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Insights From The Winter Meditattion Retreat

                                           BY FULIN CHANG ON THE EVENING OF WEDNESDAY,FEBRUARY 13,2002
                                           沙彌尼親弘英譯 ENGLISH TRANSLATION BY SHRAMANERIKA CHIN HUNG




那天下午,他碰到另外一個也是從柏克萊來的是美國弟子,就跟他談起來了。那人說:「哎呀!這個禪七實在太痛了!受不了!我要整理行李,回去了。」約翰就問他:「真的嗎?你現在就要走了?」「是啊!我今天打坐的 時候,看到師父走進禪堂,走到每個人面前,看得很仔細;一直看著這個人,看了以後又到下一個,一個一個慢慢看。」約翰聽講,嚇了一跳。


又過了幾天,約翰說他打坐也是痛得不得了,也想回家了。那是禮拜四,飯後他把行李整理整理就想溜了。那天正好親霖師要回柏克萊寺,吃過中飯後正好碰到約翰,就跟他講:「你知道嗎?打禪七會很痛,痛就是消業障,痛沒有關係,要多忍耐。」既然親霖師這麼講 ,他就不走算了,所以又留了下來繼續打禪七。過了幾天,他又痛得受不了了,又想,「明天早上,明天早上我一定要回家了。」



還有一位和約翰一起來的從洛杉磯來的老先生,我不知道他的名字。他講他這次在打禪七時,有一次坐在那邊忽然打婬欲的妄想。他覺得很難過,心想怎麼辦呢?他就想到第一天方丈和尚在簡介禪堂規矩時放的幻燈片,裏面有很多白骨的人。這樣一想,他自己所有的肌肉都沒有了,只剩下白骨,他就沒再打婬欲的 妄想了。



Venerable Master, all Dharma Masters, and all Good Advisors: I would like to share some of my thoughts during the (just concluded) winter Chan session.

I would like to repeat what a fellow cultivator John from Berkeley shared during this meditation retreat because it was fantastic. He initially had not intended to attend the retreat from beginning to end, but being so happy after a week's worth of Buddha recitation, he decided to stay and try the Chan session. He had never joined a meditation retreat before. He had false thoughts continuously during the first few days of the Chan session, but just as he was engrossed by those thoughts, he suddenly felt a pat on his head. He was startled and thought, "Ah, the proctor must be behind me." He turned around to look and saw no one. His stream of consciousness began flowing again the next day during meditation. Just as his false thoughts were flying off to who knows where, he again felt another smack on his head. He jumped again and turned around quickly to see who was hitting him. Again, he saw no one. He felt that this was increasingly strange.

That afternoon, he ran into another American disciple from Berkeley who told him as they chatted that, "Gee! Meditation is too painful! I can't stand it! I'm going to pack my bags and leave." John asked him, "Really? You're going now?" "Yes! When I was meditating today, I saw the Venerable Master walk into the meditation hall to look at each one of us very closely. He walked up to everyone and kept looking at each person from the front. He would look and then go on to the next person. He took his time to look at each person." John was shocked when he heard this.  

This American disciple also said, "The Venerable Master asked later, 'How's your sitting now?' I replied, 'Oh! No! It's too painful, I'm leaving.’ The Venerable Master smiled and said, 'Oh, you're leaving.' Then he went to look at the next person." After hearing about this, John thought, "Maybe it was the Venerable Master smacking me on the head!" He didn't dare to let his thoughts stray when he went to meditate again.

After a few more days, John said that he was experiencing a tremendous amount of pain during meditation, so he wanted to go home too. That was a Thursday. He packed up his things after lunch and was ready to slip out. That day Chin Lin Shr was going to head back to Berkeley Monastery and ran into John after lunch. He said, "You know, it's really painful to meditate during a retreat because to experience pain is to eliminate karmic obstructions. It doesn't matter that it hurts. Be more patient." Since Chin Lin Shr told him this, he thought he should forego the idea of leaving. He stayed to continue the meditation session. After a few more days, he again couldn't stand the pain any more and thought, "Tomorrow morning. Tomorrow morning I will definitely go home."

That evening, while he was listening to the Venerable Master's taped talks from the Hundred Day Chan Session, the Venerable Master happened to talk about how many disciples cannot tolerate the pain and go home during the Chan sessions. They make up all kinds of excuses to leave, saying that they have things to do at home, and escape. John heard this and thought, "Oh, the Venerable Master seems to be talking to me." He was quite embarrassed and didn't leave the next morning. He stayed once again. In the blink of an eye, the final week rolled around. So he stayed until the final Saturday before he went home.

This is John's story.  

There was another old man from Los Angeles who came with John. I don't know his name. He said that during this Chan session, he once was entertaining thoughts of lust and felt extremely bad. He thought, "What should I do?" Then he thought about the slides of a skeleton that the Abbot had shown when he gave a brief introduction to the rules of the meditation hall. As he thought about this, he felt that all his muscles were gone and he had only his bones left. He therefore never had any more thoughts of lust.

As he continued to contemplate in this way, the skeleton accidentally fell to pieces all over the floor. Originally he his feet had been hurting really badly, but with his bones crushed, he suddenly felt that his feet didn't hurt so much anymore. Amitabha!




上人答問錄 Q & A with the Venerable Master

Q:What are the basic requirements for practicing Chan meditation?
A:The basic requirements are (1) not being greedy, (2) not getting angry, and (3) not being deluded.
Q: And is sitting in meditation the next step?
A:Of course. To prepare for sitting in meditation, one must first purify the mind and diminish desires. Purify the mind of random thoughts, and diminish desires that stem from emotional love.  


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