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Three steps to cultivate three states - Enlivened Chan method of Silent Illumination Seminar and retreat in Seattle

From August 10th to 13th 2017, Venerable Chang Chi, Director of Academic Affairs of DDM Sangha University, propagated Buddhism at the Dharma Drum Buddhist Association Washington Chapter in Seattle.



The Venerable conducted a Dharma seminar on the subject of "Inscription on Silent Illumination and the evolution of its Chan methodology" and guided a one-day Chan retreat.

Venerable Chang Chi explained Chan methods under three sub-topics. The first class started with ‘Three Steps to Cultivate Three States’, which was an in-depth introduction to the steps of entering sitting meditation, sitting meditation and coming out of sitting meditation, as well as regulating the body, the mind and the breath. Common problems that people may encounter were also discussed and guidance provided to overcome these difficulties.

The topic of the second class was ‘Fundamental principles on meditations practices’. By use of charts, the Venerable led the participants to recognize that focus, awareness and contemplation are not to be discarded during the practices. He illustrated that as phenomenon and reasoning are inseparable we should not contemplate the sutra during sitting meditation but rather contemplate on the movements of one's body and mind. By this we can naturally integrate our experiences into the teaching of the sutra, attaining consistency with silence and illumination.

The topics of ‘Differences between Meditation and Silent Illumination’ and ‘Inscription of Silent Illumination and the evolution of its Chan methodology’ were discussed in the third class. Venerable Chang Chi explained the perspectives of gradual and sudden enlightenment to distinguish sequential meditation and silent illumination, emphasizing the concept that silence and illumination are working simultaneously, with this non-duality stressed in Madhyamika (Sanskrit: “Intermediate” or middle position). Using two lively songs, "Great Compassionate" and "As it is", the Venerable further guided the participants to understand what "single-mindedness" implied. Finally, participants ended the seminar by practicing impartial contemplation of dilemmatic social issues in group discussions.

On the last day, during the one-day Chan retreat, the Venerable explained in particular the method of transition from meditation to silent illumination, focusing on the correct meditating posture, ceaselessly relaxing to naturally utilize the Chan Method, penetrating into the practice with no further expectation. Participants benefitted greatly from these lessons. Practitioners with second thoughts on practicing meditation found reassuring confidence while those experienced on silent illumination felt blessed with the blissful joys of the Dharma.

Texts: Dharma Drum Monthly, September (法鼓雜誌9月刊)
Translation: Chang, Chengyu (張振郁)
Editor: DDM Australia Editing Team



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