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Tuesday, February 19, 2019
When I first went to a retreat at the Dharma Drum Retreat Center, I wanted to learn how to improve my practice of meditation. I didn’t understand that meditating without studying Dharma would never get me on the path I wanted to be on. I learned some of the basic principles of Buddhism during the week of that retreat—enough to make me want to study more.

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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.
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.
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