Buddha Bathing Ceremony for Buddha’s 3044th Birthday, Summer Retreat Medicine Buddha Gratitude Ceremony & Mothers’ Day Gratitude Ceremony


To commemorate the birth of the Fundamental Teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha, Ocean Sky Chan Monastery will hold the Buddha Bathing Ceremony on May 21, 2017 (Sunday) at 9:00 am. The Buddha Bathing activity will continue for the whole week until May 28 (Sunday).

Buddha was born to this world 3044 years ago, on the 8th day of the 4th month of the lunar calendar. From birth to nirvana, his life story transpired in eight stages and Buddha used pure Dharma water to wash away the suffering and vexations of sentient beings, in order to help them manifest their original pure nature.

The Sutra states: “By bathing the Buddha as if he was still living in this world, one can obtain limitless blessings, the amount of which cannot be quantified.” All virtues of the Buddha are perfect and pure. By offering flowers, incense, banners, and by bathing the Buddha with fragrant water, we gain limitless blessings and merits.

We urge all devotees to take this auspicious opportunity to bathe the Buddha. By outwardly bathing the Buddha, we inwardly wash away all polluted thoughts and purify our own mind; that is the true meaning of bathing the Buddha.

To celebrate Mothers’ Day, we will also chant The Sutra on the Profound Kindness of Parents, and will dedicate the blessings and merits attained to our parents and teachers, to the Three Jewels, to all sentient beings, and to our country. We will also offer the blessings and merits towards the liberation of all suffering beings in the three miserable realms.

On the same day, after the Buddha Bathing Ceremony, the Monastery will also begin the yearly tradition of summer retreat with the Medicine Buddha Gratitude Ceremony. Afterwards, starting on May 22, lasting a period of four months, the daily chanting of Medicine Buddha Sutra shall take place Mondays thru Fridays, at 7:00–8:00pm.We pray for prosperity for all the people of the world, the attainment of world peace, and the enlightenment of all sentient beings. We welcome your whole family to join in this auspicious triple-event ceremony, and share in Dharma joy.

Time Sequence of Ceremony
08:30 Registration                   Check in
09:00 First Incense Buddha Bathing Incense Praise /Lamp & Flower Offering/ Chant The Sutra on the Profound Kindness of Parents / Buddha Bathing Ceremony
10:30 Second Incense Chant Medicine Buddha Sutra / Grand Meal Offering/

Dharma Talk / Offering to the Sangha

12:30 Lunch Mothers’ Day Thankfulness Lunch
14:00 Ride the Ox Home Clean up & Restoration

7-day Meditation Retreat Experience


It’s my first time attending Zen 7 retreat in this spring. When first told about the meditation retreat, I wasn’t anxious about keeping the silent vow. I’ve always found that easy; in fact, often, I’d rather be just like that. During the retreat, there’s a proscription on mobile phones, alarm clocks, reading, and writing. Waking time is to be devoted for meditation and mindfulness.

On our first day, the Abbot asked us to allow ourselves the full experience of the retreat—to forget the world and all worries in the next seven days. Our main task is to sit, and hopefully discover the mind’s true nature.

The first two nights, I found myself still wide awake after lights out. I could already hear my roommate snoring on their futon, but I’m kept up by my chattering mind, and wondering about things other than the present, worrying whether I could wake up on time, and distracted by itchy insect bites.

The time we spend outside the Chan hall—that is, time not spent for sitting or walking meditation, are punctuated by hanging bell or the wooden board, to indicate time—to retire, to wake up, or to announce the next incense session. A discovery that surprised me was my penchant for knowing the time; how that, in turn, would prescribe what other things which I thought I ought to be doing—time to go, time to wake up, or time for bed, time for this, or that. On my fourth day, I got into the routine comfortably. I got up, on my own, without having to wait for the wake up call. Between incense sticks, when we could rest or take a nap, I would find a quiet corner and meditate by myself, then head back early to the Chan Hall to meditate more.

The meditation time during morning and evening services are dear for me. This is the time when the monastery is still and quiet. In that quiet Chan hall, amidst the beautiful mountains of Puli, and with a comfortable early-spring breeze, we all sit cross-legged. There are moments when I thought I can manage my mind. I then tell myself to let go, and just breathe.

With around 1,800 participants, and over 300 people in the same hall I was assigned to, you’d be surprised by the hush, as everyone sits placidly.

