Each type of special event has a unique purpose. However, they all function increase our positive qualities and potentialities, which are the actual cause of our happiness.

THE PURPOSE OF RETREAT

Going on retreat affords us a unique opportunity to set aside all of our worldly problems and concerns, and instead focus on our spiritual development. A traditional meditation retreat consists of four meditation sessions a day. Between sessions we try to avoid being drawn back into worldly concerns and remain contemplative on the objects of our meditation retreat. There are many objects and subjects that a retreat can emphasize – such as retreat that develops and enhances our compassion, retreat that focuses on developing concentration, or retreat that develops our wisdom.

THE PURPOSE OF EMPOWERMENT

An empowerment is a ritual ceremony whereby we create a special potential power to attain the body and mind of an enlightened being. An enlightened being or Buddha, is a being that has attained the the highest possible level of spiritual advancement. They achieve this by abandoning all levels of ignorance and negativity and by cultivating all of their good qualities. As a result, such beings abide continuously in a state of supreme bliss, permanently free from all suffering. Their only purpose is to help all living beings attain the same result. In an empowerment we receive special blessings that heal our mind and awaken our potential to experience full enlightenment. There are different empowerments of different deities. Each deity was at one time, an ordinary being, but they decided to enter, progress, and complete the path to enlightenment. Although deities show the aspect of being male or female, in reality they exist as genderless beings. In the ritual we promise to make effort to gradually progress toward attaining enlightenment. This commitment empowers us to recite the mantra of the deity, which protects our mind from negativity, to generate our self as the deity, which protects us from clinging to our self as being an inherently ordinary being. Empowerments help to greatly accelerate our spiritual progress, so that full enlightenment can be achieved in one short human life.

THE PURPOSE OF A FESTIVAL

A Festival is precious opportunity to receive teachings and empowerments from the most experienced and senior practitioners of Kadampa Buddhism. There are National and International Festivals in which people from all over the country, or the world, gather to enhance their spiritual wisdom and practice. It is easy to make new friends and acquaintances because everyone attending is on the same path to ultimate joy. In such large gatherings, spiritual energy and power is noticeably increased. It is therefore easy to be encouraged by the teachings, teachers, and the wonderful example of all the people around you. It is highly recommended that you take the opportunity to experience these inspiring Festivals firsthand.