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.