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Monday, November 30, 2015
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.
(1) In our busy daily lives, it can be difficult to find the time to slow down, even for five minutes. Every day breezes by and we do not pay attention to all the beauties around us. On Sunday February 2, 2014 I attended the tea Chan for the Lunar New Year. I also had the pleasure to perform during this event, along with many others. As usual, I was feeling nervous and shaky, as most people feel right before a big event.
In a foggy morning on January 18th, 2014, participants one after the other arrived at the Dharma Drum Mountain Vancouver Center to attend the one-day Chan in Daily Life workshop guided by Abbot Venerable Guo Xing.
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.