7-Day Silent Illumination Intensive Retreat
March 8-17, 2019
Led by Abbot Guo Yuan
|Begins:||Friday, March 8
check in 4-6 pm
|Ends:||Sunday, March 17
|Openings:||Available – Sign in to register|
The above quote comes from the poem “Silent Illumination,” composed by Master Hongzhi Zhengjue, a 12th century lineage holder of the Caodong (Jap. Soto) school of Chan Buddhism. The quote describes the mind of someone who has left behind all attachment to thought and conceptualization. Doing this, they clearly know the nature of things through the direct experience of enlightenment. Master Hongzhi wrote many beautiful poems describing his deep insight. While today we can read these poems for inspiration and encouragement in our practice, they also function as guidelines for a method known as silent illumination. With this method, the aim is to develop and maintain relaxation, clarity and openness of mind. Ultimately, the goal is to see into the nature of the mind. One who has achieved this insight establishes a solid understanding and confidence of how to cultivate freedom and ease in dealing with all situations. Naturally, they know how to resolve their remaining vexations, and use wisdom and compassion in their daily lives. Read more…
The silent illumination method will be taught in the context of daily life activities, such as sitting, standing, walking, sleeping, working, and eating. Chanting and gentle yoga exercises further harmonize the body, breath, and mind. The retreat also includes daily lectures, meditation instruction, guided meditation, and personal interviews. You can view a sample schedule here.
Requirements for Intensive Retreat
Our intensive retreats follow the traditional Chan monastery schedule, starting early in the morning and making the most efficient use of time in concentrated group practice. There are numerous forty-minute sitting periods throughout the day.
Participants should be mentally and physically prepared for the rigors of such a regimen. Therefore, we carefully screen each applicant to ensure sufficient experience for acceptance on an intensive retreat. The requirements are that the applicant has:
- already received basic meditation instruction
- established a daily personal practice
- previously attended at least one intermediate three-day retreat (e.g. Foundation Retreat)
Abbot Guo Yuan
Guo Yuan Fashi is a Buddhist monk trained in Chan Buddhism. In 1985 he first encountered Master Sheng Yen’s teachings while attending a seven-day retreat in New York. He then decided to become a disciple before finally leaving his job in Toronto, Canada, to become a monk in the Chan tradition. He was ordained in 1987 in Taiwan. For over twenty years, he accompanied and became translator to Master Sheng Yen in various Chan meditation retreats in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, and Mexico.
He studied Theravada Buddhism for a year in Thailand in 1991. Upon returning from Thailand, Guo Yuan Fashi was elected abbot of both the Chan Meditation Center (CMC) in Queens and the Dharma Drum Retreat Center (DDRC) in Pine Bush, New York. His responsibilities included attending interfaith services, teaching meditation, and giving lectures on Buddhism. In 2006 he became the director of the International Chan Retreat Center in Dharma Drum Mountain, Taiwan. In 2016 he returned to Pine Bush to become once again the abbot of DDRC. Fluent in Mandarin, Vietnamese, and English, he leads Chan retreat in many countries around the world.