LJM launches Spring Retreat 2021, aiming at attainment of unlimited wisdom with Chan Meditation

LJM launches Spring Retreat 2021, aiming at attainment of unlimited wisdom with Chan Meditation
At the beginning of a new lunar year, it is time to move away from a 2020 that suffered tremendous setbacks due to COVID-19.In the face of lingering uncertainties, we are best advised to keep calm and our spirituality settled as a prerequisite to turn the page. Toward that end, more than a hundred practicing monastics along with some laity started a 49-day retreat from February 28 to April 18 led by Ling Jiou Mountain (LJM). Founding Abbot, Dharma Master Hsin Tao, oversees the retreat and leads the practice of Chan in sitting, walking, and other forms aimed at retrieving inherent spirituality of all participants in the course of the 49-day retreat.

The LJM Spring Retreat 2021 was launched as the first-ever online offering of meditation practice in three languages- Mandarin Chinese, English, and German. Live-streaming allows access for participation to transcend space and time for registrants to benefit from meditation in regaining their inherent spirituality while functioning at the same time to highlight how LJM harnesses up-to-the-minute technologies to empower the promotion of Dharma.

There is a saying in ancient scripture that prescribes the attainment of clarity of a certain level within a given timeframe, which suggests that a mind undeterrable can be achieved with undivided attention at a given place and time. The Yuantong Hall at the LJM Wusheng Monastery is an ideal venue for meditation for being both austere and solemn, with its calming magnetic field attracting a large number of meditation practitioners from overseas every year to join local meditators in a collective resonance in sync with a powerful energy of positivity that renders access to regain one's inner spirituality. Such is the background of the annual retreat by, and at, LJM.

For the longest time, Dharma Master Hsin Tao has been untiringly promoting the ideals of ‘Loving the Earth, Loving Peace’, with an emphasis on an interdependent co-existence for all sentient beings, and the realization that there is no resignation the humankind is entitled to. Soon after the breakout of the pandemic, the LJM Buddhist Society appealed to the world for people to chant the Heart of Shurangama Sutra on a daily basis for an on-going transfer of merit in the best interest of everyone.

At the commencement of the Spring Retreat, Dharma Master Hsin Tao encouraged the participants with the following remarks that ‘we are learning the core teaching of Buddha, which is taming the mind. To learn Buddha's way is to study his clarity, his awakening, and his wisdom. What is clarity? That is what everyone is born with, and what we all want to be with at all times in all consciousness. Only when we manage to stay away from all phenomena we then regain such clarity, which can never be found in any and all phenomena.’ The Master further commented that Buddha said it first about us having a right and wise treasure of Dharma that is our clarity which is non-arising nor ceasing. Nirvana is non-arising nor ceasing. Clarity is an awareness of wisdom, hence we understand that the practice of meditation elevates us above all phenomena to find that clarity. Such an understanding affords us peace of mind for lasting calmness to appreciate that our clarity is eternal, long-living, and never-aging with entitlement to limitless life and wisdom. Such clarity is the awareness of wisdom of Nirvana.

Master Hsin Tao further pointed out that ‘we must realize how fortunate we actually are that we practically dive in to explore eternity for the non-arising nor ceasing clarity of mind and to mine the unlimited wisdom and Dharma about life and death, and all that just by practicing meditation. For this past year, we should have registered more advanced and solid progress in our Chan practice due to the pandemic. While I could not physically travel to foreign destinations to share Buddha's teachings, digital contact and livestreaming afford us the connection and efficient vehicle for us to approach and enter Buddha's unlimited wisdom simply by way of Chan meditation.’

Optimize the Retreat by focusing on consciousness-awakening

Dharma Master Hsin Tao also pointed out to our attention as to the simple solution known to us in one single word of ‘Chan’, i.e. to focus on the reflections of our mind. The mind manifests itself in anything and anywhere. Everything is a manifestation of our mind. The water without ripples on its surface reflects everything, as does the mind without any thoughts or ideas. The water reflects the image of the moon, and that can be the water of any creek, any river, sea or ocean. So does our mind for the reflection of anything at all. The illumination of the mind is therefore bright and light, non-arising nor ceasing, broad as the space, and unlimited indeed. We practice Chan meditation, and we observe our mind. We practice Chan to the extent of thorough understanding, and from there, to a non-arising nor ceasing extent until a perfect awakening is achieved.

The Master said that the Spring Retreat affords us the opportunity to re-learn how best to nurture back our clarity of mind, as it changes along with external matters such as phenomena, political updates, and current events. Once your mind does that, it moves away from its original spot to weaken the focus of the meditation. The emotions stemming from the five poisonous traits of attachment, aversion, ignorance, pride, and jealousy gradually become frequent in daily life over time. The practice of Chan helps to eradicate such unwanted sentiments and feelings to restore clarity of the mind.

A clearly undivided focus on the clarity of our mind is critical, and anything that is irrelevant thus accordingly needs to be weeded out slowly but surely until there is no cloud in the wide-open space for the full moon to shine at its very brightest. When we practice Chan in sitting, it would be ideal to ‘perceive’ the moon as hanging in the space of the mind, all by itself and with no traces of any cloud or mist. Just that comforting, bright moonshine. When all wanton desires sizzle out and the clarity of your mind reveals, the skies stretch out ten thousand miles and all cloud-free.

At this holiday season of the lunar new year, the LJM offers a unique Spring Retreat to help remove all wanton desires of the secular world in favor of regaining clarity of the mind, so as to sever relentless worries to deepen in Buddha's unlimited wisdom.