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Drop of Essential Nectar ~ A Letter from Kadam Lucy

Dear Friends,

Buddha’s Enlightenment Day is coming up soon, on April 15, and it is a time when Kadampas around the world celebrate with two days of Drop of Essential Nectar, sometimes known as Nyung Nä (or Nyungnay). This is a purification, prostration, and fasting retreat in conjunction with 1,000-armed Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion. The retreat is free of charge, any donations welcome.

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For two days, starting at dawn, we observe the eight Mahayana precepts, which include not eating after lunch and, for those who do the full fast, not eating or drinking at all on the second day. (The hunger pangs are helpful for reminding us about the gazillions of people who don’t get enough to eat or drink on any day, ever.) It is also possible to attend for either day, and to eat lunch and/or drink liquids on both days.

What “prostration” means

The Tibetan word for prostrations is “chag tsel” – ‘chag’ means sweeping away delusions, negative karma, and obstructions, and ‘tsel” means requesting all good qualities. Prostrations work best if we are not holding ourselves as unworthy or at a distance from enlightened beings, but when we recognize that our Buddha nature, our limitless potential, is already connected to full enlightenment, and that one day we will become a Bodhisattva and then a Buddha of Compassion ourself.

I do love Nyungnay, with its emphasis on keeping compassion and bodhichitta in our heart all day long – a real vacation from our self-cherishing mind! As well as feeling the transcendent power of Buddha Avalokiteshvara, his thousand arms reaching out to everyone without exception. Prostrations are good fun. They may be one of the best types of exercise, and the only type of exercise taught by Buddha. It is well worth learning how to do full-length prostrations and get some practice in because you can then do these at home whenever you like. (Prostrations last somewhere between 30 minutes and 45 minutes each session).

The sky is the limit

When prostrating, we don’t need to think that it is just me in one meaty body making one feeble little distracted prostration onto the carpet (oooh, look at that dust! … at least I’m getting some exercise …) in front of some image of Buddha. No, there is a great deal more going on than that! The sky is the limit!

One thing we can do, along with our mind of faith and respect, is to think that from every pore of our body we manifest another body, which in turn manifests countless more, until the whole universe is filled with our bodies all making prostrations. Already some mind-expansion is going on and you’re going to have more fun. It is inspiring to think that you are already in a very pure space, as you are in the company of all enlightened beings, and you are prostrating to all of them.

We can imagine that we are also in the company of all living beings, and that they are all prostrating along with us – and it can be helpful to start by focusing on specific people in our life who are currently experiencing suffering, believing they are next to us prostrating. These human beings and animals are in turn are surrounded by all the other human beings and animals in the universe, also prostrating. And so on. This takes the same amount of time as making one corporeal prostration on the carpet, but the outcome in terms of good karma and purification is altogether more extraordinary.

More about prostrations

The Drop of Essential Nectar prayers and meditations are also beautiful and uplifting, and I and other Sangha members will be able to answer any of your questions on the day.

As for Buddha’s Enlightenment Day, you can find out more about that here.

Look forward to seeing you there. Happy Buddha’s Enlightenment Day! May you all swiftly realize your full potential and become enlightened too.

Love,
Kadam Lucy


Post by Kadam Lucy James
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