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Reflection of meditation retreat led by Ven. Guo Yuan

During the weekend of 2/4 and 2/5, DDM NJ Center held a meditation retreat in memory of Master Sheng Yen’s passing. We were honored to have Ven. Guo Yuan, the abbot of Dharma Drum Retreat Center and one of Master Sheng Yen’s Dharma heirs, came to lead this meaningful program with us

Ven. Guo Yuan is one of the most senior Chan teachers in DDM. Yet, during the one and half days of the meditation sessions, his words are bare and minimum. His instructions are so simple that they seem like the material for the beginner’s class. Surprisingly, under his minimalist style, the mind only needs to follow few fundamentals. Gradually, over the course of meditation, I start to appreciate the value of going back to basics.

Prior to the start of each sitting, Ven. Guo Yuan guides us through complete relaxation. At the end of each sitting, he never skips the thorough massage. Following his instructions of no comparison and no expectation, it becomes effortless for me to anchor on the method. In the past, I tend to push myself to do better, to sit longer, or to search harder. But this time, I feel that each session of sitting is a complete and perfect session by itself. Each breath I take, each sensation of body pain I feel, they are all perfect. The pre-sitting relaxation is perfect. The after-sitting massage is also perfect. The internal struggles and unnecessary pressures are released!

On Sunday afternoon, Ven. Guo Yuan held a more casual session telling us some koan of chan masters and giving us a demonstration of the sound meditation. As we close our eyes and immerse with the harmonic sounds, it seems easier to enter deeper levels of relaxation and calmness. In conclusion, Ven. Guo Yuan said the highest practice is to hear the sound of no sound. I haven’t been able to reach that level, but I did learn a great lesson from a quiet teacher!

By Cindy Toy

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