[:en]Reflections: Classes and Workshops[:zh]心燈課和法會[:]

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What I Have Learned at Buddha Gate
by Bob Clark

I have learned that I have a lot to learn. I have learned that when I am stuck in life, when I need spiritual support and if my intention is pure and heartfelt, then Buddha will provide a place for me. I begin to find my way home to my true self and my divine source. I am grateful for the discovery of Buddha Gate.

What We Have Learned from Buddha Gate Monastery
by Joe Yeo and Sheena Tan

It was by sheer chance that we were introduced to Buddha Gate Monastery in March 2004 by a fellow neighbor. Before going to the Monastery, our family lives had been in helter skelter caused mainly by our ignorance, doubts, suspicion, anger and greed that we were unable to identify the reason why.

Unfortunately, these factors rule the major portion of everyone’s life, but we are unable to find a solution to resolve all the differences until we came to the Monastery. Afterwards, we realize what causes unhappiness, the power of the mind and the true meaning of being a Buddha.

Everyone in the Monastery is extremely helpful, and they support us to work towards achieving happiness. Having been at the Monastery for the last nine months, our lives have undergone a total change and we are so much happier, contented and most importantly, able to apply all the teachings form Buddhism to change our lives.

Calligraphy and Buddhism
by Mae Hoag / Chuan Ming

Learning Chinese Calligraphy is not only the acquisitions of an artistic skill but also a workshop in which Buddhist principles can be practiced. It required diligence to persevere in mastering the tools of break and ink to create forms that have energy, proportion and fluidity. It takes a commitment to practice, to dedicate oneself to repetition, knowing there are no shortcuts and that this resolve will result ultimately in an esthetic achievement one might not have thought possible as a beginner. On my work table I keep a motto which states: “Nothing is difficult to one who is diligent.” This has provided encouragement during times I was ready to give up, not believing I had the requisite ability.

Tolerance and patience are needed as a beginner for the inevitable mistakes and the awkwardness felt in handling unfamiliar tools and materials. Through acceptance of this initial situation, one can discover that progress and accomplishment are possible. Just abandon preconceived notions regarding time of achievement and personal ability!

It is not a permanent state!

To practice calligraphy is a meditation providing an opportunity to focus and concentrate while being totally absorbed in the formation of each stroke, oblivious to external sounds and activities. Attention to breath must be paid to execute characters which are decisive and forceful. Both time and self disappear. Practicing can be both a spiritual and artistic expression, a transcending experience leading to greater awareness and mindfulness.

Coming Home
by Harvey Saitzyk

Sometime, in early 1960, while attending city college, I became interested in finding out the meaning of life. Between class breaks, I would sit in my car and write all my thoughts in a notebook. I thought I could think out the meaning of life. The notebooks were lost and the only thing I can still remember to this day is one thought that I wrote “the only secret to life was that there was no secret.” The meaning of life was simply before my very eyes. The problem was, I could not see it or did not know how to see it. Toward the end of the 1960’s, I joined the military. The USA was still engulfed in the Vietnam war. While in the military, I continued my searched for the meaning of life. With the protests against the war still raging, hippies experimenting with LSD, and the movement toward eastern philosophy, life to me seemed more absurd. After two unsuccessful marriages, and several unproductive jobs, the compulsion to seek and “answer” or “way” became stronger. I decided to enroll in a few religious evening courses.

I took a course in Judaism and the Old Testament. I thought this course would guide me back to my Jewish heritage and a meaning to my life. The course only clarified that the Old Testament was written by prophets and writers whose writing could be divided, by historical periods, into “J” and “Y” documents. This course stimulated my interest in Buddhism, Chan and Taoism. I found myself searching out and collecting books on Buddhism, Chan and Taoism. My library was growing, but I was not growing. During this time, I met a wonderful woman of Islamic faith. We fell in love and married. I began to study Islam. Particularly Sufism. In the 1990’s I became interested in Existentialism. I was fascinated with Camus’s “Life is Absurd”, Martin Heidegger’s “Search for the Meaning of Being” and Satre’s “Human’s Make their own Meanings”. I could see similarities in the concepts of European Existentialism, Sufism and Eastern ways of thoughts. I became a lay scholar researcher of philosophical and religious ideas and practices. I realized that I could not make a commitment to a practice. All I had done was to gather hundreds of concepts about the different ways toward enlightenment. I had now reached a state of confusion. One day I was thumbing through some poems by Sufi Mystic Rumi. A line of his poetry sparked an inner yes. The line read “die before you die”. Yes, that was it. I had to die to all the illusions created by my ego. It was a positive realization, but it carried with it a great fear. I quickly discovered that it was just this fear of dying to the ego that held me back from making a commitment to a practice. For forty years of my life, I thought that I could think my way to enlightenment. How wrong I was. It took a lot of courage to take my first step toward a practice.

