DDM held a 90–day retreat
for the first time

Cultivating Talents for Chinese Chan Buddhism: Near one thousand practitioners experienced the methods of Huatou and Silent Illumination in-depth

It has always been the vision of the late Master Sheng Yen (Shifu) to hold long-term Chan retreats at the DDM Chan Hall. This enables practitioners to experience in-depth Chan meditation in a favorable environment, as well as to nurture teachers and talents who may inherit the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chinese Chan Buddhism in the future.

The first 90-day retreat was held at Dharma Drum Mountain from March 2 through May 26; with meditation sessions conducted at the “Lotus Academy”, the very same venue that Master Sheng Yen conducted the first retreat at DDM. Ven. Guo Xing (果醒法師), the Managing Director of Chan Practice Center, remarked that the 90-day retreat was aimed at continuing to carry forward Master Sheng Yen’s mission to propagate Chinese Chan Buddhism.

Beginning March 2, every segment of the retreat was attended by about 70 – 100 participants, each experiencing the calming effect of Chan practices. This retreat is the longest in duration ever since the 49-day Silent Illumination retreats in 2017 and 2018, as well as the 30-day Huatou Chan retreat in 2018.

All the ten segments in Huatou and Silent Illumination were guided by Master Sheng Yen’s Video dharma talk, supplemented by Ven. Guo Xing’s explanation. Shifu’s wise, compassionate and in-depth guidance on the Chan method as well as clear explanation of the Chan concepts, together with Ven. Guo Xing’s vivid and skillful metaphors provided participants with a multi-faceted approach to the experience of Chan.

Ven. Guo Xing pointed out that extended period Chan retreat is not only the mission of DDM Chan Hall, but also the aspiration of Master Sheng Yen ever since the inauguration of Chan Practice Program at Dharma Drum Sangha University in 2004. However, those who could not attend all segments of the retreat were welcomed to attend segments of their choice.

“In their commitments to the Pursuit of the Truthful Way, the participants must have the spirits of devoting their whole being to practice tirelessly to the extent not caring too much about their physical body. They should not emphasize on the experiences of enlightenment; rather, they should focus solely on their training of mind and character. Otherwise, they may turn out arrogant and produce no benefit either for the dharma teachings or themselves. That is also the reason why the “dragon-elephant” talent training in the ancient monastery of Chan School would put emphasis on the practice and the long-term training itself.”

These were the words of the late Master Sheng Yen, in a letter addressed to his disciples in Taiwan from America in 1980, clearly pointing out the conditions and direction of training; not in pursuit of fast realization and achievement but to develop the same understanding and practice as their ancestor masters.

Ven. Guo Xing pointed out that extended Chan retreat provides practitioners with a stable and continuous environment for meditation. He also indicated that DDM would continue to conduct extended Chan retreat in the future to promote the benefits of Chinese Chan Buddhism to the world as well as to fulfill Master Sheng Yen’s aspirations.

Texts: Venerable Yan Hua (演化法師), Dharma Drum Monthly
More info of Dharma Drum Monthly
Photos: Lee Fan (李東陽)
Translation: Frances Liu (劉珮如)
Editing : DDM Editorial Team; Min Shi (史敏); Christine Huang; Leefah Thong

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