It’s pretty damp in Bristol today, and last year our rainy season retreat happened in a very wet month with flooding over much of the UK. But that isn’t why it’s called a rainy season retreat (though people did joke about us invoking rain gods last year)
We’re actually referring to the times when the Buddha and his followers shetered from the monsoon.
As you know, the Buddha and his followers had a wandering lifestyle. But every year, they’d spend the four rainy months staying in one particular spot, sheltering from the rain with friends - sometimes even hundreds of people together. They’d meditate and talk Dharma - have a rainy-season retreat together. Householder disciples living in the area would take advantage of the opportunity to join in and get more ongoing instruction in the Dharma than their lifestyle usually allowed.
You can listen to Bhante Sangharakshita describing the tradition in track 2 of this talk
We might only have a week rather than four months, but we’ve made this opportunity to settle into the shelter of the Buddhist Centre together - no need to wander further - and we’ve invited Ratnavandana, a very experienced Triratna dharmafarer to come to instruct us in the Dharma. All of us, whatever our lifestyle, can come and take advantage of the teachings, to whatever extent we can. Some will be on retreat at the Centre full-time, some as ‘householders’ - joining in at the Centre when they can and otherwise practising on ‘urban retreat’ in their normal daily lives.