Three-year retreat — the practice of remaining in strict meditation retreat for three years and three fortnights (Tib. ལོ་གསུམ་ཕྱོགས་གསུམ་, Wyl. lo gsum phyogs gsum) was made popular by the great Rimé masters Jamgön Kongtrul and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. The tradition originates with the teachings of the Kalachakra Tantra, concerning the cycles of inner wind energy. It is said that generally, in the course of a day, we breathe in and out some 21,600 times. And every thirty-two times there is the arising of what is called the 'wisdom wind'. This means that in a single day the wisdom wind arises 675 times. If we consider the life expectancy of a human being to be roughly 100 years, then in one lifetime we experience the wisdom wind for a total of three years and three fifteen day periods.
Jamgön Kongtrul wrote:
- All the wisdom energy which circulates during one hundred years equals three years and three fortnights. When all karmic energy is transformed into wisdom energy, enlightenment is attained. This is the reason why it is said that the state of the Buddha Vajradhara is achieved by meditating for three years and three fortnights.
Kyabjé Trulshik Rinpoche also explains:
- Astrologically, it is good to remain in retreat for one year, three years or five years. To stay for two or four years would not be as good.
- Zangpo (1994), pp.19-20
- Lerab Ling, 5th December, 2006
- Ngawang Zangpo, Jamgon Kongtrul's Retreat Manual, Snow Lion, 1994
- View: The Rigpa Journal, July 2010