In Northern India, where the Buddha lived and taught, the year is mainly divided into three seasons, unlike our four familiar seasons here in the West. They are the Summer season, rainy season and winter season. This rainy season is the season of monsoons, also called ‘Vassa’ in Pāḷi. It spans from the full moon of July to the full moon of October in our solar calendar. During monsoon season, rainfall is heavy and the land becomes completely drenched, making travelling on foot very difficult.
Many spiritual traditions at the time of the Buddha chose to pause all activities and travels during that time, out of compassion for the insect life and vegetal life and for the sake of protecting other people’s farmlands and harvests.
Ever since then, monks and nuns as well as some dedicated lay practitioners have followed this custom. Both, monastics and lay who follow the teachings of Early Buddhism will find a place to spend three consecutive months (Lunar months, as the monastic calendar follows the lunar calendar) without travelling, unless for exceptional, specific reasons.
This opportunity is often regarded as an auspicious time to intensify one’s meditation practice and draw great benefit from the Dhamma.
We invite you to join us in this endeavor to make the most of this precious gift of Dhamma for this year’s vassa 2021, or year 2564 in the Buddhist Calendar.