DDM Chan Retreat in Malaysia
I joined as a volunteer of Dharma Drum Mountain (DDM/Fagushan) for the first time in order to help out the seven days of Chan retreat at the Triratna Monastery from 22 to 28 October 2006.
At first, I simply wanted to go there for relaxation, however, after the Chan retreat it has enabled me to reacquaint with the Dharma and to experience for the first time different Chan practices, such as Sitting Meditation and Eight Form Moving Meditation. I have also learned many Buddhist vocabularies. For instance, the first time I heard of the call "Chupo" (doing the chores), I thought participants were going out for the execution of assignments. Instead they were assigned individually for cleaning tasks, such as mopping the floor, toilet washing, and window cleaning.
Pleasant personalities shown by the two Venerable Fashis, who were leading the Chan retreat, impressed me very much: Venerable Guo Zhou was good at story telling and Venerable Guo Hao loved to laugh. Both Venerable Fashis were not only amiable but also very patient in the teachings of massage, meditation and attitude.
In order to shun disturbances caused by tourists and rainy weather for most of the time, the Outdoor Chan took place on the corridor of the Chan Hall. To enable participants to truly sense a feeling of touching with the floor when making movement by foot, the practice of Outdoor Chan required students to move in a very slow motion. Silent atmosphere was also necessary while they were practicing meditation. Even the flashlight was prohibited when taking photos. During the Chan meditation, for which I am a beginner, it was difficult for me to cultivate the way of relaxing the body and mind. I just felt uncomfortable soreness and pain whilst in the Full Lotus sitting posture. However, I learnt many things when listening to the Most Venerable Master Sheng Yen's teachings.
I have also learnt from the process of worshipping the Buddha that it is not a superstitious behavior, but rather an approach to pacify the mind. I was quite inspired by the proverb, "Cessation of vexations will give rise to a peaceful mind".
On the last day of the retreat, all the participants went mountain climbing. One handicapped participant's perseverance to walk the entire the trip with everyone has really earned my respect.
It was a wonderful and precious experience. With this priceless chance of being a volunteer at DDM, I have learnt many valuable lessons from the Chan retreat and have acquainted with DDM's beliefs and spirit. I have also realized that Chan is the practice of the mind and Dharma is the guiding principle for living.
(The story is contributed by a participant in Malaysia)
(translated by Jin Yang/edited by Jessica Chow)