DDM Global News

Online Beginner's Meditation Workshop: Learning to Purify Our Mind

Dharma Drum Mountain San Francisco Bay Area Center held its first Online Beginner's Meditation Workshop. Starting from October 3, 2020, the workshop led by Ven. Chang Xing together with two experienced attendees will take place on the following four Saturday mornings, to guide the ten participants to learn Chan practice.
Starting off by using the analogy of Blind Turtle Meeting the Yoke Adrift in the Saṃyukta Āgama as an example, the venerable reminded everyone that the precious human form is difficult to obtain and we have obtained it, and that the Buddha's teaching is hard to encounter and we have encountered it. He urged the participants to cherish the opportunity to learn Buddhist Chan practice and apply it to cleanse and purify their minds.

He mentioned the three functions of Chan Practice: 1) to balance body and mind-keeping good health and calmness; 2) to have stable spirits-keeping emotions in even-keel while walking, standing, sitting, or lying down; 3) to cultivate wisdom and compassion-with continual practice of Chan, we can naturally face worldly matters with compassion and handle them with wisdom. As Master Sheng Yen said,“Kindness and compassion have no enemies, and wisdom engenders no afflictions.”
Next, the venerable used Japanese Zen Master Nan-in's story of“emptying your cup”to explain the correct attitude of practicing Chan. He advised participants to first let go of attachment to their preconceived ideas by regarding the mind as an empty cup. He suggested practitioners put aside the methods of Chan practice they had learned elsewhere and instead focus on ones taught in the workshop. Afterward, they could always decide which method is most helpful for them. Chan Buddhist practice requires us to stay unaffected by how our body and mind react to the external circumstances, and simply apply the methods to calm our body and mind, thereby developing in wisdom and compassion, freeing ourselves of clinging and affliction.
During the first lesson, the venerable taught the three basic sitting postures for Chan practice—loose sitting, half-lotus, and full-lotus—as well as four additional postures: Guan Yin Sitting, Burmese Sitting, Japanese Sitting, and Riding a Horse Sitting. He also showed participants how to feel whether their body is being tense or relaxed. Time was also allocated in class for everyone to practice these skills. Finally, he encouraged all to spend at least 15 minutes practicing meditation at home and looked forward to seeing all participants again for the next lesson scheduled on October 10.
Text:  Wang, Chu-Jun(王琡珺)
Photos:  Jean Li
Translation:  Hisao, Chen-An
Editing:  Chang, Chia-Cheng (張家誠); DDM Australian Editorial Team