DDM Global News

DDMBA Dharmapala in North America organizes parent-child camp: Applying Chan in life at ease

Updated August 19, 2022

Three years after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the parent-child summer camp, co-organized by the DDMBA Dharmapala in North American and the Chan Meditation Center, finally took place again at the Dharma Drum Retreat Center. This year, it featured the theme, "Homecoming: DDM Parent-Child Camp - Reunion in 2022" and witnessed a reunion of past participants from all ages at the Dharma center.

Over 70 parents from across North America brought their children to join in the camp-- a happy gathering with lessons and activities designed by monastics, instructors, and camp assistants. During this five-day event (August 3 to 7), they engaged in interactive learning, and shared their experiences over the past years.

This year's adult group was led by DDM's vice Abbot President Ven. Guo Xing, assisted by Ven. Chang Hwa, Director of the Chan Meditation Center, and Ven. Yan Jian. The course was conducted in Mandarin and English, to accommodate both Chinese and Western participants. Ven. Guo Xing gave lively examples to illustrate the connection between practicing Chan and developing awareness in our daily life. Through the participants sharing their changes during the pandemic, he helped everyone develop more awareness of physical tension and relaxation, perception of joy and pain, satisfactions and dissatisfactions. Furthermore, he emphasized the practice of focusing 90% of our attention on the techniques for bodily relaxation, to experience both bodily and mental changes.

The youth and children groups were led by Venerables Chang Zhai, Yan Wu, and Yan Xi, along with the instructors. In particular, the activity of walking with a bowl full of water to experience relaxation while remaining clearly aware of the process helped participants experience the "mind of Chan". In addition, through Chan practice, we are able to experience the connection between our body, breathing, and the natural world.

Through discussions on social justice, participants gained a clearer perspective on fairness and equality, through which they can further practice empathy and impartialness. Under monastic guidance for Chan meditation, everyone practiced how to open up their hearts and relax their minds, thereby recognizing their deep interconnectedness with other people, as well as other forms of life and phenomena, to generate a mind of gratitude, equality, and compassion towards all beings.

As part of the course, Dharma Drum Retreat Center's Abbot Ven. Guo Yuan led participants to experience Sound Meditation. The venerable showed everyone how to relax their body and mind properly by neither anticipating when the sounds would come out nor becoming curious about how they were produced—but, instead, to close their eyes and just listen to the gong sounds arising in succession in the quiet meditation hall. By simply enjoying the moment taking in the sounds, the participants reined in and settled their bodies and minds. They also learned Art Meditation, by coloring a sketch of Guanyin (Avalokitesvara) Bodhisattva, while vowing to emulate the bodhisattva to treat everyone around them with compassion and loving-kindness.

Chan Meditation Center expressed its gratitude for the success of this event, thanks to the preparations and guidance by all the instructors and camp assistants. In particular, with the delicious meals and snacks prepared by the venerables and volunteers at the kitchen, participants were able to enjoy most nutritious food while being enriched by the Buddha-dharma.
Text: Chan Meditation Center 
Photos: Yin Ting
Translation: Cheng-yu Chang (張振郁)
Editing: Chia-cheng Chang (張家誠), Keith Brown