“Life with Chan Practice”: A series of talks by Venerable Ci Chern (繼程法師)

Venerable Chi Chern gave a series of dharma talks to share the Chan concepts and methods with local practitioners in Massachusetts and New Jersey, after he completed leading the 21-day Chan retreat in Poland at the end of August. Many young students from Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology also attended and added a lot of vitality and enthusiasm to the lecture.

Venerable Chi Chern gave a series of dharma talks at DDMMBA from September 8 through September 10; these talks addressed issues such as the sequential and progressive ways to practice the dharma, recognizing one’s intrinsic values in order to benefit from dharma practices, as well as the way to a non-abiding mind that manifest itself, thus attaining enlightenment.

He first pointed out a common myth that many practitioners believe in, the disconnection between daily life and Chan practice: "You should really take the method of Chan practice home and continue to work on it. You won’t benefit from your Chan practice if you practice for one day and put it aside for the next ten days."

The Venerable further elaborated that those who practice daily have the advantage of a fully in-tune body and mind in the Chan hall. On the other hand, those who didn’t, spend a considerable amount of time adjusting the tense body and mind, thus reducing the effect of meditation greatly.

“The purpose of our practice is to return to our immaculate self-nature.” Venerable Chi Chern spoke of our self-nature as a unity of Samadhi (concentration meditation) and wisdom; wisdom as in a positive attitude and disposition in dealing with challenges. The true mind is virtuous and pure; on the other hand, defilements give rise to vexations. The Venerable further explained that Hua-Tou meditation and Silent Illumination can give rise to a mind that is aware and abide in the nowhere. For example, when practicing Hua-Tou meditation, there will be times when doubt sets in and there is no answer to the question asked; this, however, could serve as a driving force to persevere in our practice and hence realize the essence of being. Silent Illumination, on the other hand, facilitates return to the true nature of our mind, contemplation of the emptiness of the five aggregates, as well as cause and effect, thus leading to the cessation of suffering.

After the series of talks at DDMMBA, Venerable Chi Chern went to New Jersey Chapter of Dharma Drum Mountain for another series of talks from September 11 through September 13. This series of talks included topics such as “Our hectic and ignorant outlook of life”, “Chan contemplation and practices”, as well as “The true nature of our mind and diligent practice to develop a Bodhi mind”.

One of the most important characteristics of people is the ability to transform, use and develop positive energy. “We are already born to this human life and we need to make good use of it.” Venerable Chi Chern pointed out that those who practice Buddhism have good karmic and wisdom roots; he encouraged them to practice diligently every day in order to develop even more positive energy. Practitioners who can clearly see the dynamics of cause and effect, as well as develop non-attachment, acceptance, and letting go, whether in favorable or challenging conditions, are at peace and happy.

Texts: Dharma Drum Monthly More about <法鼓雜誌>...
Translation: Shi, Min (USA)
Editor: Leefah (Malaysia), DDM Editorial Team

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