Being master of the mind:Children’s Protecting the Spiritual Environment Camp at Anhe Branch Monastery

DDM’s Anhe Branch Monastery organized a three-day Protecting the Spiritual Environment Camp for children starting from July 7. Through playing games, watching motion pictures, drawing Zentangle patterns, doing sitting meditation, and making veggie burgers, Ven. Chang Fa and several other instructors taught 110 children, aged nine to 12, to grasp the “magic method” of Chan—concentrate, relax, and be aware. On the last day of the event, around 60 parents were invited to learn about the magic method their children had been learning, for them to share a teaching in the Dharma that will help enhance family relationship.

Promise to stay cheerful, respect and listen attentively to others

It has been 24 years since the Camp was first launched. With changes in society over the years, its courses have become more diverse. This year, right on the first day of the camp children were required to promise themselves to stay cheerful, take good care of themselves, respect and listen attentively to others, focus on everything they do, and be aware of their emotions during the three-day course. Also, through gradual learning and repeated practice under the instructors’ guidance, children have learned how to become the master of their own minds.

Diverse courses

For the first two days there were lessons on temple etiquettes, eating meditation, understanding how the brain works, and games to explore emotions and the five sensory organs, to help children learn how to quiet and calm down.

Imagine to be the hard spaghetti

Ven. Chang Fa also used interesting metaphors and personifications to teach children how to experience Chan. “Imagine yourself to be the hard spaghetti to start with. While being cooked, you’ll become softer and softer and finally stay put in the pot,” the venerable said. With her skillful guidance, by the second day children were already able to sit calmly on the cushions, and know how to concentrate on their sitting in a relaxed way “like cotton flowers, clouds, and water.” Seeing how different the initially fidgeting children had become, able to sit for 20 to 30 minutes in one go, the venerable was amazed and impressed by their potential for and skill of concentration.

The magic method of Chan practice for parents and children

On the last day, while the parents on the 10th floor were learning the magic method of Chan practice that will help us live happily every day, the children on the 8th floor were happily preparing veggie burgers by practicing the method of Chan in concentration and relaxation, as a way to show gratitude for their kind company.

Use the magic method and return to our breathing

Toward the end of the camp, the venerable wished them happiness every day in the future, and also challenged them by asking, “What would you do if you are feeling unhappy?” “Use the magic method and return to our breathing;” “A positive mindset;” “Listen attentively to what others have to say,” answered the children enthusiastically. It showed that this course was successful in training them to be skilled “little Chan masters.” Anhe Branch Monastery hopes to launch fun courses for children and lectures on parenting in the coming autumn, allowing parents and their children to continually benefit from the idea of parent-child collaborative learning.

Text: Xin-Yuan, Shih (施心媛)
Photos: Wei-Bing, Chen (陳蔚彬); Rui, Chen (陳瑞), Ruo-Lan, Guo (郭若蘭) ; Yu-You, Hsiao (蕭伃佑)
Translation: Chen-An, Hsiao (蕭宸安)
Editor: Chia-Cheng, Chang (張家誠)

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