When I left Manila, the Shifus bid us with “Have a good stick of incense”, which I thought was just a reminder for us to have a positive retreat experience, not any different from “Bon Jour”. The monastery’s Abbot, the Venerable Master Jiandeng, also said the same when we started the retreat. I was itching to ask him how that is determined—“What are the metrics?” I thought—but missed the chance to ask it during our tea with him.

Now though, I think I have an idea. A good stick of incense is when your mind is still, and you are aware of where you are; your back is complaining—and you shut it out; your knee is hurting—and you quiet the thought; and your leg is numb, and you just acknowledge it, and continue sitting still; when you nudge your wandering thoughts to stillness, but still acknowledge them when they monkey about. Ding! The hand bell is struck to remind you it’s time to come out of sitting meditation. Forty minutes has gone, and you thought it was just five.

A few friends may wonder: what’s the point of meditation? I used to say that it helps to calm my mind, and it still does. Now, I’ll probably just say “it’s just is.” That is, meditation helps me realize that the only purpose in life is to fully live in the “now.”

There is no past, and no future. They are mere abstracts derived, or inferred from the immediate moment. A “good stick of incense” is not 60 minutes long. It’s an infinite now—but only until your next thought. Sometimes, we travel far to seek home, when we’ve been in the home of our true nature all along.

(中文) 我找到了真寶 文/菲律賓海天禪寺中文研經班學員 傳醒







修行雖然是個人的學習,但當義工時,必定要和別人相處、溝通、合作。英文有一句話說:「No man is an island.」意思是說每個人與團體都分不開,但這就會產生很多摩擦。每一次起煩惱,跑去跟師父抱怨,師父們都會勸我要放下我執、不要想太多,要看自己、多反省檢討、多包容。本來的我很內向,現在當義工必須要學會實踐「對人以和」,所以感受到「見好不求難、被辱不瞋難、觸事無心難、除滅我慢難、心行平等難、不說是非難、覩境不動難」。



The Perfect Freedom By Marcelo V. Manuel


I found Ocean Sky Chan Monastery through the internet. I got interested in studying Zen meditation not because it was free, but because I was searching for perfect answers to my questions: 1. What is true happiness? 2. Who am I?

After attending beginners’ class, intermediate class, and now I am in the advance meditation class. I have learned so many things, which also led to changes in many of my bad habits. For example: 1. I have stopped smoking. From 3 packs a day, I have now totally quit. 2. I have learned to control my anger. 3. I have learned to adopt the attitude of being just an observer.

4. I have improved to become compassionate towards all sentient beings, especially the animals and insects. Why insects and animals? It is because they need the most attention and understanding from us. 5. I try to become vegetarian. It is not because it is good for the health, but because it is part of being compassionate towards sentient beings.

These are just some of the things that have changed in me. And it is all because of attending classes here in Ocean Sky and listening to the Dharma talks of Shifu. Essentially, it is because of my Zen meditation practice.

I remember Shifu once asked me why I wanted to study meditation. My answer was to find my true mind. (Which is connected to my question of who am I?) Now, if Shifu were to ask me again, my answer would be: “I just want to practice and to calm my mind. I do not care what I attain, because wanting to attain something is already a desire.”

Right now, I have a feeling that I am close to finding my true self. The important thing is for me to be true to myself and to the people I encounter, to accept my status in life and how I look like, and to learn to be contented and not to be materialistic. Now, I can relate all my actions to Zen. For example, the travel time between my house and Ocean Sky is 3 hours coming and another 3 hours going back. I consider the journey as part of my Zen practice.

I try to meditate in a natural setting, where there are only trees and birds around me; in my room in the morning and before I go to sleep; and in places where there are a lot of people moving around, I hear the noise but still, my mind is calm. Each time I meditate, I feel blessed because I always receive the greatest giftsilence is the greatest gift for me.

Ocean Sky Chan Monastery is the safest and most peaceful place for me. I always demanded freedom, but I do not actually need to join these rallies to demand freedom, because deep inside my true mind, I can achieve the perfect freedom through the help of Zen meditation. There is only one rule to follow: Focus and mind my own breath.

I have received important merits since coming to Ocean Sky. I have gained new friends, fresh points of views, and the awareness in understanding all sentient beings. To answer my first question about the true happiness of people, I think for many of them, their happiness is from obtaining valuable things like money, wealth, etc. But for me, true happiness is to live in silence and have no attachment. For now, I still cannot do it; maybe in my next life.

