Find Your Way Back To Happy Daily Life via LJM's Two-Day LOHAS Chan Meditation
More than 80 registrants arrived at Ling Jiou Mountain’s (LJM) Wusheng Monastery for the two-day LOHAS Chan meditation camp on May 1 and 2, harboring all sorts of preoccupations. With the coaching and guidance of Master Guang Chuen, Master Bao Ben, and Master Miao Ru, the general sentiment of the camp after two days of practicing Chan meditation in different settings was that the secular fatigue was rinsed off and it was possible to claim back the quiet and happiness once known in daily life.
Among other reputable achievements as a leading religious institution, LJM is also famous for its signature approach to Chan meditation known as the Peace Meditation, which drew its origin and resources from the practice of stillness that Dharma Master Hsin Tao employed relentlessly to his decade-long retreat at numerous run-down cemeteries in Taiwan to achieve enlightenment before establishing the LJM Buddhist Society. The Peace Meditation has thus been developed into a well-structured Chan meditation practice in staggered phases to best suit practitioners at different levels of maturity. As the name LOHAS Chan suggests, it is a meditation practice that affords the bliss of meditation by rediscovering the quiet and happiness of daily life.
On Day 1 and for the initiation session, Master Miao Ru zoomed in on ‘being with your own self’ as the key to the two-day meditation camp by fielding questions at the participants about their knowledge of Chan and their purpose of joining the camp. While Master Bao Ben, on the other hand, took the group one step further by going the route of awakening the body via physical stretching as a means to conduct an intimate dialogue with the body to achieve total relaxation.
As LOHAS goes and what lifestyle entails, meditation practice at mealtimes shows how our perception of the aroma and taste of food directly involves our root senses and therefore our cognitive awareness. And the session entitled ‘The Way to Happiness’ is basically a recount of seemingly simple and straightforward anecdotes that demonstrate it is not all that complicated to rediscover happiness: as long as you accept the moment as is and without attachment nor wanton desires and refuse to be led and affected by external phenomena, you stay calm and happiness follows.
It comes as no surprise that most people understand Chan meditation as a practice in sitting. Chan meditation in walking, however, is another approach that puts the emphasis on the first three segments of the initial movement of any walk: the lifting of the heel, moving it forward, and putting it down to complete one simple step. If, however, that simple step is a practice of meditation, it demands tremendous focus on the body’s reflexes to strike a balance and your body remains stable without swaying to the side. Master Guang Chuen led the group in learning the LJM Peace Meditation in Four Steps that owe its origin to the famed mainstream ‘The Seven-Point Meditation Posture of Vairochana’. Put succinctly, it boils down to sitting properly, maintaining your inhalation and exhalation to be gentle, soft and natural, turning your attention inwards, while listening to the sound of stillness of your inner universe to achieve true peace.
The evening session in the open ground outside the LJM Sacred Hall to wrap up Day 1 got everybody even closer to their inherent spirituality by virtue of the quiet nighttime. Dharma Master Hsin Tao concluded the session by sending a pretaped video clip that explained how most people lost contact with Nature due to the hustles and bustles of modern lifestyles and with that, people lost their connection to the innate spirituality. The practice of Chan meditation helps people cut loose from attachment and wanton desires, regaining mental clarity and finding the way back to the awareness of Buddhahood and original spirituality, or put simply, it is to ‘return your mind to ‘home’’.
Morning session 1 on Day 2 was a practice of meditation in the woods, where the participants learned to listen to the quiet amidst the natural orchestration of sounding bugs and chirping birds for the mind to rejoice in a natural, pre-manmade habitat. It then proceeded to an experience of ‘Chan encountering coffee’ to emulate what people go through in modern daily life. Two coffee aficionados Hsu and Tseng were present to take the group for a walk-through in slow motion to appreciate the joy of one simple cup of freshly brewed coffee from A to Z.
The lecture on ‘Loving the Earth, Loving Peace’ was a reminder that Planet Earth has been encountering three-fold crises of environmental destruction, ecological pollution, and ever-escalating scale of warfare either erupting or eminent. All of that traces back to one common denominator known as human greed. The practice of Chan meditation helps to harness and put an end to human greed, thereby decreasing destructions and instead, making it possible for people to reverse the course and become environment-friendly to cherish and protect the Earth. An indigenous musician with her soul-touching voice in the company of Tibetan singing bowls, guitars, plus the sound of nature, impressed the group with her music and dance that was a tribute to Mother Earth as well as a reminder of self-esteem and love.
When the two-day LJM LOHAS Chan meditation was approaching its closing, participants were busy exchanging the fruit of their learning curves. Master Guang Chun said to remind everyone that what was learned at the camp needs to be carried on in daily life when people return to normalcy, so to speak, in order that the rediscovered awareness of spirituality would not run wild again, but keep up an inward look on-goingly to stay mindful yet focused and relaxed at the same time.
Testimonial A came from a working Mum surnamed Chien to the effect that she ‘finally got to know what it means to eat a meal properly for true relaxation’, while Chou with Testimonial B said that she originally had much doubt about the two-day camp yet it afforded her the realization that ‘Dharma could begin with being good to oneself and with loving the Earth.’ Graduate student Lin with Testimonial C joined the program as part of the course requirement by the university, and his was a story of initial resistance over the course of appreciation to a happy ending with a bountiful harvest for his work.
Testimonial D came from Lue as a group consensus to pay respect to voluntary LJM workers who footed kitchen work for the meals that even included the coffee-brewing chores for that special experience on Day 2. The majority of the participants just had their first encounter with Chan meditation, and the practice the LJM way solicited only positive feedback with the reassurance that they themselves will become repeat visitors as well as evangelists to brings friends and relatives to tag along for that unique LJM experience in achieving peace at heart and happiness in life by doing the LJM Peace Meditation.