The three-month Vassa (rainy season) residency period for monks begins this coming week with the full moon of July. A tradition started by the Buddha to require sheltering during most of India’s monsoon season, the monks’ annual Vassa residency has led to significant related traditions.
One is the delightful tradition of monks undertaking special pledges to fulfill during the residency period. (For this reason early English texts on Buddhism often referred to Vassa as the “Buddhist Lent”.) These pledges may be goals to reach before the end of Vassa, such as memorizing a text or developing a certain meditation practice, or special renunciations to be observed strictly throughout the Vassa, such as the dhutanga austerities (the dhutanga practice of not lying down for the whole 3 months holds special fascination and horror for many).
One unpleasant 3 months for me came from my pledge to give up caffeine for Vassa - not recommended!
My pledge this time - and which I do heartily recommend to you - is to keep an unbroken daily practice of reading early Buddhist texts. This website,Reading Faithfully, offers guidance and resources to help make your daily practice happen.
Every one of us can develop a deep and personal relationship with the teachings of the Supremely Enlightened Buddha as found in the suttas of the Pali Canon, taught in the Theravada Buddhist tradition. On ReadingFaithfully.org you will find a method for developing a daily practice with the suttas themselves, strengthened by various techniques of deep engagement . . . [giving] you the nuts and bolts of setting up a daily practice.
Unlike academic study, this approach enables us to “illuminat[e] our lives with the Blessed One’s teaching”.
The idea is to study our own defilements in the light of the Dhamma. We take each sutta alone as it is receiving it as a personal gift from our fully enlightened teacher. - from Reading Faithfully on FB, Experience the Word of the Buddha.
May this Vassa prove to be a beautiful, productive time for you, bringing your mind ever closer to Nibbana.
[Edited to add the quotes & last paragraph (plus improve a link & add a paragraph break) - I had accidentally hit the publish button too soon while thinking I was creating a tag!]