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Who are all these Buddhas?

An empowerment is a special blessing ceremony where we are introduced to a particular Buddha.

So, first of all: there are lots of Buddhas. (I know that this is a foreign concept because my spell-checker keeps telling me that ‘Buddhas’ is not a word.) But in fact, it makes a lot of sense – a Buddha is someone who has completed the spiritual path by removing all their imperfections, and Buddha Shakyamuni (the founder of Buddhism) taught that we all have the potential to achieve this. If it’s possible for everyone to become a Buddha, it would be a bit depressing if there was only one! Over the last 2,500 years, lots of people have followed the spiritual path to its completion, so now there are lots of Buddhas. They have all been where we’re at, and know how hard it can be; so they make it their mission to help us achieve happiness too.

Looked at from another point of view, the different Buddhas all represent different aspects of the enlightened mind. The mind of enlightenment, which we aspire to, has many qualities, such as love, compassion, and wisdom. So if I want to emphasize developing compassion, for example, I might make requests to Avalokiteshvara, who is the Buddha of compassion: helping others become more compassionate is his speciality. Or to improve my wisdom, I might try to get to know Prajnaparamita a bit better.

This two-day retreat, done in conjunction with Thousand-Armed Avalokiteshvara practice, is very powerful for purifying negative karma of body, speech, and mind, and for pacifying strong delusions such as desirous attachment and hatred. This practice involves taking the Eight Mahayana precepts, a promise to avoid all non-virtue for 24 hours, combined with the practice of prostrations. Through this we improve our compassion and develop a pure and light heart.

This practice is done over two days. On the first day, it is customary to abstain from all meals apart from lunch at 12:30pm. On the second day, we engage in a complete fast, abstaining from all food and drink for 24 hours. This traditional retreat is offered each year around the 15th of April, Buddha’s Enlightenment Day. Although this is an in-depth Buddhist practice, it is open to everyone.

Prayer Booklets for the Retreat

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