Reflections on Half-day Chan Retreat

Bal Yu
Emptiness is no mind. The teachings of Buddhism and meditation have taught me how to improve my life, and better handle situations and people. One need not be a Buddhist to participate in Ocean Sky’s activities. Words of wisdom for all: open your mind, who knows what possibilities await you?
Celia Ng
It was interesting to see the formal meal being served for the first time during the half-day retreat. I know the participants felt the different ambiance. As a kitchen volunteer, I only had the chance to witness it. More of this. Amitofo.
Christine Yang
This was a wonderful, peaceful and enlightening experience and I very much enjoyed the Dharma Talk. I realized it was really very difficult for my mind to stop its chatter. I only felt settled with a sense of peace after the second incense. I would enjoy doing this again.
Cora Vitto
Meditation needs deep concentration. I want to become a Buddha, to be enlightened and to eradicate the three poisons of greed, anger and ignorance.
Cynthia Gepte
Thank you so much dearest Shifus for conducting this wonderful retreat. It was another beautiful way of connecting with our inner selves, thus somehow purifying our hearts and minds. The special Dharma Talk was very enlightening. It truly reminds us of our true nature—our Buddha Nature.
Deogracias Betia
Ocean Sky is a great help and has excellent teachings. The Shifus are available for consultations and give answers to problems and work challenges. For one to grow, one must follow the footsteps of a great teacher. Thank you, Masters, for all the lessons that I learned.
Ed Quesada
The sitting meditation was balanced by the fast walking meditation, which I deemed necessary to experience its physical and mental aspects. I also appreciate the etiquette that comes with the formal meal. Thank you Shifus and acolytes for the efforts and selfless compassion for all the participants.
Edgardo Pieraz
Middle Way Reality brings harmony to all. Nothing in this world is permanent; everything is temporary. There is also no fixed identity. Truth is free from any fixed idea or concept.
Edgardo Torres
Every meditation reminds me of what Gautama Buddha did 2,500 years ago to attain enlightenment. Meditation enables us to attain wisdom and one need not be an intellectual to have this wisdom. Through right effort, it is possible to realize our Buddha Nature.
Edwin Decenteceo
I thank the Abbess for the lessons on causality, emptiness and Middle Way Reality. I learned that perception without thought equals reality. This time around, I find it easier to understand when I thought in terms of the “still” and “peaceful” mind instead of the “empty” mind. Little by little, my practice is improving—both mind and body.
Fe Navarrete
Thank you Masters for your genuine concern, teachings and guidance. Having pains during meditation is a struggle and I hope that they will be gone one day. I have learned to empty my plate as a sign of valuing my blessings.
Flor Suzara
Thank you for letting me participate. I feel calm, quiet and so enlightened by the Abbess’ Dharma talk. I hope to develop a clear understanding of Reality. The Abbess has explained it beautifully. The biggest change that transformed my life are the changes in attitude—the change through believing in cause and effect, in believing that everything changes and nothing remains the same, and the causes of suffering.
Flora Chan
This is my first time to experience a formal meal which is very auspicious and solemn. In my daily life dealing with people and situations, I have to be conscientious and compassionate. By following the regulations, everything will happen smoothly and will surely succeed. I thank the Abbess and the three Shifus for the guidance and teachings. Amitofo!
Joan Adrian C. Tabalanza
The unity of opposites—good or bad, pain or joy. Shifu mentioned the principle of non-attachment to any of the implied concepts; to know the true meaning of truth, one must experience it. Attainment of enlightenment can only be achieved through constant cultivation of Zen values and tenets of which attending the half-day retreat plays a vital role. I truly appreciate the effort given by the Monastery in allowing sentient beings like me to cultivate merits. Amitofo!
Justin Abainza
Imbalance and suffering comes when we want something to stay in its place, like towards pleasure, too much comfort, without knowing that nature has its way of seeking balance. We can always choose to live a life of balance. The True Mind, the Middle Way Reality is not defining right from wrong, good from bad. It is merely being aware of your thoughts, actions and emotions, you just let it flow or come naturally. Such is the enlightenment of the true Buddha Nature, that it cannot be attained by suffering or punishing the body or going through extreme vows of penitence. It is merely being aware of your thoughts and actions; respecting and accepting them.
Kennedy Tuazon
It is really an effort to keep the mind empty. The half-day retreat re-invigorates our practice of meditation. It really helped me concentrate against passing monkey-mind thoughts. Breath counting helped calm my mind. After the whole session, I felt relaxed and calm, and especially mindful that I have emptied my cup. In the course of my everyday chores, meditation helped me remove various delusive and intercepting thoughts.
