Guo Yuan Fashi is a Buddhist monk trained in Chan Buddhism. In 1985 he first encountered Master Sheng Yen’s teachings while attending a seven-day retreat in New York. He then decided to become a disciple before finally leaving his job in Toronto, Canada, to become a monk in the Chan tradition. He was ordained in 1987 in Taiwan. For over twenty years, he accompanied and became translator to Master Sheng Yen in various Chan meditation retreats in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, and Mexico.
He studied Theravada Buddhism for a year in Thailand in 1991. Upon returning from Thailand, Guo Yuan Fashi was elected abbot of both the Chan Meditation Center (CMC) in Queens and the Dharma Drum Retreat Center (DDRC) in Pine Bush, New York. His responsibilities included attending interfaith services, teaching meditation, and giving lectures on Buddhism. In 2006 he became the director of the International Chan Retreat Center in Dharma Drum Mountain, Taiwan. In 2016 he returned to Pine Bush to become once again the abbot of DDRC. Fluent in Mandarin, Vietnamese, and English, he leads Chan retreat in many countries around the world.
And then another brother, elder one, he actually he was learning, practicing Buddhism. And at that time they were in search of a teacher that they could follow. And he he and and the other, you know, of his friends went to New York at that time. We were in Toronto, went to New York, and at ten to retreat. And after he came back from the retreat, he was so much I cannot say that excited but he’s he like very much and therefore he he would like us to just go try. And so that time I think, oh, maybe, maybe I didn’t know much about Buddhism. You could say that. Maybe I could. Maybe meditation is good for me. So I just, you know, joining the retreat in New York, in Queens, New York, and led by our teacher, Mrs. Union, and that kind that which it was really something of a turning up my life, you know, because I really like the way our teacher guide us. And he was very he was a man of humor. He he taught me a light and gentle, but is also on. And the thing is that he’s very learned. It seems like what I, I kind of has some fragments about Buddhism was that, you know, for him and it’s like give me some kind of inside that, okay? It’s not like this. It’s it’s modern that. So that’s what, that’s what the impression that I have with my teacher. And, and then I came back and then and then later on, you know, I, I joined the retreat again. And at that time, my teacher was in New York a few months. And then he he had to go back to Taiwan for three months. And then he just back and thought like this. And the place that I it’s called the Chan Meditation Center in Queens. Actually, it’s at that period that it’s the lack of a lot of people who could take care of the place, like looking after the place, things like that. So he approached me to see see, is he asking me you want to come and you know, and you know, to stay in the temple? I think it I did not think much about it. And of course, what he meant was like it’s to become a monk or something like that. But he did not say it bluntly, you know, frankly. So just I think, okay, maybe I want to try it. So I came came and stay stay there. But actually, that that is not easy because when he’s he’s gone and I am by myself and with other people, we had a lot of things to do. I feel like I didn’t have a support when he’s away. So. So anyway, when he came back and then and then, you know, I, I was not and not still settled yet. It would be environment like this in a small is a small a small center a22 story building. And and so anyway, afterward I he he told me that, you know, he, he will he he asked me to go go back to Taiwan with him just for training. And so I agree. And then and then, you know, I received this kind of training is like about nine months or so back and forth into, but always followed my teacher when he’s into in Taiwan, I go with him and when he’s back to New York, I stay with him. So and then afterward I became a monk I to to receive fully the ordination as a monk. But when I when I come back, then after the nine months, he will not bring me to to Taiwan anymore. But I stayed in in New York, in I feel like all the burdens is on me at that time. And and then one day when he was returning, he returned to to to New York to stay with me. I, I find like I’m I just want to leave to place stay without any plan at all. But I don’t want to stay. And what happened was that because he was very skinny and he’s very weak, I also feel like he’s very fragile. So when I was about, you know, to tell him that I, I don’t want to stay, you know, anymore. And then approaching his bedroom, he was lying there on the pad without any any bed but on the floor. And the way he he show me is that like he’s he’s about to die, you know, it’s like very weak then, you know, pale. But I look at it that I. I didn’t I didn’t see anything. I, I feel like I can’t see anything. It at that time. So I don’t have the, the, the, the guts to tell him directly because he looks like he really needs self. So I, i, i, i, I just stayed and afterward my, my set of down, but even before that, when I came to, uh, to, to the center, um, I had my luggage with me and then I always, because I just, it just come for a try, right? So I just put it, you know, right in, in the entrance to the room and it was like two weeks after or something like that. And he came and told me, Why don’t you put your luggage away? Because it is to teach it. So once I put the luggage away, I feel more settled. Because when you put the luckily say, that means you always prepare for leaving, but you put away dead the subconscious somehow it just that the mind, the set of the right out of the thing rather than thinking of oh, I’m going, I’m going to try here. Right. So that’s what he did to me. One thing before the you know, the time that I say leave it and then this is another thing that he was doing to me, because I feel like it would be to to to crude to him if I say something a living. But afterward, I know that he was just pretending he was not, you know, it was not that desperate to, you know, but but that shows that, you know, how a teacher was somehow helping the Syrians. That’s that’s what my encounter with my teachers. And, of course, the the other