360 Degree Chan Retreat Sharing
It was an honor to be invited to attend the “360 Degree Chan Retreat” this summer and I experienced the “speechless moment”.
I have limited acquaintance with Buddhism and no knowledge of sitting meditation. Personally, I have not even attended a half-day or 1-day Chan retreat, and my first try was a 3-day Elite Chan retreat. It was a real challenge and I enjoyed it. This Elite Chan Retreat was also a greatly touched and shocked experience. It will be an unforgettable memory in my life, both mentally and physically.
The first day right after registration, I noticed a big sign in Chinese “Jin-Wu” on the wall. It was my first surprise! That Chinese word means “keep silent in the entire retreat session”. We were not allowed to talk to anyone and not even to our self for 3 full days. I have never had that kind of experience before.
The host of this retreat, Venerable Guo Xing, started with an explanation of “Pusa” (Bodhisattva), which means “wise” and “compassionate” people. That is a good explanation and I feel more comfortable with that phrase. Before when I heard someone say that word to me, I felt ignorance and strange. In the next three days, Ven. Guo Xing started to teach us very fundamental Chan practice methods. Such as “counting your breath and following your breath”. He also taught us DDM unique “Eight-Form Moving Meditation”. Ven Guo Xing was very patient and instructed us step-by-step meditation methods, for beginners, it was very helpful. Although, I still felt pain in my back and legs, I certainly have learned basic meditation practice. I also enjoyed watching Ven Guo Xing and Ven Guo Ming practicing “Eight-Form Moving Meditation”, which was really elegant. However, for me, I felt quite funny, especially “step 5”; I acted like a robot without lubrication for a long time.
I heard about Master Sheng Yen before and have been admired him. However, it was the first time I have opportunity to watch a series of his high quality Chan Practice DVDs. I feel fortunate and it was an amazing experience. Listen to Master Sheng Yen talk has deeply touched my heart. I truly agree that Master Sheng Yen is a real “wise and compassionate” Master and an excellent Chan teacher. His speech is calm and humorous and he explains complex Buddhism in plain language so that everyone can understand. His tone and attitude is very persuasive. I enjoyed every single DVD played and have took notes. If I can just learn any single practice of his speech, it will be useful in my daily and professional life.
Practicing the first basic mediation step is the “concentration”. Our mind follows where your body is. Our mind should not be drifting away and thinking about something else. In our busy life in Silicon Valley, we never think about it. However, it seems like in that 3 days, without reading emails, not talking to everyone, not thinking about work, family, and etc, it is doable.
Repent session in the second day afternoon was the most touched and shocked experience. Repent is not regret, it is a personal responsibility. Even without doing anything wrong, time to time, we may say something inappropriate. We should also examine what we had said or did. In general, our closest family member is the easiest one to be hurt or hurt us. In the repent practice, I just couldn't control my emotion and my tears came out naturally in every single pray. (At the end of the retreat and group sharing time, several classmates also shared the same thoughts and feelings).
In this 3-day Chan Retreat in Sunnyvale, I basically “did nothing and had nothing to do”. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers who did such an excellent job in preparing good foods. The program and agenda was also well organized. In this busy life for everyone, we have never been in such an ideal state. I believe it is also the main purpose of this 360 retreat; let us have a chance to practice and feel “peaceful mind” and “pure mind”. But, what about when we return back to daily life?
360 Degree 3-day Retreat was ended with a DDM vision and mission. Master Sheng Yen has been advocated “To uplift good character of humanity and build a clean and pure land on the earth”. He encouraged every individual, to cultivate “what you think”, “what you say”, and “what you act”.
I promised. I will always remind myself and follow Master Sheng Yen advises in my day to day life.
(by Andy Tai)