DDM Global News

Dharma Drum Vancouver Center Held an Intensive 4-Day Chan Retreat Answering to Chan Practitioners’ Variety of Needs in the Post-Pandemic Era

Updated June 16, 2022
As the greater Vancouver area and BC province's pandemic prevention measures gradually moves toward complete reopening, Dharma Drum Vancouver Center held its first intensive 4-day online and on-site Chan retreat from May 26th to 29th, to satisfy the various needs of Chan practitioners in the post-pandemic era. Altogether about 30 Chan practitioners-- hailing from the Manitoba, Calgary, East Coast and Vancouver areas-- took part in the retreat.

This retreat was led by Master Sheng Yen's Western Dharma heir Zarko Andricevic, the founder of Dharmaloka Chan Buddhist Community and Chan Retreat Centre in Croatia. He has offered guidance in Chan meditation practice at Vancouver Center for nearly ten years, in addition to being a beloved and experienced Chan teacher. Participants were accompanied by Venerable Chang Wu, the Director of Dharma Drum Vancouver Center, and Venerable Chang Min, who attended to their needs throughout the retreat. On the first day of the retreat, Venerable Chang Wu informed the participants of the special way in which this retreat was to be run: With the teacher and participants situated in different time zones, the teacher provides guidance via video conferencing, while participants practice meditation either online from home or on-site in the center's Chan Hall. Unlike the conventional Chan retreats where the teacher guides students in person, this hybrid arrangement is more flexible and can better accommodate practitioners' diverse needs.

The daily practice started at 8 in the morning and ended at 9 in the evening. Despite their attending via Zoom video conferencing, the online participants were equally able to immerse themselves in the Chan atmosphere with a concentrated mind. As with the case of attending an intensive retreat in person, the participants practiced sitting meditation, moving meditation, walking meditation, and yoga exercises, as well as listened to Dharma talks. The first day's Dharma talk emphasized the importance of relaxing the body and methods of doing so. On the second day, Zarko introduced and explained the three main meditation methods of Chan School: counting the breath, Silent Illumination, and huatou. On the last day, the teacher further clarified the correct views of Buddhadharma, and used the concept of impermanence of the Three Dharma Seals to help students better comprehend the meaning of "no self" and "emptiness". During the daily questions and answers session, the participants raised a variety of questions, ranging from meditation methods to doubts about practice in everyday life and interpersonal interactions. Zarko always provided answers which were just right and precisely in accordance with the wisdom of Buddhadharma. To conclude the 4-day intensive retreat, Venerable Chang Wu led a metta-bhavana practice, a contemplation on loving-kindness. Participants were filled with Dharma joy and promised to continuously practice together in the near future.

Text: Dharma Drum Vancouver Meditation Centre
Photos: Dharma Drum Vancouver Meditation Centre
Translation: Vicky Wei (韋徵儀) 
Editing: YKL, Keith Brown