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Venerable Guo Yuan at the St. Louis Branch

In April 2018, after a ten-year absence, Ven. Gou Yuan, the Abbot of Dharma Drum Retreat Center, returned to the St. Louis Branch in Missouri to lead Chan retreats and conduct Dharma lectures; this provided a rare chance for the local as well as international students to practice and experience purification of the mind.

During the two-day Chan practice in English on April 14 and 15, Ven. Guo provided instructions in the ritual of prostrating to the Buddha, the DDM eight-form moving meditation, Chan meditation, as well as the practice of full-body massage after each meditation session. During lunch, students were instructed in the practice of mindfulness while chewing and eating.

Ven. Guo reminded everyone to keep an open mind, just like a blank sheet, to neither compare nor doubt, as well as to be confident and self-aware when taking up Buddhist practices. “When in a hurry, quicken your pace but keep a calm mind; do not let your troubles walk with you.” This two-day course enabled students to apply Chan meditation methods in their daily lives and thus be at peace.

Ven. Guo Yuan also lectured on the Diamond Sutra – “Without abiding, the mind manifests” as well as the Heart Sutra – “The emptiness of the five aggregates”. In the evening of April 14, he had a discussion session with the local youth students, revolving around the themes “Youth and the challenges faced in this ever changing world” as well as “Competition and future prospects of international students”. The students also shared their concerns regarding pressure faced in their studies, their parents’ high expectations, in addition to conflicts caused by misunderstanding.

“Under different conditions, i.e., shifting light, wind direction, and angle of observation, the same leaf looks different.” Ven. Guo Yuan pointed out that parents see things from different perspectives, hence the difference in opinion. “When conflict arises, we are the ones who ended up upset and hurt.” He further encourages those present to learn to let go and to open their minds in order to better handle challenges in our ever changing environment.

Texts: Dharma Drum Monthly (法鼓雜誌) More about Dharma Drum Monthly
Translation: Siao, Chen An (蕭宸安)
Editing: Leefah Thong (Malaysia)

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