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The fundamental changes of my life through Chan

Once I had graduated from my Chan class at DDM, I went through some fundamental changes.

I once thought it was an impressive feat to handle any situation productively and efficiently. However, after learning the Chan practices, I realized that even though certain methods have proven to be efficient they may cause people to become agitated and irritable. For example, I used to ask taxi drivers to immediately stop and get off the car because I was irritated by the unpleasant smell in the car or was dissatisfied with the driving skills.

After learning the methods of Chan, I have begun to look at such situations differently, and reminded myself: “I get in this taxi with some certain causes and conditions, what matters for now is not to make matters worse”. For now, I will remember the saying, “never cause more karmic hindrances during the cycle of life and death”. Therefore, in addition to the practice of “always being aware of what is happening”, I’d rather deepen my appreciation to the drivers who can take me home safe and sound, and wish him all the way safe to his destination.

Over the past three years, Venerable have designed exquisite and orderly teaching material and methods for the Chan doctrine. The teachings included: “Introduction to Chan”, “Gradual-and-Successive Cessation-and-Contemplation” , “Introduction to the Methods of Chan”, “History of Chinese Chan Buddhism”, “The Teaching of Chan Methods from Master Sheng Yen”, “Chan Practice”, “Ancient books of Chinese Chan Buddhism”, “Platform Sutra”, “The Methods of Silent Illumination” , “The Methods of Hua-Tou Chan” etc. All for the purpose of cultivating the understanding of Chan doctrines with concepts such as "Three undefined practices" ,“ Meditation”, “Two means and four practices” ,“Four Bases of Mindfulness”, “Ekavyuha-Samadhi”, “Levels of emptiness” etc. The most important concept of the Chan practice to understand is “to know is to fulfill the doctrine”. It is because without proper awareness, life would constantly be perishing at thoughts that come and go.

As our venerable lecturer once said, “practicing Chan is like climbing a mountain. When we think we have arrived at the base of the mountain, we haven't really left our starting point”. Practice, means learning from trial and error, thus we are always progressing. As we gradually revise our deeds made from physical, verbal, and mental, it is important to be fully aware, knowing the existence of vexation, without hatred or resistance. "Just to focus on the present moment, we are already on the path of improvement."

After completing three-years of classes, I realized that my habit of being distracted by outside forces is caused when the six sense organs (eyes, ears, etc.) and the six sense objects (sight, hearing, etc.) interact with each other. Thus, we need to practice “being aware” as often as possible, so to develop our sensitivity to distractions. By doing so, we reduce the power of external influence, and become calmer, more collected with an “unmoving heart” that can weather the most powerful of influences. Whereas at the practice of inward contemplation: understanding every thought that comes and goes, without suppressing or following them, will allow us to enjoy the status of “silence better than a sounded voice.”

How many three-year period of time we can have in life? Take a chance and treasure every experience; deepen your understanding of the doctrine and practices of Chan through DDM's class, enjoy life "as it is". By giving passionate involvement to the methods of Chan, your life will go through drastic changes, but they are changes worth appreciating.

Text : Xiu-Ling, Wang (王琇玲)
Photo : Public Buddhist Education Center (普化中心)
Translation: Elenda Huang (頤嵐達)
Editor : Christine Huang



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