A friend told me about the Buddha Gate Monastery. After much debate with myself. I decided to visit. I met and talked with the Chan Master of this beautiful establishment. I met the Abbess Master Jian Pin. I told her my story and the Abbess looked into my eyes and said that it was my karma to come to the Buddha Gate Monastery. I had a feeling that I had finally come home. She suggested me to attend the meditation class. My first meditation experience in Buddha Gate was no an easy task. I experienced the “monkey mind”. However, after many attempts, my mind has begun to settle down. Now each time I meditate, my mind becomes more and more stable. I let the thought come and go and try not to identify. My body still becomes resistant to the sitting meditation. It will probably take many years of practice. In the class Master Jian Pin teaches me that all my mental activity is my mind constructing an illusive reality. This is the reality that is created by my ego. My ego has created my world of pleasure, doubt and fear. This is the me that comprehends the world in terms of its need for security, nourishment, protection and attention. It’s my ego stillness is a death. Meditation is a way to slowly die into life, to die and be reborn to the life. Meditation at Buddha Gate and the teaching of Master Jian Pin are a unique and exceptional combination. If this is my karma, then I am pleased to know that I am home.

Reflection upon The Acolyte Class
by Sylvia Huyhn (Chuan Xin)

What would you like to get out of the Acolyte class?
Having to learn the Buddhist practice as a student at Buddha Gate Monastery is already very overwhelming because at first there is much to learn. Therefore, the only way one person can perfect it is to practice.  Being able to attend class helps us achieve that.
As for being on the Acolyte team, it is an honor.  It gives us an opportunity to understand the reason why we are doing certain duties.  Having the understanding of why we walk a certain way or what the preparation is and means, gives me the opportunity to help the people attending the ceremony.   Also, the ultimate goal is to make the ceremony go as smoothly as possible.  I also see the reason why we have the class and meetings.  It is so we can work as a team, even if there are any language barriers.  Therefore, attending the Acolyte meetings and class will help us understand the flow in preparation so we can succeed during the ceremony.  Another thing I noticed as an Acolyte is timing.  We depend on each other on timing things right to make everything go smoothly.  For me, once I accomplish this, it makes me feel good.
I appreciate all the Dharma Masters for teaching us and pointing out the mistakes we make so we can correct ourselves and not make the same mistake.  Practice makes perfect.  For us, lots of practice makes a step closer to perfection.  I feel that as long as we are willing to accept the correction then we are benefiting.
To answer the question, “What would I like to get out of the Acolyte class?” it is to be able to understand what we are doing during the actual duties.  Knowing the etiquette and the meaning of why we do it satisfies our curiosity.  Once we have an answer, then our mind can rest.  Before, I would wonder why are they doing that or what is that for?  How do they know when a certain thing is to be done?  So it all boils down to the knowledge and wisdom we can attain from whatever the Dharma Master is trying to show and tell us.
Reflection
Pam Rubio, Buddhist Practitioner since 2003

When I entered the gates of Buddha Gate two years ago to practice meditation, I had no idea that I was entering into the gates of my very own mind. Learning to understand my mind has given me the opportunity to discover the Truth beyond all doubt!

My mind kept me a prisoner to my many sufferings caused by my arrogance, anger, rudeness and deceit. I was trapped by external conditions. Trapped by Fear.

Following the practices and disciplines of the Dharma has lead me to cultivate my very own mind. Simple, but profound teachings. Now I know I am responsible for my own hell or heaven. Freedom from fear.

Maybe I will never be a Buddha…in this life! However, I have been awakened to the Truth beyond all doubt. Truth has given me Freedom, joy, peace, and wisdom. I am no longer trapped in the prison of my own delusional mind. The Gates of Buddha Gate has lead me on my own personal journey to enlightenment. Thanks to all the Shifus.

Garden Of The Mind
by Bessie Yu (Chuan Yun)

In the garden of the mind,
remove the seeds of ignorance,
greed, and anger.
Cultivate the soil with kind thoughts
so that the sprouts of good deeds
and the flowers of enlightenment
can flourish
and open to the sun of wisdom.
Know that
a garden is never finished.

A Pigeon and our Practice
by Eric Cox

A mother pigeon built her nest in the eaves of our neighbor’s house recently. My wife, my grandson, and I have watched how patiently she sits on her eggs. Day and night she sits calm and still, even when our big dog runs along the wall underneath her nest barking loudly. Or when we walk by taking out the trash. Yesterday my grandson and I were bouncing a big red ball against our house; when it bounded up striking the eaves right next to her, she was gone in a rush and a flurry of wings.

