Friday, September 10, 2010

One New Experience Each Week - Buddhist Retreat

Went for my first Buddhist Retreat held at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery. It was a 5-days Mindfulness Retreat led by a very famous Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Nanh (Thay - Vietnamese Word for Teacher) (who was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King) and the monks & nuns from the Plum Village (in France).

Cute Statues around the compound.
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Monks & Nuns Choir
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The monastics are quite progressive and I was quite happy to listen to them singing Buddhist songs in english with some monks playing guitar, violin & cello at the background. It sounded more like soothing New Age music than the traditional Buddhist music. That's good!
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The monastics is quite international - One Third of them are Caucasians. The 700+ strong participants are quite diverse as well - quite a number of Caucasians and Indians. Among the crowd, I saw my JC teacher and my University Professor who was very well-respected. Thay also introduced 1 nun who was a  medical doctor in USA and 1 monk who was once a successful businessman and was also a Catholic Priest. The retreat was conducted in english. This is truly a globalized world. 
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One of the main rules is to observe the Noble Silence... Despite in dining hall with several hundred people, it was very quiet. No food was wasted and everybody ate mindfully. We were supposed to chew at least 25-30 times, and be mindful of the present moment as well as be grateful for the food.
These are the 5 contemplations that we observe while eating.
Very meaningful.
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I left the retreat on the 3rd day. I was struggling to make this decision - I was committed to learn and experience as much as possible (Took Off from work), however, I did not gain new insights from the practices. I have alot of unanswered questions during Thay's Dharma teachings. There was no Q&A session. Telling me that Form = Emptiness & Emptiness = Form, just confused me even more. I believe I was not ready and incapable to comprehend the profound Truth.
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I am still grateful towards Thay and the monastics from Plum Village. They really radiate genuine happiness, warmth and kindness. I am proud and happy to know so many wonderful Dharma brothers & sisters working hard towards the alleviation of sufferings in the World. I wish them all the Best and may they attain Enlightenment soon.
=)

1 comment:

Jon Boo said...

*Like*