thing is, you know, of teaching as well, you know, and then once I stayed here, my mind all and some time he tested me something that directly right there, like one day in the morning I was doing the cleaning up of the the meditation hall sweeping. And I told him that he was around and I told him that I did not have good sleep at night, you know, always he would like not settle. And then that morning one when I was doing the cleaning and you show me how to do the just sweeping the floor and he said that, you know, you hold this the stick here, the blue stick here, and then your mind is with the blue. And then when you you sleep, you just stare with with the blue and just doing it very simple. So I just follow doing it. And after the cleaning, if you like, then relax. Very, very calm and relax. So this means what? Like you. Although, although I may feel, like, agitated after the unsettled night of sleep. But if I do something like this, then my. My shadow and all the feeling of agitation, feeling of is this gone? And that is self. It’s a practice. So that’s one thing with my teacher. Another thing is that somehow when I was in the meditation center with my teacher in a daily routine, we don’t have that many people, but we can be always happy, you know, more again, more people to come in and do all kinds of things, activities that the lecture, the meditation and also the chanting and one day I was doing some cleaning of the altar and or something or a set in my mind the the agitation, my or the the the the working of the did the blood the retarded some in doubt or and all of a sudden it just set it down. And somehow he somehow he, I don’t know, he was around with something. How somehow he was there and he just say that this is the practice. The practice of looking inside or introspect inward more than outward. So that what he said. So that means what we are doing is that in in in all our day life is with a mind is going out to our side, but less likely that we go back into inwardly to see what’s going on with ourself. And so this is this is this is another another lesson that he he taught me. But his mind is very, very you could say that is very clear. And somehow, somehow in daily life, he just he could sense many things. And a give an example of how we were doing the morning service and then he was he was he was he was doing along with us like like just three of us, three or four of us doing the morning service. And he was there in the center. And then one day, one day he told me that why I was doing the chanting, you know, my leg was always moving. He just say that I, I heard it. But somehow it’s that’s just my habit. I was doing it, you know, without really noticing it. And then probably a few days later or something like that, he we were doing did the morning service again and I, I didn’t know that my, my legs were, my, my foot was moving. Why, why are we doing this? So what he just did was that he just grabbed my foot right there at the moment, that he grabbed my foot, I stopped moving my legs, moving my foot. And then after what I you know, that’s that that’s gone. You know, I didn’t move my legs anymore in the morning service. So and then another way of teaching me also and of course, I cannot do, you know, like really keeping myself calm all the time and when we were doing the more and morning service again, he was there in the center. And then after the the day after the morning service is over, he said something like this Too many wandering thoughts and that’s it. You just sense that although I was doing the chanting, someone was doing the wood fish. You know, and doing a chanting. But he just know that within there there’s so many wandering thoughts. I’m not really there with the chanting. I just do it mechanically without knowing it. So that’s another thing. So after what? I learned something far from it, so that when I do the chanting, I try to be just be with the chanting, especially when I’m leading. Leading the the the, the, the, the service for the, the assembly. You know, on Sunday we have like 50, more than 50 people and we do the chanting. And then when I do the chanting, I tried to be one. I tried to be together with the chanting itself. I So that’s something also I learned. I Although I am the the, the leader of the chant, but I don’t want to I just don’t show that I am the only voice that’s more unique to any other. But just to blend with the whole how simply they’re together. So that’s something that I, I learn from, from, from my, my teachers. And then we have ongoing activities. And, and sometime when my teacher was in New York, he was invited to talk to give them a top in the in Sydney University College. And then, you know, I just be with him. The hits attendance. And from there I also learn something of how he behave, how he how he keep the lecture and learning from what he taught. Also. So that’s that’s something that I benefit from the relationship between a teacher and, you know, a disciples directly that and so that one thing and then and then we also have ongoing retreats the longer retreat and then and then I had a participate in those things and then also learning from there. But because in New New York we are very busy. So I didn’t have much time really actually to to do his readings because he had many books, he had finished many books. And actually it’s a very valuable thing to learn from him. I only learned later on afterward. But at that time that we were in the, the, the meditation center in New York, I’m very, very, very busy. Yeah. So that what happens. But he is so he works so hard that I don’t see him ever as have some time by himself only when he’s at rest. Only when he is, you know, in his in his spare time. But the other time he’s always working. But he’s very calm, very gentle and everything. And I think that I learned from him is that in the beginning, when I’m staying there, even the way I always walking is very rough. So. So he pointed out to me that you you when you walk, you step the king too loud of a sound right there. So so again, I learned I learned from that. And but the teacher itself is not just like always telling something that is that is, you know, what, what I had or what I did wrong. But also sometimes just give you give you something that you didn’t do it. So this is a way of testing what I