Jan 20, 2019 Poya Retreat

Adult Program

Morning: Listened to the Canki Sutta.

Afternoon: Listened to the first sutta in the Kosala Samyutta, Dahara Sutta. When learning about how King Kosala developed his faith over his lifetime, we also heard a little bit about the Piyajatika Sutta (Read on SuttaCentral) and the Dhammachetiya Sutta (Read on SuttaCentral)

Children’s Program

Morning: Listened to the Nidhikaṇḍa Sutta

Afternoon: Listened to the the Udumbara Jataka, the story of the tricky monkey (read on sacred-texts.com) and the Vaka Jataka, the story of the wolf who only practiced precepts when it was easy (read on sacred-texts.com)

Come to our programs when you visit Sri Lanka

English Meditation program in Colombo

Even if you are just visiting Sri Lanka for a short time, we would love to have you learn about Buddhism and meditation with us. Our activities are a great way for you to meet and learn from people who have been practicing the Buddha’s teachings in a Buddhist culture. Find out what to expect when you come to our activities.

You don’t need to worry about accidentally offending anyone. Colombo is a growing international city and folks here are accustomed to visitors from other cultures. The fact that you have an interest in Buddhism and meditation is so wonderful, we are happy to be patient and helpful.

There is no need to wear special clothes to our events, although it would be great if you could keep shoulders and knees covered. This is not a hard and fast rule, but it will help you blend in to the culture. Traditionally people often wear white clothes to Buddhist activities, but again it is optional.

You should always feel free to ask questions about anything that doesn’t make sense, either in the teachings or just the customs and traditions you observe.

Colombo Dhamma Friends is part of the Mahamevnawa (maha MAY oo NAA wa) network of monasteries. Our organization has over 60 branches in Sri Lanka and over 25 around the world. Some of our branches in Sri Lanka are especially well suited to visitors. Many are located close to popular tourist and religious sites. You can learn more about them on the monastery visit page of our main website. Many of the monks who teach at our English activities have lived abroad so you can feel free to ask them about our monasteries in your home country.

Practical Considerations

  • You are welcome to bring your luggage with you. We believe that your belongings should be safe at the back of the meeting hall, but as always you should keep passport and valuables with you at all times.
  • If you have a Sri Lankan sim card, you can drop the +94 to dial. Feel free to text or call. This may get you a quicker response.
  • Although we do let people register for events, registration is not required. Just show up at a scheduled event and people will be happy to see you.
  • Food at our activities is prepared by volunteers and may contain animal products. Feel free to ask about ingredients, but if you have strict health/diet requirements it may be best to bring your own food.
  • If you like to stay at our monasteries while you are in Sri Lanka, please go to our organization’s website and apply.
  • If you would like to make a day-visit to one of our monasteries, there is a list of monasteries that are especially suitable with visitor information. The closest monasteries to Colombo, where our events are held, are Kaduwela and Malambe. They have a good selection of our English Buddhist books.

Learning Meditation in English

At the most basic level, meditation in the Buddha’s teaching means training the mind. Training the mind to do what? To see things as they really are. Because this training in meditation is not specific to any time or place, we can easily learn this in English.

The mind that has not been trained in meditation fails to see things that are impermanent as impermanent. Because many things are slow to change, we can easily think that they will last forever. But when the mind is trained, it can see that even the things that seem very stable are still going to change.

We have several opportunities for people living in and visiting the Colombo area to learn Buddhist meditation. For the complete list, click on the activities tab at the top of the page. If you have any questions about our activities, please contact us.

AN 8:41 The Uposatha With Eight Factors, In Brief

So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. There the Buddha addressed the mendicants: “Mendicants!” “Venerable sir,” they replied. The Buddha said this:

“Mendicants, the observance of the uposatha with its eight factors is very fruitful and beneficial and splendid and bountiful. And how should it be observed? It’s when a noble disciple reflects: ‘As long as they live, the arahants give up killing living creatures, renouncing the rod and the sword. They are scrupulous and kind, and live full of compassion for all living beings. I, too, for this day and night will give up killing living creatures, renouncing the rod and the sword. I’ll be scrupulous and kind, and live full of compassion for all living beings. I will observe the uposatha by doing as the arahants do in this respect.’ This is its first factor.

‘As long as they live, the arahants give up stealing. They take only what’s given, and expect only what’s given. They keep themselves clean by not thieving. I, too, for this day and night will give up stealing. I’ll take only what’s given, and expect only what’s given. I’ll keep myself clean by not thieving. I will observe the uposatha by doing as the arahants do in this respect.’ This is its second factor.

