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Venerable Guo Xing Fashi vs Vancouver Olympics

Sunday February 28 was the most exciting day in the history of Canadian athletics. The last event of the Winter Olympics was taking place. It was the national sport – ice hockey – against the country’s biggest rivals, the USA. Vancouver’s streets were crowded with cheering fans staring up at huge screens fixed to tall buildings.

Meanwhile in nearby Richmond at the Dharma Drum Mountain Vancouver Center, members wondered if their Living Ch’an Workshop could possibly compete with this gigantic international event. But compete it did. The size of the congregation reached above the estimate.

The Venerable Guo Xing Fashi’s Workshop comprised teachings, exercises, group discussion and Q&A sessions to teach us how to live peacefully and enjoy every moment of our lives.

He began the Workshop by showing us a video clip of two blindfolded young ladies passionately kissing - two chimpanzees - thinking they were the young men they saw before they were blindfolded. Only after their eye covers were removed, did they realize otherwise, and were shocked and embarrassed. Venerable Guo Xing Fashi then posed this question “Did the girls’ pleasure come from kissing chimpanzees or from thinking they were kissing young men.”

Next, the Venerable showed us a series of striking photographs including a starving African child, bizarre scenes and acts, and a child’s smile. He asked us to close our eyes and led us through a relaxation exercise. Right afterwards he asked us to open our eyes and study the same photographs. This time, our reactions to the photographs were much less drastic than before our relaxation exercise.

Through a PowerPoint presentation, he introduced the concept of karmic retribution. In every moment we receive instantaneous karmic retributions from our action, speech and thoughts. Our state of mind and body is the result of the retribution we choose to bear.

He further illustrated that the results of our karmic retributions appear in our body, speech, sensation and mind. In our body, it appears through facial expressions, body language, and tension in our muscles; in our speech, it appears through the contents, choice of words, tone, and volume. Our karmic retributions also appear in our senses in the form of relaxation or tension and happiness or vexation.

By realizing the interrelated operational principle of body, sensation, mind and speech, we are able to control our instant karmic retribution. He then further illustrated, by examples, this interrelated operational principle.
First, he explained that how our body, sensation, mind and speech influence each other. For example, when we are angry, our body is tense, our mind is agitated, our voice is raised. He demonstrated that when one’s body is relaxed, it is not possible to engage in argument or get angry.

Then, he explained results are directly derived from causes; e.g., anger will cause an uncomfortable sensation, and will not lead to a joyful sensation.

For example, when we are waiting for a red traffic light to turn green, we constantly look at our watch and stare at the red light, our body is tense and stiff, the stomach is tight, we feel agitated, we think there are too many red lights along the road and that they are the cause of our being late. In this moment, our state of mind is impatient. However, if we are in the car with our girl friend or boy friend, we will be smiling and holding hands, our body is relaxed and feels comfortable, we feel happy, we hope that the red light will never turn green.

Through an ingenious series of striking photographs and films, Fashi led us to realize that our reactions to the external environment, people and occurrences are merely responses to images created by the mind.

We learned that we mistake the images created by the mind for what is actually out there. By going deeper, leading us through teachings, and a series of exercises, group discussions and Q&A sessions, he showed us how to reflect inwardly, and realize that we have the choice to be happy.

We are grateful to Venerable Guo Xing Fashi for his skillful teaching technique that led us to realize that we have an option to live mindfully and joyfully every moment of our lives.

(By Terence Walsh and Jen-ni Kuo)

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