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Chan Meditation Roadmap

Chan represents the concepts and methods to calm and settle our body and mind. It is especially suitable for people living in today’s hectic and stressful life. Planned and produced by DDM Chan Practice Center, this series speaks to modern-day people by incorporating our daily activities as examples and presenting them in the form of motion pictures designed in a simple and accessible way, enabling us to easily realize the essence of Chan teachings. The first episode features the explanation of how a neon fan works, to illustrate that all phenomena are nothing but a series of continuous arising and perishing of separate events, without any unchanging self involved. By understanding the Buddhist principle of impermanence and no-self, we can thus remind ourselves to learn how to let go of our attachment, and thereby liberate from afflictions.

Practice during the Pandemic 

Here we provide resources for Chan meditation and learning Buddhism. We hope these could help you create an environment to practice at home, with peace in mind.  See more 
Find out online practice events such as meditation courses, Dharma talks, Dharma services, etc here!    

New Free Books: Orthodox Chinese BuddhismCommon Questions in the Practice of Buddhism

Check out our MP3 learning resources: Follow the Buddha in Study and Buddhadharma in Daily Life! You can also find them on Soundcloud.

Great Dharma Drum

"His mild expression and spare figure reflect an untroubled character. His amusing and cordial talks make audiences feel wholly accepted and understood. His unconventional insights bring clarity, like a ray of light penetrating the darkness."

Great Dharma Drum presents Master Sheng Yen's talks on Buddha-dharma and various issues. To watch more, please visit here.
 

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Dharma Discussion

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How to Practice the Medicine Buddha’s Dharma Method

The Medicine Buddha, acclaimed as the "Great Medicine King Buddha", administers medicine according to sentient beings' ailments. Not only does he treat sentient beings' physical i...

Medicine Buddha’s Twelve Great Vows As an Example of Buddhism Practice

The Twelve Great Vows of the Medicine Buddha were compassionate aspirations the Buddha made in his causal stage of bodhisattva path practice. In witnessing and sympathizing with the afflictions suf...

Major Theme: Attaining Peace and Ease in the Present Life

The Sutra on the Original Vows and Merits of the Medicine Master Tathagata of Lapis Lazuli Crystal Radiance-- also known as the Sutra of the Medicine Master (Sutra of Medicine Buddha)-- begins by p...

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q5: Can a wish be fulfilled by reciting a mantra?

A5: Reciting mantras can make people's wishes come true, but this is not the initial intention of reciting mantras for Buddhists. When practicing generosity, we must have the right mindset that...

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q4: How can reciting mantras eliminate karmic obstacles and prevent disasters?

A4: Some people believe that reciting mantras to eliminate disasters is contrary to Buddhist concept of cause and effect. In fact, when we recite the mantra, we keep our minds pure and focused, whi...

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q3: Is the chanting of a mantra effective only when we know its meaning?

A3: No. When reciting a mantra, what matters the most is our state of mind. In his book "Master Sheng Yen on Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara's Methods", Master Sheng Yen took the Great Com...

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q2: Will mispronunciation of the mantras impact its meritorious effect?

A2: Mispronunciations when reciting the mantra will not affect its merits, as sincerity and faith in mantra recitation are more important than accuracy in pronunciation. Mantras were originally rec...

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q1: What is the difference between chanting the Buddha’s name and reciting the mantra?

Mantra recitation is one of the methods of Buddhist practices. Also known as the "secret words", mantras are often shrouded in mystery, and are therefore easily misunderstood. Former Abbo...

The Methods of Reciting Mantras

When beginning to learn how to chant mantras, it's not hard at all learn to recite them provided we start by learning their structure, rules, and some keywords. Mantras, also known as sacred...

How to Choose Which Mantra to Recite?

Different mantras have different merits and virtues. Buddhist beginners can choose those mantras for which they have affinity to recite. For instance, many Pure Land Buddhism practitioners recite t...

Understanding the Structure of Dharanis

Basic Format and Key Words According to Tony Kuang-Ming Lin, a dharani scholar who wrote "Get to Know Dharanis" and the digital newsletter All about Dharanis, the content of a dha...

Dharani Recitation Practice: Learning the Spiritual Codes of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Reciting the dharani, along with reciting the Buddha's name, is a most commonly seen Buddhist practice method for beginners. So, where did Buddhist dharanis originate? What is the significance ...

Q6: Why is It Necessary to Repent (Kṣama, in Sanskrit) before Receiving the Buddhist Precepts?

Before taking the Buddhist precepts-- be they the Three Refuges, the Five, Eight and Ten Precepts, or even the Complete Precepts and Bodhisattva Precepts--it is necessary for us to go through the...