mean is that one morning on morning with wake up and then use the the really I would say greeting right but I, I said something that like good morning before, right periscope, you know the way he said that that you see, you know when you see the teacher you have you had to, you know to pay respect to him, you have to say in the morning. But I said actually I said it already, but his coffee right here, it probably he did hear it or I don’t know why, but it’s somehow it just the way of of the teacher who actually is the teacher that teach it’s it’s disciple, you know, you’re not supposed to, you know, again, you know, like like say something back, you know. So so that’s that’s another way that he he taught me and and along along the way, you know, learning from him and follow him when he’s traveling, actually, not only to the, you know, to university, but he’s building a retreat. The retreat outside of America did retreat in in Europe. In Russia. And, of course, this in part of Asia. So that is the part of learning. Learning from what my teachers and I also had the opportunity, although my English is not good enough at that time. Um, I was able to do some translation when my teacher was interview, be doing interview with other people in the retreat. And I was there too. I try to, to translate, interpret right there. You know what what is what is my teacher trying to express to the students and you know, whatever the student say in English and then also interpret for him from that. I also learn how he was giving instructions, how he was helping the students when they were in intensive retreat, because they are doing the meditation and they are they they have they encounter or something with the meditation itself. Then through that kind of interaction from our teacher with the students, I learn something as well. And because of that, all these valuable, actually valuable encounters become a life teaching for me and I learn from them. That’s another thing with my gift with it, my teachers and along the way when we going overseas to lead the retreat in Europe in Russia’s in although he was is very weak you know he’s he is not always in good health but somehow somehow he just manage in and he he when he’s he’s he’s talking it’s like it’s like it’s right there that you there you listen to the teaching right there. So it’s something that is quite profound about it. And of course, I learned I also learn from from this to and and and then he passed away in 2009. He of course, at that time, we most of us already prepare because he’s very weak and most of us preparing for him to, you know, to depart from the world. And somehow we have to take responsibility of continue this teachings again. So he went to sit at places and we tried to continue that that line say Mexico, say Europe and like he went to Croatia, he went to Poland, he went to Germany and all those of these places. And we somehow tried to steal continue with these lines here and we continue on. Although, although we are like in manpower or in manpower, but somehow we we just tried to do so and and along along the way when he was when he was not not in America before he passed away. Then what is left here is for me. So so we we also have the, you know, the retreats going on. And I tried to share his teaching with the with the participants. And so the time that we were in Queens at that time, we the most of the people that we could have for accommodate people is it’s about the most is 25 people, something like that. And at that time that was in the 19 in the 99, 8019 after 1980 or something like that. And because our place was so small and at that time, actually the demand for the retreat, it’s quite strong. So we have to reject certain people because we only have a limited place to to accommodate people and therefore our if we keep on rejecting, then people will not come to us afterwards. So so there’s a plan for finding a bigger place and we have been finding the place, the beginning. It’s almost it took us about five years to look around and and then in the last two years, we are more actively looking. We’re looking for places that are suitable. And then finally, we, we, we we came to this place. And when we came to this place is a lake. Then there’s a big building in the town hall right now. And and then we see the big dining hall and we think of this. This place is very good, good for retreat. So we had this place and then we renovate the the channel at the meditation hall, the big hall there. And it was this place was the place for the wedding catering. So people would come here for wedding. They’d be they they would rent for the weekends of the whole week to have wedding here and then to have some, a good place to celebrate here because of the environment is very good, actually. And so we could have this place, we could have more people in the retreat in and then and we keep keep it and to now then in in 2015 and 2015, I know 2005 actually from 1980, 1985 I stay in the ten meditation center in Queens. And then 1997 we got this place and then in 2005, I, I was transferred, transferred back to Taiwan and I stayed in Taiwan almost 11 years. 2016 I returned to to this place called the Dump Dong Richard Center. And up until now, so so that’s what happens. So I have I have 11 years in Taiwan and over there I also learn something. Yeah. Because it’s called I’m not from mountain Headquarter. Okay. And over here we have some other people taking care of the place. And then I came back to the to here to get the job, which is center in 2016 up until now. And we continue with this in because we have ongoing retreat long one and short ones. We try to keep the place so that it is available for people and receiving people we have most of the most of the the most of the activity that’s going on here. It’s in English. We try to use English as the main language, although we have one or two each here of this this activities are in Chinese, but we also have sometimes some activity going on in bilinguals, but it mainly is in English, so we try to receive more of the English speakers. It could be it could be Asian, it could be Caucasians, but English speakers because the the younger generation, most of the time, they, they don’t know much about Chinese. So we just use English as a way to to to have people learn about China.
