Nalanda Gimhāna Retreat

6 June - 21 July 2024

Nalanda Gimhāna Retreat

13 June – 25 July B.E. 2565


in Pāli, means “summer” or “hot season” in India.

For seven weeks after the Buddha’s Enlightenment, He contemplated on the Dhamma with His perfectly clear faculty of comprehension.  Then, He travelled for seven days from Bodhgaya to Sarnath, where He preached the First Sermon to the Five Ascetics in the Deer Park on Asalha Day, two full moons after His Enlightenment.

So, it is for seven weeks after Buddha Day that Nalandians come together to “mengenali diri” – know ourselves – and “mendalami Dhamma” – deepen our understanding of the Dhamma, with the retreat culminating on Asalha Full-moon Day known as ‘Dhamma Day’.

Gimhana B.E. 2568 Theme

Peace begins with Me

Gimhāna B.E. 2565 Theme

Moving Forward with Courage & Hope

5 Daily Practices during Gimhāna

In the annual Gimhāna Retreat, Nalanda members are encouraged to maintain the momentum of our spiritual experience during Buddha Day celebrations by deepening our understanding and cultivation of Dhamma. Therefore, during these seven weeks, we undertake Five Daily Practices to make a conscious effort to overcome old, unwholesome habits by supplanting them with new, wholesome ones. In this way, we continue to transform ourselves into peaceful people, and develop harmony in living with others.

Morning Chanting

The practice of Morning Chanting daily is important for our spiritual growth. We can carry this out during the early part of the morning before we begin our daily routine. Through chanting, we reaffirm our refuge with the Three Jewels, recollect virtuous qualities to cultivate and set ourselves to live out a wholesome day. When we recite the verses, we can also express our gratitude and appreciation to our teachers for the opportunity to learn the Dhamma to overcome our own suffering. This brings about a deep sense of contentment and composure of the mind.

Making Aspiration

During our Morning Chanting, we can also make noble aspirations for ourselves. Having benefitted from the Dhamma, we aspire to reduce our unwholesome qualities, to be continuously associated with the wise, and cultivate ourselves for the attainment of Nibbana. We also wish for all beings to be well, happy and free from all sufferings. With this, our minds become calm and composed, setting us towards the right direction for the rest of the day.


Many mistakenly value the quality of life according to how much sensual and material gratification we experience. Few realise that quality of life is actually directly linked to the degree of our mental development. Our minds create many problems in our lives when untrained. With tremendous mental proliferation, there is little peace and tranquillity in life. Meditation is one of the ways that we are able to identify and deal with the disturbances that arise in the mind.

Some people who first experienced mindfulness are shocked by how much agitation they see in their minds, and would rather not continue to meditate. This is like opening the door to a messy storeroom but immediately closing it – we don’t want to see it, but the mess still remains there! We should instead persist in meditation practice so that we can gradually alleviate our agitation and ignorance.

Click on the video below for a 15-minute guided meditation on loving-kindness (mettā) and mindfulness of breathing (anāpanasati).

Listening to talks and reading Dhamma books

Reading and listening to the Dhamma provides time and space for the heart and mind to reflect and contemplate on the Buddha’s Teachings of the nature of life. Just as how we brush our teeth daily to ensure healthy teeth and gums, and to prevent tooth decay, we nourish our minds with Dhamma daily so that we purify our minds from the stains of defilements. By directing the mind towards Dhamma content that promotes virtue, tranquillity, wisdom and liberation, we condition ourselves to cultivate ourselves towards these noble goals.

The following are a selection of recommended Dhamma readings to assist in your step-by-step journey on the spiritual path.

