Pilgrimage to Chung Tai Monastery中台禪寺朝聖之旅

 

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My Pilgrimage Experience to Chung Tai Monastery
by Robert King

Following is the most important and vivid realizations I experience on my trip to Taiwan and Chung Tai Monastery.

As I undertake the process of writing my pilgrimage experience, I contemplate the time I spend in Taiwan viewing different monasteries, and meeting Dharma masters and lay Buddhist practitioners. The more I think of my trip, the more I find my thoughts gravitate towards a few specific experiences. Mostly I think of the few occasions that I am privileged enough to see the Grand Master Wei Chueh.

Grand Master Wei Chueh is a man who is small in physical stature, but his energy and charisma are larger than life. The instant I first see him, I know I am in the presence of a true Zen master.

Although my encounters with the Grand Master are few and relatively brief in duration, I learn a great deal about practicing Zen from him. By observing the Grand Master, I can see that his mind is completely calm and he is mindful and deliberate in taking every action. It strikes me that the Grand Master is constantly practicing Zen.

For me Zen Buddhism is about practicing, not about theorizing or philosophizing. Grand Master Wei Chueh practices the middle way every second. He directly expresses his true nature in every action.

As a result of observing the Grand Master, I am inspired to practice Zen diligently. The fact that he can practice with such vigor makes me realize I have no excuse not to practice with intensity.

There are instances that I feel unmotivated to practice. In those instances, I remind myself of how the Grand Master practices. By thinking of the Grand Master’s practice, I suddenly become motivated to act.

Partaking in the pilgrimage to Chung Tai monastery and meeting Grand Master Wei Chueh and the other Dharma practitioners revitalizes my goals and commitments pertaining to my Zen practice. I commit to calming my mind, being mindful in my actions, letting go of my egotistical notions, and practicing Zen with robust effort—in each moment of my life.

 

Lay Bodhisattva Precept Ceremony
by Darlene Cioffi-Pangilla (Chuan Ling)

As I write this, it has been just about one year (May 2005) since I had the privilege of going to Chung Tai Chan Monastery to take the Lay Bodhisattva precepts. Little did I know what I was getting into. I quickly realized that this event was no joke. It was going to be a serious and important step in my life.

Master Jian Pin, then abbess at Buddha Gate, prepared us well. Her steadfast support and faith in me, personally gave me the strength to face my doubts, my lack of faith in myself, my feeling of not being worthy enough to take such a big step in my spiritual practice.

The five or so days of preparation at Chung Tai, before the precepts were finally given, were filled with frustration for me:

the weather – thunder, lightening, torrential rains that we had to navigate through.

the language – just being present to the liturgy while trying to keep the ear-piece in place to be able to catch the simultaneous translation and always feeling details were missing for knowing where to be and when.

the etiquette – seemingly always behind yet trying my best to catch the cues as to how and when to bow, kneel, stand up, and how to properly put on and take off our robes.

When the day came for taking the precepts, everything seemed to fall into place. Thanks to Master Jian Pin’s all night effort, we had the complete liturgy in our hands and we were able to follow the ceremony. The simultaneous translation was invaluable.

However, as the three Precept Masters, who presided over the ceremony, completed the transmission of the precepts, something transformed inside of me. The Truth within me had been touched. There was (and continues to be) a sense of inner calm and elation at the same time. I now have a deeper sense of commitment to the bodhisattva way; a deeper connection with Chung Tai, Buddha Gate, and to my dharma sisters and brothers, who were there for me in this very special experience. My life has been renewed.

Amitofo. In profound gratitude.

Reflection on the Chan Seven Retreat at Chung Tai Chan Monastery
by Peggy Bryant

“Have a cup of tea” said Abbot Jian Deng. So went the tea ceremony to open the Chan Seven Retreat a couple of weeks ago. This was my second Zen Seven at Chung Tai. The Abbot explained that the purpose of the Zen Seven is to realize our true awakened minds, to know WHO is drinking this tea. Do we know who we are? Are we the master of our minds? In what do we take refuge?

Taken from a well-known Zen koan, “Have a cup of tea” was to symbolize the theme of the retreat. As I sat there at the tea ceremony, I thought, oh I know what this means, we need to know ourselves. As the retreat got underway, however, and the busy everyday mind was tamed and made clearer by the rigorous schedule of meditation, dharma lectures, formal meals and chanting, I realized that my earlier thoughts about “have a cup of tea” were pretty superficial and that an important meaning and deeper lesson awaited me.

