Melbourne Five Days Retreat was held in Dharma Drum Mountain Meditation Hall in Templestowe from 8 to 13 December 2006. This retreat was led by experienced Chan Masters, Guo Yuan and Chang Wen Fashis. There were only 20 lucky people attending this Retreat due to space limitation.
During these five days, we had to maintain "noble silence", which was quite an amazing experience for not talking during this time. We also had to wake up early in the morning; we never expected it was 4 a.m..
Nevertheless, no one was late for the moving meditation sessions in the cold mornings. However, some of us had to endure the hitting of the incense board to overcome our drowsiness. Other times we were punished and ordered to do either kneeling, standing or prostration to keep us awake during the sitting meditation. Ven. Chang Wen always kept a watchful eye on us and emphasized the importance of doing things the right way otherwise it was a waste of time.
Initially, some of the participants found the sitting meditation sessions were tough. It was very irritating to endure the pain in the legs, drowsiness as well as scattered thoughts. However, Ven. Guo Yuan taught us various methods to counteract these problems. From the repentance prostration, gratitude prostration, thoughts categorization, to generating interest on the method we were using, e.g. counting breath from 10 to 1 instead of 1 to 10 to avoid over count, or counting even or odd numbers.
The Dharma talks were considered the most exciting sessions. Ven. Guo Yuan attracted our full attention. His speaking style was relax, slow yet sharp and clear, Even though the Dharma talk sessions were very short, yet all of them contained a lot of important teachings which we could applied in our daily lives.
There was also a fun activity in the fourth day, in which Ven. Guo Yuan wanted to test our mindfulness by asking us to walk with our hands holding a bowl filled with water. The only rule was that we might not spill a single drop. No doubt, that was not as easy as we would like to think.
On the last day, we participated in a refuge ceremony. With a clear mind and faculty, some of us finally took the refuge on the day.
Personally, this retreat has been a wonderful experience and the lessons learned are applicable in my daily life. Recalling the first day I came for the registration, I was burdened by many scattered thoughts. Over the course of the Retreat, I have learned and practised on how to put them down and live for the moment. On the day following the retreat, everything looked very clear and beautiful. I felt very relax.
(Reported by Jowan Kho and edited by Chiew Shin Yee)