But very soon she was right back in her nest, quiet and composed as if nothing had happened. Thinking of her now as I sit on my meditation cushion, I’m reminded of what Master Jian-Sheng said recently in class, “Wherever you are, that is where the mind should be.” I too can aspire to sit as the mother pigeon, without expectation, with patience and calmness, no matter how loud the barking dogs of worry, or how wildly the red balls of thought bounce through my mind. Back to the breath, back to where I should I be – which is where I am!

 

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我在佛門寺所學

Bob Clark

 

我知道我有很多要學。我知道當生活遇到困境需要精神上的支持時,如果我的發心是純淨而真誠的,佛陀就會讓我有所依歸。我開始

尋找可以回歸本來面目、清淨自性的道路。很慶幸我找到了佛門寺。

 

我們在佛門寺所學

Joe Yeo and Sheena Tan

 

2004年一個偶然的機會裏,一位鄰居向我們介紹了佛門寺。去佛門寺之前,我們一家人生活於忙亂之中,這主要肇因於不知來由的無明、疑惑、猜忌、忿怒與貪婪。

不幸的是,這些煩惱掌控了我們人生的大部份,但我們無法找出解決問題的方法,直到我們來到佛門寺。隨後,我們瞭解了苦惱的原因、心念的力量以及成佛的意義。

佛門寺所有人都樂於助人,支持我們邁向大樂。在佛門寺學習九個月以來,我們的生活徹底轉變了,變得更快樂、更知足。最重要的是,可以運用所學的佛法改變人生。

 

書法與佛法

Mae Hoan/ Chuan Ming

 

學習中國書法不僅可以學到風雅的藝術技巧,更是可以落實佛法的工作坊。若想善於運筆、控制水墨,寫出有力道、均勻而流暢的字體,勤習是必要的條件。要下定決心、反複練習、不求捷徑,這樣才能達到初學時意想不到的藝術境界。我的工作桌上有一個座右銘寫著:勤勞之人不畏難事。每當我覺得自己能力不足而想放棄時,這句話鼓勵了我。

初學者在運用不熟悉的工具和材料時,難免會犯錯或覺得自己笨拙,這時你需要容忍與耐性。只要承受得起初學時的困境,就會發現自己的進步與成功指日可待。不要先入為主評斷自己的能力,或計較成功得要花多少時間。

這個狀態不是恒常的。

當你能全神貫注於每一筆畫, 練習書法就是禪,它讓你有機會聚焦、專注,放下外在的聲音與活動。想要寫出剛勁有力的字體,必須注意呼吸。當下時間和自我都消失了。書法兼具了心靈與藝術的呈現,這樣超脫的體驗能引導出更深的契悟與覺性。

 

歸宿
Harvey Saitzyk

我在1960年代早期就讀市立大學時,開始對尋找生命的意義很感興趣。下課時間,我會坐在車上把想法寫在筆記本上。我以為我可以找到生命的意義。那本筆記已經遺失,至今我唯一還記得的內容是:「生命唯一的秘密就是它沒有秘密」。生命的意義不過就在我眼前。問題是,我看不到它,也不知如何能看到它。我於1960年代後期投入軍旅。當時美國正捲入越戰。我在軍中持續思考生命的意義。隨著反戰的聲浪日盛,嬉皮時興吸食迷幻藥,思潮轉向東方哲學,生命對我而言變得更為荒謬。經歷了兩次失敗的婚姻和幾個失意的工作,我更急切地想要尋找生命的答案或方向。我決定註冊了幾個有關宗教的夜間課程。
我選修了一門有關猶太教和舊約聖經的課程。我想這門課可以引導我找回我的猶太傳統和生命的意義。然而它只闡述了舊約聖經是由許多先知和不同作者撰寫,各版本依照撰寫的時間被分為J典和Y典等等。 這門課激發了我對佛教、禪宗和道教的興趣。我發現自己不停在蒐集佛教、禪宗和道教的書籍。我的藏書數量一直成長,但我並未成長。此時我遇到了一位信仰伊斯蘭教的好女人,我和她相愛,然後我們結婚。我開始研究伊斯蘭教,特別是蘇菲主義。1990年代我變成對存在主義感到興趣。我對卡繆「人生的荒謬」、馬丁·海德格「尋找存在的意義」和沙特「人類塑造自己的存在」等思想十分著迷。我也發現歐洲的存在主義、蘇菲主義和東方思想的概念頗有相似之處。我成了一個研究哲學與宗教思想和儀式的業餘學者。我知道我無法實踐這些意理。我所能做的只是蒐集上百種如何啟蒙的概念。此時我處在混亂之中。有一天我翻閱到蘇菲派神秘主義詩人魯米的作品。他的一行詩燃起了我內心的認同感,詩句是「在你死前死去」。對,就是這樣。由我執產生的妄想必須死去。這是一個正向的領悟,但也帶來極大的恐懼。我馬上知道我對修行裹足不前的原因是我害怕自我的壞滅。過去四十年來我以為可以想到覺悟的方法。我根本錯了。我鼓起很大的勇氣才踏上了修行的第一步。
有個朋友跟我提起佛門寺。在反覆思索後,我決定去看看。我在這座美麗的寺院遇到了法師並與法師談話。我遇到的是住持見品法師,我跟法師說了我的故事,法師說來到佛門寺是我的因緣。我感覺終於找到了歸宿。法師建議我參加禪修課。我第一次參加佛門寺的禪修課有些吃力。我體會到了「猿猴心」。不過經過幾次嚐試,我的心漸漸開始安定。現在我每次靜坐,心變得愈來愈穩定。我讓念頭流走,不去注意它們。我的身體仍無法安於靜坐。我想可能要花幾年的時間來練習。課堂上見品法師教導我,所有的心理活動都是由心念建構的妄境。這些虛妄都是由我執而起。我執造作了喜悅、疑慮、恐懼。所謂的我,根據自己所欲求的安全感、養份、保護、和關注去理解外在世界。我執的止息是一種死亡。靜坐讓我執慢慢地止息,而後讓自性重生。在佛門寺,靜坐以及見品法師的教導是獨特非凡的組合。如果這是我的因緣,那麼我很高興自己找到了歸宿。