The dharma talks by the Grand Master and Abbot Jian Deng built on the theme of the mind ground dharma. Again and again we were asked “Where is your mind?”, “Who is it that is feeling this pain/discomfort?”, and remember always to “Dwell in your awakened mind”. During meditation, we were to “let go” of everything and focus on the clear mind. How do I let go, I asked myself. I worked very hard on this. After the retreat, we were told to “pick up” the activities of our conventional lives and still we need to dwell in our clear mind. “Don’t waste your time” the Grand Master admonished. I admit I grew restless and tired during some of these dharma lectures because they were too long, much longer than I was used to, and repetitive. Where was my mind?

The retreat and its message had quite an impact on me. When I arrive back at home in the San Francisco Bay Area I felt like a different, changed person. I found something. I now understand more deeply what it means to know where my mind is, how to dwell in my clear mind. I have a deeper sense of paying attention to what I am doing at the moment, to focus, to keep a clear mind, to avoid unnecessary and wandering thoughts. It’s hard to change habits in everyday life, but I feel inspired to work on mindfulness, to be aware of where my mind is. My true awakened mind, that is my refuge……Have a cup of tea!

Impressions and Reflections
by Tony Khoury

I remember very well the time I spent at Chung Tai in Puli, Taiwan. Chung Tai became a home to me for about six weeks between June and August 2007. I came to know several Masters, nuns as well as monks and I was fortunate enough to be the tutor to some. My students showed interest in learning about different subjects and expressed their gratitude for my contribution to their knowledge by presenting me with gifts. I learned the value of humility, generosity, and respect just by observing my students.

In order to make my stay at Chung Tai meaningful and productive Master Jian Zhong asked me to follow a schedule whereby I do sitting meditation for two hours every day. It seemed to me to be too excessive at the beginning, but by the end of the first week I was thirsty for more. If it was not for my other responsibilities during the afternoons I would have spent two more hours meditating. Meditation helped me see inwardly. It also helped me relax so that I was able to think more clearly and get rid of some of my mental anger. I also slept better.

Chung Tai houses some of the unique Buddhist art in the world. Its library contains some of the old and very valuable books on Buddhism. The Jade room is magnificent. The Pagoda is a masterpiece. I was impressed by the beauty of all the treasures around me. One drawing, though, impressed me so much that it became embedded in my mind. It was among several drawings hanging on the wall in the big hallway. It showed a monk with thick eyebrows facing a wall in meditation. I was fortunate enough to read this Monk’s book “The Zen teaching of Bodhidarma”. What Bodhidrama taught me is diligence. He is by far my favorite Buddhist Monk ever. The story of his travel to china to teach the Way is legendary, but then he is a legendary figure who walked in our lives with one shoe in the grave and the other on his shoulder.

Chung Tai’s hospitality, generosity, and kindness are LEGENDARY. There is truly nothing like it.

[:zh]

中台禪寺朝聖之旅

Robert King

 

以下是我到台灣中台禪寺朝聖最重要而深刻的體悟。

著手撰寫朝聖體驗之際,我回想著拜訪各地禪寺、訪問法師與在家居士的時光。多次檢視這段旅程,愈是將思緒沈澱於幾項特殊的經歷。最常想起的是有幸見到惟覺老和尚的幾次場合。

惟覺老和尚的個子不高,但他散發著令人贊嘆的活力與感召力。第一次看到老和尚,就知道眼前正是一位名符其實的禪師。雖然受教於老和尚的時間不長、次數不多,但我從老和尚身上學到了很多禪法。我觀察老和尚,發現老和尚的心是完全平靜的,舉止間念念分明而從容。頓時我發覺老和尚的每一個當下都是禪。

對我而言,禪宗是要實踐的,而不是推理或思辨。惟覺老和尚時時刻刻行於中道,動靜間顯現出清淨自性。

老和尚的言行激勵我要精進禪修。老和尚禪修的精神,讓我覺得自己沒有藉口不認真修行。

偶爾我會覺得怠惰於修行,那時我就會提醒自己老和尚是如何的精進。只要想到老和尚,我馬上就有了動力。

參加中台禪寺朝聖之旅、受教於惟覺老和尚及其他法師,重振了我禪修的目標和決心。我發願要安住心念、時時提起覺性、放下我執、堅定地在生命中的每一個當下禪修。

 

在家菩薩戒

Darlene Cioffi-Pangilla (Chuan Ling)

 

  執筆的一年前左右 (2005年5月),我有幸前往中台禪寺受在家菩薩戒。事前我不太清楚所要面對的事。但我很快地瞭解這不是開玩笑的。它是我人生中嚴肅且關鍵的一步。

佛門寺見品法師為我們做了周全的準備。師父給我穩固的支持與信任,讓我得以面對自己的困惑,包括對自己缺乏信心、覺得自己不夠資格在修行的路上踏出這一大步。

受戒前五天左右,我在中台禪寺預做準備,面臨了以下挫折:

