During retreats, morning and evening services allows practitioners to immerse themselves in group practice. Chanting in a relaxed and aware manner serves to further harmonize body, breath, and mind.
At meal times we stop to reflect on the good fortune that we have in this life. We use this opportunity to remind ourselves to practice diligently, to not fall into laziness, and to allow compassion to permeate our thoughts and actions.
The Supreme Way is not difficult
If only you do not pick and choose.
Neither love nor hate,
And you will clearly understand.
Be off by a hair,
And you are as far from it as heaven and earth.

These vivid lines begin one of the most beloved and commented upon of all Zen texts, the Hsin Hsin Ming (“Faith in Mind”), a sixth-century poem by the third Chan patriarch, Seng Ts’an. The Hsin Hsin Ming is a masterpiece of economy, expressing the profoundest truth of the enlightened mind in only a few short pages.
At all times, do not give rise to deluded thoughts.
[Yet] when deluded mentalities [arise], do not extinguish them.
Amidst deluded perceptions, do not add any discrimination.
When in [the state of] non-discrimination, do not distinguish it as being real.

– From the Sutra of Complete Enlightenment

“There is a great deal of benefit to be gained from this sutra. On its highest level, practicing according to its teachings will lead to Buddhahood. On another level, you, your family, and your environment will be protected while you practice.”

Excerpt from Complete Enlightenment: Zen Comments on the Sutra of Complete Enlightenment by Master Sheng Yen
Silently and serenely, one forgets all words,
Clearly and vividly, it appears before you.
When one realizes it, time has no limits.
When experienced, your surroundings come to life.

Excerpt From Master Hongzhi Zhengjue’s writings on Silent Illumination

The style of meditation called “Silent Illumination” is one of the great practices of the Ch’an tradition. Silent Illumination originated around the 11th century, and its greatest advocate was Master Hongzhi Zhengjue of the Caodong sect, which became the Soto sect in Japan. In Tibet, the mahamudra practice is very similar. The practice originated in India, where it was called samatha-vipasyana, or serenity-insight. The aim of this practice is a mind unburdened with thoughts. This leads the mind to profound awareness about its own state.
The highest principle cannot be explained;
It is neither free nor bound.
Lively and attuned to everything,
It is always right before you. There is nothing in front of you;
Nothing, yet everything is as usual.

-Excerpt From Song of Mind by Niutou Farong

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