My Heart Chan ( Shaolin Chan) Berkeley group had our second 1 day retreat on Sunday. There were some 25 people in attendance. Our senior brother from LA came up. He is 1 of 3 the senior students directed by our Shifu in Taiwan to represent the group here in the states.
He was my first contact with the Heart Chan Group. He opened the retreat with a talk on being like a baby again. Not Phyically of course but in our attitude towards life and others, and opening our hearts and minds. Connecting to the world, the universe via our hearts. Not to sectionlize our life like pieces of a pie but to be more like a tree where all sections, parts flow from us like branch’s. Also he spoke on how our practice , our lives are composed of three elements, Body, Mind Spirit. Does this sound familiar or what!?! remember Sanmai-Ittai…
After that we had a 45 min meditation period. That was my first, it was not too bad. It would have been even easier if I had not been having knee pain for the last few days. However I persevered…Yosh!
After lunch was my turn, I had been asked to do a section on Motion Chan and Tai Chi. In our Meditation centers n Taiwan there are monks from Shaolin temple who teach Tai Chi and Kung Fu. Being as our Shifu is Asst. Director of Shaolin it is part of the exchange that has been worked out. I had been thinking how to approach this for the last month, in the time given. I had 45 min now, instead of 15 min. I gave a short lecture on the nature of Chan, Motion and sitting. same coin different faces. or in another form, the Yin and Yang of meditation. We in order to be in balance in life we need to do both in order to keep the harmony of Body, Mind, Spirit, and Yin meditation and a Yang meditation. I also touched on in another form ( point of view) the earth is our body, man is the mind, chi is the spirit. we need to treat our earth as it is our body, we are the mind of the Universe, chi is our spirit. I do not think I as as clear as I wanted to be, because I was winging it with the lecture. However everyone sad they got it…Yokatta!
Next I went to the practical part and introduced Tai Chi walk. explained the benefits, the state of mindfulness and mechanics of it. Some got it right off, others struggled with it. I had them do it in a line around the room and back to their starting point. I thought it went well.
Next up was some Tai Chi movements. The opening of Yang 24 and through to grasping birds tail. I did a demo, then had the group follow three or four times with me leading. For the most part they got it. I was surprised in that short amount of time. Afterward many said they were very please with the instruction and some who never thought of doing Tai Chi were now open to the possibility of learning it. All said they felt calmer and more relaxed afterward. Yatta, mission accomplished.
After our next break and mediation session I got to speak with JM shxiong about a few varid topics. He gave me some tips on things I could expect as I practiced Chan more. Also some warnings about doing Feng Shui or astrology readings as a job without knowing the proper way to release the negative chi, or karma I would be taking on. We spoke of Merit. TaMo ( Bodhidharma) told the Emperor his acts of buiding temples as such gave him no merit. Yet I heard talk of gaining merit to becoming a Buddha or Bodhisattva. He explained that helping raise a soul from suffering , taking on their Karma, helping them with their karma, was a way to gain merit. Doing something from the heart purely to help another soul with their suffering. Not from building temples and the like. In the Bible it is said about a rich-man not entering in the kingdom of heaven…
There was a lot more things shared and expressed, that I will not put or try to put here. Other than one question that was put to him by another about religion and our Chan practice.
The answer given, was we use Buddhist terms to explain concepts, these could also be explained in Christian or Taoist terms. Our practice does not carry the dogma, rules, restriction, worship, formalities that a religion does. Ours is just a practice to enhance of living. One can have any faith and practice Chan, there is no conflict or competition.