So for myself, in the beginning of learning about Buddhism or studying from my family where my mother was, she was doing something about the dead. The Buddhism I didn’t know much. And then also I have some impression about Buddhism. It’s more of a superstitious. Just go to people. Just go to the temple and ask for something. They bought some fruits and flowers and offered to the Buddha statue to the altar. And then they asked for something. But this is this is not this is not the the real teaching of it. It’s not like that. But the teaching is from the the such what is said. The teaching is from the teacher who could explain to us explain to us what is it about this teaching, teaching of Buddhism? It’s not just like that as myself. In the beginning, my English system is not enough to really share that the teachings. And also, I need to work on my own practice of meditation and how to apply in everyday life. Not only that, I have, I didn’t need to do more readings. And since our teachers pass away and I’m taking care of the place, then I also need to study more about Buddhism and from our teachers books. Actually, I learned a lot before I was following him and he was teaching me said. They said things in life, but not so much about the theories. And then now I have I have more time because I have to try to help other people. So when I study his, his works, his books, then I learn more. And I find it even though he was giving a very simple talk about certain things. But the the the meaning is it’s contained in this simple talk over the top is simple. But whatever that he’s presenting to people is very profound. And that’s the good thing about him is that like he’s full of wisdom in expressing this through to writing to the audience. Of course, many of his books are in Chinese, but also then they are books that’s translated into English that, oh, actually we benefit a lot from this. So if there’s there’s opportunities that you could read about, you know, his his his book to. And then we also have some video program that’s broadcast on YouTube and it’s called The Great Drama. And you can search for that. And then you can see, you know, whatever that is, inciting or giving advice for people, you know, in English in general. Some of them are in Chinese. But you have we have the English subtitles that you could you could watch. And I up until now, I do. I see a few like this, but that’s a treasure for many of us to really just follow and read. It’s quite it’s it’s very good for us. So about about the teaching is something that we could relate to all the time. All the time. And then we are more into that. Then we will feel like we are more settled with our mind. I remember at the time that I was in Canada and I was looking and I received this dismay as it magazine is called The Chan magazine. It’s it’s coming out quarterly. So when at work, I have some problem mindlessness. And when I read the Chan magazine, I just the answers right there in there and then 2 minutes Macedo afterwards, it’s not so so and intensity anymore that that’s a good thing about about the teaching from the from Buddhism itself and also from our teacher. He was able to bring this valuable teachings through language and so in there, not only the theories but also the practice. How do you practice in in our day life? So that’s the thing. Now. Now, what we encounter here is we always short of manpower. This place is big and we have ongoing going activities. But we are really lacked manpower in doing so. And now this is one good thing about America, is that in this recent years, Buddhism is more blooming in than many of the the teachers, the younger, younger generation coming out. And they have different although they coming from different traditions, say, to divide and cherish. And they see Tibetan traditions and then Korean and Japan tradition. And we are just the Chan tradition, which is which is the teaching, the so called the term that’s more familiar with people. It’s a Zen teaching. So, so, so that what we are now and the thing that that I I’m I’m lucky enough is that. Yeah. Chan it’s, although the teaching is from the Buddha’s time, but the Chan evolved it become Chan in China and afterward goes to Japan, goes to Korea, goes to Vietnam. So this time tradition, because this language is in Chinese, then when I use directly Chinese, then most of the time it’s it’s more into the meaning that the Chinese to Chinese rather than, you know, from Chinese to other languages, it may be deviate a little bit to that. That is the thing that I feel like more I’m lucky enough or blessed enough to have directly and you know using the language in Chinese. And another thing is that if we learn it, we know more profound in Chinese than than the meaning of it, go directly from this to us so we will not be deviate or, you know, because of the misunderstanding of the language. And and sometime I heard an A teacher saying something like that, too, you know, if you really want to go deeper into practice, your Chinese has to be good now. Now, what we tried to do is that try to make it into English. And when it translate into English, it’s more of a modern language. So it’s easier for people to to understand, because what we read from Chinese, especially the older verse, older all the time, from our teachers, from from before our teachers, you know, sometimes they say something. Even in Chinese, it’s not so easy to get. What does that mean? But when it’s translated into English, it’s like in plain English, okay, you understand it one time and teach it. He share. He said this story. He said he he said he there was a an ambassador. He he he when he was in Taiwan, he didn’t know about Buddhism, although it’s it’s in Chinese. And he said is it’s kind of difficult for him. So he was in I believe he was in Burma. And then when he was in Burma, he got the I’m not sure of this is Burma, one of the Asian country. He caught the opportunity to read Buddhism in English and then through that he and his then what Buddhism wisdom is talking about. And he became a Buddhist. And then when he came back to Taiwan, he sat to read Chinese. And then he started to understand more. And then he he became a very devoted Buddhist, you see, you see the language to go like this, so, so English. So that’s a good thing that because this morning and is in English so people understand more. But the only thing is that if you need to translate it, you have to translate it correctly from Chinese into English. Because if you’re if you’re Chinese, it’s not good. And your English is it’s so. So then the way you translate it, it’s going to be different. So this, this is what I also try to learn and that I need to make it correctly before it’s coming to, to, to, to, to English. Although my English actually it’s not good enough. But to try, I try my best.