Q5. What preparations should we make before taking part in repentance ceremonies?

Master Zhiyi of the Tiantai School of Chinese Buddhism mentioned, in the Manual of the Lotus Samadhi Repentance Ritual, that prior preliminary practices are necessary to cultivating any Dharma ga...

Q4: What is the difference between repenting alone in front of a Buddha statue and participating in a repentance-prostration Dharma assembly?

When Master Sheng Yen underwent solitary retreat in Meinong, Kaohsiung, he performed the Great Compassion Repentance Ceremony by himself. In his book, Master Sheng Yen's Teaching on Guanyin Bod...

Q3: Can Doing Repentance Prostrations Really Eliminate Karmic Obstructions?

Many people think that participating in the Great Compassion Repentance and the Emperor Liang Repentance service or admitting one's wrongdoings in mind is enough to purify negative karma. In fa...

Q2: Is Repentance Equal to Regret?

Repentance and regret are not the same. Regret means suppressing upset feelings rather than facing them or dealing with them. When accumulated over time, these negative emotions are like the dirt a...

Q1: What is the difference between repentance prostration rituals and regular Dharma assemblies?

Q&A Regarding the Practice of Repentance Prostration Can practicing repentance prostration really eradicate one's karmic hindrances? What is the difference between repenting and feeling ...

Repentance Prostration: A Millenia-Old Method of Practice

"I wholeheartedly pay homage to Shakyamuni Buddha. I wholeheartedly pay homage to the World Honored One Amitabha Buddha of the Western World of the Ultimate Bliss…" Through these...

Fifth Impediment: Meditation Makes Me Very Irritable, and Unable to Settle Down

First of all, we need to clarify that it is not "meditation" that makes you irritable. Instead, meditation helps you identify the causes of irritability. Feeling irritable and unable t...

Fourth Impediment: Inability to Stop Unending Delusional Thoughts

After grasping the fundamentals of meditation, we may notice and wonder, "Why are there so many scattered thoughts?" whenever we sit down to practice. Many beginners will have the misperc...

Third Impediment: Inability to Relax the Chronically Tense Body

How do we practice relaxing ourselves? First of all, we can pay more attention to our bodily sensations, making ourselves become more aware of them. We can also observe the effects of our behavior,...

Second Impediment: Why do I feel drowsiness and leg pain when practicing in the Meditation Hall, even though everything feels fine during my meditation routine at home?

Drowsiness is most obvious phenomena arising in practitioners during Chan retreats, as participants usually feel fatigue on the first few days of retreats. Once their physical and mental fatigue is...

First Impediment: How to deal with leg pains, soreness, aches, itchiness, and numbness while meditating?

Drowsiness, wandering thoughts, controlled breathing, sore legs and overall body tension…these are the most common problems that beginners frequently encounter while meditating, leading them...

Practice Chan Without Vexations

As Master Sheng Yen said, sitting meditation has three functions: to harmonize body and mind, attain mental stability, and develop wisdom and compassion. Beginner Chan practitioners usually experie...

Practice Method of Prostrating to the Buddha

Prostrating to the Buddha is the way for Buddhists to express respect and gratitude to the Three Jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. In addition to praying for the avoidance ...

Prostrating to the Buddha and the Four Foundations of Mindfulness

When prostrating to the Buddha, how do we utilize the Four Foundations of Mindfulness (satipaṭṭhāna)-- the method of mindful contemplation of our body, feelings, mind, and dharmas-- to practice obs...

Prostrating to the Buddha to Train the Body and Cultivate the Mind

Prostrating to the Buddha is a fundamental requirement to practice Buddhism. Similar to the trend of vegetarianism, more and more people are taking up prostration practice purely for health reasons...

Common Qs and As on the Practice of Prostrating to the Buddha - 5. Can prostrating to the Buddha eliminate karmic obstacles?

Many people have encountered numerous physical and psychological obstacles in the process of studying Buddhism. For example, when meditating, their minds always wander; or, when listening to the su...

Common Qs and As on the Practice of Prostrating to the Buddha - 4. Are the objects to which Buddhists prostrate only limited to Buddha statues?

No. The objects to which Buddhists prostrate include the Three Jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.   The first jewel is the Buddha. The Buddha statue represents the pr...

Common Qs and As on the Practice of Prostrating to the Buddha - 3. When is the appropriate time to make prostrations to the Buddha? How many prostrations should one perform?

Generally speaking, there are no special restrictions on the appropriate time and the number of prostrations. Practitioners can set up a daily routine for their prostration practice, either through...

