In December of 2010, Jade Buddha Temple’s English Dharma Group (EDG), and the Insight Meditation Group (IMG), held an unprecedented, self-run, private retreat for 18 days. The intensive, long retreat was sponsored by the American Bodhi Center in Hempstead, Texas.
Resident monk Ven. Katapunna guided the retreat, conducted interviews for the participating yogis, and held Dharma talks every night. A significant part of the Dharma talks consisted of an extended examination and discussion of the Maha-Pari-Nibbana Sutra (DN 16), which is about the Buddha’s last days and great passing. This is the longest sutra in the Nikaya, and it took more than two weeks of Dharma talks to finish the discussion.
Also during this retreat, students had the honor of emailing additional questions to a well-known meditation teacher, Bhante Sujiva, who lives in Europe. With the help and support of Jade Buddha Temple and the American Bodhi Center, the retreat was a great success. As the retreat began, and the somber gathering of serious-minded yogis settled into the challenging regimen that often accompanies a long retreat. It became clear that the major theme and focus for this retreat would center around one of the Buddha’s most important teachings, “...Follow the Dharma to practice Dharma.”
What does this mean? The Sutra states “Paripattia” in Pali, to “... follow the Dharma to practice Dharma.” The former word ‘Dharma‘ refers to the Dharma teaching of Buddha, and the latter word ‘Dharma’ denotes the application of Dharma teaching via the practice of meditation. Put simply, the practice of Insight Meditation must be in accordance with Buddha’s teaching and the Sutra.