This special fasting and purification retreat is performed in conjunction with the meditation practice of thousand-armed Avalokiteshvara. Engaging in this retreat is very powerful for purifying negative karma of body, speech and mind and for pacifying strong delusions such as desirous attachment and hatred. It is also a special method for receiving the blessings of Buddha and improving our experience of love, compassion and bodhichitta (the wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all).
Usually this practice is done over two days, with the Mahayana precepts* being taken at the beginning of each day. On the first day it is customary to abstain from all meals apart from lunch. On the second day we engage in a complete fast, abstaining from all food and drink for 24 hours. On both days, we do three sessions of meditation, combining prostrations with chanted meditation. Those who are unable to engage in a complete fast can participate in the sessions on the second day, provided they take the Mahayana precepts on that day.
*The Mahayana precepts are vows we take to abstain from certain actions for the duration of 24 hours. For more information about precepts, please click here.