【 Chan Event Reflection 】
I’ve been struggling to start writing a reflection about my experience at this Chan event, and my mother’s consistent nagging isn’t doing much to help either. It has been over a month with my mother reminding me every hour of the day to complete it, but I am still finding the words. Truly there have been many changes wrought upon my attitude from my days at Tian’nan temple, and I would like to think I am a changed woman. Yet, it seems too much of a cliché kind of motivational piece if I were to simply write that Buddhist teachings have transformed me and that I am now a better person. But for one observable aspect, I have not turned to anger when my mother pesters me daily about writing this reflection. In fact, I have not thrown a temper tantrum since, and this is an extraordinary feat when angry outbursts were a weekly occurrence before. For this change, I have many people to thank as it was the coming together of a myriad of coincidences, people, and even fate that I had the great fortune of finally being touched by Buddhism.
I had so many opportunities to learn of Buddhism since both my parents had converted to Buddhism. They had always been eagerly trying to bring me into their fold, but I was suspicious of the joy they claim to gain through Buddhism. I had been apathetic towards religion, but at the same time I was also terrified of a higher being, god, or whoever is up there. Knowing this my parents had urged me again and again to read some of Master Sheng-yen’s books, but I was adamant. Over a year of persuasion, there seemed to be no sign of me relenting until my mother asked me to sign up for this Chan event. And till now I cannot fathom why I agreed, but it seems that things simply happen when they ought to.
Now looking back, I want to pinpoint where my turning point was because during the first few days of the event I felt like me agreeing to go to this event was the biggest mistake I have made. I was positively desperate enough to contemplate scaling over walls to escape. I was bored of the monotony and stillness that pervaded our daily activities and wanted to return back to the world where people were bustling around. Every day was dreary, and I found my mind wandering off as we sat listening to Master Sheng-yen’s recordings. I wasn’t particularly tuning into his words and was just looking at him, his face, his clothes. At the time, nothing about him was striking to me, and my eyes ended up following his hands as they moved. Then I noticed that Master Sheng-yen had such beautiful hands. They weren’t beautiful in the common sense of the word, they were after all the hands of an old man. Yet, there was an elegance and grace in the way his hands were shaped and the way they moved. I found myself engrossed in the movement of his hands and beginning to wonder what kind of old man could have such beautiful hands, and this was my turning point as I began to focus on the words Master Sheng-yen was saying. It was Master Sheng-yen’s hands that took me step by step into Buddhism.
This turning point lead me to finally pick up Master Sheng-yen’s “Correct Buddhist Belief” that my mother had gifted me over a year ago. I began to understand what Buddhism truly entails, and I started to undo the misconceptions I had in mind that had.stopped me from learning Buddhism earlier on when I had the chance. Everyone has their unique entry into Buddhism, and mine has taught me to be humble, to be forgiving, and to be utterly thankful. And in the end, I must admit that this has become a cliché kind of motivational writing, but you may find it to be true if you experience it for yourself!