The scenes our teacher received to link the lineages. One is the child school and then the other one is the D.A. School. Now the method that is taught from the child on school is called the Silent Illumination. But we also go a approach from a more shallow level into a deeper level in to begin with. Actually, it’s very similar with other traditions of using the method of the breath. And then even before that, the very important thing is the foundation of relaxation and relaxation here. Not only that relaxing the mind, but also relax the body. And you need to you need to know how to relax your body. And then you need to make use of the body, feel the sensation in the body, and then relax the body and then your mind. How do you settle your mind? So that you are not really inches using the method? So that part is very important. So you might ask to be very settled and relax. So in approaching. So that is how to build that firm foundation before you could go further on. So one that is, that is, you know, like you set that foundation there, then you work with the breath. Now we have two approaches for the breath. One is to calm your breath. One is to follow your breath. To calm your breath is to calm from 1 to 10 with each our breath in back, you know, and then help you come to. So the ten numbers that we use and you repeat that ten numbers and this ten numbers doesn’t matter. The order you could go skip say one, three, five, seven, nine, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19. And then you return so that the number and you could also go by the even number and you skip that. But as long as is ten number, then is very basic. It’s very basic teaching. You know, this this method of the breath. It’s, you know, for this minute what condition? And then the other one is to follow your breath in and out, in and out through your nostrils. So what we do is that we don’t lead the breath to go into your stomach and coming out from your abdomen. We don’t do that just just here, you know, in clearing. But you need to settle your mind first before you could be gently following your breath. So that approach is salvage. I myself emphasize more of this part here before you can really go into a deeper one. So even for the the method of the the heart of the so called heart of method, which is from the school, you need to also build this foundation first. And in order to to work with the lotto more efficiently. So you also need that foundation. And and for this two schools only. Okay when once we very good are very firm with the foundation of relaxation of the method of the breath then from the child on school we use the method of just sitting. Just sitting only. Now, if you just sitting your mind is knowing that. Are you aware that you’re sitting, say, for example, do you know you’re sitting here? Of course you know. Do I know I’m sitting here? Of course I know. How much is sitting. It didn’t take much. You already knew how to do it, right? But the question is that how long could you stay with that? Maybe you know now. But after what? Just in a second. Then your mind is thinking with something else. And that is exactly why we need that foundation. The firm mind with the relaxation, with the breath before you move on to the sitting. Only because. Because we are so used to thinking, thinking, thinking. Then if you cannot if you if you want to practice just sitting only your mind, just won’t work like this. So that exactly is what is called just sitting in a supposed to think of something else or you just naturally don’t need to think about something else. So at that moment you need to practice, even though you may have other thoughts, but because your already relaxed was already good with the with the breath, therefore we don’t have that many wandering thoughts. So at that time you could more or less somehow control yourself that you don’t need to follow that you don’t suppress the thoughts, you don’t need to follow that line, the series of thought, but just return to it. It’s just sitting on it, just sitting there. Of course, you could move on further with just sitting to to to become one with your body and and you may become a body and mind may become one, but that’s not enough. You could even become one with the environment. And we call it the unification state of mind. And even after that, that is not the realization yet you have to go beyond that to break through this one mind, to go into that two state of freedom, you say, no mind, but no more. Doesn’t mean that you don’t have thoughts. So, so. So that part of this this is what going on with the method of silent illumination. But along with that, there’s a teaching of up of up the Buddha that the things that impermanence things changes that you have to have that in mind and then nothing that you could really hold on to because they change, you know, sometime be in good state sometime be a not in good state. This thing you also change in the mind whatever that’s thought is going on, also changing all the time. So that idea of changing that we need to have and of course the very basic one of the teaching of the Buddha, it’s a so-called, first of all, impermanence and then suffering, and then state of emptiness, then no. So all these here are almost like the core of the reality impermanence. We know moment by moment, because everything changes. Nothing stays. We just go with time, the time we can see times. But how do we see times? It’s not just because we have a clock. The changing of the sun, sunrise, sunset, right the