Because our region of India is rich in the heritage of Buddhism – with many holy places where the Buddha and his disciples resided, meditated, and taught – Root Institute offers an array of pilgrimages to these sites throughout our spiritual season.
Our pilgrimages are designed to facilitate an "inner spiritual journey" – with opportunities to practice, connect, and revive one's inspiration from places in the outer environment blessed through the realisations of accomplished beings over millenia.
The beauty of such pilgrimages is that everything is organised for you; free of practical hassles, you can relax and enjoy the time and space to receive blessings and inspiration from holy places with the company and support of warm-hearted, like-minded people.
Just once every two years we will set off on a spiritual adventure, tracing the steps of the Buddha on a 10-day pilgrimage ending at Root Institute and the Mahabodhi Stupa in Bodhgaya.
The first of these, from 1st to 10th January, 2018, is described in this 30th Anniversary Pilgrimage – PDF, with some highlights in the gallery, below.
This will follow virtually the same itinerary, as follows:
The journey begins: wonders of Delhi – including the National Museum which houses the Sacred Relics of Buddha
Varanasi – considered the spiritual gateway of India and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world
Sarnath – where the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths, his first teachings after attaining enlightenment
Sravasti – where the Buddha spent many rainy seasons retreats teaching his disciples
Kushinagar – where the Buddha attained paranirvana after his death and where the long statue of reclining Buddha is housed
Vaishali – where 500 women were ordained by the Buddha
Nalanda Monastery – ancient ruins of what was for centuries the most renowned university in India and home to many great Buddhist scholars
Vulture's Peak mountain – most famous as the site of Lord Buddha's teaching of the Heart Sutra
Bodhgaya Mahabodhi Stupa – we complete our pilgrimage at the pure of land of Root Institute, from where we visit the Mahabodhi Stupa and finish with practices under the Bodhi tree.
This pilgrimage will be led by an experienced meditation leader integrating practices advised by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, spiritual director of FPMT and will raise money and awareness for Root Institute for Wisdom Culture.
As Lama Zopa Rinpoche, explains:
Normally when people go on pilgrimage, they are just like tourists; maybe they take some pictures, and that's it. They don't use the places to collect merit or to meditate or to get some benefit for their minds. If it's just like sightseeing, then it won't be that much benefit.
The point is to use the pilgrimage to purify our mind and collect as extensive merit as possible. By doing pilgrimage, we receive blessings from the holy places where enlightened beings, great yogis, and bodhisattvas, have practiced.
Students are most welcome to apply for individual or groups retreats here. To make the most of this special time, we would like to suggest the following:
It is good to settle all outside communication before you begin your retreat. Telling friends and family that you will be out of contact for the duration will significantly help to reduce distractions. Likewise, settling your travel arrangements, etc. before you come to Root Institute is highly advisable.
To maintain a healthy, calm, clear mind, observing silence will also bring you the mental space most conducive to retreat.
Practicing Dharma is a source of happiness, so rejoice in your efforts!
Thank you for thinking of Root Institute as your place for retreat. We will do our best to support you!
Root Institute is a delightful, semi-monastic meditation centre.
To maintain a conducive, spiritually harmonious atmosphere for inner reflection and meditation, we kindly ask all our students, guests and visitors to observe the following guidelines:
Respect all life: do not intentionally kill any living being, even small insects.
Respect others' property: do not steal or take anything not freely given.
Be honest and straightforward: do not lie or intentionally deceive others.
Be celibate: no sexual activity; this also includes no romantic holding hands, hugging, massages and other physical displays of affection.
Be alert and mindful*: avoid intoxicants such as alcohol, drugs and cigarettes; we encourage you to stop smoking while here, but if this is impossible, you can smoke outside the gates.
Be considerate of others' silence: keep silence in the appropriate areas and at all times during residential courses, especially in the meditation hall (gompa) and dormitories; no singing or playing music and, in general, maintain a quiet demeanour while on the property.
Be considerate of the monks and nuns: dress respectfully; please no shorts above the knee, tank-top shirts, or tight and revealing clothing.
Couples: can stay in the same room for two weeks or less under the celibacy policy.
Please be aware:
* The Bihar state government has passed laws totally prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol in the state, with very severe penalties! Please ensure that you do not carry any alcohol with you in Bihar.
Also, please note that those in service or teaching in FPMT centers and projects do not engage in the practice of Shugden.