Welcome back to the world, here's what you missed

By HELEN JACK helen.jack@northernstar.com.au WHAT is the first thing you tell 28 Buddhists who emerge today from a 39-month retreat at Vajradhara Gonpa near Kyogle?

John Howard isn't Prime Minister anymore? Kevin Rudd said sorry?

Participants from around the world gathered at the Gonpa in January 2005 vowing to remain sequestered until today.

Meditation master and spiritual director of the Gonpa, Dzongsar Jayang Khyentse Rinpoche has guided the participants through a curriculum of challenging meditations.

Waking at 4am every day to meditate for eight to 12 hours, the participants helped maintain the Gonpa and its 200 acres of rainforest.

Three-year retreats are traditional in Himalayan Buddhist regions and some western countries, but this is the first retreat of its kind in Australia.

Today's celebration, marking the end of the retreat, is the culmination of a seven-day ceremony when liturgies were chanted with participants and guests creating a mandala.

A traditional Fire Puja and a special offering of candles will also take place.

Today's ceremonies began at 3am and are expected to finish at noon when Rinpoche will open the boundary of the Gonpa allowing participants to re-enter the world.



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