September 22 marks the celebration of Buddha’s return from heaven.
On this day we celebrate Buddha’s return from the desire god realm called Land of the Thirty-three Heavens, so-called because it has thirty-three different types of god.
Traditionally this day also marks the end of the summer retreat. Every year, during the summer months, Buddha engaged in a three-month retreat with his disciples to avoid harming insects and other animals during the rainy season
One year during the summer retreat, Buddha transported himself to the Land of the Thirty-three Heavens to visit his mother, who had taken rebirth there after she died. Buddha deeply wanted to repay his mother’s kindness by teaching her Dharma.
The king of this realm is called Indra. The Indra who was king at that time was also Buddha’s disciple and he invited Buddha to go there and give teachings to the gods. So Buddha went to benefit his mother and also, at Indra’s request, to benefit the other gods living there. He stayed for three months teaching Dharma and then returned on this day.
This day is therefore very special. It is said that if we engage in any kind of virtuous action on this day it becomes especially powerful and our merit greatly increases. For example, if we offer one single light offering this action is multiplied to become millions of light offerings.
Kadampa centers around the world organise special activities including courses, meditations and prayers on this day. Check with your local center if you would like to join in any of these activities.
To find a center near you visit kadampa.org/map.