Reflections on the Living Ch'an Workshop

Last Sunday (February 28), I attended DDMBA's Living Ch'an Workshop. To learn the Buddha Dharma through a workshop sounds new to me. In fact, I wasn’t sure what to expect since it is neither a dharma talk nor a traditional meditation class.

Although the center informed us that the workshop aims to bring Ch’an into daily life, this goal still seemed abstract to me because I wasn’t fully aware of the meaning of Ch’an.

Anyway, on 9:30 in the morning, I joined around thirty five other English-speakers in the Ch’an hall. The workshop was entirely led by Venerable Guo Shiin Fa Shi, who started the day by showing us a video clip of a blindfolded girl passionately kissing a chimpanzee, thinking it is a boy. Coincidentally, I have seen this clip before and found it amusing.

Seeing it again though, I found myself filled with great doubts—how is this relating to Ch’an??? Perhaps like me, many participants did not grasp the clip’s meaning until Fa Shi asked “Do you think the girl’s happiness comes from the boy or from herself?” Fa Shi’s question had made a vivid shock on me. I began to feel that the concept of “everything is created by the mind” is slowly coming to life…

Later that day, Fa Shi guided us to observe our (and others) physical/mental reactions under different circumstances and taught us to relax and become mindful through a series of activities. I realized that Fa Shi did not mention a single word of “Ch’an” or "Dharma" the entire day, but we definitely gained some direct experience on how to control our mind through shifting to right perspectives and adopting methods of awareness and relaxation. This experience made me feel more confident on both the Buddha Dharma and on myself.

Coming out of the temple, I felt I've tasted a bit of sweetness of Ch’an. It also left me with an urge to have my concepts clarified and a motivation to keep my practice going. (Oh, I hope the workshop could last for more days!) I find this way of learning is effective because it helps us to apply right views into the everyday contexts. I think Fa Shi must have undergone numerous works in order to show us that Ch’an is approachable and is alive. I feel very grateful for this opportunity; hope more and more people can feel the innumerable benefit of Living Ch’an.

Thank you DDM!

(by Jessica Wu)

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