Common Qs and As on the Practice of Prostrating to the Buddha - 2. If we do not have a Buddhist altar or a Buddha statue at home, then towards which direction should we prostrate?

Buddhist altars and Buddha statues are useful aids for our practice. If we have no Buddha statues to which to prostrate, we can use Sutras or Dharma quotes instead. This is because they are wisdom ...

Common Qs and As on the Practice of Prostrating to the Buddha - 1. Buddhism does not advocate for idolatry, so why would people still make Buddha statues and even prostrate to them?

Prostrating to the Buddha is the first step for every Buddhist who is embarking on Buddhist practice. However, do the Buddha and Bodhisattvas really require us to prostrate? When should we prostrat...

Common Buddhist Etiquette

Most of the gestures that Buddhists use to express sincere reverence come from the "nine forms of showing respect in India". They are: speaking softly to inquire about another's well-...

Prostration: Paying Homage to the Buddha

Prostrating to the Buddha is an important Buddhist practice, but what is its actual purpose? And, does the act of prostration really bring about protection and blessings? The purpose of prostrat...

Q7: When ill, is it more effective to recite the name of Medicine Buddha or Guanyin Bodhisattva?

A: When sick, it is only natural for many Buddhists to want to rely on the mercy and the power of the Medicine Buddha (Bhaiṣajyaguru-vaiḍūryaprabhārāja) and Guanyin Bodhisattva (Avalokiteśvara) by ...

Q6: Is it proper to recite the Buddha chant while having a shower or using the toilet?

Yes, it is alright. Reciting the Buddha's name is a method of Buddhist practice, so as long as time and space permits, we can certainly use this method for our practice, at any time and place. ...

Q5: What is the difference between reciting the Buddha’s name and chanting a dharani?

Both Buddha-name recitation and dharani chanting are methods of practice used to help us cultivate concentration. Chanting a dharani is equally meritorious to reciting a Buddha's name, without ...

Q4: Are prayer beads or counters necessary when reciting the Buddha's name?

A: Prayer beads or a counter are highly recommended for beginners who have yet to develop their habit of reciting the Buddha's name. Firstly, they conveniently keep tabs on an individual's ...

Q3: Is reciting the Buddha's name a practice exclusively for the sick and the elderly?

A: Many people constantly think that practicing Buddhism or reciting the Buddha's name is a practice intended only for the sick and the elderly. They assume that because they are old, sick, or ...

Q2 : To perform Buddha-name recitation, should we limit ourselves to only reciting Amitabha Buddha"? Or would reciting several Buddhas’ names afford additional blessings and protection?

Reciting any Buddha's name not only refers to reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha, but actually encompasses all buddhas and bodhisattvas. The method of Buddha-name recitation originated fro...

Q1: Why do Buddhists always greet each other with “Buddha Amitabha (Amituofo, in Chinese)”?

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on Buddha Name Recitation Those who are new to Buddhism may have many questions, yet do not know to whom or where to turn for answers. The following compilati...

Let's Recite the Buddha's Name

For many people, "Amitofuo (Amitabha Buddha)" is a Buddhist chant they had heard even before they were familiar with Buddhism. However, "reciting the Buddha's name" is still...

Sutras Mahayana

The Heart Sutra 1. The Causes and Conditions of Expounding the Teachings  The Heart Sutra, which expounds the concept of emptiness in Mahayana Buddhism, is the most condensed and widely-ci...

Methods of Reading the Sutras

Preparation for Sutra Reading 1. Mindset Why do we read sutras? The main purpose of reading sutras is not to acquire Buddhist knowledge or for academic purposes. Rather, we take the sutra as a ...

Characteristics of Buddhist Sutras: Their Fundamental Structure

When we want to read a Buddhist sutra, as long as we grasp its basic structure, know its basic elements, and have a basic understanding of its characteristics, we should be able to realize its main...

How Were Buddhist Sutras Formed?

Buddhist sutras contain the Dharma as taught by the Buddha. Have you ever wondered how they were formed? Which sutra is the earliest? Before the introduction of paper, what were the sutras written ...

Receive and Uphold the Buddha’s Teaching by Reading Sutras

Buddhist sutras are the Buddha's teachings as compiled by his disciples. More than 2500 years ago, the Buddha preached the Dharma mostly in the areas along the Ganges River. By answering people...

Obstacle 6: The Conceit That Happy People Do Not Need the Buddha’s Teaching

Some people believe: “since I am living a happy and comfortable life, why learn Buddhism”? Actually, for many people, this is exactly the obstacle to engaging in Buddhist practice. &...

