“Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of chastity. Enter again into yourself.” Saint Augustine
A few days ago I attended the Nyung Ne retreat at Kopan Nunnery. I was busy practicing Nuyng Ne so I can’t take more pictures. I hope you will enjoy this article with a few pictures too. Nuyng Ne is a fasting retreat to purify your negative Karma and accumulate merit and wisdom. Moreover, it is a powerful and quick method to purify a lot of negativities and at the same time collect a vast amount of merit. Meditators of the past have been able to cure diseases such as Leprosy through this practice. There is a story on Nyung Ne which goes like this. Gelongma Pelmo was born to a royal family in India. She abandoned the luxury of the royal palace and follow the path of Buddhism which she carry out for 12 years. One day her previous negative Karma ripened and she was stricken terribly with leprosy. However, she overcomes this disease with the practice of sadhana, mantra chanting, and fasting for the one-thousand-armed and one-thousand-eyed Chenrezig ( Avalokiteshvara). From that day onwards the practice of Nyung Ne continues. However, the principal purpose of the practice is to purify our negative Karma and to accumulate merit.
On the first day, I was accompanied by other 200 nuns and more than 30 foreigners, and a few locals for the Nyung Ne. We started the practice at 3:30 am. We take the 8 Mahayana precepts avoidance of killing, stealing, sexual activity, telling lies, taking intoxicants, not eating more than one meal, no singing/dancing/playing music, wearing jewelry, and using high seats or beds. Interestingly, Nyung Ne also coincides with Saka Dawa. It is the special month in which Buddha’s conception, birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana all occur. In particular, the full moon day, or the 15th day, of the fourth month marks the holiest day in Tibetan Buddhism. We chant mantras, and did prayers for Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara) followed by prostrations. I was so moved to do all this that most of the time I sob. I can’t scribble in words right now. It was unbelievable. At 12 noon, we had heavy lunch, and thereafter, we skip our dinner but of course, we had the privilege to drink tea till 9 pm.
On the second day, we start our day very early at 4am. On this day, besides taking eight precepts, we took on additional vows of not speaking (except reciting the prayers and mantras) not eating, and not drinking for 24 hours. The meditation and practice sessions include prostrations and reciting mantras. Specifically, the fasting of the body (food and drink), purifies the obscurations of the body; the fasting of speech (silence) purifies the obscurations of speech and the fasting of mind (meditation, etc.) purifies the obscurations of the mind.
We start to prostrate in front of the altar and recited mantras without having any food or drinks led by respected Lama Gurus. This process continued till 6am. At the end of the day, I experience little hunger, thirst, tiredness, and dizziness. Likewise, pain from doing prostrations. I am able to ease my pain knowing that I am purifying a great deal of my negative Karma accumulated over countless eons. I remember what Buddha has advised the “middle way” – not too soft, not too tough. During fasting I experience discomfort, but it is bearable and not too tough. This pain and discomfort give me a better understanding of the suffering experienced by animals, hungry ghosts, and some humans, and thus develop greater compassion for all sentient beings, and greater renunciation of samsara. Our fasting ended at 4 am the next day, where initially we were offered to drink a handful of holy water and thereafter a series of drinks. Hence, everyone seems to be alive once again with a smile on everyone’s face after the heavy meal. All of the nuns finished 8 sets ( 16 days)of Nyung Ne. perhaps we can imagine how they feel. Besides all this hardship I can see them all content and smiling all the time.
If you find this kind of practice awkward and you do not believe in this kind of practice even scientific research has proved that fasting is good for health. The Telegraph recently reported that scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) have discovered that fasting “for as little as three days can regenerate the entire immune system, even in the elderly, scientists have found in a breakthrough described as ‘remarkable.'”Researchers suggest that the mechanism behind this phenomenon is that “starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing new white blood cells, which fight off infection.” And fasting “‘flips a regenerative switch’ which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, essentially regenerating the entire immune system.
Nyung Ne practice proves to be advantageous for my spiritual growth. It was also an unforgettable and interesting experience for me. After leaving Kopan Nunnery my mind says these two days of Nyung Ne are not enough for me. I would love to do whole sets i.e. 8 sets ( 16 days ) of Nyung Ne in the future.
June 18, 2014 at 9:43 am
It’s hard work being holy, you did well.
June 18, 2014 at 10:09 am
thank you Danny, once you have deep faith it won’t be hard anymore 🙂
June 20, 2014 at 10:35 am
Fascinating! So glad to find this post as I’ve been thinking about fasting and have read how wonderful it can be for body and soul. That coupled with those oh-so-familiar Nepali flags makes your website feel like kismet!
June 20, 2014 at 10:44 am
Thank you Rebekah….try fasting once..you feel great..
June 23, 2014 at 7:10 pm
Thank you for sharing your story. It really is an interesting journey, one I guess it takes getting used to.
June 24, 2014 at 7:06 am
You are most welcome Donna and thanks for your comment too.
June 26, 2014 at 9:24 am
Fascinating! thanks for share it for us With love maxima
June 26, 2014 at 9:42 am
You are most welcome Maxima.
June 26, 2014 at 9:44 am
Thank you my friend !Have nice day , with love maxima
June 26, 2014 at 9:51 am
You also have a nice time Maxima..much love and blessings !!
LikeLiked by 1 person
July 10, 2014 at 8:31 am
nice article….great job
July 10, 2014 at 3:39 pm
Thank you very much 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person