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Monday, August 13, 2018
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.

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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.
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.
The Silent Illumination retreat offered by the Dharma Drum Vancouver Center (DDVC) on October 15-22, 2016 was my seventh 7-day retreat since the start of my meditation practise in late 2014 and my third 7-day retreat at DDVC. As with the previous two DVCC retreats I participated in, it was all about in-depth teaching of the method by describing all the details of it, practicing it, and helping the participants to understand the global perspective as well as nuances that arise on the way. The material was also well linked to simple everyday-life examples, which deepened the overall understanding and further facilitated learning.
Buddhism was introduced to, and developed in, different ways and at different times in parts of Europe and the rest of the world. Mr. Andricevic’s lecture focused on the development of Buddhism in the West, particularly in Europe.

The history of Buddhism in Europe predates the Christian era, reaching all the way back to Alexander the Great, who lived from 356 BC to 323 BC, and whose domination of the region brought Greek civilization into contact with Indian culture in 334 BC.

After Alexander’s death in 323, the Mauryan empire re-conquered areas of India which had been annexed by Alexander. Ashoka, the grandson of Mauryan emperor Chandragupta, embraced Buddhism and sent emissaries from India to regions around the Mediterranean.
On Sunday, October 23rd, Zarko Andricevic, lay Dharma heir of Master Sheng-Yen, delivered a two hour lecture, and participated in a lengthy question and answer segment. The topic was Buddhism in Europe. For those who don't know Zarko, he's an experienced meditation practitioner and teacher, specializing in Silent Illumination (mozhao). He has a warm yet intelligent speaking style, delivered through a pleasant bass voice. The Dharma hall was packed with everyone from monastics, to those who had participated in Zarko's seven day retreat, to newcomers. Curiosity and awe reigned.
On October 15, 2016, I attended my first 7 days Silent Illumination retreat in Dharma Drum Vancouver Centre. Silent Illumination is a method-less method. Teacher Zarko Andricevic teaches in simple language which is easy to understand. There are a lot of details in his teaching and some are pretty profound. All are very useful. When I told him that I could’nt remember all the details. He said just use what I can remember. So I will try to give a summary of what I can remember and what is useful to my practice at this time. He has a sense of humour that makes us laugh often. At the end of each lecture he will try to inspire us to want to go right back to sitting.
The best thing to hear after a fun afternoon get together is that the children are already excited about the next class!

The youth program began with Julianne getting the group of children (ages 5-12) together introducing their names. At the beginning there were a few shy ones but not before long, every child was already feeling quite comfortable. Once they introduced themselves, they moved over to the drumming area and Julianne started to introduce about drumming and its techniques. To my astonishment, after some direction, the older children and the younger ones all picked up the rhythm and it really sounded like they have drummed before! The children all enjoyed this session very much and I could feel their excitement.
Amito Fo, GCFS,

You cannot imagine my surprise and delight when I came in for "nien Fo" and saw your beautiful glowing face! I must admit, I was totally surprised.

It was truly incredible. I don't know if you remember--but many many years ago, when I first went to CMC (maybe 2005 or 06), I called and asked about coming in for meditation. You were the person that answered the phone and invited me to come for chanting. There was so much warmth and welcome that came through over the phone that of course I came in. The rest is history!

Last Sunday nian fo

I went to the Pu Xian Jiang Tang with my mom to attend the nian fo chan. There were over 26 people attending it, too. We had nian fo, bai fo and rao fo. My favorite part of the day was stomping our feet on the floor when we rao fo, it is called bo zhou san mei walking. I had never learned it before and never imagined that nian fo could be so interesting. It was fun seeing people doing it in so many different poses. I hope there will be another time when we will do this again.

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