Friday, September 5, 2014

BHUTANESE RELIGIOUS PRACTISE - NYUNG-NEY

Hi all, I know it’s been long and I got no other excuse than to say I was caught up…haha. Actually I wanted to do an article on something else but I got more excited to post an article on Nyung-ney. So I had to write about it J
Nyung-ney is a religious practice; it’s a form of fasting, that Buddhist practice. I am not a monk nor a super spiritual person so I can’t give you detailed information about Nyung-ney, but I will share what I know and the experience I had during this spiritual journey. If I am to describe Nyung-ney in one word it would be “liberation” honest to God, that’s the feeling I get after I am done with Nyung-ney. Now you know why I am so keen on writing an article about it.
Statue of Chenrizi
Nyung-ney is basically a cleansing process; it’s for wiping your slate clean of all your sins and wrong doings (both physical and mental). It is focused on Chenrizi (God of Compassion or God with thousand Hands and Eyes). You pray for the end of sufferings of all sentient beings and dead suffering in hell. It is a set of 2 days. So far I have done 4 sets (8 days). 2 sets was done 2 years back in Ramthangkha, Paro and the other 2 set was done just few days back here in Kabisa, Thimphu. These are usually held in Lhakhangs and Goenpas. I will be doing one more set coming weekend in Kabisa.
Since it was during the break, most people were outside
Nyung-ney is organized by Lhakhangs, Goenpas and Shedras (monastic school) upon request from common people. Families volunteer to be the patron of such events, which means they take care of the fooding, tea and snacks for all the participants. They also give Gyep (money offering) for all the participants at the end of each set of Nyung-ney (of course the amount is not fixed, the
 patrons give depending on how much they can afford), besides it’s not about the money, for that day the participants are like monks and nuns (who avoids make-up, ornaments, sex, alcohol and actually live like a monk or a nun until the Nyung-ney is over) who are saying prayers which will benefit the patron so it’s like an offering.  The patron of Nyung-ney is believed to be benefited a lot, that’s why most people rush to volunteer for Nyung-ney. The number of participants is never restricted; they welcome as many participants as possible. Regarding the lodging, men and women are kept in separate halls and we carry our own sleeping mattress and blankets.
Participants in the Lhakhang hall
Anyways, now to speak about the 2 days in a Nyung-ney set, the first day is called ┼ŻAM, throughout the day we say a set of Nyung-ney prayers: once early morning (starts around 4:30-5:00 am), once after the breakfast (around 8:00-8:30 am) and once after lunch (1:30-2:00 pm). Each set of prayers has a section where you have to do prostrates and I would say the minimum number of prostrates you will be doing will come up to 100 (unless you are cheating the whole time) and if you are doing sincerely you will easily do up to 300 prostrates in each set. And in the evening depending on the abbot, there are different evening prayers. And later at night choe-shay (which means explanations on various religious texts and even quarries if you have) you can also say preaching. On this day lunch is your last meal but you can have tea and water until at night.
The second day is called NGAA (which means not speaking) and it is an important day: you are not allowed to eat, drink and even talk. You can only say your prayers. The routine is same like the previous day except without the food, drinks and the talks. So during the breaks, participants usually recite prayers (om mani padme hung, since it’s the mantra of Chenrizi) or any other prayers if you want. And people usually go to bed early because honestly, it is pretty exhausting especially since you have to do approximately 1000 prostrates in a day with an empty stomach.
You end the fasting only on the next day after getting blessings from the abbot and drinking the holy water. And if you wish to continue next set of Nyung-ney, you just continue with the rest of the participants with the prayers, if not you just end your Nyung-ney with the holy water. I don’t have much idea but from what I understand, if you can do 8 sets of Nyung-ney (i.e. 16 days) it’s the most beneficial. You will have all your sins cleared and end a lot of sufferings in the Samsara.
Picture collage of some selfies during Zam
Now if I put in some of my own thoughts, I feel like (please note that this is my personal view)  Nyung-ney is basically a allusion of what it is to like to be in a hell, you don’t get to eat, you don’t get to drink and you don’t have anyone to talk to. And at times like that you seek refuge in God of Compassion, praying for the end of your suffering in hell. So I guess it makes sense.
All I can say is, the first time I did Nyung-ney; it was so tiring and difficult too. But at the end of the Nyung-ney the feeling you get is so awesome. I fell in love with this spiritual task from the very first set of Nyung-ney I did. So I try to do it whenever I can. The current Nyung-ney in Kabisa is actually 8 set Nyung-ney, but since I don’t have enough leave from work, I am attending it in bits and pieces (aiming the weekends), so I will be able to attend only 3 sets L But I shall do it every chance I get in the future. It is believed that one set of Nyung-ney lessens 4000 eons of sufferings in the Samsara…so you can imagine the benefits of Nyung-ney.
For those who are interested to read in detail about practicing Nyung-ney, I have a friend who has a book on it, I can get a softcopy of it and mail it to you (just leave your email ID on the comment section) or if you have any quarries I can always get it answered (of course after consultation with someone who knows better…haha)