Reflection on Fall 2016 “Living the Practice” program
By Mei Li
"Somewhere in my youth or childhood. I must have done something good," reflecting on my participation in the Living the Practice Program, this verse comes to my mind. It is from the movie The Sound of Music; Maria sang it when she married the Captain. It was a great blessing to have accidentally joined this wonderful program.
I am new to Buddhism. Despite this being my first visit, CTTB felt like home. I met many friendly and wise people, practiced in a clean and beautiful environment, and ate delicious vegetarian food. Every moment was enjoyable: attending the Guan Yin retreat, working in the kitchen, discussing the Dharma and writing in classes, watching webcasts, meditating, doing yoga, and watching movies. The unique opportunity to attend some of the taping of the interviews with the early disciples of Master Hua was quite a treat.
The program was well-designed, like a tasty and nutritious sampler of authentic Buddhism. Questions around life-and-death were on my mind as I decided to attend my friend's funeral before coming to CTTB. From the program, I had the chance to study the Buddha’s words directly. All the teachers, staff, and students were wonderful and made the Buddha's teachings accessible and engaging. Here are some highlights that I learned and can apply to daily life:
1. Daily morning meditation and Sunday afternoon meditation helped me be mindful and slow down my pace and reactions to external conditions.
2. The chanting sessions helped me be more humble as well as give an opportunity to reflect and repent of any wrong speech, actions and thoughts. They helped me aspire to give more without expecting anything in return. The mantras calmed my thoughts and imprinted themselves in both my body and mind.
3. The close readings of In the Buddha's Words taught me many fundamental principles and practical skills to deal with everyday life, especially how to walk on the path of liberation. They also provided me with tools for self-examination about desire and suffering, cause and effect, and how afflictions are created by adding a second dart of mental anguish (or many more darts) to the first dart of physical pain. I realized that it is not what happens to me, but how I respond to the situation that is the most important thing. I will do my best to train my mind, hold the precepts, practice generosity, and develop loving-kindness. I resolve to plant good seeds and eliminate bad ones for the rest of my life.
4. Creative writing classes helped me recognize the creativity in my nature. Writing short essays allowed me to imagine how everyone in my life is a potential Buddha who is helping me wake up and walk on the Way to liberation.
5. Yoga exercises developed my flexibility and endurance for a healthy body and mind.
6. The service in the kitchen allowed me to get to know many kind and wise people in this community. I even learned a few tips to better prepare vegetarian food.
7. The interviews of the early disciples of Master Hua were all informative and educational. I admired and appreciated all the things Master Hua had done. His early and later disciples are my role models.
8. Great movies such as Monkey Kingdom, Kung Fu Panda and Amongst White Clouds contained excellent teachings with profound messages.
9. To demonstrate the teachings of the Buddha, we were lucky to be able to read Venerable Acariya Mun, a Spiritual Biography. It is quite inspirational to know that it is never too late for me to start the spiritual journey. With patience and hard work, we can achieve the goal of transcending the cycle of birth and death. (It may take eons.)
I want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to the success of this excellent program.
Thanks and best regards,