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Monday, December 03, 2018
Last year, the annual 8-day DDM Great Compassion Water and Land Dharma Service (法鼓山大悲心水陸法會) ended on Dec 2, 2017, which also was my first time to serve at the rite as a student of Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Art, it was a practice that was granted by the institute.


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Once I had graduated from my Chan class at DDM, I went through some fundamental changes.

I once thought it was an impressive feat to handle any situation productively and efficiently. However, after learning the Chan practices, I realized that even though certain methods have proven to be efficient they may cause people to become agitated and irritable. For example, I used to ask taxi drivers to immediately stop and get off the car because I was irritated by the unpleasant smell in the car or was dissatisfied with the driving skills.
My name is Sebastian Nehrdich and I am a student of Buddhist Studies at the University of Hamburg. I joined the bachelor program of the University of Hamburg in autumn 2012 and plan to finish my bachelor degree this summer. My future plans are to continue my studies by joining the master program of the University of Hamburg in autumn 2017. The focus of my work lies on reading buddhist primary sources, e.g. sources in Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan and Pāli. My main area of interest in this field is Buddhist philosophy, especially Indian Yogācāra/Vijñānavāda and the Chinese Weishi (唯識) school.
This past weekend, from March 24 to 26, 2017, I took part my second three-day Chan meditation retreat at Dharma Drum Vancouver Center. Initially, I was worried about potential leg pains and wasn't feeling too hot about my life in general either. From Friday night until Sunday afternoon I faced hardship and deprivation, but came out at the end quite happy and ready to try more retreats.
When Dharma Drum Vancouver Center announced classes on chanting of Buddhist prayers and praises, I was thrilled. The opportunity to learn more about the unique Dharma instruments was intriguing and, more importantly, I wanted to learn how the chanting could enhance my practice
On February, 25, Dharma Drum Vancouver Center held its first Buddhist Chants and Practice class. This is the first of two classes on applying chanting to Chan practice.

We learned about the origin of Buddhist chants in India, where Buddha’s teachings were not initially recorded in writing and were instead passed down orally through chanting. Buddhist chanting emanates from one’s calm mind and compassion. There are five benefits of chanting - it energizes the body, improves memory, recharges the mind, sounds soothing and facilitates the reciting of Buddha’s sutras.
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
Friends and family, sisters and brothers in the Dharma: Happy Lunar New Year! Dharma Drum Vancouver Centre was filled with peaceful chanting, family laughter, and the spirit of sharing during the weekend celebration of the Year of the Rooster on January 28th and 29th, 2017. This year’s theme was humility and peace.
I had an one-of-a-kind New Year’s eve at the end of 2016. There were no countdowns, but breath counting. There was no champagne and wine, but hearty vegan soup. There was no cheering crowd, but people to share silence and dharma talks. I feel refreshed and grounded after this three-day meditation retreat. When I heard about this retreat, I thought it would be a new way to celebrate 2017; it wouldn’t hurt to try it. I have to admit that Venerable Chang Wu has been very persuasive that doing Chan meditation is the best self-care.
Like many of my classmates in the Buddhist Teachings Program, I grew up seeing and following our parents going to temples, burning incense, and praying to Bodhisattva and other spiritual beings in hope for their protection. In my heart, although not understanding how it all works, I was told holding a deep respect in my heart will grant me the protection I hope for. Seeing countless others in the temple bowing and trembling, I thought in certain way, like a society needs its rules and punishments, fear was the driving force in religion that keeps all of us inline.
I doubt whether words can fully express my feelings about the 6-day Service that I attended from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4, but I know it was a very special experience to me.
I was amazed by the conduction of the Service. Every movement was so organized, smooth, effortless, like being lifted with magical energy. The Shanga and the venerables have lead the whole service with pure compassion that brought out the best participation from all attendants.
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