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Tuesday, September 18, 2018
What is the best possible way to spend my Labor Day weekend? Is it to head on a road trip with friends, to indulge myself in the sun on the beach, or to max out my credit cards at the shopping mall? These things above, I have done them all. However the happiness that they brought me were short lived; in fact, it disappeared right afterwards. It wasn’t until I started to learn about Chan meditation, that I finally found a way to embrace true happiness. So, that is how I spent my Labor Day weekend this year. Apparently, I was not alone. There were more than twenty people who had attended the 3-day Chan meditation retreat at the Chan Meditation Center in Elmhurst, New York. Our lead teacher Ven. Changzhai had mentioned that she was very encouraged to see us willing to join her to practice Chan meditation. Just like every other retreat, I had gained a lot more things this time as well.


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What is the best possible way to spend my Labor Day weekend? Is it to head on a road trip with friends, to indulge myself in the sun on the beach, or to max out my credit cards at the shopping mall? These things above, I have done them all. However the happiness that they brought me were short lived; in fact, it disappeared right afterwards. It wasn’t until I started to learn about Chan meditation, that I finally found a way to embrace true happiness. So, that is how I spent my Labor Day weekend this year. Apparently, I was not alone. There were more than twenty people who had attended the 3-day Chan meditation retreat at the Chan Meditation Center in Elmhurst, New York. Our lead teacher Ven. Changzhai had mentioned that she was very encouraged to see us willing to join her to practice Chan meditation. Just like every other retreat, I had gained a lot more things this time as well.
It all started in 2010 at the first “Protecting the Spiritual Environment Camp” (心靈環保體驗營) in Mianyang (綿陽)Secondary School in Sichuan in 2010. That was the first time I encountered Dharma Drum Mountain (DDM). At the camp, we played games, learned to relax and listened to Dharma teachers sharing their thoughts on “protecting the spiritual environment”. I realized that this group of people truly sought to help us. Therefore as soon as I graduated from High School, I returned as a volunteer to pass on to my younger friends what touched me. At the same time, I was determined to devote more time to get to know DDM better.
This retreat just passed was my third with Dr. Rebecca Li. To date I have attended two three-day retreats, including this one, and a ten-day retreat she co-lead with Dr. Simon Child. As has always been in the past, this Three-Day Chan Retreat was well run, insightful and moving.
At the beginning of 2018, the Venerable Chang-Fa from Lan-Yang monastery was invited by the Dharma Drum Humanities & Social Improvement Foundation(法鼓山人文社會基金會) to help mentor the dedicated volunteers serving the Crisis Support Hotline (關懷生命專線), which operates once a month.
Exactly 15 years ago I met Master Sheng Yen, and started to practice the method of silent illumination (mozhao chan). For several reasons, Ven. Master Sheng Yen remained my favorite and closest teacher.
I am very glad that I visited this retreat! For me it was the first great encounter with Ch'an Buddhism. Of course, I was a little interested in this before. When I was reading the book "Wisdom of Chan" of Master Sheng Yen, I was attending a retreat only for a half day. Also, I heard something somewhere in conversations, but I did not really understand their meaning. And I'm glad that I become more familiar with this tradition in such an atmosphere and with such a leader.
Life is such an amazing and colorful game of reflections. Wherever we are, we carry out the experiences from within ourselves, painting everything with various colors. Do you notice that the mind, even in its most beautiful, magical places, can bring an unpleasant sense of complaints, past grievances and sufferings?
I was one of the in-charge for the seven-day retreat arrangements, working with Guo Xing Fashi (果醒法師) from the 30th of April until the 7th of May. It was the first time for me to take care of so many things like location (Chan Hall, participant rooms, toilets, kitchen and so on), special issues of some participants, rearrangements after the arrival of Venerable Guo Xing Fashi and two other monks (Venerable Yan Jian Fashi (演建法師), Venerable Yan Guang Fashi (演廣法師)), who helped him to conduct the retreat.

Hi! I am Maria from Russia. I’m thirty years old and I’d like to share with you how I became a Buddhist and how I was an interpreter during the retreat in Moscow urban this May, led by Venerable Guo-Xing (果醒法師).
We arrived in the 8th of January to Fagushan Monastery (Dharma Drum Mountain World Center for Buddhist Education) and stayed in Taiwan until the 23rd of January. Our Russian group consists of 7 people, six from Moscow and one from St. Petersburg. In addition, there was one person from Switzerland and he was already at the lay people’s quarters at the monastery when we had arrived. Therefore, our pilgrimage program can be called International Pilgrimage.
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