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Monday, February 20, 2017
During the weekend of 2/4 and 2/5, DDM NJ Center held a meditation retreat in memory of Master Sheng Yen’s passing. We were honored to have Ven. Guo Yuan, the abbot of Dharma Drum Retreat Center and one of Master Sheng Yen’s Dharma heirs, came to lead this meaningful program with us


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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.
Karen
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.
I am very thankful for the opportunity to attend the Silent Illumination 7-day retreat taught by Teacher Zarko Andricevic during November 14 – 21, 2015 at Dharma Drum Vancouver Center. I came to the retreat with a question about which meditation method I should continue to use in my practice. Teacher Zarko’s teaching was clear and easy to follow. His words were precise; he explained the method several times in different ways. He used a few short stories and images to illustrate the idea. After seven days learning and practicing, I have gained a much better understanding of the method and have decided to practice Silent Illumination with confidence from this week. Thanks to Teacher Zarko.

On the first evening, Teacher Zarko started with an introduction of the method - basically samatha and vipasyana were practiced simultaneously. He introduced the teaching of the Sixth Patriarch Huineng of Chan Buddhism, as well as the three doors of liberation. He also reminded us to cherish the opportunity to practice wholeheartedly during the entire retreat.
Since 1994, I have attended the 7-day Chan retreats for college students held by Nung Chan Monastery, Dharma Drum Mountain. After 21 years, I have finally had a good mediation at this 3-day Chan retreat.

For a long time, I could not count the number of my breaths and I had a problem with either counting the breath or feeling sleepy while practicing meditation. Fortunately, an interview with the monastic at this retreat helped me realize something about mediation.

In the interview, I asked Monastic Guo-Huei(果暉法師) about these issues he told me that I could employ the method of chanting the Buddha’s name. One idea suddenly came to my mind was that I can use chanting practice all the time while walking and eating, not merely in sitting meditation. I continued using this chanting practice until the next day and after practicing Eight-Form Moving Meditation in the morning session, I could feel relaxed completely so that I felt at peace and ease in sitting mediation. I felt extremely light from my head to toes and even though I still knew my legs existed, there was no pain at all.
First of all, I would like to thank the fashi’s, volunteers , participants, Alan Chang and everyone who made this wonderful event happen. I learned a life-transforming lesson from this workshop – it had a positive and significant impact on my future path of life and career. Like Alan said, usually people pay a lot of money to get a training like this. In the temple, not only we got it for free, it was filled with wisdom, care and encouragement. I would like to share three most inspiring lessons I learned from this workshop.
I remember last year a veteran volunteer of Care Service Group asked the Dharma teacher to shed light on a question: “How can we urge and advise devotees afflicted by troubles to ‘let go’?” The monastic replied, “We don’t advise others to ‘let go’ when we ourselves haven’t really experienced and realized ‘letting go’.” Not long ago, I heard a long-time devoted supporter of ours claim: “I’ve achieved letting go.” So, I deeply feel that many people have actually misunderstood and misapplied the Buddhist expression, “letting go” (放下), when they haven’t deeply delved into practice and attained thorough enlightenment. This is why ancient patriarchs and masters seldom used this expression in teaching the Dharma. After all, in our short life of cultivation, understanding our self is already as hard as looking for a needle in a haystack, not to mention entering the stage of letting go of what is “mine,” which is an even longer journey to go.
Hello, my name is Tim Dai. I joined Dharma Drum Vancouver Center about two years ago, and I have recently taken refuge in the Three Jewels at this Center. Also, I have started volunteering at the Center which teaches me lessons that have benefitted me enormously. I’m happy to share what I’ve learned from the experience.
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