moonrise Moonset The Tinting of the seasons The Four Seasons, the night. It’s changing all the time and then our body also changes form kicks it to a young man and we get old and beard pass away and along the way we get sick. That’s just the reality. And then we have to go with that. And not much that you could change unless we don’t suffer from this. And not only that, not only that physical change, but also all kind of disaster or the war is going on. Never stop. Things never stops and things will never be the same, exactly the same, because time and space are different. So we came to realization that even with our breath, it’s so one breath after the other, they’re not the same. We just take it for granted. It’s the same. It’s not the same. Moment by moment. Every breath, even every breath is different. Why is it different? Because the time in the space is different. This breath that now this coming out is no. And then the other one that’s coming out is the other time. So it has to be different. But a mind is not Seto enough to really feel that. So somehow the practice is important to clean the mind, to make our mind more clear, and to see things exactly the way it is. Right. So we came to a realization through the breath only that we could feel it. But our mind is not settling up in our day like that. Therefore therefore they can the practice so that we can see it right there. So impermanent and because of the attached to many, many things and therefore come the suffering head it we realize the reality of impermanence. Then we still suffer. But since many thing we are still attached to things that it’s say for example, and I’m healthy forever emphasize on the daily use whatever we do, rather than just sitting in meditation, calm all the time. No, we don’t put that. It doesn’t become an emphasis on debt, but whatever we do, we walk, we eat, we go to bed, we go to the toilet. Everything is the practice itself and that practice is how to keep a my clear with this relaxing with the body in mind that that is that is see the the the emphasize on the practice is self so so actually in order to to be able to do this the so-called keeping good conduct it’s a necessary so therefore there are three things we call precept or you say conduct. And then and then somebody which is meditation and meditation, it’s used in of their life, anytime, anywhere, whatever we do, the meditation is there. If that is to say a teacher, use a few words. That is very simple. Where ever your body is, that is where you put your mind to. So whatever you do, then your mind is there with the thing that you do. You talk, then you you do. He your mind is with your top. You don’t talk here and then you think about something else, right? So the second and then the third one is the wisdom. The wisdom part come on to one is the wisdom from the teachings. The other one is when you practice, you come to a certain realization, then you have some Buddhist wisdom. So these three parts of working together, you cannot just do say somebody, and then whatever you want to do, whatever you do is fine. That’s not right. You have to go with the right conduct. So these three things always work together because if you don’t keep good conduct, your mind is not settled, you’re not zero. How do you acquire wisdom? How do you discover your own, your open nature? There is this three things work together. So this is about the silent illumination method. We could even go further, right? So I, I don’t think it’s necessary to go deep deeper into that now and the method of the control is from the school of the school. And it’s, it’s about the inquiry into the core of the so called to Buddha nature. What exactly is that? So again, again, the emphasis is more into the, into the, the basic requirement for the practice. Again starting up then the method become change to the method of the hotel, which is the inquiry into the core of say I said it. Oh, what is the Buddha nature or asking question like before me before my parents give birth to me? What is my original faith? Now this before my parents give birth to me, this the minute the parents right now, this lifetime but many, many lifetime before before I was born. What is my original faith and this method of what? How? Referring to before this word is spoken before then what is it? Well, actually, it’s already pointing to our original face, but we don’t know. So we have to ask what is it and this method of the quanto in using them. You know, suppose you make reasoning. That is the tricky part. You’re not supposed to analyze. You’re not supposed to you logical thinking, but you want to know. It’s very important that you want to know. You really want to know, but you don’t know that the self is the method of what how. So you need to build a foundation for relaxation, body and mind the method of the breath. And then one you get to the one mind state. Then. So to use Plato now this word Juanito in Chinese means the beginning of the beating of a phrase at the beginning of a sentence. That is to say, before you utter something, what is it? What is it? Then it becomes your inquiry into that again, it’s accurate inquiry into that good in nature that we know about, that we learn from knowledge, but we don’t realize. So what is my original face? Before I was born? Or who is tracking this corpse? This body is this corpse who is checking this corpse? We don’t know. Well, all the teachings there. No. So. But could be we. I realize what is. No, so we don’t. So again, this is inquiry into it.
