Gilbert led the 7-day retreat in Taiwan

120 global practitioners experienced the Chan practices of Master Sheng Yen in the early years

At DDM World Center for Buddhist Education, Gilbert Gutierrez, the Dharma Heir of Master Sheng Yen from the U.S. hosted the 7-day bilingual Chan Retreat from March 2 to 9, 2019. One hundred and twenty attendees from 16 countries of America, Europe and South Eastern Asia, ranging from age of 25 to 74, including new and 20 to 30 years experienced practitioners, even non-Buddhists joined the retreat.

According to Gilbert, he led the Chan retreat similar to Master Sheng Yen’s style during the early years, combing the Right View with the method of Chan practices. During the 7-day retreat, three dharma talks were given on a daily basis, underlining the recorded saying of Master Linji (臨濟禪師), Master Huang bo (黃檗禪師) and Master Xuyun (虛雲老和尚). Gilbert substantially stressed the Right View, as it represented how we perceive the working principles of mind, which is the only approach to eradicate our vexations.

During the retreat, Gilbert left the Q&A sessions after the talks, his answers inspired most of the practitioners to see through their blind spots in practices. A practitioner once raised his doubt, “When contemplating a flower, we are able to maintain inner serenity. Yet when confronting a murderer or a culprit, how can we sooth the mind of the victims and their family?”

Taken as an example, Gilbert shared one story told by Master Sheng Yen: a taxi driver ran over a child and a wife of a family in a fatal accident. By the promising to take care of the victim's family, the driver felt relieved to take on the liability.

Gilbert further expounded one who can see through the façade and understand the law of causes and conditions won’t choose the sanction that seems to be the most straightforward and just. They would rather choose to forgive, let go, and make no further malevolent causes, which is also a way to terminate the tangles generated from the accumulated past lives. The criminal today may be once the victim, suffering oneself likewise at the current moment.

Julien Roy, who is a non-believer coming from France, drastically changed his impression on traditional Buddhism after Gilbert’s vivid dharma talks, which moved him to understand more of Buddhism.

At first, Ben Conway from Australia couldn’t accept the action of the prostration. Then he became more and more blissful when he understood upon Gilbert’s explanation that the prostration is actually for the worship of our own self-nature.

In the end, Gilbert encouraged the practitioners to keep on the practices after the retreat, and invited all attendees to join together in the Chan Hall next time.

Texts: Qiu, Hui-min (邱惠敏), Dharma Drum Mountain Monthly
Photos: Lee, Fan (李東陽)
Translation: Elenda Huang (頤嵐達)
Editing: DDM Australian Editorial Team

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