March 17, 2019

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I would like to thank Warren, Chloe, Paul, William, Sam and all the supporting staff for their time and effort to make the one-day Chan retreat happen. Here are tidbits of my experience from that day.

There were a few moments during the natural-walking meditation that my soles felt soft when touching the ground. The entire movement of walking became a tender, relaxed but focused one. As I now try to recall how I approached that state, I believe I was able to loosen up more than I used to, under Warren's guidance. Physically, I scanned and relaxed parts of my body from top to bottom, and let the weight of my upper body fall naturally onto the support of my lower body. Mentally, I reminded myself, whenever wandering thoughts occurred, to feel my feet touching the ground and just walk, not to even "think" about walking.

During the slow-walking meditation, I practiced maintaining a slow, steady and continuous movement, "as if I was a mountain moving," as Master Zarko once shared with Venerable Chang Xuan. This was one of the best, if not the best, sessions I had in the retreat.

While enjoyable, the slow-walking session was not without wandering thoughts. A recurring and rather strong one was that I was blocking everyone after me because I was moving "too" slowly. I could not help but notice myself leaving a huge, open space between myself and the person in front. As a result, my attention kept switching between focusing on the established movement and wondering if I should walk faster.

In sitting sessions, I tried my best to practice what I would paraphrase as "there is nothing to be done or gained in sitting; there is no wandering thought to eradicate or enlightenment to seek." And also "there is only the method; just go back to it." These happened to be from passages of a book by Master Sheng-Yen I read before the retreat. They served very well as a guidepost for my practice. Therefore, even though my sitting experience that day was a mixed bag, I feel that I must keep practicing these teachings as if my life depends on them.

Overall, this event was run very smoothly by volunteers with both dedication and experience. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Chan meditation. Some of the participants even drove two hours or so to attend. According to them, it was well worth it, and I cannot agree more!

17 March 2019

Jeff Kuo


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