Yeah. People. People intention in the beginning are taking this path. Now, it could be that in the beginning they would just come because she balance the body and mind and if that, if they just go with that, then that’s it. They will come to certain things that they feel are beneficial. It’s very good, very calm for me, and it helped me in their life. But that’s it. And that is what you call it. The plateau is right there, right. But for some other people, they once they go to that, they feel like that’s not enough. So they have to go further on by doing more studies, more teachings and more practice. And that practice become stronger and stronger. And then not only that, because then people may reach and at the plateau of one mind, oh, is so good, is no separation of body and mind that is beautiful. They may limit enlightenment, but of course it’s not enough. And then even one mind with the environment or one environment, the body and the mind, it’s just become one. I don’t feel any separation. If they satisfied with that, then that is the plateau. That’s not enough, right? And they will come. They say that that that is what of course, you have to let go of even death to to the story of the sharing of story of many times in the cell, in ancient time to get enlightened. But how come they all talk about it? Enlightened? What is it? And many people ask about this. What is enlightenment? Right. So our teachers have put it simply, when there’s no self, the ego is not there. Then is the realization right there. So that it’s so you need to work on it until you come to sell realizations. But you may ask, so did just the many people. They did just come fall for this kind of balance, body and mind and then you tranquility. But if they just come for that, then, then that’s it. Then that we cannot go further. But if they come to a realization that no matter what, I have to go this way, then they try to be go deeper and deeper. Even for people who practice in the beginning, they feel and a lot of things that are going on and they feel really good and then somehow they they go another way. They, they give it up for ten years, even more than ten years. And then they come to a realization that, well, I can’t do that. I need to go back, that they came back. It’s their people are like this too. So. So, again, is this it’s like the causes and condition people if people are just asking for this and then that’s what they get. That’s it. But if you want to go further, you need to do more study. You need to put more effort into it. And even with the very crucial thing that you’re asking for, what is my Buddha nature? What is my original face when coming from when going to have to die? Then you come to the practice. Continue upon asking the method of whatever, right? And even the method of the silent illumination. Because. Because you know that this is not enough. And do you know that the Buddha told us that it’s not enough? You don’t just reach that a very blissful state of mind and you satisfy. You still have vexations, you know, you come back to this world. Once you have that blissful moment and you come back to this world, you still feel like, okay, your power is subside day by day. It’s not enough. It’s just samadhi. Power is not enough. Somehow you have to come to realization and then you will fade. You will not regress. So you have to continue with it no matter what. And even now, actually in modern time, they don’t think about what is this next lifetime? They don’t think about it, that’s fine. But somehow the practice has to continue no matter what. You know? I know a lot.
So that is that is the thing. Now, one thing is the lack of manpower and one other thing that we need to do is how to how to how to pass this this teaching down to another generations, the generation of the younger one, which is, you know, it becomes a whole lot of task that we we have to work on right now. We are still in the process of trying to to to be more assessable for the local people or English speakers. In that sense, although we have people coming here from different countries, the European Caucasian, but we also have people from India. And then, of course, we have Asian that come. We have different ones, you know, the older one. And then and then the one that is with, you know, like working the queue or Korea people in some of the younger one, which is referring to probably the younger ones referring to the students. We cannot say that we are successful. Not yet. Yeah, but this is this is why we try to give it to other people. Still, we encounter a certain thing that we learn. Say, for example, in the retreat, the food that we provide for people, many, many is Asian food, Chinese food. Hey, people may appreciate it, but we try it. It’s so so that still we sometimes be poor by surfing and that is more adapt to up to the, you know, less than we say for example, requests that we have you, we have opium tea, some have breast milk fruit. So this is what we providing, of course, once in a while in their for breakfast, we add some Chinese dishes. Hey, in for for lunch. Although is, you know, most of the time it’s in Chinese. But sometimes we add some spaghetti in there for people. And of course, on and on the we try to be more adaptable to to to to the modern society. But sensing that we can’t do it safely, Sambo, the way we the way we, we set up the, the, the buildings here, we always have two engines. One side is from the meal and the other side for female in the meditation or in the, in the dining hall and then in the dorm area, you always have 2 to 2 engines, different one. And because this is the way that is already set up, we can change. But because it we say that okay, this manner, then maybe people just take in one engine that is more convenient for them, then that means they will pack and they enter the room. So somehow they have to stretch two ways. So one day spreading two way then is one size for male. Once they are size for physical. So it is set like this so you can charge more. And for the dorm, the dorm, then we also separate, you know, men and male and female separate. But we can do, you know, like, uh, neutral. We can do that just the way it is said. Have you heard? It’s not that we we discriminating, but this is the way to set up. So just my yes, we’ll go with it. And it’s it’s similar thing with in in the town more is the same thing that that you two inches there that because before could reach to reach it we just use the convenient ones then they would pack in there I but if if it was built with the building was built like with just one entrance, then this was just one entrance system submitted to separate. So that’s the thing.
