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Tuesday, January 16, 2018
The Practice Method of Chan

There are two categories of Chan practice methods. The first category is by use of the Five Methods for Stilling the Mind, which is to first stabilize the mind, and then progress toward liberation.

The second category of method is by use of the Huatou method from the Chinese Chan tradition, to totally crash the delusionary mind; in that moment self-attachment disappears, and wisdom manifests; such is enlightenment.

To practice Chan, we must first relax the body, the brain, and the emotion, and then our mind can become still. I often teach people a simple relaxation method, which is to pay attention to one’s own breathing. This can bring relief when one is tense or gripped with troubling thoughts. This method is sufficient for use in normal daily life, but if you want to continue on and go deeper, you need to ask a teacher for guidance.


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As the lyrics of the Song Of The Triple Gem goes: “The nights in human and heavenly realms are long, and the universe deluded and dark; so who is going to illuminate it?” The Dharma Drum Sangha University held its 2016 tonsure ceremony on the morning of August 31 at the Grand Buddha Hall of Dharma Drum Mountain World Center for Buddhist Education, for seven student monks vowing to devote themselves to Buddhist practices and benefitting the world. More than 400 people attended the ceremony to extend their congratulations. Ven. Yan Xian, one of the newly ordained, was accompanied by her sister, who performed the “offering the robe” ritual for her before she formally put on the monastic robe. This added a special touch for the ceremony, making the atmosphere all the more heartwarming.
The 20th Liang Emperor’s Repentance Dharma assembly organized by Dharma Drum Mountain, held at Nung Chan Monastery, came to an end on August 12 amid chanting of sutras, followed by the Offerings to Heaven and Yoga Flaming Mouth ritual on August 13. The seven-day service drew a participation of over 40,000 practitioners. On the afternoon of August 13, Ven. Guo Dong, abbot president of DDM, gave a Dharma talk, followed by a Yoga Flaming Mouth food-offering ritual presided over by three Vajra masters, to help deliver beings in the ghost realm. Towards the end, the merit of chanting Amitabha Buddha’s name was dedicated to all the suffering sentient beings in the world, wrapping up the service.
Buddhist teachings and collective power of group practice bring peace and joy to the world. Nung Chan Monastery held the Liang Emperor’s Repentance Ritual on August 7, marking the 20th anniversary of the service at Dharma Drum Mountain. The first day of the Dharma assembly witnessed a participation of over 6,500 people and volunteers at six different altars for group practice. With one-mindedness, participants performing the ritual in unity filled the venue with a positive power of Dharma joy, aspiring to benefit the world and sentient beings through their sincere repentance and devoted cultivation of the mind.
Smiling Chan Life Hall, which promotes the art of smiling along with Chan teachings based on what the Buddha taught about the mind, held a gratitude sharing meeting at 2 pm on July 29, to show appreciation to volunteers for the time and effort they have contributed. To mark the occasion, the grass and flower seeds contained in the prayer cards people had wrote at the Hall were planted and spread along with Rudrashka seedlings as offerings to Mother Earth, signifying “planting prayers to bring about Bodhi.” The Hall expects itself to inspire more smiles and enable people to enjoy more calm and stability.
Dharma Drum Mountain has announced the winners for its 2016 International Caring for Life Award on July 27, selected by eight judges in the final review. There were altogether 18 groups and individuals on the final selection list for the biennial Award this year.
The opening ceremony of Lan Yang abode as a Dharma center to provide stable mental and physical practice was held at 10:00 a.m. on July 23. Lin Congxian, the mayor of Yilan, Lin Zimiao, the town’s mayor, Ven. Guo Dong, the Abbot President of DDM, Ven. Guo Shyang, the Vice Abbot President of DDM, as well as various representatives from all walks of life such as Lin Shunnan, Lin Jiamin, Lu Xuelin, Huang Chuqi, and Zhang Changbang officiated the opening ceremony by drawing the curtain to reveal sculptures of the Buddha and the Guanyin Boddhittsatva. In the afternoon, about 300 people took refuge in the Triple Jewels; members of the Sangha then hung Buddha pendents around the neck of these devotees. The atmosphere at the abode was solemn with recitation of the Buddha’s name.
It’s hard for people in Taiwan to imagine how difficult it would be to access Buddhist sutras back in 60 years ago, when not even one single Buddhist monastery in Taiwan had a set of the Tripitaka in their libraries. It was not until 1955 that Master Dong Chu, Sun Qingyang, and Zhang Shaoqi from Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Culture vowed to reprint the Taisho Tripitaka by inviting Chen Cheng, Yu Youren, Master Zhang Jia, and Master Yin Shun to form the Taisho Tripitaka Printing Committee, which then bought a set of Taisho Tripitaka from Japan and began the reprinting in December of the same year. The project was completed in August, 1960.
The 6th International Conference on Contemporary English Buddhism and the Thought of Master Sheng Yen was held at the GIS National Taiwan University Convention Center, Taipei, Taiwan R.O.C. on July 1, 2016. Organized by the Sangha assembly and Sheng Yen Education Foundation, the opening ceremony started at 9:00 am with 74 articles presented in this three-day conference. Ven. Guo-Dong, the Abbot President of Dharma Drum Mountain, indicated that this conference is a follow-up to the teaching and thought of Master Sheng Yen; Dharma Drum Mountain hopes to open dialogues and discussion on Buddhism’s further contribution to the society as well as its role in purifying the heart and society through Buddhist practices in our daily lives.
Dharma Drum Mountain Sangha held its fourth Followers’ Forum, a two-day event, at the NTU GIS Convention Center on June 29th, also marking the completion of DDM’s founder Master Sheng Yen’s chronicles, which includes some changes and updates up until his death. The Forum’s first session, entitled “Who, Will Continue the Legacy of Dharma Drum Mountain? An Outlook Inspired by the Master Sheng Yen’s Chronicles,” evoked over 600 participants’ memories of Master Sheng Yen about his actions and aspirations to benefit sentient beings. They expressed gratitude for being able to meet this good teacher and Dharma friend who inspired their Buddhist practice, which has greatly enriched their lives.
On June 18th, 2016, Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts (DILA) and Dharma Drum Sangha University held a joint graduation and program completion ceremony at the International Conference Hall of Dharma Drum Mountain World Center for Buddhist Education. In both academic dress and the Buddhist scarf, graduates sang the Song for the Three Jewels that signifies benefitting others to mark the meaning of graduation. Before awarding the certificates, Ven. Guo Dong, abbot president of DDM, and Ven. Hui Min, president of DILA, along with representatives of the teaching faculty, handed the scarves and candle lamps to the 40 graduates, as an encouragement for them to walk the Bodhisattva path with courage. More than 400 relatives and friends of the graduates also attended the ceremony and gave their blessings.
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