Cha’n in the Redwoods

5 08 2012

Day one

This was the second part in my series of stateside final events to handle before launch. The Kung Fu part is finished the tournament and banquet were done. Now it was time for the Chan retreat and seeing my Chan family and goodbye’s. It is all getting more real now.

It was to be another early start to the day on Sat, but not as bad as a work day rising. I was up and on the road by 5:30 am. It was 1.5 hrs drive to the Redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mtns. Traffic was ok at that hour so it was an easy drive. I arrived shortly after 7:00am. Everyone was already doing their morning meditation, except my cousin who was approaching the meditation hall as I was approaching. What a surprise timing!

After our greeting I set about finding out what was going on. I was a bit thrown off by seeing the meditation sitting when I thought it was suppose to be Chi Gong time. As it turned out that was up next, I had read the schedule wrong.

Settling in:

I joined the Qi Gong session. It was lead by the visiting teacher, the person given the Buddha seal/imprint by our Shifu in Taiwan. He a Kung Fu person turned Spiritual guide and Chan Master. I wanted to have a talk with him. I would wait for my chance. For now I needed to settle in. After the Qi Gong was breakfast and the mass greetings, of “hao Jo bu jhin” (long time no see)

Before eating though I was able to sign in, get my badge, locate my sleeping room and greet a few others I knew.

Breakfast was ok. Some veggie stuff, plus fruit, cereal, bread. Afterward I put my stuff in the room then headed off to the first lecture on the weekend theme fulfillment.

On the way to the meditation hall, chapel I encounter Miao Ming, the visiting teacher , I walk up along side him and introduce myself. We chatted a small amount and said we would get together later to talk. That was easier said than done as he was always speaking with someone and answering their questions. I did not want to intrude and wanted just a couple private moments for my interview for my “Beyond combat series”.
The one time I saw him alone he was meditating, I did not disturb him.

The Program

The lectures started next. The first one was on fulfillment which is also the theme of the retreat. Then a break followed by a meditation period. It was a open meditation session. We could stay in the hall or go out on the grounds. I took the outside option and used the time to explore the grounds some before finding a spot to sit.

Then lunch time was upon us. About this time the clouds had burned away so I took a spot on the patio to eat my lunch in the sun.

Interaction:

Our next section was a short lecture, then a group exercise . I dislike this part, find someone you do not know and partner up with them. We were to sit with this person, talk with and or meditate with them for a few moments, then draw the impression you are feeling. We had to do this with three people. It was hard. It was not an art project so whatever it looked like was fine. It was about synchronizing with the person and showing/drawing your impression. I had a couple of interesting drawings one of which was very complex and correct, one other was simple yet also close to target. Afterward people were asked to share some of the drawing and their impression of the work. Many people thought their artwork was right-on correct to the point of being scary. Out of this I gained two new buds for the next days.

These are not mine.

Time for another break, then Chi drills, then dinner.

Fireside chat:

After the last session after dinner we had a bonfire side Q and A session after singing a couple of Cha’n songs. I stayed with the group for a while by the fire listening to the questions asked of Mao Ming until it got too cold, then I headed to my room.
I had a basic shared room with two others and got the top bed on a set of bunk-beds. My roommates were non/Chinese and new to Chan. I used my iPad for a while, emails, FB, and a Naruto video before turning in for the night, ending the day.

Day II

The next day for the most part was a repeat of Sat. For the morning free meditation I found a spot to do some Tai Chi before locating a spot among the trees to do some meditation.

The interaction drill for the day was several groups discussion on the Heart Sutra and giving our impression of what it said. To me it said, it is all the same day!

I still do not understand how I got picked to be the spokesperson…again, what is up with that?!

Closing

The last session of the day before dinner was the “sharing ” and introduction part. This is where people get up in front of everyone and say whatever about their experience with Chan. This can be and has been in the past very emotional, lots of waterworks. I thought I was going to miss this part since it was listed for Monday. However since I was leaving on Sunday I was asked to come up and intro/share

I did a little talk on my Chan studies with Kung Fu, sailing and the Environment. I was on my way back to my seat when my cousin brings up I am leaving…oh boy, thx cuz!

Ok I had to come back and speak… This is where things got emotional. I do not know why I have such an attachment to these people, when saying my group goodbye I was very close to losing it to tears and emotions, and had to take a short pause and bring up some Chi to hold it together. I was getting so choked up I could not finish my last sentence, I hate when that happens. I guess my spirit really feels a sense of this is my spiritual family connection. Even thinking back to the moment seriously chokes me up…weird. I do not hang out with any of them much, yet … The Force is strong with the Chan Family.

Interestingly it is not just me. My cousin is also involved with this group. She also feels connected to the group. Even as a practicing Catholic with limited funds she with help made it here to Ca from Ga to attend the retreat. Also everyone who meets her in the group loves her. It is nice having her involved with the group so I can get her feedback on the group and see it is not just me trip’pn.

I never got to do the interview I wanted with the visiting teacher. I did find an article in the Chan mag that had some of the information I wanted. I was told I can find it on the Chan web site. I can use that to make the blog post. I also got his eMail so I can contact him if need be.

I sat with the visiting teacher for a short while after dinner for a brief goodbye. He express his regrets at not being able to spend sometime with me and invited me to visit him in Singapore sometime. This made me think, hmmm now I have a contact in mainland China and to further that thought…as a Heart Chan member I have several thousand points of potential contacts in Taiwan…there are over a hundred thousand members in Taiwan… One practitioner came up to me and said she is such n suches mother. When I come Taiwan she would be happy to show us around… cool or what. You never know what the future brings.

It should be interesting visiting Taiwan. We will be visiting one of the main meditation centers in Taiwan when we stop there. A temple in the mountains of Taipei surrounded by a Tea Plantation.

So wrapped up this years retreat. It was good this was a good venue. I really love being in the Redwoods. They have so much Chi. We had another retreat in the past by the ocean. It was nice but the Chi here was stronger and the facilities better.

Meeting with like minds and strengthening, one’s practice from time with the Shanga is a good thing.

Where in the world is the Zen-kun?

I will be seeing some of the Chan group again before we leave. A few of my local peeps I’ll hook up with. When we get to LA I will need three days to visit and bid farewells. My Cha’n, Kyudo, and Kung Fu peeps, this before we make our final Stateside stop and visit in San Diego.

 

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