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YEAR OF NEWS :
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
We were very blessed and honoured to have Chang Seng Fa Shi who flew from Taiwan to give a series of talks and to conduct a single day retreat in Melbourne. Although Fa Shi came straight after her Indian Pilgrimage, she showed no sign of fatigue. Her natural serenity and composure won lots of admiration and envy among the attendants. As I was asked to write a report on the one day retreat, I shall put my focus only on that mind opening day.
We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation and gratitude for your (plus the various Fa Shi’s and volunteer’s) guidance and assistance during the Transmission. From the registration procedure, preparatory resources, meals, rehearsals, accommodation, instructions and procedures, to the receipt of our Transmission certificates, we have been very well taken care of.
A dharma friend had told me a few years ago about receiving the Bodhisattva Precepts and the boost they gave to her practice. So when I heard that the Dharma Drum Vancouver Centre will offer for the first time the transmission of the Bodhisattva Precepts I was delighted and signed up.
Shortly after arriving in Sydney, Fashi's fully packed teaching program immediately cranked up to top gear! From chan retreat, Dharma talks and caring sessions, through to intense Dharma instrument practice sessions running four days in a row.
Below is what I'd like to share some of my experiences during the Huatou retreat at Dharma Drum Vancouver Center in April 2016. I am a relatively new practitioner who has been meditating sporadically for about 3 years and then daily for the last 1.5 years. Prior to this event, I participated in four 7-day meditation retreats (Rinzai style) at the Vancouver Zen Center.
I just attended the recent 7 day Huatou retreat. Although I have been practicing Zen, in another lineage, for nearly 8 years and have attended many 7 day retreats, this is the first 7 day retreat hosted by Dharma Drum that I have attended. The style of this retreat was quite different from what I have been used to. I was favourably impressed.
I was truly blessed again this year to be able to participate in a 5-day English meditation retreat. The retreat was led by Venerable Guo Chii and assisted by Venerable Chang Xian (Fashis) who had wisely and creatively arranged the program. We were blessed with good weather, good food and some of the best Dharma talks from Master Sheng Yen (Shifu).
As with the two previous lectures on Sustainable Development, Venerable Chang Ji (常濟) did an excellent job in the third lecture which focused on water.
Through the use of slides, video and other presentation aids the issues were well articulated and captivated the audience. I was particular interested in the discussion on our water footprint and how subtle changes in our behaviour can dramatically reduce our consumption of water.
Upon reflection, I would agree with Venerable Chang Ji (常濟) that the planet is regrettably in the anthropocentrist era and that is incumbent on all of us to step up and do our part to conserve and manage our water resources.
I am looking forward to the next lecture.
By Tony Van Rooyen
Ever since I read “Running with the Mind of Meditation” by Sakyong Mipham, I started exploring meditation in the mornings after my yoga routine. Up until today (the end of my meditation retreat), my understanding of meditation was shallow. I thought the goal was to sit for a long time and not think about anything, and I attempted it simply to seek a peace of mind.
Last month, at my cousin’s wedding, I met her maid of honor, who has been practicing meditation for years. I asked her to suggest a meditation course or retreat I could try. I also asked an old friend who has been practicing meditation for years. They both recommended a few and strongly recommended checking out Dharma Drum Mountain 法鼓山. I found a two day beginners meditation training course up in SanYi and signed up: Jan 09~10, 2016.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for a very enjoyable Saturday. I greatly appreciate your kind invitation to celebrate Chinese New Year and to experience Chan Meditation. My sister and I enjoyed our day immensely. Everything was very well organized from parking, the warm greeting at the door, our tour, and of course, the activities. There was something for all ages. The Chinese lanterns and friendship bracelets were very popular for young and the young at heart. The meditation sessions were amazing. Our vegetarian lunch was delicious and also gave us an opportunity to meet other like minded people.
When I entered Chan Hall for the Eight Form Meditation I was overwhelmed by a sense of positive energy and peace. I had the opportunity to participate in the Eight Form Meditation, Sitting Meditation, Walking Meditation and Chan Tea Meditation. Both my sister and I have incorporated the Eight Form Meditation every morning. It gets our bodies moving and our minds and heart centered. A wonderful way to start the day. Learning to walk mindfully and to be able to clear your thoughts is a good way to refresh yourself during the day. I also have incorporated Chan Tea Meditation in the middle of my work day. Up until now I have made a cup of tea and drank it without awareness while multitasking. I now take a few minutes to meditate and then prepare my tea. I employ all my senses and really enjoy the blessing of my tea. Once finished I am relaxed, refreshed and ready to get back to work with more energy and effectiveness.
It was an amazing day physically, mentally, spiritually and culturally. I felt very blessed to have been able to share the day with all of you.
My sincere thanks.
On Saturday, November 21st, there was a Dharma talk at DDVC on “Chan in Everyday Life”, presented by Zarko Andricevic from Croatia, who is a direct Dharma heir of Master Sheng Yen. He explained the cultural differences between China and India that led Chinese monks to abandon the practice of begging and become self-sufficient. The Chinese monastic system left less time for sitting meditation, so meditation began to be incorporated into working, farming and other chores.
In modern times, people tend to do everything in a rush. This creates tension, leading to superficial actions and alienation from our activities. Everything becomes one big chore. He emphasized the importance of bringing Chan practice from the insulated world of the Chan Hall into the chaotic realm of everyday life, this being a key goal of The Path.