Thirty-five participated in the One-Day English Buddhist Retreat on March 19th, hosted by Hsi Lai Temple. Participants from Canada and from across the United States, including California, Florida, and Vermont joined together online from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
This is a continuation of the online series of courses held once a month with “Understand the Mind: How It Works” in January and “Calm the Mind: Understand World” in February. For the month of March, “Create Peace of Mind: The Power of Concentration and Compassion” was taught by Venerable Man Guang, Abbess of IBPS Dallas. Research studying the relationship between the brain’s neurology and emotional perception showed that the anterior insular cortex of the brain is responsible for perceiving others' suffering through observation and generating empathy. In other words, compassion is a natural human instinct. Through the practice of meditation, we can improve our concentration and maintain objective awareness of our perceptions and feelings. As a result, we can empathize with others, treat them with compassion, and create harmony among people and ourselves.
Venerable Hui Cheng from the Department of Social Education and Outreach uses compassion as the main driver of his meditation practice. The Buddhist concept of "non-self" serves as the foundation of compassion. Venerable reminded everyone that it is essential to truly understand that "self" is not the real self, but rather, it is the effect of various combinations of karmic conditions. Only through the understanding of the concept of "non-self," can the opposing view between "self" and "other" be eliminated, and then compassion for all beings can be amplified indefinitely.
"How do I make meditation a part of my life? Is it through the practice of concentration or during activities?” Venerable Hui Dong, Abbot of Hsi Lai Temple, said that if time permits, it is important to develop the habit of meditating for 10 minutes every day. This serves as the foundation for developing concentration. With the various activities throughout the day, it is crucial to stay focused, become aware of all feelings, and bring oneself back to the present moment at any given point in time. The participants also asked interesting questions; such as, "Why do Buddhists worship Buddha statues?”, “Do we need to understand the meaning of mantras?” and "Does compassion arise from the heart or from the brain?” Venerable addressed all questions, one by one, during the Q&A session. The next One-Day English Buddhist Retreat will be in-person at Hsi Lai Temple, May 21, 1:30- 6 pm. If interested in spending an afternoon away from your hectic lifestyle to unwind, reset and rediscover inner peace, please register at 2022 Hsi Lai Temple "One-Day Retreat" Registration Form.