Impressions from the Meditation Experience Retreat at Ba Vang Pagoda
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Listen to the retreatant's thoughts. They've got a lot from the Meditation Experience Retreat: new experiences, new connections, peace and tranquility, and a “second home” always welcoming them to return to.
“Thay's teachings have touched our hearts…”
During the Meditation Retreat, Venerable Thich Truc Thai Minh, the abbot of Ba Vang Pagoda and a zen master with a long-time practice of meditation, was the teacher. Everyone often called him Thay (lit. “Master” or “Teacher”). He taught the retreatants fundamental knowledge of Buddhist meditation and its techniques to practice it.
The special thing was that after Thay's teachings and meditation practice sessions, the retreatants could directly ask him about their problems during their practice, or in their daily life. Then, from his answer, everyone could have a better understanding of meditation as well as find out ways to tackle their problems.
Ryan Jay Ogao-ogao, a Filipino participant, expressed his gratitude to Thay - who led him to be “back on track” : “No dry lessons, just profound but simple explanations and demonstrations, Thay has touched our hearts and helped us with our struggles so we can be back on track.”
“I wanted to find something new…” and I got it!
Most of the retreatants initially wanted to find new experiences as a way to relax as well as take a break from their daily worries and busy schedules.
And some of them really found some new and interesting things, such as walking meditation, like David, a Canadian retreatant shared after being instructed about it: “I learned some totally new things like walking meditation. That's something I've never heard of before and it was very interesting to try.” That could be a new experience because people often only think about meditation as something to do while sitting. However, in Buddhist meditation, one can meditate while standing, sitting, lying, or walking.
In each meditation retreat, participants might experience some new activities such as meditating on the Bodhi Mountain. Imagine you wake up early in the morning, climb the Bodhi Mountain at the Pagoda to meditate. There, you could close your eyes, focus on your breath, and immerse yourself in the fresh, pure air of the forest. Or, you solemnly join a English sutra-chanting session under the instruction of the monks. If luck would have it, you could attend almsgiving and make offerings to the honorable monks on the campus of Ba Vang Pagoda. How wonderful it is!
“The difference from meditating at home and at the Pagoda is huge.”
The experience of practicing meditation at the Pagoda was not only new but also brought a lot of benefits. It was hugely different from practicing at home. “At home, you just sit in your room, by yourself. You don't already know what to do,” said Vladimir Neskin, a Russian participant in the November 2022 retreat.
Sometimes, practitioners do not know how to meditate properly or find reasonable answers for their difficulties. David Lavrencic, from Canada, shared the shame feeling: “I had no idea how to go about it. I was thinking if I did it wrong.”
However, by joining the Meditation Experience Retreat at Ba Vang Pagoda, you could receive detailed guidance from Thay from the basic knowledge of meditation to its practice, and ask him any question you may have. Of course, he will give you the right answers according to the law of cause and effect. That's what makes a huge difference.
“It has been pretty amazing to feel it in person, to communicate with real Buddhists, with real monks in a real temple, to meditate with them. It's impossible to describe… I felt more confident and solemn while doing sitting meditation under the monks' guidance,” happily shared Vladimir.
The pure and solemn atmosphere here also brought Vladmir a different feeling. “The atmosphere here in the Pagoda inspires you to be more conscious, to be more persistent,” said him. It could be a favorable condition for him and other participants to meditate more attentively.
The November 2022 Retreat took place in 2 short days, but the participants really gained memorable experiences at Ba Vang Pagoda, through interesting activities and helpful sessions, and with like-minded friends.
This year, the Meditation Retreat at Ba Vang Pagoda continues to be held with both repeat and new attendees joining. We hope that through this Meditation Experience Retreat, you will find peace and happiness in your life.