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Buddha Mind - get one, be one.


The sangha gathers.


Pavarana usually falls during the eleventh lunar month - October - and it marks the end of the three month 'rains retreat' which began on the full moon of Asalha. Literally 'pavarana' means 'inviting admonition'.

The three month period (vassa) is often used by lay and monastic folk alike to make a variety of determinations; to take up a particular devotional or meditation practice, to challenge or renounce some old habit - like eating sugar or smoking or drinking coffee (or worse). In Asia this may even be taken to the extent of lay folk taking temporary ordination for all or part of this time. The full moon of Pavarana marks the end of this period and is a time of celebration. For those who have maintained a strict practice it means they can relax a bit; hopefully having learnt something about the particular thing they had been investigating and not falling back into old habits.

For monastics it ends a period of containment within the boundaries of the monastery.
The Buddha appreciated how this containment can sometimes cause difficulty between people and he outlined a ceremony to be performed by the monks and the nuns on the Pavarana day. There are several aspects to this ceremony but the underlying spirit is one of asking for admonishment. This is not that one wants a good telling off but invitation is formally given to one's ordained brothers and sisters to offer any reflections on one's past behaviour. This invitation need not be taken up then and there but an opening is created.
The words of part of the ceremony are as follows:
"Venerable One's, I invite admonition from the Sangha. According to what has been seen, heard or suspected (of my actions), may the venerable one's instruct me out of compassion. Seeing it (my fault), I shall make amends. I ask this of you for the second time; and again I ask for the third time."



One of the stories that has arisen around the Buddha's life tells of a time which finished on the Pavarana day.
The Buddha had spent the three months of the seventh rains period after his enlightenment in the Tavatimsa heaven giving instruction to his mother, Mayadevaputta, and to the other assembled gods. This instruction is thought by some to have resulted in the Abhidhamma teachings. It was on Pavarana day that he decended from this heaven down a jewelled stairway back to earth. Traditional artwork always shows the Buddha in this scenario as fully gilded and standing on a lotus. There are three ladders: jewelled for the Buddha, golden for Indra and silver for Brahma as they accompanied him back to earth. The place of his descent, Sankisa, is for this reason one of the eight traditional Buddhist sites of Pilgrimage.

I have included two pictures here to give a comparison between artistic interpretations of this story - Burmese and Thai. [see: ART & CULTURE]