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YEAR OF NEWS :
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
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.
To experience true relaxation and freedom of body and mind, I entered the Chan hall of Dharma Drum Vancouver Center (DDVC) on the evening of April 18 for a fundamental seven-day retreat. Even though having participated in meditation retreats of both silent illumination and huatou practices, what I was seeking in this retreat is the true relaxation and calm, as I know that Chan meditation practice guided by Ven. Chang Wu, Chief Director of DDVC, will help the retreatants relax their body and mind and the bliss of meditation.
Although there are only several hundred words in the Heart Sutra, whenever I am confused or feeling helpless, transcribing the sutra helps me settle my mind and complete my tasks at hand. Hence I wanted to further understand the Heart Sutra. It just happened that there was a class about this which has further helped me my understanding of this classic sutra.
(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.