天氣:需要在閃電、打雷和傾盆大雨間行進

語言:為了跟上儀規,要調整耳機的位置才能聽到同步翻譯,總覺得錯過了時間或地點等細節

行儀:行動好像總是落後,但我仍盡力依照指示的方式和時間問訊、禮拜、起立、正確地穿脫海青

受戒當天,一切似乎都已到位。感謝見品法師整夜的努力,讓我們人手一冊在法會上可以依循的儀規。感謝見品法師提供了寶貴的同步翻譯。

三師和尚正授在家菩薩戒後,我的內心有了轉變。我的真心被觸動了,內心的平靜與法喜同在,至今未歇。我現在對於行菩薩道有了更深的信念;與中台禪寺、佛門寺、及同我共度這個殊勝體驗的師兄、師姐們有了更深的連結。我有了新的生命。

阿彌陀佛。至誠感謝。

 

中台禪寺禪七心得
Peggy Bryant

 

見燈法師說:「請喝茶。」幾周前,起七茶會為精進禪七揭開了序幕。這是我第二次在中台禪寺打禪七。主七和尚開示說,打禪七的目的是要明心見性,知道究竟是誰在喝茶。我們知道自己是誰嗎?我們是自心的主人嗎?我們皈依了什麼?

「喝茶」代表了禪七的主旨,它出自一個著名的禪宗公案。我在茶會上以為我知道這是什麼意思了,我們必須認清自己。然而在禪修進行期間,平日生活中忙碌的心被馴服了,密集的禪坐、佛法開示、過堂用齋、誦經,讓自心更清淨。我這才領悟到自己先前對喝茶的想法太過膚淺,它有更重要的意義和更深的課題等著我去發掘。

老和尚與見燈和尚的開示以明心見性為主題。我們一次次被問到「你的心在哪裏?」、「感覺疼痛與不安的是誰?」,同時要記得隨時「安住身心」。禪坐時教我們要放下所有事情,專注於清淨心。我問自己該如何放下。這一點我非常用功。禪七之後,我們得要重拾世俗的生活,而且必須安住於清淨心。老和尚告誡我們「不要浪費自己的時間。」我承認佛法開示有時讓我感覺焦躁、困倦,因為時間很長,長過我所能忍受,而且會有重複。我的心在哪裏?禪七和它帶來的啟示對我相當有影響力。當我回到舊金山灣區,覺得自己變成了一個不同的人。我發現了一些事。現在我更能瞭解找到真心的意義、以及如何安住於清淨心。我更深刻地體悟要如何專注於當下的事情、集中精神、保持清淨心、避免不需要或散亂的心念。

要改變日常生活習慣並不容易,但我受到了啟發要守住正念、關照真心。我了悟的真心,就是我的皈依……請喝茶!

 

心得回響

Tony Khoury

我對在台灣埔里中台禪寺度過的時光記憶猶新。2007年6月到8月約六周期間,中台禪寺就是我的家。我在這裏認識了許多法師,有比丘也有比丘尼,很榮幸地可以擔任其中一些法師的教師。我的學生們對各個科目都很有興趣,為了感謝我來此教書,他們還贈送了禮物給我。從我的學生身上,我學到了謙遜、寬容與尊重的可貴。為了讓我在中台禪寺停留期間更有意義、更有收獲,見中法師 要我每日在固定時間禪坐兩小時。起初我覺得負荷太重,但在第一周的最後幾天,我已渴望能有更多時間靜坐。要不是我有其他職責,我願意每天下午多花兩個小時靜坐。靜坐有助於向內觀察自心。靜坐也幫助我放鬆,讓我可以思考得更透徹,並放下我的瞋心。我也睡得更好了。

中台禪寺收藏了一些獨特的佛教文物。圖書館有許多佛教的珍貴古籍。十八羅漢殿宏偉莊嚴。藥師七佛塔乃經典傑作。身旁的珍貴寶藏令我印象深刻。然而其中一幅畫作深深烙印在我心底。那幅畫與其他幾幅畫一起掛在一個大穿堂的牆上。畫中一位濃眉的和尚面壁靜坐。我有幸讀到有關這位法師的著作«The Zen Teaching of Bodhidarma 。達摩祖師教給我的是精進。達摩祖師是我目前為止最景仰的法師。他長途跋涉到中國傳法的故事是個傳奇,後來他自己成為了一個傳奇人物,他留了一隻鞋子在墳墓裏,而將另一隻鞋掛在肩上離開中土。

中台禪寺的好客、慷慨與慈悲也是傳奇,真正是獨一無二的。[:]