Ani Baljid, Ani Gyalmo, Ani Nyima, Ani Kunkyen, and Ani Dechen taking part in the fifth 100 Million Mani Retreat at Idgaa Choizinling Monastery in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, June 2017. Photo courtesy of Ianzhina Bartanova.

Throughout the month of June 2017, the fifth 100 Million Mani Retreat was held at Idgaa Choizinling Monastery in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and hosted by Ganden Do Ngag Shedrup Ling (GDNSL). Center director Ianzhina Bartanova and resident teacher Ven. Thubten Gyalmo shared their reflections of the retreat:

This year marked the fifth major annual retreat event for the center, so staff and volunteers are now very familiar with what needs to be done to help enable the event to run smoothly and harmoniously. Just two weeks prior to the commencement of the event, we were extremely fortunate to receive the Great Chenrezig initiation bestowed by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the venue, which brought many rich blessings to the retreat and its participants.

In any one session, approximately 200 people were in attendance, appearing to be inspired by the knowledge of the incredible merit in doing the Chenrezig practice.

The gompa filled with participants of the 100 Million Mani Retreat, Idgaaa Choizinling Monastery, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, June 2017. Photo courtesy of Ianzhina Bartanova.

The gompa filled with participants of the 100 Million Mani Retreat, Idgaaa Choizinling Monastery, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, June 2017. Photo courtesy of Ianzhina Bartanova.

Even though the schedule was quite full and demanding, people were happy to come, participate, and make consistent effort in order to accumulate 108,548,100 mani mantras.

Tireless in their service GDNSL staff and volunteers provided conducive conditions to all participants—from a 7 a.m. morning welcome breakfast, to a vegetarian lunch, to four servings of tea through to the evening, to a daily gompa cleaning at night. Other essential daily tasks included providing information to all participants, answering visitors’ requests, and the writing down, counting, and safe recording of the dedications from a constant stream of people offering mani mantra accumulations.  

This annual event is one of FPMT Mongolia’s significant contributions to the revival of Buddhism in Mongolia, and it is interesting to note that apart from one Australian student and several casual tourist visitors lured to the monastery by the loud and melodious chanting, the participants were all Mongolian, a large percentage of whom were females forty years and older.  

Refreshments being served during the 100 Million Mani Retreat, Idgaa Choizinling Monastery, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, June 2017. Photo courtesy of Ianzhina Bartanova.

Refreshments being served during the 100 Million Mani Retreat, Idgaa Choizinling Monastery, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, June 2017. Photo courtesy of Ianzhina Bartanova.

The previous four retreats were held in the cooler August-September months. However, this year and for the first time, the retreat was held in June before the July Naadam holiday—the long national celebration when people travel to the countryside for horse racing and camping. The weather was rather hot, and temperatures of up to 32 degrees Celsius (89 degrees Fahrenheit) presented some extra challenges to keeping the mind focused on prayers and sustaining long periods of mani recitation.

The real heroes of the retreat were the Sangha to whom we are deeply grateful—especially Lharampa Geshe Thubten Zopa, who oversaw the preparation and decoration of the beautiful tormas, supervised the entire altar set-up, and who gave an inspirational public talk at both the opening and closing ceremonies. Also, we’re grateful to the nuns of Dolma Ling Nunnery, who were leading the retreat, and the monks of Idgaa Choizinling Monastery, who were ever-ready to help serve tea and food, clean the temple, and offer assistance where needed.

Looking to the future, we are already discussing the possibilities of next year’s event, including organizing a strict retreat that concludes with a fire puja for participants who can commit to full participation and reciting the required number of mantras. For further information on next year’s event, please watch this space!


Learn more about the work of the FPMT in Mongolia: http://www.fpmtmongolia.org/. Read more about the 100 Million Mani Retreats in Mongolia in 2013, 2014, 2016. See photos of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s May 2017 visit to Mongolia: https://fpmt.org/teachers/zopa/gallery/mongolia-may-2017/.

The 100 Million Mani Retreat at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa in Italy begins on October 4! Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teachings from Italy, as well as from Vienna on September 29-October 1, will be live streamed:
https://fpmt.org/media/streaming/lama-zopa-rinpoche-live/

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