Lualhati O. Abainza
Meditation clears the mind of attachment to “labels” that divide and alienate us from each other, leading to “judgment.” Staying in the company of the Sangha reminds us of this “unkind” habit and to amend our ways. It takes time and constant meditation practice to integrate the Buddha’s teachings in one’s life.
Lorraine Joyce Magpantay
I am just tapping the tip of the iceberg in my meditation. I still have so much to do to conquer myself as I struggle to silence my mind. For the whole five hours, my mind kept on talking. Thus, I believe I need more practice and patience.
Louie Inoncillo
My quest to find the Buddha Mind was elusive as I struggled with the interruptions from my wandering thoughts and physical pains, I could barely keep my thoughts at bay. Over time and sincere effort, I straightened up my views and stayed focused on positive solutions instead of worries, which made me feel lighter and more secure. With this newfound joy, I renewed my vow to myself to continue my meditation practice until I become the master of my mind.
Matt Baluyos
This is my first half-day retreat and stilling the mind was really difficult. The Abbess’ Dharma Talk on the Middle Way Reality emphasizes the reality of our mind. Thus, I focused on the thought that everything is empty and the pain only exists in my mind. It helped me endure the long hours of sitting.
Melanie Francisco
In this half-day retreat, I have shared my merits with my friend’s sick grandmother. As I shared, I know I have gained more. Looking back, I am glad that I decided to learn Buddhism because I came to know and experience my one true mind. The monastery is truly a place for cultivation of right attitudes.
Menchu Ortega
It was a memorable half-day retreat. The Abbess gave a very enlightening talk about meditation. We really need days like this to just be quiet and meditate. I find the walking meditation a bit difficult as I am a slow walker. Thank you to all the Shifus for this wonderful opportunity.
Mercedita Buglosa
By studying Buddhism, I learned and understood the Principle of Cause and Effect which stirred my desire to become a better person. Thus, I do my best to apply it in my daily life.
Natividad T. Gopiao
Having a clear and calm mind can effectively help us overcome the challenges in our life. It makes us see the things as they truly are—empty. Also, subduing our thoughts and feelings is necessary as they are also projected in outer appearances. I believe we must diligently pursue a more spiritual life to attain enlightenment.
Nelson Tan
The more I attend the half-day retreat, the more I understand how my mind perceives things. I really do appreciate Abbess Jianshu’s Dharma talk about the Middle Way Reality. It really cleared my mind of all dualistic views that I have attached to my everyday life. The half-day retreat meditation helped to still my mind and to look into my true mind. Thank you, Ocean Sky Chan Monastery.
Ofelia Santos
The Abbess’ Dharma Talk was filled with wisdom. Meditation time takes toll on the body but the mind is renewed having entered emptiness. It is the polishing of the mind where in moments of enlightenment, the Buddha Nature shines through. To Abbess and Dharma Masters, thank you.
Pedro Cesar C. Ramboanga, Jr.
My third half-day retreat was a challenge. I hope to do better next time for I knew and experienced the benefits of silence, stillness and calmness in my earlier retreats. Thus, I look forward to attending more half day retreats to perfect my practice. Thank you to our Abbess and Shifus and happy 10th Anniversary. Thank you for bringing Buddhism to the Filipino community.
Raceli Domingo
I have come to love and embrace meditation as I feel like a new person every time I do so. At this point in my Buddhist practice, I am determined to persevere as far as the Buddha’s grace will allow me to. I know the journey will not be an easy ride but I place all my faith in the Three Jewels that I may bring out my Buddha Nature. Thank you Abbess, Masters and Ocean Sky family for keeping the Bodhisattva spirit alive.
Randy Villanueva
Thank you Abbess, Masters and OSCM family for your great service and sacrifice in spreading the Buddha’s teachings to enlighten the lay people so we may see our True Nature. May more blessings and light of truth descend upon us.
Raphael Cardel T. Domingo
I learned three valuable lessons—Patience, Determi- nation and Endurance. Determination solidifies our goal, patience keeps our positive outlook alive, and endurance gives us courage and strength to rise above all difficulties and hindrances. Lessons learned; life application follows.
Rene de Guzman
The half-day retreat is always excellent. We need more of it. There is no doubt that it is very important aside from the studies. Thank you very much! Amitofo!
Rizal I. Santos
Words are not enough to describe the bliss I experienced during meditation. There were pains, though very minimal and ignorable. I highly appreciate the entire retreat program and am thankful to the Abbess, Shifus and volunteers for the marvelous feat.
Thomas Beau dela Cruz
My adaptation to discomfort was gradual as I struggled to absorb the Abbess’ instruction to abandon breath counting and move to “no thought.” As I calmed my mind, I had a tiny glimpse of what she meant and it grew bigger when I listened to her Dharma Talk. I need to study more to grasp the profound meaning of Causality, Emptiness and Middle Way Reality.