Obstacle 5: Doubt About the Benefits of Learning Buddhism

Some people might ask, “What are the benefits of learning Buddhism, and why do I need to practice Buddhism?” Most people want to find out why something is good, in what way it is benefi...

Obstacle 4: I'm Not Cut Out for Learning Buddhism

“Buddhist scriptures seem so abstruse, with so many baffling terminologies; perhaps I am just not cut out for learning Buddhism”. Many people presume that they are not intelligent enoug...

Obstacle 3: Doubts About Keeping the Precepts

Many people hesitate about learning Buddhism because they think that, after taking the three refuges, they also need to observe numerous precepts afterwards. However, the Buddha did not formulate t...

Obstacle 2: A Lax Attitude Stemming from the Belief in not Forcing Unripened Causes and Conditions

Buddhists often talk about “causes and conditions”, but what does this concept truly mean? One might find Buddhadharma to have struck a chord in one’s heart, yet still hesitate to...

Obstacle 1: Kindness in Mind is Sufficient

"Buddhism only advocates doing good deeds" is the stereotype held by many people, so it is their belief that as long as they have kindness in their mind, make frequent donations to charit...

Learning Buddhism with Delight, Without Lingering Doubts

Some may aspire to learn Buddhism, but then hesitate to take the leap of faith due to their psychological obstacles. So, why do we need to learn Buddhism, and how does it make our lives different? ...

Characteristics of a True Buddhist Lay Practitioner

Q: What are upasakas and upasikas? Upasakas and upasikas refer to the male and female lay Buddhist devotees which, together, constitute the two groups of lay Buddhists. Upasaka is a Sanskrit tra...

Cultivation for Lay Buddhist Practitioners

As lay practitioners, how do we go about engaging in Buddhist practices? In modern society, we never seem to have enough time, so how do we better manage our time  to engage in practice? Throu...

Dharma Instruments Used in Meditation Retreats

Speaking is prohibited throughout the entire course of meditation. In addition, Dharma instruments are used to signal the timetable, instructions and change of activities. When explaining the rules...

A Guide to Meditation Practice

How do we arrange a meditation practice activity suitable for ourselves? The DDM Meditation Center has designed a series of meditation practice activities, ranging from a few hours to several days ...

What are the Regulations in the Meditation Hall?

Reasons Behind the Rules in the Meditation Hall: While attending a seven-day Chan retreat in the meditation hall, we are expected to lead a vastly different lifestyle. What regulations are to be f...

Five Basic Trainings for Meditation Practice

Regulating our Diet, Sleep, Body, Breath, and Mind Before starting our meditation practice, we first need to adjust and relax our body, to make sure our mind is sufficiently calm before adopting...

Q&A for Meditation Beginners

What are the rules to follow when practicing in the meditation hall? Should we keep silent all the time? Is it difficult to adapt to communal practice? Ven. Chang Cheng, experienced in guiding Chan...

The Buddha’s Statue

Where is the Buddha?  Buddhists often say that the Buddha is in our mind, and the Buddha is everywhere.  If this is the case, then why should there be images or statues of the Buddha fo...

Buddhist Mala

The Buddhist Mala is one of the most common tools for Buddhist practice. It is used for counting the times of Buddha’s name recitation or mantra chanting. According to Supplement to the Biogr...

Incense and Incense Burner

“Burning incense” is considered an extraordinary and sacred offering made to the Buddha. Making this offering represents one of the rituals to show the reverence and devotion of the Bud...

​Lit Lamp

A lit candle or lamp is one of the six common offerings people make to the Buddha, besides water, perfume, flowers, food, and burning incense. These six common material offerings symbolize the Six ...

Buddhist Sutras and Scriptures

Many Buddhists recite the Heart Sutra, the Great Compassion Dharani, and the 'Chapter on the Universal Gate of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva' in the Lotus Sutra, when they encounter difficulti...

​Dharma Quote

How much power can a single word have? How can a few simple words move one's heart and give people unwavering courage?   We often hear the word "motto". When we were young, our...

​Dharma Assembly Attendee Etiquette

Those who are new to learning the Dharma are encouraged to attend group practice in temples, to ensure that they are practicing in the right direction, using the right methods. Learning with other ...

The Contents of Dharma Services

Understanding the contents of a Dharma service and its meaning helps practitioners concentrate on the practice when attending the assembly. Contemporary Dharma services focus on reciting sutras and...

What Should We Bring to a Dharma Assembly?

To attend a Dharma assembly, we need to bring a Buddhist cassock, a tumbler, reusable foodware, and some personal belongings (wallet, train ticket, keys, clothes for warmth, etc.). Yet, remember th...

