My Experience on Dharma Lessons - By Dorbina Bishop

My Experience on Dharma Lessons - By Dorbina Bishop

Six months ago, my friend introduced me to a one-day meditation retreat at Dharma Drum Mountain SF to learn about Buddhism. I have attended three separate sessions with different instructors. All three instructors were patient, gentle and giving of themselves. Each instructor has his own style and method. Being a student, I challenged myself to embrace one key message presented to me by the instructor. Being a student is a lifelong learning and understanding. To all three instructors; they have my respect and appreciation for sharing their knowledge and creating a wonderful experience for me in the classroom.

As a beginner who is learning Chan Buddhism, I want to share my experience. I found the DDMSF staff friendly. The center offers an abundance of books written in Mandarin and English on Chan Buddhism and Master Sheng Yen.


Instructor: Chang-Chi Fashi

On the one-day retreat which was held in November 2009, I was afraid and yet curious to learn Buddhism. I aspired to find happiness and purpose in life. I was born agnostic. I now know that this aspiration does not occur overnight. It is a life-long journey, combined with hard work and patience. Although, I experienced a successful career, and portrayed myself as being a compassionate, caring and wise individual to friends and family, I did not feel contentment or joy in my heart.

At the completion of Chang-Chi Fashi’s eight-hour session, I felt that my mind was empty. I wanted to know how long this feeling would last. To achieve a mind with no thoughts is a process which takes hard work. At the end of the day, my heart felt lighter and brighter.

The session by Chang-Chi Fashi was in Mandarin and I did not understand or speak the language. I was very fortunate to have a student practioner, named Chi, who volunteered to be my translator for the entire day.

The one-day retreat was a very powerful experience for me. I attributed the success to my translator and the colorful explanation and analogies presented by Chang-Chi Fashi. He vividly described “how to do” and “what to feel” before each practice demonstration. He applied these descriptions for each of the meditation types: breathing, sitting, walking, eating, sleeping and the eight-form moving meditation.

For me, I am aware that my strong angry feelings are manifested through food. I would like to have more practice and explanation in eating meditation. As an educational tool for a beginner, it would be dynamic if Chang-Chi-Fashi’s entire class was videotaped and translated into English.

Since my first meditation retreat was a positive experience, I invited my husband to join me in future classes. I am grateful for his support in my spiritual growth. My husband joined me in the class hosted by Hogan Chan and a class hosted by Gilbert Gutierrez


Instructor: Hogan Chan

DDMBASF offered a Basic Beginner course which was held on four Sundays in January. Hogan Chan taught the classes. They were a nice complement to Chang-Chi Fashi’s comprehensive one-day retreat. Hogan focused on and explained clearly the fine details of each element of meditation. He illustrated that the smallest detail in the rise and fall of your breath, the correct position of your eyes, head, fingers, legs, or back is one technique to improve being “present” during a meditation sitting. Although the class was very large, Hogan’s guidance was welcomed by the students during practice meditation. Hogan’s strengths were his teaching style and humor.

Hogan also elaborated on the detailed movements involved for the eight step meditation and prostration. I am fortunate that my husband also attended the classes to gain exposure to Buddhism practice. Together, we have learned that the art of mediation is simple but not easy. It thrives on practice and a kind and spacious heart.

Upon completion of Hogan’s classes, my mind felt clear, although not empty. During the session, I felt both good and bad feelings. Similarly to Chang-Chi Fashi’s session, I had tears. I think the tears were tears of joy and a release for letting go of stored angry thoughts.

I would like to learn about the different types of Buddha’s and especially the Buddha statue that is sitting in a lotus flower.

My husband and I are moving away from the San Francisco Bay Area to Bend, Oregon. In addition, we both will be teaching English overseas. I am hopeful that I can continue expanding my knowledge of Chan Buddhism and the regular practice of meditation. I am very interested if there is an online study group.


Instructor: Gilbert Gutierrez

In April 2009, Gilbert Gutierrez hosted a two-day class to which I invited my husband. Gilbert’s presentations were at a very high intellectually level in describing Chan Buddhism. Initially, I was able to follow his intellectually explanations, but I began to interpret the dialogue as passages from the book called “Dianetics”. This book discussed a set of ideas and practices regarding the metaphysical relationship between the mind and body that were defined by the science.

Day-1 was filled with three-hours of intellectual discussion. The key message which I learned from Gilbert is that the “self” is not connected to the “mind and body”. The “self” is an easy target for “attachments.” To be “present,” the mind must let go of these attachments.

I connected with Gilbert when he said, “Let go of your anger for pain experienced in high school.” Coincidently, two weeks prior, I awoke from a dream and informed my husband that I let go of the anger I felt from a childhood bully. I consciously “let go” of the shame and embarrassment that happened 42 years ago in junior high school.

On Day-2, Gilbert presented simple questions for the students to reflect upon. The simple questions were too difficult for the students to respond. He also shared stories to illustrate examples of Chan Buddhism. I enjoyed Day-2 because it was a combination of lecture and practice meditation