Thank you all for making the retreat such a delightful and memorable experience to me!
Kishi told me to write something and I did. This piece I'm posting here is not entirely about the meditation retreat. It's more like a brief narrative of my spiritual exploration in Taiwan.
Buddha Nature, Inner Child
I like the quote "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to tell the difference.” For a while, I was resorting to God for help. The Christian group I was associated with are extremely kind and helpful to me, to each other, and to people in general, and I enjoyed bible reading, gospel meeting, and other activities with them. For me though, it was difficult to say out loud “Oh, Lord Jesus,” to believe that human beings are merely containers where Lord Jesus is invited to come fill up, or to get baptized any time soon so I won't disappoint people. Chan meditation doesn’t make me feel as pressured. What attracts me most in Zen/Chan is its emphasis on Buddha-nature, which, I think, is close to “inner self” or “inner child” in the West, a pure, precious, and unpolluted being. It reminds me a poem by Wordsworth:
My heart leaps when my eyes behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
Yes, Wordsworth's poem is an ode to nature, but when I read it now, it also feels like an ode to inner nature. The leaping heart is where the inner nature is hidden, and "the child"is the precious being that helps "man" to remember, to re-experience the joy we felt in heart when first seeing the colorful lights of the rainbow. A joyful heart is the beginning of our life and it also keeps us from fearing age and death (doesn't this remind you of the story of shakyamuni buddha we saw where he first saw aging, sickness and death and was determined to look for a cure?). During the meditation retreat, I literally felt that my heart became more joyful and expanded. It used to be a small heart, only enough to contain myself in it, and now I’m willing to make an effort to expand it so eventually it will have space for all beings 众生。During the meditation class, someone shared a Chan story about the ocean and a bottle of water. A bottle of water is easily hazed by a few drops of mud but the ocean remains the same. He inspired us to think that if the heart is big enough, it’s less likely to be disturbed. The heart will remain a heart peaceful, joyful and compassionate.