  1. “Without and Within” by Ven. Ajahn Jayasaro
    A collection of questions and answers on the fundamental concepts and practices in Buddhism, skillfully and concisely answered by Venerable Jayasaro.
    PDF in English
  2. “Good Question Good Answer” by Ven. S. Dhammika
    This book is formatted in a question and answer format. It addresses the many common questions posed by those wanting to get to know about Buddhism.
    PDF in English
  3. “What Buddhists Believe” by Ven. K. Sri Dhammananda Mahathera
    The book is a compilation of the many questions posed by devotees to the Venerable, and presented in a question and answer format. Buddhist fundamental concepts are clarified, while myths and superstitious are debunked.
    PDF in English
  4. “The Buddha and His Teachings” by Ven. Narada Mahathera
    This book, a must read for serious students, provides a detailed source for those who wish to understand and systematically study the life of the Buddha and his fundamental teachings.
    PDF in English
  5. “Kamma in Buddhism” by Buddhadāsa Bhikkhu
    Why do we need to know the essence of Kamma? Because our lives are inseparable from it and happen according to it. To be more precise, we can say that life is actually a stream of kamma. Kamma in Buddhism is that kamma (action) which leads to the end of all kamma so that life is above and beyond kamma.
    PDF in English
  6. “Living in the Present” by Buddhadāsa Bhikkhu
    The book stresses the importance of being mindful enough to be aware of life as it happens moment by moment by moment. Given the way we tend to live, we find ourselves spending quite a lot of our time delving into the past, living in memories, or projecting off into the future, into the ‘what might be.’ We, without any real ease of mind, find it difficult to look life squarely in the eye, as it were. Buddhadāsa Bhikkhu guides the reader along the Dhamma path.
    PDF in English
  7. “Getting Started in Mindfulness With Breathing” by Buddhadāsa Bhikkhu
    The Buddha taught in Dhammapada verse 183 that we should ‘Avoid Evil, Do Good, and Purify your Mind, …’. In this book Buddhadāsa Bhikkhu skillfully guides the beginner through the basics of medication, the task of Purifying our Mind.
    PDF in English
  8. “Nibbāna for Everyone” by Buddhadāsa Bhikkhu
    There are many misconceptions regarding Nibbāna. Some regard it as annihilation and some death, which actually has nothing to do with Nibbāna. Buddhadāsa Bhikkhu skillfully guides the reader to the true meaning in this book.
    PDF in English

Performing acts of generosity, kindness and compassion.

As the pandemic tightens its grip on Malaysia, so too does the suffering of its people. Yet, it is also especially during adverse times that ‘heroes’ in the community rally together to provide financial, material, and emotional ‘dāna’ — the act of giving.

Dāna can be performed in everyday life, even from home; donating online, purchasing requisites to be delivered to another, or even a kind word to someone suffering. However, the Buddha taught that when dāna is performed with Right Understanding, it should be done with the spirit of ‘cāga’. Cāga is the spirit of liberality, relinquishment; to give without expectations and attachments. In its highest form, dāna can be performed with the intention to let go of our attachments. As the cultivation of cāga helps us let go of unwholesome habits, emotions, and views, it leads us to develop a spirit of ‘nekkhamma’ — letting go.

Therefore, as we physically engage in the act of dāna with the spirit of cāga, we gradually relinquish our minds from the bonds of attachment. Thus, it is crucial to our cultivation that the practice of dāna, accompanied with cāga forms a part of our daily cultivation.

Evening Chanting & Reflection

Take time at the end of the day to recollect and reflect on our actions, speech and thoughts throughout the day – is there anything that I could have been more wholesome or skillful at? The more that we reflect, the clearer we can see what we need to purify.

The following reflections help to clarify our thoughts and track our spiritual progress :
  1. What are my spiritual goals in this life?
  2. How have I worked towards achieving them, today?
  3. What conditions keep hindering my spiritual pursuits and progress?
  4. What further steps should I take to improve my practice?
  5. Have I been living mindfully and diligent in wanting to improve my practice?
We also contemplate on the five realities of life taught by the Buddha :
  1. I am subject to ageing.
  2. I am subject to illness.
  3. I am subject to death.
  4. I will be separated from all that is dear and appealing to me.
  5. I am the owner of my kamma*, heir to my kamma, born of my kamma, relative to my kamma. Whatever kamma I perform, for good or for evil, I will inherit its results.

* Kamma – actions with intentions. Our intentions are either wholesome or unwholesome. Wholesome kamma bears pleasant results, while unwholesome kamma bears unpleasant ones.