​Attending Dharma Assemblies: Prepare Well, Avoid Hasty Effort

Does attending Dharma assemblies alone qualify as engaged practice? If we don't practice regularly before attending a Dharma assembly, we may find sutra chanting boring because we don't und...

​​A Brief Introduction to the Development of the Dharma Assembly

The Dharma assembly refers to the various kinds of gathering events, which can include Dharma talks, offerings to the Buddha, offerings to monastics, and providing alms. The primary essence of the ...

​Ten Most Commonly Seen Dharma Assemblies in Chinese Buddhism

The following sections describe the origins and main features of the ten most attended Dharma assemblies in Chinese Buddhism.   Guanyin Dharma Assembly In devotion to Guanyin Bodhisattv...

​Into the Venue of a Dharma Assembly

As the Buddha's statue1 symbolizes the Buddha's presence in a Dharma assembly, we pay our respect to the Buddha by bowing to the statue or join our palms with the upper body bending when ...

​The Arising of Conditioned Appearance from the True Mind (I)

by Venerable Guo Xing   This is the first in a series of articles taken from Dharma talks given by Ven. Guo Xing at the Shurangama Sutra Retreat in August 2012. The talks focus on the first ...

​Pilgrimage

To go on a pilgrimage is to visit, and pay homage to, sacred sites or holy relics of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. This practice method takes after ancient masters' journeys to seek Dharma or worshi...

​Enjoy One Step at a Time

Living in today's fast-paced society, we hurry to work or to meetings every day. We are always on the move to arrive somewhere. Though our legs are moving, we are not aware of it; we do not foc...

Being Mindful of Where We Are: The Practice of Walking Meditation in Daily Life

When using the method of walking meditation, we neither intentionally speed up nor slow down. Instead, we walk at the same speed as we normally would, while trying to be aware of the movements with...

​Slow Walking Meditation

Practitioners normally perform walking meditation between sitting sessions during a retreat, in limited-sized spaces. Alternating practicing sitting and walking meditation helps us harmonize the bo...

​Fast Walking Meditation

Fast walking meditation, also known as pao-xiang (跑香) in Chinese, is a practice method unique to the Chinese Chan tradition, which is not taught in other traditions such as Theravada, Tibetan and...

​Buddhist Circumambulation (Walking Meditation and Buddha Name Recitation)

Circumambulation, originating in early Buddhism, was the ritual of circling around the Buddha to express respect. After Buddhism was introduced to China, Buddhists continued the tradition of circum...

Practice Walking Meditation to Experience Chan in Motion

Can walking be a method of Buddhist practice? When one thinks of Buddhist practice, what often comes to mind is either sitting meditation or reciting the Buddha's name. In fact, Buddhist practi...

​What Introductory Practices are Available for Working People?

It is better to conduct regular practices with fixed contents and duration. If we are too busy to set specific practice periods we can conduct our practice based on a fixed number of times, such as...

​Carry out Daily Dharma Practice However Busy We Are

Living in modern society, we have been so busy paddling in the whirl and turmoil of busy daily life that over time we hardly notice our deeply ingrained self-centeredness. When we don't reach a...

​Start Your Buddhist Cultivation with Regular Practice

To do regular practice is to set aside a fixed  period each day to do the same practice, such as reciting a sutra, sitting in meditation, and prostrating to the Buddha. Regular practice help...

​{Dharma Talk} Discover the True Mind

by Abbot Venerable Guo Xing From a talk given at the Chan Meditation Center on Februrary 13, 2011. Translated by Echo Bonner, transcribed by Lingyun Wang and edited by Buffe Maggie Laffey.  ...

{Dharma Talk} How to Overcome Difficulties in Meditation

by Žarko Andričević Žarko Andričević is a martial arts and yoga teacher since the 1970s, Zarko first encountered Buddhism in 1975. Ten years later he started the first Buddhist study and m...

Chan and Modern Life

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The Second Thought Cannot Come into Contact with the First Thought

Chan in Daily Life Motion Picture Series Chan represents the concepts and methods to calm and settle our body and mind. It is especially suitable for people living in today's hectic and st...

Abiding Nowhere, Give Rise to the Mind

There are two lines from the Diamond Sutra on the wall at Nung Chan Monastery: "Abiding nowhere, give rise to mind."  "Abiding nowhere" refers to the mind without...

Greedy, anger, and arrogance

  Greedy people are usually unaware of their own greed. The same is true of people filled with anger, arrogance and pride. But sooner or later, practitioners will recognize that they...

Depend on yourself to open up your own road

  Life is much the same as making and projecting a movie. Film moves at about ten images per second. When the movie is completed, it can be projected at the same speed that it was taken...