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The Eight Uposatha Precepts

The Buddha encouraged his lay-followers to keep the Five Precepts (abstaining from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and taking intoxicants) for as long as life lasts. He also recommended that they follow some additional precepts as often as possible. These are known as the Uposatha Precepts, or simply the Eight Precepts. They are traditionally observed on the full-moon days (uposatha), but they can be taken at any time.

Following these extra precepts gives us the opportunity to practice some of the renunciation that monks and nuns follow every day. The precept on abstaining from sexual misconduct is changed to abstaining from any kind of sexual activity at all. The last three involve giving up other forms of enjoyment. We limit the food we eat by not taking solid food in the afternoon. We give up entertainment and beautifying our bodies. And we use only very simple furniture.

Giving up these things, even just temporarily, helps us to recognize and reduce our attachments. By spending time without these things, we have the opportunity to focus on practicing meditation and experiencing a happiness not based on material things.

We know that those who follow the Buddha’s teaching to the highest goal of enlightenment give up these things completely. So when we spend time following these training rules, we can remember that we are imitating these great spiritual beings. When we understand the benefit of practicing in this way, we can make our minds happy simply remembering the time that we have practiced with this extra dedication.

Taking the Eight Precepts

Usually we begin by paying homage to the Buddha and going for refuge to the Triple Gem.

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā-sam-buddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā-sam-buddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā-sam-buddhassa


Buddhaṁ saranaṁ gacchāmi.
Dhammaṁ saranaṁ gacchāmi.
Saṅghaṁ saranaṁ gacchāmi.
Dutiyam’pi Buddhaṁ saranaṁ gacchāmi.
Dutiyam’pi Dhammaṁ saranaṁ gacchāmi.
Dutiyam’pi Saṅghaṁ saranaṁ gacchāmi.
Tatiyam’pi Buddhaṁ saranaṁ gacchāmi.
Tatiyam’pi Dhammaṁ saranaṁ gacchāmi.
Tatiyam’pi Saṅghaṁ saranaṁ gacchāmi.

Then we recite:

1. I observe the precept of abstaining from killing beings.
2. I observe the precept of abstaining from stealing.
3. I observe the precept of abstaining from incelibacy.
4. I observe the precept of abstaining from telling lies.
5. I observe the precept of abstaining from taking intoxicating drinks and drugs.
6. I observe the precept of abstaining from eating at improper times.
7. I observe the precept of abstaining from dancing singing music shows wearing garlands and beautifying with cosmetics.
8. I observe the precept of abstaining from using luxurious and comfortable seats and beds.

Imitating great arahants, I follow these precepts for happiness in this life, for rebirth in heaven, and to realize the Four Noble Truths in this Gautama Buddha’s Dispensation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to wear white?

No. It is beneficial to wear white, but not essential. Some people wear a white shirt and any color pants. Traditionally, people often wear a white piece of cloth over their left shoulder and pinned together at the waste under the right arm.

What can be eaten in the evening?

Fruit juice, water, sugar, honey, rock candy. Tea and coffee can be taken without milk.

What should I sleep on?

Try and sleep on the simplest bed possible, using the most basic bedding you have. It is good if you can put the mattress on the floor.

How do I take the precepts on my own?

Most people will first recite the Three Refuges and then simply recite the eight precepts out loud.

How do I stop observing the 8 precepts?

Simply take the five precepts on your own.

Can I observe the 8 precepts on any day?

Absolutely. Traditionally, people will observe them on full and new moon days. But the Buddha encouraged people to observe them as often as possible.

What if I forget and eat something in the afternoon?

This is very easy to do if we are observing the precepts at home or anywhere outside a group setting. Don’t worry. Simply mentally determine to take the precept again. You may find that wearing white helps you remember. You may even like to put up a sign on the fridge.

Do I have to stay home and meditate all day while observing the Eight Precepts?

No. It is traditional, and of course very beneficial, to devote the day to Dhamma practice. But it is still beneficial to keep the precepts on a day when we may not be able to dedicate ourselves entirely to spiritual practice.

Children’s English Poya-Day Dhamma Program

All In-Person Events Stopped

Because of the COVID-19 situation, all in-person programmes are suspended.
Please stay connected with us on Facebook and through the CDF Radio. We are conducting lots of online and recorded programmes there. And Monks in the Morning Podcast will continue to have new episodes.

When: Every Poya-day national holiday (see below)
Time: 7.00 am to 4 pm
For: Children 7-12 years old (NOTE: There are two adult/youth programs happening at the same time in the same venue, one in Sinhala and one in English.)
Language: English Medium
Where: Charted Institute of Personnel Management Meeting Hall
No. 43 Vijaya Kumaranathunga Mawatha, Colombo 05.
Cost: Free

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