To answer my second question, who am I, I am not sure yet who I am. What I know for now is that I am a Buddhist deep inside. I am thankful to be a practitioner and a part of Ocean Sky Chan Monastery. It is a great blessing to have all the Shifus as my teachers. To all the Shifus, staff and volunteers, thank you very much.

A Special Way to Celebrate Birthdays By Michella Cacdac


As a little girl, I grew up not having many friends because my parents were very protective of us. To my surprise, every time it was my birthday, there would be kids whom I didn’t know coming to our house. They were just random poor kids whom Mom would see around the neighborhood. At that time, I was unfamiliar with the message, but Mom was already introducing the value of charity to me and my younger siblings. She invited the children over for us to spend our birthdays with and to share our little blessings.

During the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the early 1990’s, Dad was busy saving lives of civilians who were greatly affected by the calamity. He personally rescued people who were endangered by lahar (like lava). We almost lost our Dad during those rescue operations. On the other hand, Mom and the rest of the family were busy packing and distributing relief goods for the victims. We couldn’t afford so much then, but I remembered being able to help as many people as we can with whatever means we had.

It was in 2007 when we began attending meditation classes in Ocean Sky. One of the teachings that continue to inspire our family is that of charity. We knew what charity was like growing up as we had many occasions to be exposed to it, but we didn’t really understand its true essence. After studying it thoroughly in the temple, we now celebrate our birthdays with our chosen charities, which we regularly visit as a family.

Dad started doing several medical and dental missions together with men and women under his command. Mom’s focus is more on students, since her birthday falls in June during opening of classes. We reached out to indigenous children of Tarlac, Zambales, Aurora provinces, and in depressed areas like Payatas, etc. Most of these places were in far-flung provinces.

These children had public schools and teachers, but they didn’t have school supplies, bags, slippers and other basic things which were needed in school. As a result, most of them were persuaded by their parents to quit school, and just help in working for sustenance. They are actually perfect candidates for recruitment to rebel groups when they grow up due to lack of education and understanding. From 200 kids in our list, they have now increased to almost 800 from different areas of Tarlac, Pamangga and Payatas. We saw how much the children were eager to learn, yet they didn’t have the means.

Our family always felt that no matter how limited our resources were, we still wanted to share more. It only requires time and little effort to reach out to these children, paving the way for great changes in their lives. We are thankful to these children and the other charities we visit, such as Home for the Aged, and minors who are rape victims by incest, etc. Visiting them constantly gives us opportunities to help. Starting with just our family, we now have more friends joining us in our mission; people who just dedicate their time to help us distribute the goods. Now, some of them are also replicating what we have done in their own little ways. Even people who worked under Dad’s command had opportunities to join us in these events. Many of them were overwhelmed with the joy that they brought to the less fortunate, just by simply talking and listening to them.

There were times I would prepare their meals, then my sister would sing for them, and we would interact with them. For the elderly, we were sad that each time we visited, some names would be stricken from the list since they had already passed away. This truly is a good way of learning non-attachment. I still cry sometimes but as time passed, I’ve learned to be stronger.

My daughter, 13 years old Keisha, regularly sets aside things that she does not use anymore. When Christmas time comes, she gives them away to different charity institutions that we visit. One time, she gave me an old dress to give to a girl named Precious. Precious was born with mental and physical abnormalities and was abandoned by her mother. After long months of waiting, finally it was time for us to visit these abandoned children. I brought the dress that Keisha wanted to give to Precious. I was so excited to see the kids and as I was going around, I noticed that Precious was missing. Thinking that she was just transferred to another room, I asked the caregivers. They told me that she died just a couple of months before I arrived. My heart was really crushed, but I had to remind myself about Buddha’s teaching of impermanence.

I value all the things taught by Ocean Sky. Most importantly, as a family, we try to “walk the talk.” We give value to the teachings by practicing what we learned. As time passes and more lessons learned, I know that charity needs constant practice to attain “mastery” level. We are still far from becoming “enlightened,” but these experiences give the Buddhist teachings more meaning, and let us experience small enlightenments along the way. It also helps us to be grounded and to stay dedicated in reaching out to our brothers and sisters in need.

The learning doesn’t stop. I’m truly grateful to Buddha, to our Grandmaster, Shifus, my parents, and to all Dharma brothers for being my great teachers. Thank you for paving the path that gives me true joy and peace. I consider myself blessed for having these opportunities to learn, to be surrounded by people who share the same goals in being selfless and unattached to mundane standards. I am trying my best to live it right by following the Buddhist teachings despite the challenges and imperfections of my daily life.