You could say that it depends on the students as well. It depends on the teachers. Even even t for ancient time with different teachers, they have different style of teaching. But ancient time, a teacher of the elite school is more of a very direct and sometimes it’s very powerful in teaching other students. But for modern times, it also depends on the teachers. And nowadays, because the intensity, all the so-called the life of the modern time, it’s usually is very much in a hurry and very much tense up easily. So many teachers will not use the approach of the ancient teachers that using a stick or shower or something to the to the students. So to help the students, to help the disciples. But nowadays, for us, we we will use the approach of more gentle, which is very much emphasize on the relaxation voice. Just let the student build a very firm foundation before they could move on to. If they cannot move on to this, they will be a benefit for them to relax their body, relax them. Mind that more settled. This is now, now that we tried to do so. Of course, there are still other teachers who talk more. But for according to our own experiences, that talking it’s it’s it’s good also because it’s the teaching is right there. But somehow somehow the student has to feel like okay to benefit from it rather than talking very lofty, lofty and high. And Peter, people didn’t get it. If they did get it, then what is the point? The student the student level is just there that you can’t go deeper. It’s even if you go deeper, they just don’t get it. So. So you do need to really, really pushing too much into that. That all depends on the condition of the students as well as the teachers. But the way I observe now is actually many students, they they they cannot really go deeper, deeper into the teachings as well as the practice. So that part. Oh, we all need to to work on more.
In in going from places to places. You know, say, for example, I in the last few years, I also go to England, go to when I was in America. After after 2016, I go to Europe, England, Poland, Mexico. And I feel like everywhere. Everywhere I go or even at time with my teacher. And people really get very much of the teachings up to Buddha because it’s very valuable and very beneficial to the people. So it’s almost like they just need the teaching so much and the practice as well. It’s one thing alone, but second in place the sin in people. Bill. We have different habits. But in general, in general is as long as we are human, the need is more or less very similar. How to help themselves to have fewer vexations so that people suffer less. And of course, of course, if you want to go deeper, then you have to really put a lot of effort in to the practice before you really come to certain realization to say so to help first, to be more calm, to be more settled, to be more balanced psychologically, mentally, and more. More positive thinking. When we are facing with Felicity in life, those thing that is what they need and actually what everyone needs in this role. Although seems like the world is in turmoil, a lot of things are happening. Natural disasters and also the struggling people within. Referring to the emotional side. But somehow it depends on how we approach that, how we see this and how we react to that. And that time is the time that is in need of the teaching to do it to a properly adjust ourself.
My name is Gou Yuan Fa Shi. I was born in Vietnam in a Chinese family. My mother was very much a devoted Buddhist. But for our family, he never tried to, you know, force ourselves to believe in Buddhism. I remember when I was, you know, a kid and when she went to go to the temple, she bring me along and I was kind of playful in the temple, looking at the the paintings, the pictures, some of the drawing was very, very nice. You know, a few of them, you know, hanging on the wall with that golden color. It’s really nice and very fine. You know, the strokes very fine. And I kind of appreciate that. That’s one thing that I remember in in visiting the temples and everyone in the temple is, you know, it was not the big temple, just a small place, a place kind of very nice, you know, to to me, especially the elders, women. And I were just, you know, hanging around and playing and, you know, whatever they do with it. I didn’t know much, but that gave me a good memory about it when I was in the temple. I feel very comfortable. But as I grew up, I didn’t know much about Buddhism. And once in a while I heard something that my eldest brother was saying that he didn’t know. You know, like the sutra that that my mom was reciting. Actually, just a kind of storytelling, you know, from from what and what and what’s going on and things like that. So he didn’t say anything about the teaching within the sutra. Say maybe. I’m not sure. Maybe my mom was reciting the Amitabh, the Buddha suggests and in there was talking about the Western plan. But. But he did not mention, you know, my elder eldest brother did not mentioned about, you know, the teaching within there. So so it here and there. I picked up some information, but it did not really influence me much. But at that time it was the war was going on, the Vietnam War was going on. So I was lucky enough, our family was lucky enough that we were able to, first of all, transferred to to Taiwan and then stayed there for a year. And then we we we all go to Canada and when I was in Canada, the first thing that I feel was like, I really appreciate Canada very much feeling freedom during free in a country that is very much welcoming for us right. And so I studied there. I went to college and but after graduation, I worked. And along the way, somehow I feel the time that I was in Vietnam, that the war was going on. And, you know, whatever that I encounter in Canada, I feel like, oh, something still lacking is not really fulfilling for my life. And once in a while, at the workplace is some problem happens. And then dealing with people had been my own up and down emotion of the things happening. And somehow it just it’s I just feel like it’s it’s not enough for me.
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Annual update on progress of project.