One day meditation retreat with Gilbert in February and April, 2016

One day meditation retreat with Gilbert in February and April, 2016       
by Jade Wang
I joined two of Gilbert’s one day retreats this year, one on the essential fundamentals and the other one on silent illumination. These weren’t my first time attending Gilbert’s retreat, but every time at his retreat, I always felt deeply inspired and peaceful. His great compassion and deep understanding of Dharma and how mind works are truly powerful and inspiring. 

What I learned the most was Gilbert’s explanation on how mind works. He talked about three types of events which keep arising in mind: significant events, most recent events and habitual pattern of thinking. By understanding how mind works, observing the thoughts but not feeding them, and breaking that habitual thinking, we can gain more freedom and then compassion and sense of ease will arise. That makes a lot of sense to me and it is very helpful to me not only during meditation, but also in daily life. During the past month after Gilbert’s retreat, my knee injury got worse and I had to limit the movement by staying in bed for recovery. This gave me a very good opportunity to look into mind. Lying on the bed without much work to do started to slow down my life but at the same time, wandering thoughts started to flush into my mind. I saw myself drowning in the ocean of habitual thinking. Those were all the boredom, regrets, fears, and angers towards the injury. Luckily, I was able to apply what I learned from the retreat. I started to look into mind and the thoughts, and tried not to be involved in them. I started to see that these thoughts were not true. They were just phenomena in mind caused by the recent knee injury event and my habitual thinking of protecting the self and acknowledging the self. After realizing that, I became more peaceful with sense of ease and was able to get back to the mediation method more easily. 

I am also greatly inspired by Gilbert’s compassion. Compassion no doubt is the most powerful thing every one of us has and Gilbert showed us perfectly every time what is compassion through his tireless and compassionate teachings. Last retreat was the first time I started to understand the importance of transferring merit. I used to think that transferring merit is important, but can others really receive it from me? I am a beginner for Chan practice, so do I have enough merit to transfer? But Gilbert gradually showed me that transferring merit is not just simply to transfer the merit, but also a great way of practicing compassion. Through the gesture of transferring merit, not only others will benefit from it, but also we are cultivating compassion. By dedicating the time to simply wishing others at peace and ease, I am starting to see myself feeling and being more compassionate and soft. 
Illuminating the mind and cultivating compassion are truly essentials of our daily practice as well as lifetime mission. Every day, every moment, I hope every one of us can understand the mind better and better and live our lives with increasing awareness and clarity of the present moment. I really appreciate Gilbert’s teachings and all the hard work from Dharma Drum volunteers to make this happen for us.