The Most Important Question in Our Life
Retreat Report - Chan 5 with Guo Yuan Fashi
Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 25 – 29 October 2009
This is my third Chan Retreat. Before this, I have participated in a retreat with Guo Jun Fashi. Fashi gave me understanding that meditation is a natural process. Although there are many steps in meditation, I think that this entire steps will develop naturally.
The awareness itself will arise and develop naturally. But it requires a mind that can let go of everything. If the mind can let go of everything and not grasp on anything, than meditation will develop naturally. The problem is my mind usually does not go to that way.
When I sit in the morning almost everyday. I try to relax as much as possible and let the awareness develop naturally. This practice makes me more aware that situations around me always changes and my mood or sensations about situation around me are also changes.
For example, when I go to the wedding party, the sense of happiness and glorious from the party was gone when I come back home. Like nothing happened.
If Guo Jun Fashi gave me understanding about method, Guo Yuan Fashi gave me understanding about direction.
In the first interview with Guo Yuan Fashi, I told him my confusion about this “changing situation”. I told Fashi that sometimes I notice situation changes drastically. My mood, feeling, and impression about some events will change and gone after the situation. After it is gone then there is nothing. I started a new situation again and again. Although these thing seems very common, I feel it’s like a strange experience. I am afraid to tell Fashi about this “stupid question”, especially because he didn’t know about me.
But Fashi told me that this is not something stupid.
Then Fashi asked me, “What is ‘no-self’ ? What is Buddha nature?” I answered, “I don’t know.” Fashi said, “Of Course you don’t know!” But then Fashi said that this is the most important question in our life. What Fashi said is to make me look inside. Somehow I have new understanding about “no-self”.
Before, I think that to understand about “no self”, someone has to go through experience like extinguish awareness or other great/ strange experience. But from that interview, suddenly I realize that “no-self” doesn’t mean that there is a missing self. Self is still there. Nothing changes.
But before that, I consider that there is a solid self and it’s very important. After the interview, I see that self is something fragile. Just like the “changing situation”. Self is just something like that. It always changes.
When I can see the fragility of self, then my mind is beyond that self. But I can only realize it directly when my mind is calm and clear. When I have distraction in my mind, I cannot see it clearly. The fragility of self becomes theoretical concept. I think this is because I still can’t see it deeply and I still have a lot of attachments.
In the last Q & A, I told Fashi that understanding Buddhist concept is like seeing a magic show. A magician put something in the box. He closes the box. When he opens the box later, the box is empty. We think that there is something inside, but nothing’s there.
I still don’t have courage to tell Fashi directly what I felt missing, even when Fashi called me to explain it. But what I felt missing is the importance of self, because “Self” is something that always changes and fragile.
In the last interview, Guo Yuan Fashi told me:
“ To understand no self,
Someone must know what is self;
To go beyond something,
Someone must know what he wants to pass over. ”
I think about it.
Now I know that I want to go beyond this always changes situation, beyond this samsara. For that I must go beyond the boundary of “Self”, the source of suffering inside me. And there is no other way to overcome suffering and vexations except to maintain our clear mind. I need to practice, to see more clearly, and to cut off my vexations.
May sentient beings depart from suffering.
Prostration to all sentient beings.
Forgive me if there are inappropriate words.
May Fashi become my guide in the path.
Deep Bow & Gratitude
Robby Candra (Chang Ming)