Monday, January 4, 2010

Celebrating 2010 in peace

I was at this 3-Day Meditation Camp
organised by the Dharma Drum Singapore
over the New Year long weekend.

There was no great party to welcome
the arrival of the brand new decade, obviously.
We were in fact 'banned' from speech and
all channels of communications (handphones confiscated!).

But, it's the truest and most honest form of celebration,
I feel.

It's an artistic form of celebration:
Like how the brightness of a white dot is amplified
by a contrasting pitch-black background;
sitting in total silence during the 3 days
contrasted the gratefulness of being alive
-- a good enough reason we celebrate for.

Another reason to celebrate the new year 
in peace and silence was:
growing up.

At the camp, we were taught principles and methods
to sort out our troubles in life,
to tackle the very culprits of sorrow, misery, fear and vexation:
-- wandering thoughts and attachment (妄想与执着).

Tho' we were all physically grown up now,
our inner souls seldom have any advancement,
as one of the venerables mentioned in the camp.

I couldn't agree more. Often I think:
we were actually tied up with the very same troubles in childhood,
except that the troubles now take a different shape and colour.
-- because we haven't grown up spiritually.

At the camp,
Venerable Chang Yuan and Venerable Guo Qi,
with their utmost compassion,
pointed out that
to attain inner peace,
we need to "place our mind on where our body is".
(身在那里 心就在那里)

At every session,
be it crossing our legs on the cushions, walking, practising yoga, eating, sleeping..
we were constantly reminded on
keeping a clear mind on what we are doing right at the moment.

Venerables also taught us
two very interesting techniques
to complement the principle above:

1. MoZhao (默照)
> when there are too many confusion going on at the same time,
instead of escaping,
capture all the info that are received via all the five senses,
acknowledge their presence,
observe their changes, but
do not make any interpretation.
Peace shall then emerge.

2. HuaTao (话头)
> when there are too many wandering thoughts,
instead of suppressing the thoughts,
distract oneself by contemplating on a universal (answer-less) question:
e.g.1 -- this is eery, but effective!-- who is maneuvering over your dead body?(拖死尸的是谁?)
e.g.2 -- if I am not myself, then who am I?(我不是我,我是谁?)
e.g.3 -- what is 'empty-ness'?(什么是无?)

The 3 day meditation camp was a blissful and enriching experience.
What could be better than immersing in gratitude and personal growth
to mark the beginning of a new decade? =)

Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}


  1. Can share more info like how the day is like, why you go for mediation, tips and etc ... Thks :D

  2. Haha... sure :D

    It's a retreat that requires discipline.
    Once in the retreat,
    we were asked to surrender our handphone,
    not to speak (not even sign language -- unless necessary),
    no communication with anybody whatsoever.

    The idea is to let one spend quality
    with oneself,
    in order to observe quietly the changes of emotion, thoughts and bodily feelings within oneself
    the changes in surrounding.
    -- This is real Zen practice in day-to-day living.

    Each day, the program is very routine:
    We woke up at 5am,
    gathered in the Meditation Hall by 5.30am,
    to do 8-Stroke of Meditative Stretching (八式动禅),
    and then sat down for 20-30min meditation
    followed by Morning Service (chanting sutras and mantras).

    After that, at 7.30am,
    it's 1.5hr morning break
    (breakfast + cleaning up of temple + wash up).
    -- at lunch and dinner breaks,
    we also need to do temple cleaning up,
    as per duty roster pre-arranged.

    For the rest of the day,
    we continue to stay in the meditation hall
    for a series of programs
    (include mini seminars by venerables, yoga,
    sit-down meditation, walking meditation,
    prostration and Evening Service),
    with adequate toilet breaks and meal breaks in between.

    During the day,
    participants were also arranged
    to meet venerable individually to
    discuss about their progress and problems
    about their meditation (小参).

    Each day ended 9.30pm, and we slept at 10pm!!
    For those who were hard working,
    they were allowed to continue to meditate till 11pm.

    On the last day of the retreat,
    there was Refuge Ceremony (归依仪式)
    and group sharing...

    For most people it may sound boring,
    but once you sink in
    and harmonise with the routine
    you will begin taste the bliss of tranquility and clarity! hahaha... ;)

    With metta,
    Kee Yew

  3. oh yar... my friend, Vincent also has a blog on the meditation camp -- with photos!!

    check it out :D


    Poh Ming Tse looks so different and is just like an oasis! (after looking at the photo at the above link) ... Like the Zen like environment ...

    Hmmm... didn't know the program looks so good with good food (with dinner horay! ;p) - I was thinking sitting whole day doing meditation only! like 面壁思过!

    Nice reading the post on mediation retreat, at least, now i understand a little bit more about it ...

    Must go for Refuge Ceremony? So those who attend must be Buddhist?
    Thanks again :)


  5. kekekeke.... that's why temple architecture should evolve along with the time :)

    definitely not 面壁思过!
    venerable asks us to go thru' the retreat with a holiday mind.. except cannot talk only..hehehe

    Refuge Ceremony is for those who were touched, and wanted to become a Buddhist after the camp. 101% voluntary..

    Among the participants, there are some who are not Buddhists..
    So, anyone can participate in the retreat.
    Tthose who are not Buddhists can still observe the Refuge Ceremony by the side :)

  6. What I wanted to say to you is a BIG THANK YOU : )

    It was very kind of you to sms me about the above retreat and it is good to start a new year in a retreat etc etc.

    Went the extra mile to send me a gentle reminder when it was passed closing date, giving me the time and space. Even I did not go for the retreat you suggested, it was so nice of you to share the joy you gained from it, after the retreat.

    One thing, you might know or might not know is that you have created another "CONDITION" or planted a seed in me.

    Because, I didn't sign up for the above retreat (as don't like stay-in), I told myself, I might not want to miss the Dharma Talk on 30Dec09, it is about Meditation and Buddhism.

    I went and accidentally picked up a flyer and see another info regarding a 4 days guided meditation from Ajahn Cattamalo with stay in/out option from 9-12Jan10! So, it is with stay out option, so no reason for me not to go and i signed up even I had doubt about myself going through the retreat, the 8 precepts etc.

    The amazing thing was I came out from the 4 days stay out retreat with all the answers I was looking for or "seeking some forms of confirmation" all these years in the Dharma Talks in the retreat. There are very important to me.

    I think I like to let you know , you have done a beautiful thing, creating the condition for me, I am not too sure without that extra condition, would I go for a meditation retreat. May more people can benefit like me from your compassionate gesture in one way or another.

    I also hope to see more meditation retreats with lots of flexibility build up like allowing non-retreatants, to attend the Dharma Talks and listen to the Q&A sessions to know more, the option of stay in/stay out, the option to attend some of the days in a meditation retreats especially for the first timer who aren't really sure about it to have a trial or taste of it or those who can only attend some days but not the full retreat etc to gain from it, ...

    peilooi :)

  7. U r very welcome =)

    Very happy to know that u have untied some of the major knots in life. Understand that these chances don't come by easy!

    Will definitely keep u in the loop when there are meditation retreats in the future. There are also short 1-day ones; these should be suitable for u, I think ;)

    Well regards,
    Kee Yew


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