Shakgya, the 100 Nights and Days Retreat
Since 2010, Kilung Jigme Rinpoche has offered a retreat program called Shakgya, the 100 Nights and Days Retreat. Introducing this traditional Tibetan form of retreat was a response to student’s requests to help close the gap between practitioners’ aspirations for serious retreat and development, and their householder obligations and schedules.
Rinpoche feels that many practitioners at intermediate and advanced levels are ready to launch into more serious and focused practice. Shakgya, if continued for several years, can stand in for the traditional three-year retreat.
Within one year, 100 full days of retreat are done, and each day following this retreat, at least one hour of practice is maintained. This continues over a period of years, usually at least 3 years. The retreat content follows three-year retreat tradition: Ngondro followed by Three Roots accomplishment (practices of Rigdzin Dupa, Yumka Dechen, Gyalmo, and Palchen Dupa) plus some Vajrakilaya.
To equal the number of hours of a full three-year retreat, one would need to do many years of Shakgya retreat, but it is possible that a large experience gain will result after three Shakgya years. Rinpoche has said some practitioners will have made full three-years’ retreat accomplishments in three Shakgya years, to be determined by a qualified lama such as Kilung Rinpoche.
Another advantage of Shakgya retreat is that the practitioner is already integrated into life and avoids having to undergo the reentry after a three-year retreat.
Students need to have Rinpoche’s permission to enter into this retreat. Generally, students whom Rinpoche has determined to be at an intermediate or advanced level will be ready to participate. Newer dharma students need to take time to establish a foundation before entering this kind of retreat. Normally at least two years of beginning teachings, meditation, and practice experience in the Vajrayana tradition are needed. Rinpoche has listed specific teachings and practices required beforehand. This list is available as part of a detailed Shakgya information sheet.
Each fall before the 100-day retreat begins, Rinpoche gives several days of preparatory teachings and wangs, a requirement for most retreatants. A daily practice agenda is included with an outline of specific practices for use throughout the retreat. For the first two months of the 100 days, Rinpoche teaches via the internet; senior students can assist with practice questions during this time. During the third month, Rinpoche will give in-person teachings and consultations at Yeshe Long House on Whidbey Island, and continue web or phone-based teachings for those in other geographic areas. Teachings are available on U-Stream to participants.
Generally, the first 3 1/2 days of teachings occur in mid-November. The 100 days may be started immediately or may follow from January 1 to mid-April, a traditional retreat time, depending on the schedule of the practitioner. An official 2 1/2 day teaching retreat, and closing celebration of accomplishment is scheduled for mid-April.
Even though officially the 100-day retreat begins on January 1, practitioners can begin anytime during the year. In this case, they may miss some of the teachings given during those first 100 days, but more important is to be able to schedule retreat at a workable time. It is possible to break the 100 full days of retreat into sections, for example, one month at a time three times a year. With permission, it is also possible to practice the 100 days as 200 half-days, if the total amount of time is accomplished within the year. Other configurations should be discussed with Rinpoche. Whatever individual schedule is worked out, it is critical to participate in the preparatory gathering, teachings and wangs in the fall.
Shakgya retreat is an ongoing program year after year, with new participants able to join each year.
KJR has said the end of each practitioner’s three years would be a good time to assess whether to continue with the same retreat schedule for further years, or to follow with a year or two of full retreat, or other options. After finishing a three-year period, there may be a formal acknowledgement of accomplishment.
The November and April teachings take place at Yeshe Long House. Currently, as Pema Kilaya and Yeshe Long House lack residential retreat facilities, retreatants need to make their own arrangements for the 100 days period, such as at home, or in retreat facilities at other locations.
There is a cost to participate, but a sliding scale has been set up to ensure that any qualified applicant can enter into this program.
For those not able to do 100-days of retreat at this time, other retreat options can be explored and developed in consultation with Rinpoche.
Anyone interested in participating in the Shakgya program, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org