Saturday – Hiking Retreat from 9am-5pm

        We started the day gathering at the Chan Center. Did a few moves of DDM’s Eight Form Moving Meditation, just to warm our bodies up, preparing it for the journey.

        We, then, carpooled to a nearby park called Ed Levin County Park. After arriving, we immediately started on our hike. We first hiked around a small lake. It was still early in the day, so there weren’t many people sharing the park with us. After walking half way around the lake, we began to go into the woods. These trails are shared between humans and horses. So along the way, we would see many horse droppings.

        The trails had its ups and downs; its beauty and its ugliness; its darkness and its light-just like life. For me, while walking through the trail, I related it to my life. There were paths that I didn’t want to go through, but I had to, because there were no others. There were also some paths that were covered by wild plants, due to it being seldom walked upon, in essence, creating no path. We had to create our own paths if we wanted to continue onward. And, of course, there comes a point when we encounter multiple paths. The choices are ours. One path may lead to downhill bliss, or an uphill struggle. We don’t know. We just have to choose and live with the decision. No regrets. No sorrow.

        After we had our rigorous hike, the main event was a workshop called “Art of Perception.” We were asked to draw something “static”. When drawing, do not focus on its color, shape, size, etc. Basically, do not pay attention to its characteristics. Just look at it and see for what it is. After observing for some time, just begin to draw what you see.

         At the end, we showed our drawings. One participant, said when she heard of drawing something, she spaced out. In her mind, she was telling herself that she couldn’t draw. That it was too difficult for her. But since she is there anyways, she gave in and participated in the drawing. At the end, she discovered that there was more pain to try to avoid doing something than just to do it. She could not believe drawing was so easy.

        Another participant mentioned that she felt very happy while drawing. The emotion inside her was just bliss.

        Another participant had drawn a picture of horse droppings. This person was amazed that it had many different shapes and forms, including color. It was an eye opener. The purpose of the hike was to calm our minds. When our minds are calmer, we are able to us more of our senses. Perception is one of them. And the ability to seeing the horse droppings in its many forms; is mindfulness practice. Many people course through their daily lives, not realizing what they are omitting from what their sense organs are receiving.


        Sunday – Sitting Meditation and Movie Talk

        From 9am to 12pm, we had sitting meditation sessions, about thirty minutes each. Started the day warming our bodies with the full version of DDM’s Eight Form Moving Meditation led by Chang Wu Fashi. After the sittings, Fashi gave us Dharma Talk.

        She recited a few lines from a poem title “Faith in Mind”, which was written by Seng Ts’an, the Third Patriarch of Ch’an. It goes something like this:

        The Supreme Way is not difficult
If only you do not pick and choose.
Neither love nor hate,
And you will clearly understand.
Be off by a hair,
And you are as far apart as heaven from earth.

         There are more to this poem, but Fashi stopped here. Fashi probably wants to leave the rest for other times. Just giving us a flavor of what Enlightenment really means. This poem was written after Seng Ts’an had achieved Enlightenment.

        In the afternoon, from 2pm-5pm, we enjoyed a movie titled “What the Bleep Do We Know!?” This movie was mind opening. It explores who we are from the inside out. Using quantum physics, the movie explores the possibility that all of us and everything around us is linked, and therefore, can be called unified, or “oneness.” We have the ability to influence our reality.

        In the movie, there was a scene of an Indian who was visited by foreigners on ships. When the foreigner told the Indian of the ships they came on, the Indian did not see any ships. Everyday the Indian would go the shore, and look out in the ocean. With the idea of some ship existing somewhere out in the ocean, the Indian slowly begins to see waves generated by the ships. Slowly, but surely, the Indian eventually saw the ships. Once he saw the ships, she told everyone in his village. This belief that the ship existed, gave all the villagers faith to be able to see the ship. Eventually, everyone in the village saw the ship.

         One audience member shared a story supporting this. She mentions that a friend of hers told her that there existed Guava tress on her office campus. She walked and walked around her office campus, but did not see any guava trees. One day, as she was walking around her office campus, she stepped on a guava fruit. From that point on, she slowly began to notice the guava trees. And she did not just see one, but she saw many, and could not believe she had missed them before.

        Another important point from the movie is that water crystal molecules can be influence by our thoughts. Experiments were done, where water was placed into different containers. And for each container, words were attached to them, indicating what types of blessing were given to each. Words such as “happy” or “love” would be on different containers. In the movie, we can see clearly the difference. From it shapes, you can tell if it was a healthy molecule or not. One important question that was imposed was “if thoughts can affect these water molecules, imagine what thoughts can do to us?” This is significant, because our body is mostly made up of water.