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IMG One-day Field Retreat at Dharma Drum Mountain

On Saturday 25 October 2008, the International Meditation Group (IMG) held a one-day Field Retreat at Dharma Drum Mountain World Center for Buddhist Education (DDM). A total of nineteen participants including four international visitors took part in this special event.

All the participants met at the Taipei Intercity Bus Terminal to take a Guo Guang Bus to DDM. After a 90-minute ride, they arrived at the Terminal Platform of Dharma Drum Mountain at 10am. They were greeted by the warm sun and fresh breeze of the mountain, as well as the friendly greetings from the volunteers on duty.

The field retreat started with Eight-Form Moving Meditation at the Lotus Bell Park, which was led by Venerable Chang Yue. The beautiful scenery helped to calm the participants' unsettled minds.

About 30 minutes later, they began to walk along the bank of the Caoyuan Creek and stopped at the Hugh Rock Park nearby. Venerable Chang Wen introduced the participants to the Silent Illumination method, saying that it is a meditation method used by not giving any name, label or analysis to sounds heard or things observed. It is usual that people develop a series of thoughts as a result of having an active mind. These scattered thoughts are the causes of human beings' vexation. After the introduction, every participant found a rock to sit on and began with their meditation practice. If one practises this method well, one will gain imperturbable calmness in daily life and not be affected by the hustle and bustle of the outside world.

After the silent illumination practice, the participants continued with their walking meditation towards the Auxiliary Hall where they would complete sitting meditation for the day retreat. Being mindful of every step, they walked with relaxed body and mind. Finally, upon entering the cool and vast hall, they found themselves a seat in front of the windows. Ignoring the magnificent scenery outside, they chose to seek inner peace instead.

When the hand-chime was sounded at the end of the sitting session, it was time for lunch. Before heading towards the dining hall, the participants were taught how to make offerings before taking their meals and how to eat and rest in a meditative way (eating and sleeping meditation). They were also reminded not to speak to others or to themselves within their mind.

In the afternoon, the participants were shown the DVD of "Basic Methods of Practice" which is a 30-minute talk given by Master Sheng Yen, the founder of DDM. Master Sheng Yen emphasized that there are five important aspects necessary for harmonizing one’s meditation practice. They are food, sleep, body, breathing and mind. Different concepts and methods were taught to these practitioners so as to help them use the methods correctly and maximize the benefits from their meditation practice.

Following this viewing was the water-bowl meditation, where every participant held a bowl of water in their hands and walked up and down the stairs, being aware not to spill a single drop of water from the bowl.

Venerable Chang Wen recounted that a long time ago, there was a king who wanted to test the monk he supported. The king commanded the monk to hold a bowl of oil and walk from one end to another end but warned him not to spill even a single drop of oil, or his head would be chopped off. The monk was so afraid of losing his life he walked carefully and mindfully, bearing in mind only the thought of ‘not to spill a drop of oil’. Although the king had arranged for various obstacles to distract his attention along the road, the monk saw and heard nothing and reached the destination without spilling a single drop of oil. He had attained one-mindedness and threw the bowl of oil down and said aloud to the king, "I am not afraid of anything anymore. you can take my life anytime!". The monk had attained liberation, free of all fears and vexations and the king was happy that his test was successful in the end. Everyone was moved by the fascinating story and carried out the water-bowl meditation carefully and seriously as they imitated the monk.

After the water-bowl meditation, the participants completed their last session of sitting meditation. The sound of the hand-chime marked the end of the meditation practice for the day.

A sharing session was held before cleaning up for departure and all expressed their gratitude for being able to participate in the one-day field retreat and commented that DDM was a perfect place to settle the mind and practice meditation. The serenity and tranquility of the mountain had captured everyone's heart and they all promised to join the next field trip in December.

Before their departure, the participants took the golden opportunity to stroll around the DDM campus. They visited the Founding History Memorial Hall, Grand Buddha Hall, Wish Fulfilling Guanyin Hall and Founding Guanyin Park. At the Founding Guanyin Park, a group photo was taken to commemorate this special day.

(edited by DDM Australia Editing Team)

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