DDM Global News

A summer journey of the mind for American college students: Dharma Drum Retreat Center’s Chan Workshop organized by Dharma Drum Mountain Los Angeles Center

Updated July 25, 2022
With the gradual lifting of the pandemic, Dharma Drum Mountain Los Angeles Center had for months planned a six-day Chan Workshop for Young People, from July 7 to July 12, held at the Dharma Drum Retreat Center, to help college students learn how to apply the Buddhist teaching and the ideas of Chan practice in everyday life.

Featuring an abundant variety of activities, this workshop was led by Dharma Drum Retreat Center's Abbot Ven. Guo Yuan, Director Ven. Chang Yuan, and resident monastics Ven. Chang Ji and Ven. Yan Wu. Accompanying them were Ven. Chang Ju from Dharma Drum Mountain Los Angeles Center, and Ven. Chang Xun from the Chan Meditation Center in New York, as well as Venerables Chang Yao, Yan Jian, and Yan Xi from Taiwan. Together, they formed a strong team of instructors, aided by over 20 volunteers.

Tailor-made for college students, this workshop received over 40 applications from college and university students across America, mainly from Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Atlanta. Most of them had previously participated in the College Workshop organized by Dharma Drum Mountain Los Angeles Center, while the 14 newcomers learned of this opportunity from their fellow students or volunteers working at other Dharma Drum Mountain branch centers.

The workshop started off with the Venerable leading the students to practice a morning chanting session. This was followed by Ven. Chang Yuan guiding everyone to experience Chan in a tea ceremony, as they learned to appreciate the delicate process of brewing tea, show gratitude for a nice cup of tea coming into being from nothing, and fully enjoy the feeling when sipping the tea. During the outdoor walking meditation led by Ven. Chang Xun, students practiced how to focus their attention on the movement of their steps with each present moment, enjoying the relaxation and freedom involved in immersing the body and mind in nature.

The afternoon session consisted of a series of lessons on "Celebrating Life" led by Ven. Chang Ji. Beginning with a "Who am I?" group play designed to encourage mutual interaction among participants, the Venerable explained how the influence of social identity on one's personal life. Furthermore, using entertainment news articles as the entry point, the Venerable gave a detailed analysis of "sense of shame" and "passing judgment", as well as its influence on our psychological and mental wellbeing, and how each one of us can make a difference by changing our current way of thinking or acting. Thanks to the inviting and welcoming atmosphere of the lessons, all the students opened up their hearts and minds to engage in an enthusiastic exchange of ideas and discussions.

The students all looked forward to joining this compact course with great anticipation. Dharma Drum Mountain Los Angeles Center hoped that this intensive 6-day Chan Workshop for Young People, with its various heartwarming activities, could enable the group from diverse cultural backgrounds to build a deeper connection and gain a profound experience with the Buddhist teaching and Chan practice. 

Text: Dharma Drum Mountain Los Angeles Center
Photos: Dharma Drum Mountain Los Angeles Center
Translation: Cheng-yu Chang (張振郁)
Editing: Chia-cheng Chang (張家誠), Keith Brown