September 22, 2023 all-day
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September 22 marks the celebration of Buddha’s Return from Heaven Day

The following explanation is an extract from a talk given by Geshe Kelsang on this day in 1991:

‘On this day we celebrate Buddha’s return from the desire god realm called Land of the Thirty-three Heavens, where he had been to visit his mother who had been reborn there.

Traditionally this day also marks the end of the summer retreat. Every year, during the summer months, Buddha did a three-month retreat with his disciples. His reason for doing this was to avoid harming insects and other animals.

If we go out a lot during the summer months we will naturally kill more insects and other animals than at other times of the year. The nature of Buddhadharma is compassion – an unbiased compassion that is not just for human beings but for every living being, including animals.

In fact, we should have stronger compassion for animals than for human beings because animals suffer more. Human beings have better conditions and are more fortunate than animals. Because animals have so much suffering and no freedom, out of compassion Buddhists should try not to kill or disturb them. So, for three months during the summer, Buddha advised his disciples to retreat, staying always inside and living carefully and conscientiously.

One year during the annual summer retreat Buddha went to the Land of the Thirty-three Heavens. After his mother died she had taken rebirth in this god realm, so-called because it has thirty-three different types of god.

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. So Buddha went to benefit his mother and also, at Indra’s request, to benefit the other gods living there. He stayed three months, 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.

On this day we should especially remember Buddha’s kindness.


Dedication On Buddha’s Return from Heaven Day, September 22nd 

Today is therefore a special day for emphasising the importance of love and compassion, for remembering the kindness of all mother living beings, and that of our own Spiritual Guide, Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche, who is kinder to us than all the Buddhas, and kinder even than Buddha Shakyamuni. Through his books of perfect explanation and his oral instructions, establishing Dharma centres and spiritual programmes. and creating so many Dharma Teachers, and through his perfect example of a life well-lived through spiritual practice, our dear Teacher has given us everything we need to enter, make progress on and complete the paths of both Sutra and Tantra that will lead us quickly to the supreme happiness of enlightenment.


May we always repay his kindness by devoting our lives to benefiting others, and by working together in harmony to fulfil his vision of spreading the pure Kadam Dharma that comes from the hearts of Buddha, Atisha and Je Tsongkhapa throughout the world. May the love and devotion that binds our hearts with his never be broken, but remain until we and all living beings attain enlightenment.


We also pray for the long and healthy lives of all the precious Dharma Teachers of our tradition, in particular Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong, NKT General Spiritual Director, and Gen/Kadam ……., our Resident Teacher, as well as all those within our spiritual community. May everyone within this centre, now and in the future, always be free from obstacles and hindrances, and gain perfect realizations of all the stages of the path.


On this special occasion we strengthen our determination to follow the spiritual path that emphasises above all else the avoidance of causing harm and suffering to others. By reducing harmful thoughts and generating affectionate love first towards who are those close to us, and then gradually extending the scope of this good heart to include more and more people, including animals, may we repay the kindness of each and every living being, our kind mothers, by guiding them to liberation and enlightenment.

Through the blessings of Guru Buddha, and the force of our faith, our prayers and our pure Dharma practice, may holy Dharma flourish throughout the world. May all sadness, grief and despair be dispelled, and may all worlds become pure worlds, full of love, happiness and peace. May all living beings everywhere, tormented by sufferings of body and mind find physical comfort and mental joy, and may they all come to experience the ultimate happiness of full enlightenment.