Fall 2017 Beginner’s Class for English-speakers Living in Taiwan

DDM Meditation Activity Department and International Meditation Group (IMG) held a two-day Beginner’s Meditation class for English-speakers, at Yunlai Monastery, Taipei City, on November 4th and 5th, 2017. Ven. Guo Chan, the guiding teacher, engaged the class with a humorous and interesting approach, leading the group practice in a sharp yet warm manner. She used simple metaphor to explain the seemingly difficult theories, enabling participants from various cultures to familiarize themselves with the methods of practice, and helping them get a clearer understanding of the essentials of Chan practice and clarify their issues faced in daily life.

Participants of this class come from different countries, such as France, Germany, Korea, Malaysia, Belize, Israel, and Taiwan. Through various ways of direct teaching, dialogues through spontaneous conditions as well as group sharing, they learned and practiced basic Chan methods, such as exercises prior to sitting meditation , seven points of sitting meditation, counting the breath , and massage after the sitting session. Venerable Guo Chan also introduced Living Chan practices, such as Eight-form Moving Meditation, as well as standing meditation, sleeping meditation, and walking meditation, all of which can be applied in everyday life.

David, an Israeli practitioner, said that he was impressed by the diverse methods of practice, which allowed him a fresh look at Chan practice and helped clarify his misunderstanding that Chan meditation was all about teaching participants to sit on the cushion in meditation all day long. As he just started to practice mindfulness, he was surprised to notice how the fleeting thoughts kept going through his mind while he was experiencing slow walking meditation. When the venerable explained how counting the breath and massage after meditation could help us contemplate on our movement and bodily sensations, he raised a question: “Since Buddhism emphasizes on training the mind, why does it encourage practitioners to pay attention to their physical body?” The venerable then explained the philosophy of Chan practice by pointing out the idea of “When our body is still and relaxed, it is easier for us to be aware of our physical and mental state."

Diane, a participant from Belize, shared her concerns with a long term issue of sleep quality even after she had tried various approaches to deal with it. She was glad to have taken time out of her busy schedules to attend this course, which provided her with an efficient way to adjust the body and training the mind, and ultimately better able to cope with her situation.

With the keen enthusiasm of the participants, the Q & A and sharing sessions were extended. In a more relaxed atmosphere, participants continued to share their experiences living in Taiwan and how they had grown and learned being in a different culture. Ms. Han from Korea talked about her past experience and how it had once triggered a long-hidden memory of negative experiences, with which she had difficulties coping. The venerable used the metaphor of “allowing the muddy water to settle” to assist her with the understanding of the benefits of calming the mind insight.

Ven. Guo Chan also shared her own experience in studying Buddhism. Having developed an interest and compassion in learning English and Buddhism from an early age, she was happy to share with English-speakers what she had learnt under the guidance of the late Most Venerable Master Sheng Yen and how she transformed herself. Venerable Chang Ji and Yan Jiao, who assisted with the teaching and guidance, were touched by the enthusiastic participants, who were willing to raise questions regarding their uncertainty related to the practice as well as sharing their feedback and insights throughout the course, through which they have benefitted a lot. The activity was wrapped up in a warm atmosphere, and participants bring home the teachings they have learnt and to experience them in the daily life.

John Wu, a representative for the International Meditation Group volunteer team, welcome them to the regular weekly group practice sessions on Saturdays from 9:30-12:00 a.m., and upcoming one-day Chan retreats (to take place on December 23, 2017 and March 10, 2018). People are also welcome to join these activities. Details can be found at:

Texts: Elenda Huang (頤嵐達)
Photos: International Meditation Group
Editor: DDM Editorial Team, Chang ChiaCheng (張家誠)

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