Guo Yuan Fashi Promote Chan Buddhism to Indonesia (Part I)

Jakarta, Jogjakarta, Medan – 2009, 23 Oct – 3 Nov

5-days Chan Retreat in ‘Omah Jawi’ Retreat House, Jogjakarta, Indonesia.
(25th-29th October 2009)

Everything is Always the First time

This is the 2nd Chan retreat in Jogjakarta, and I felt the same enthusiasm like the one held in January this year. I could see that some people also had the same enthusiasm. There are 30 participants in the retreat. I felt very grateful to be able to join the retreat. Therefore, I'd like to thank Mr. Agus Santoso who had worked very hard for the retreat, Guo Yuan Fashi and Chang Tuo Fashi who had kindly come to Indonesia to teach us, all volunteers who helped in the retreat, also participants who had come together in the retreat to practice.

The retreat started in the afternoon of October 25th. This is a Beginner's Retreat, so we started with a briefing about things we might have along the retreat -such as the signs, how to do bow and prostration etc.- and things we may not do along the retreat. We intentionally had the retreat started before Guo Yuan Fashi and Chang Tuo Fashi came, so that we could adapt well to the retreat situation.

On October 26th, "tack… tack… tack…” the bell rang at 5 am. The first period of sitting started at 05:30 am. Then we had the morning exercise, and another period of sitting before the breakfast. I didn't really know the exact time (except what i have written above) since there weren't any clocks or watches around. Later on, i just followed what had been scheduled. Guo Yuan Fashi and Chang Tuo Fashi came in the afternoon. In the evening, we had our first Dharma talk in the retreat.

Guo Yuan Fashi said that this is the first time he came to Indonesia, his first time in Jogjakarta, and also his first retreat in Indonesia. But later, Fashi said that everything is always the first time.

He told us a story about a conversation between Master Sheng Yen and a Chinese woman who was really bored observing her breath in meditation. One day, Master Sheng Yen saw the woman making sushi (Japanese food). Shifu asked the woman: "Are all the sushi the same?" The woman answered: "Of course they are not the same". Master Sheng Yen replied: "It's the same with your breath. They are not the same. Each one is different". Then Guo Yuan Fashi said that every breath we take, every step we make, and everything is always different. They are always something new. Fashi said that He liked it very much when Master Sheng Yen told him about this. Fashi told us that Master Sheng Yen pointed at a chair and said: "It's newly old". When i heard about this, it was like "a-way-out" to me whom lately feeling bored doing meditation. It was really relieving. This teaching so impressed me.

Everything… every moment… every activities I do is always the first. Its new. Oke … I will start this my first retreat again, just back to my simple mind, the beginner’s mind, be relax and stay with this present moment fully.

Another thing was the method. Guo Yuan Fashi told us to relax as much as possible, to do the relaxation and later if the natural breath arouse, we could put our awareness on the breath. This also became a warning to me. Since the first retreat, it had been very difficult for me to do the relaxation. I tend to skip it and just sit, waiting for the sensation of the abdomen movements. Upon hearing this talk, i sensed the importance of relaxation. So i decided to do the relaxation and put aside the other things. We had a period of sitting before sleep.

October 27th, we woke up earlier at 4 am and I simply followed the schedule (I guess it happened for the rest of the retreat). In the morning Dharma talk session, i thought that Guo Yuan Fashi would tell about things that are important in practice. I was a little bit surprised that Guo Yuan Fashi chose to use the session for walking meditation instead of a talk. We had it outside the retreat centre.

But it's okay. I tried to keep the attitude of beginner's mind: it's something new. Well, I never really knew how to do the walking meditation though. I remember that after walking session, fashi gives the dharma talk about 5 harmonize on food, sleep, body, breath and mind. These teaching is so clear and simple. Fashi told the importance to be aware of these 5 things related to the practice and make the good progress step by step. Now I know practice is not just simple aware on our method, but further we must be aware on our body, mind, surrounding and the interrelation in it.

In the evening Dharma talk, Fashi talked about the practice. He told us that when we started to practice, it might seem very hard, very difficult. It would make us lazy to practice. But later as we kept practicing, we would feel that the practice is important. I was very touched hearing this as i felt the same thing. Then we had a Q&A session where most of the questions were about the method.

(Report by Sugi – Chang Wu/ Edited by Junarto / Proofreading by Chang Tuo Fashi)

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