 

 

心燈課感想

by Sylvia Huyhn (Chuan Xin)

 

你想從心燈課學到什麼?

一開始在佛門寺修習佛法已是讓人不知所措,因為要學的事情很多。因此,想要精熟,唯一的方法就是多練習。參加訓練課程讓我達到了這個目標。加入心燈團隊是很榮耀的事。它讓我有機會瞭解各種職責的意義。瞭解行進的方式和準備工作的意義,讓我有機會幫助參與法會的大眾。最終的目標是盡可能讓法會流暢地進行。我也瞭解了上課及開會的原因。這也是為什麼即使在語言上有些隔閡,我們還是能夠進行團隊合作。參與心燈會議和課程有助於熟悉準備工作,使工作順利完成。心燈職事也要注意時間觀念。我們必須注意時程,才能精準地接續彼此的工作。對我來說,任務完成, 讓我覺得很開心。

感謝每位法師教導並指正我們的錯誤,這樣我們才能糾正自我、不再犯同樣的錯誤。熟能生巧。不斷練習讓工作更臻於完美。我覺得只要我們願意接受指正,就能從中受益。

要回答「你想從心燈課程學到什麼?」我會說,希望從實做中瞭解職責的意義。瞭解儀軌和它們代表的意義,滿足了我們的好奇心。找到答案,心就安了。以前我不懂他們為什麼要這麼做,或是做這件事代表了什麼?他們怎麼知道何時要完成哪一件事?法師們的示範和教導,歸結出了我們能夠學到的知識與智慧。

 

觀照

Pam Rubio, 2003開始學佛

 

兩年前我進入佛門寺學習禪修時,並沒有意識到我正走入自己的心門。學習瞭解自性,讓我有機會超越疑慮、發現真理。

因為傲慢、瞋恨、魯莽和欺瞞,我的心把自己關在痛苦的牢籠裏。我受困於外緣,也受困於恐懼。

依循佛法的實踐與教理,讓我發掘本具的自性。佛法簡要而深刻。現在我知道,要為自己的地獄或天堂負責。我擺脫了恐懼。

或許我永遠不會成佛…在這一世。但是我已了悟真理,超越一切疑惑。真理帶給我自由、喜悅、平和與智慧。我不再被囚禁於妄心的牢籠裏。佛門寺帶領我走向覺悟的旅程。感謝所有師父。

心靈花園

Bessie Yu (Chuan Yun)

在心靈的花園,

除去貪、瞋、痴的種子。

用善念培育大地

讓善行的幼苗和開悟的花朶

可以繁茂地成長

並且迎接智慧的陽光。

我知道

這個花園永遠不會消逝

鴿子與修行

Eric Cox

 

最近有一隻母鴿在鄰居家的屋簷下築巢。我和我太太及孫子觀察到母鴿是如何耐心地坐在蛋上。即使我們家的大狗在鳥巢底下亂跑狂吠,或是我們拿垃圾走出去經過,母鴿日日夜夜安靜祥和地坐著。昨天我和孫子對著屋子拍打一顆大紅球玩耍,當球彈到母鴿身旁的屋簷,母鴿急忙拍打著翅膀飛走。

但是不一會兒牠就回來了,看來平靜從容,好像什麼事都沒發生過。此時我坐在禪墊上想到這隻母鴿,憶起見盛法師最近在禪修課上說的話:「人在那裏,心在那裏。」我期望自己也能像那隻母鴿一樣有耐心、平靜地坐著,心中沒有期待,不管狗吠得多大聲,或是思緒的大紅球如何在我心裏跳躍。回到呼吸,回到我應該在的地方,那就是當下。

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