Dharma Drum Sangha University’s Workshop of Awakening: A Journey to develop the mind through actions

The “Awakening Workshop,” an eight-session course co-organized by Dharma Drum Sangha University and Dharma Drum for Young People, concluded at DDM Degui Academy on May 19, 2018.

The first session of the workshop started on March 10. Participants were invited to experience and recognize impermanence by imagining their next life. Impermanence actually reflects the real state of our life and is often beyond our awareness. Through the “Value System Auction” activity, participants were asked to resetting the priorities in their life by rethinking about their needs and wants.

In later sessions, the venerable encouraged everyone to do a one-week experiment with their daily life activities, by objectively observing their usual diet habits and awakening their awareness of the true happiness in having fewer desires and knowing contentment. When mindfully chewing a raisin, we can realize that our feeling and perception are subject to the influence of our preconceived impressions, and that the constant changes in our “contact, sensation, desire, grasping, and becoming” are actually insubstantial. By casting our “mental anchor” into the truth, we can examine how we form our tightly linked habits; through Chan practice, we can gradually break away from our habitual patterns while rebuilding good relationships with other people and the environment. Then, we will be able to identify whether what we are pursuing is a higher purpose of life, or just a means for achieving our ends.

The Sangha University hopes that through in-class sharing and discussion participants can let go of the pattern of one-way learning, consolidate their concepts during the interactions, and go on to utilize the methods they have learnt to practice mindful awareness, incorporating their study into their daily activities, rendering the learning a complete and useful experience. Furthermore, by changing our sub-modalities we will realize the illusory nature of our value systems. And, by studying the inner logic of personality modes in terms of the “six characteristics of conditioned phenomena” as taught in Huayan Buddhism, we can learn how to maintain balance in our life and broaden our perspectives. In addition to transcending our habitual patterns, we can also try to understand others and share the Dharma as we know it in a skillful way, awakening ourselves and others.

With “What constitutes ‘I’, and what am I?” as the theme, the last session guided everyone to explore the science of brain. Since the functions of our left brains and right brains working together control our actions in general, so is it that there is one single “I” or two separate “I”s? We can try to face our inner question honestly. By giving up our inverted views regarding “permanence,” “oneness,” “a controlling entity,” and “I,” we can thus generate faith in the Dharma from within. By seeing the truth of “impermanence,” we can thus see infinite possibilities and therefore vow to change ourselves. By realizing the truth that all beings are essentially equal and inter-dependent, we can generate the mind of universal kindness and compassion. By understanding that one cannot possibly control everything, we then know to practice letting go of our attachment and the tendency to control, thereby experiencing total freedom of the mind.

It is hoped that participants can lead their lives as an experiment, starting off a journey of awakening themselves and others, by perfecting their own mindful awareness and spiritual practice. By treading the Bodhisattva path in which we cultivate self-awareness to have a better understanding of ourselves, appreciate all causes and conditions to affirm ourselves, and practice repentance to improve ourselves, we will be able to eventually dissolve our self in the process of continually connecting with others.

Texts: DDM Sangha University
Translation: Frances Liu (劉珮如)
Editing: Chang, Chia-Cheng (張家誠)

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