DDM Global News
Youth One Day Outdoor Retreat
Due to Covid-19, Dharma Drum Mountain Sydney Chapter's local face to face activities had been on pause since February 2020. Luckily, in New South Wales, the Covid-19 situation has been improving and thus government regulations for gatherings have also eased. On September 27, 2020, DDM Sydney Chapter was able to hold its first youth event for 2020 led by Ven. Chang Xu. To comply with government regulations, only 20 participants were allowed, therefore, many applicants for the retreat were not able to attend this event. This event included 8 Form Moving Meditation, individual sitting, walking meditation, sitting meditation, and group sharing.
The event began at 8:45 am at DDM Sydney Hornsby Centre and concluded at 4 pm at Crosslands Reserve in Hornsby Heights. The reserve was surrounded by native Australian trees and Berowra Creek. The wide natural environment along with people at the park enjoying outdoor activities was the most fortunate setting for Chan meditation. Participants were well taken care of with morning tea, water, lunch, and meditation equipment provided for them.
Venerable taught the participants the method of contemplation; pure observation with no judgment and also the quietness that comes from Noble Silence. The halfway mark of the walk was at a splendid spot. Here, participants stayed for some time, everyone was given the choice of how they wanted to apply the method of contemplation. So, some sat, some walked, some opened their eyes and some closed their eyes. Everyone did what was natural to them. When it was time to turn back and return for lunch, many did not want to leave such a wonderful place. When everyone returned to the picnic table, the six food preparation volunteers had lunch ready for everyone. To comply with government regulations for safe social distancing, food preparation volunteers sat away from the 20 participants of the event but they were still nearby.
The event ended with a circle sharing session. Some shared about how they noticed they were comparing, some expressed their gratitude, some expressed the difficulty of contemplating in a beautiful setting, some spoke about the difficulty during COVID, some expressed their happiness at attending Ven. Chang Xu's event and some spoke of being careful while walking. Ven. Chang Xu spoke last and expressed that he felt everyone practiced peacefully. Venerable shared his practice of being thankful for every day that he is here and that our Enlightenment is in the palm of our own hands. Venerable also pointed out carefree children playing at the park; we may think they have nothing to do with us, but, in fact, we are all connected.
On that beautiful early spring day, with the food preparation team sitting nearby, every participant and volunteer felt blessed and happy to be right there, at that moment in time.
Text & Photos: DDM Australian Editorial Team