Virtual learning has become a common method of learning. At the same time, it is also a new way of propagating dharma. During the Covid 19-crisis, a retreat can help people take a step back from the stressful daily routine. Realizing that, Hsi Lai Temple conducted a virtual retreat via Zoom, an online platform, from May 29 to July 31, 2021, with a total of 19 participants who gathered in the opening ceremony.
The retreat began with the orientation led by the Advising Venerable, Venerable Zhi Ching. Many people have their own unique interpretation of the word “retreat”. However, just as Venerable Zhi Ching introduced, the retreat is a fresh start to find ourselves. “Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.” As Venerable Zhi Ching goes deeper into the topic, she further explains that it instead means the calm in the heart no matter where we are amidst those things.
Following the session are the opening remarks by Venerable Abbot Hui Dong. He explains that attending a retreat may appear simple and easy. Still, in the long term, it requires a lot of commitment and determination. The Abbot hopes that all participants can cultivate mindfulness and improve their own concentration through the retreat. In addition, Venerable Abbess Man Kuang also delivers her warm welcome to all the attendants. The virtual platform has brought in a lot of convenience for learning, she says. However, we may find ourselves under some challenging situations between balancing different aspects of our lives and living in harmony. She emphasizes the importance of harmony and balance in the mind. If we follow the middle path, which is harmony, we can establish peace throughout the community. At the same time, we can also apply it to our daily lives to find peace and balance ourselves.
After a small break for lunch, Venerable Ru Hang talks about the story of Buddha’s Life. Next, Venerable Jue Ji introduces Master Hsing Yun and an article from his work “Hear Me Out – The Importance of Causes and Conditions in this World.”
At the end of the first day of the retreat, one participant shared her gratitude after hearing the story of Master Hsing Yun. Even though she did not meet him in person, the works of the Master, from founding the numerous temples to founding the universities across the globe, have all inspired her greatly. Through Master’s story, she has learned to let go of the things that don’t go her way and has understood the causes and conditions behind it.