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Tuesday, October 06, 2015
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.
At the beginning of 2014, Dharma Drum Mountain Vancouver Center invited Venerable Guo Xing, Abbot of Dharma Drum Retreat Center, to lead a 2-day non-residential retreat. What a wonderful blessing to start the new year. In this retreat, we applied the method of “reciting the Buddha’s name.” This method was first introduced to us last year and was greatly appreciated by the participants.This year, we were fortunate to have Ven. Guo Xing back and lead another retreat with this simple but effective Chan practice method. The Venerable said that our six sense organs (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, thoughts) are like six animals that constantly want to run out and to contact the external six sense fields (form, sound, smell, taste, touch, and thought).The way to keep the animals inside is to tie them with a rope. Likewise, the method is like the rope to keep our six sense organs still, and in this two-day retreat the method of reciting the Buddha’s name is the rope. Recitation of the Buddha’s name is not only a pure land method, but also a Chan meditation practice.
“We will be chanting ‘A’ ‘Mi’ ‘To’ ‘Fo’ four syllables throughout the day with our mouth, our feet and our body. As well, every cell in our body will be chanting.”
Venerable Guo Xing’s opening remarks continued…
Sometimes I forget, as Buddhist, why I do meditation. Sometimes I just want to shut myself off from the world and to achieve a moment of peace. Sitting meditation is particular good for this and I am grateful for it. But there is more to it than that.
Abbot Venerable Guo Xing explained that our thoughts, what we hear, see, smell and touch are forms that are continuously arising and perishing. Then, what is that which is non-arising and non-perishing? In other words, what is wu? “Wu” is like a GPS, it allows us to find the non-arising and non-perishing mind.
The mind is itself beyond duality… It is not the phenomena we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think, but it has the functions of seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and thinking. The mind exists at all times and at all places.
It was quiet in the Ch’an Hall of the Dharma Drum Mountain Vancouver Center in the morning on Labour Day, September 2, 2013. “Relax your…” said Abbot Venerable Guo Xing, guiding 125 people on relaxation.
I have no experience in writing prose. It is challenging to me and I hope it does not bore you. This article is dedicated to all the Bodhisattvas who encouraged me to write and share.
About two months ago I joined the Dharma Drum Mountain (DDM) International Meditation Group (IMG) for the very first time. Though I had read some books by Ven. Sheng-Yen before and practiced meditation in my home country, it was a real pleasure to actually sit down here, in Taipei, with all those friendly people of DDM. During these last two months, I have almost every Saturday morning find myself sitting in Degui Academy (德貴學院), meditating and having educative conversations about Buddhism.
From July 19th to 21st, there was a three-day meditation retreat led by Dharma Drum Mountain’s Ven. Guo Chii in DDM Melbourne Chapter.
Three years after last visit, Ven. Chang Yen came visiting DDM Vancouver Center again to give a series of Dharma lectures.