Every year, the nuns of Nangkyi Tongsel Ling (Nagi) Nunnery follow the 3 Day Nyungne fasting retreat on the 7th, 8th, and 9th days of the 9th month of the Tibetan lunar calendar. This is a powerful and rigorous purification practice for body, speech, and mind that also generates great merit. The ultimate purpose of Nyungne is the attainment of supreme Enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. The Buddha himself proclaimed that the practice would appease all the temporary downfalls of sentient beings such as sickness and malicious spirits and would ultimately bring about rebirth in a Pure Land.
Nyungne is a fasting retreat that is done in cycles, with each cycle lasting for 2 days. At this time, the nuns perform 1 cycle plus 1 day of conclusion, which is the Tsok day. The 8 Mahayana Precepts are followed (no killing, stealing, sexual activity, telling lies, taking intoxicants, eating after midday, singing/dancing/playing music, sitting on high seats). On the first day of the Nyungne, simple food and drink is taken before noon. However, on the second day, no food or drink (not even water) is consumed at all and silence is followed (except when reciting prayers/mantras).
The focus of the Nyungne is the Eleven-Faced Avalokiteśvara (Bodhisattva of Compassion). The Eleven-Faced Avalokitesvara sadhana practice can help individuals who have passed away find eternal peace of mind and help those who are still alive have long and healthy lives. The nuns will practice the Avalokiteśvara sadhana, meditate on Bodhicitta (the aspiration to attain Enlightenment in order to help all beings), chant the mantra and long dharani of Avalokiteśvara, perform prostrations, and follow other devotional practices.
May Avalokiteśvara grace us and remind us that the root of peace and happiness is Lord Buddha’s Teachings. In the heart of every being, may there be Compassion and Wisdom. May the Teachings flourish in the world!