Los Angeles Buddhist Vihara will formally invite the resident monastics to observe Rains Retreat at 5:00 pm. Those observing the Eight Precepts earlier in the day are also invited to attend this auspicious and meritorious event.

There will be an opportunity to listen to the Dharma and practice meditation to enhance every practitioner's direct knowledge of the  Dharma and develop inner peace during the three months of this season. Weekly programs during this period will be:
  • Dharma sermons,
  • Sutra discussions,
  • Meditation practice,
  • Bodhi devotional ceremonies,
  • Atavisi Buddha puja and more
Los Angeles Buddhist Vihara
920 N. Summit Ave., Pasadena. CA 91103
(626) 797-6144

But why?
Wisdom Quarterly wiki edit
Buddhist monks traversing Pongua Waterfalls in Vietnam (
The three-lunar-month annual retreat observed by Theravada practitioners during the Indian rainy season is called Vassa between July and October. In English, it is often glossed as Rains Retreat or Buddhist Lent, the latter by analogy to the Catholic/Christian Lent (which Buddhism predates by at least five centuries). For the duration of monastics reside at one monastery rather than traveling around. In some monasteries, they dedicate this time to teaching the Dharma or to intensive meditation. Some lay Buddhists choose to observe the period by adopting more ascetic practices, such as giving up alcohol, meat, and smoking if they are already engaged in these harmful activities. It may casually be called "Buddhist Lent," others object to this terminology. It is, after all, more of an obligation for monastics than lay Buddhists. How long someone has been a monk or nun is actually calculated not by calendar years but by how many Rains Retreats one has successfully observed. Most Mahayana Buddhists do not observe it, though many Seon/Thien monastics in Korea and Vietnam observe an equivalent retreat of three months of intensive practice in one location, and in Tibetan Buddhism this period of intensive retreat is called Yarne.

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