As it is the 5th major annual Retreat event for the Centre, staff and volunteers are now very familiar with what needs to be done thus enabling the event to unfold smoothly and harmoniously. We were extremely fortunate to receive the Great Chenrezig initiation bestowed by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Idgaa Choizinling Monastery, the retreat venue, just two weeks prior to the commencement of the event. This brought so many rich blessings to the retreat and its participants. In any one session of a day, approximately two hundred people were in attendance appearing to be inspired by the knowledge of the incredible merits of doing the Chenrezig practice. (link about MR and merits http://fpmt.org/education/teachings/lama-zopa-rinpoche/the-benefits-of-chanting-om-mani-padme-hum/ ).
Notwithstanding that the schedule was quite full and demanding, people were happy to come, participate and make consistent efforts in order to achieve a grand total of mani mantras. GDNSL staff and volunteers offered tireless service daily to provide conducive conditions to all participants, starting at 7 am with a morning welcome, providing breakfast, vegetarian lunch and four servings of tea through to evening time, concluding with gompa cleaning at 8pm. Additional and essential daily tasks were the provision of information to all participants and visitors upon request, writing down dedications from a constant stream of people and receiving mani mantra contributions, counting and safely recording these.
This annual event is one of FPMT Mongolia’s significant contributions to the revival of Buddhism in Mongolia and it is interesting to note that apart from one Australian student and several casual tourist visitors lured to the Monastery by the loud and melodious chanting, the participants were Mongolian, with a large percentage of females, 40 years and older. We are delighted to report that a total of 108’548’100 mani mantras were recited in the 5th Mani Retreat.
For the first time, the Mani Retreat was held in June before the long national July Naadam holiday celebrations when people travel to the countryside for horse racing and camping. The weather was rather hot, up to 32 degrees Celsius and this presented some extra challenges to work to keep the mind focused on the prayers and long periods of mani recitation – the previous four Retreats were held in the cooler, August-September months.
The real heroes of the Mani Retreat are the Sangha for whom we are deeply grateful to – Lharampa Geshe Thubten Zopa – who oversaw the preparation and decoration of the beautiful tormas, supervised the entire altar set up and gave an inspirational public talk at both the opening and closing ceremonies. Also the nuns of FPMT’s Dolma Ling Nunnery who were leading the retreat (link http://fpmt.org/lama-zopa-rinpoche-news-and-advice/lama-zopa-rinpoche-news/lama-zopa-rinpoche-in-mongolia-update-video/ ) and Idgaa Choizinling Monastery’s monks who were ever ready to help serve tea, food, clean the temple and offer assistance where needed.
Looking to the future and ever striving to improve what we can offer, we are discussing the possibility of next year, organising a strict retreat concluding with a fire puja for participants who can commit to full participation and recitation of the required number of mantras. Please watch this space!
In closing, we warmly invite everyone to join us and help in fulfilling Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s vast vision for Mongolia.