How to Meditate with Right View:
Gilbert Gutierrez’s lecture at DDM Sheng Yen Education Foundation

On the morning of December 15th, Sheng Yen Education Foundation warmly welcomed its long anticipated guest – Gilbert Gutierrez, one of the Western Dharma heirs of late Master Sheng Yen, to share his wisdom with the public. The lecture, “How to Meditate with Right View,” given a day after he finished leading a bilingual Silent Illumination retreat at DDM World Center for Buddhist Education, attracted nearly 500 people attending in person or via live broadcast, receiving enthusiastic applause and spontaneous laughter from the audience.

Gilbert, a practicing attorney in the U.S., started the lecture with “actually, there are no sentient beings to be delivered,” a quote from the Diamond Sutra. Then he cited some famous analogies, including Master Huai Rang’s “rubbing a brick to become a mirror,” Master Lin Ji’s “red meat ball,” as well as “blowing off the dust from the plate” from Master Sheng Yen to emphasize the significance of Right View. Gilbert exhorted that, without profound understanding of Right View, practitioners could never attain enlightenment, nor could they gain any benefit from simply sitting on the cushion.

Later in his lecture, Gilbert guided the audience to explore how Mind works, elaborating on Right View through “causes and conditions never fail,” or paṭicca-samuppāda in Pali. He further expounded that practitioners have to understand Tathāgatagarbha, the nature of Mind. He pointed out that absolute contemplation refers to “use the knowing Mind to look into Mind” so that we can realize that everything is just Mind; every phenomena that is arising moment to moment is simply a projection on Mind. When the self is absorbed, the knowing Mind and the Mind that is being contemplated will naturally merge as one.

To practice properly, one must have Right View, said Professor Yang Pei, CEO of Sheng Yen Education Foundation. However, Right View could not be understood or propagated by dogmatic preaching. Quite to the contrary, it is vivid and dynamic and should be expressed as such, as it truly is, so as to penetrate deeply into people’s mind. According to Professor Yang, as a Dharma heir, Gilbert inherits not only late Master Sheng Yen’s Chan teachings, but also his spirit in teaching by his own example. Moreover, Gilbert also represents a successful adaptation of Chinese Chan Buddhism to contemporary society.

John Wu, the consecutive interpreter for the lecture, also shared his up close observation. When teaching people how to meditate, Gilbert, on one hand, would go into great details about how to actually apply the method; on the other, he would also try to bring practitioners to the ultimate level, that is, the nature of Mind and how Mind works. Citing from sutras or ancient masters, he always emphasizes the idea that “there is no independent self that exist by itself.”

SeoKyung Han, a Korean participant to DDM International Meditation Group, was deeply impressed by Gilbert’s articulation of “Thus is thusness”, which encouraged her to delve deeper into the significance of Tathāgatagarbha. Those illustrations he drew, though simple, helped her grasped quickly the core of his teachings.

To Angela Chao, leader of a volunteer team during the bilingual retreat, such concepts as “Buddha Nature,” “emptiness,” and “nature of mind” were difficult to explain. However, she found that Gilbert had a rare gift in sharing Chan ideas through illustrations, making them easy to comprehend, which indeed benefited her a lot.

Text: Lin, Ya-Ying (林雅櫻) / Elenda Huang
Photos: Li, Jia-Chun (李佳純)
Translation: Elenda Huang
Editing: DDM Editorial Team; John Wu (吳俊宏)

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Gilbert Gutierrez’s lecture at DDM Sheng Yen Education Foundation