90
 
紅塵清泉








2005 Pilgrimage to
Chung Tai Chan Monastery



  
It was our first visit to Taiwan. Growing up in Russia, we didn't know about a country called "Taiwan". Once in the 1980s, I noticed an electronics label "Made in Taiwan" and wondered about it. "It's just an island"——I was told. Islands fascinate me, because as a child I read a lot about treasures and travels in adventure stories of Jules Verne. Now as devoted disciples of Chung Tai Zen Center of Sunnyvale, we recognize different treasures. We were fortunate to join a group of disciples from Sunnyvale led by Jian Hu Shifu on the annual pilgrimage trip to Taiwan. On the plane from Bangkok to Taipei, I experienced quiet and joyful anticipation of a long-awaited reunion. It seemed that I was to be reunited with something I got separated from very long time ago, much longer than my life.

  From the very first moment in Taipei, we received great attention and care. Each meeting or visit could be a subject of a separate story, and I have to be brief.

  Day 1. The moment I stepped out of the bus in Puli, I felt the aroma in the air. I know that aroma very well from Russian Churches, where they burn so-called ladan for purification. In Chung Tai, the aroma was everywhere, which told how sacred the place was. One immediately understands that in Chung Tai everything exceeds expectations. Every job is done with great dedication and love. As we toured the building, I wondered what kind of mind it took to create a building like this, and what kind of spirit was necessary to raise it.

  That afternoon, we attended a ceremony that was presided by the Grandmaster and it was very joyful to be there.

  Day 2. After waking up at 4:30, I attended a ceremony. I was supposed to do chanting from a booklet but I would get lost all the time. I could observe how mind was clinging to the text as I thought—— "Wait. Stop it. I'll find that syllable." For me, it was a lesson in letting go——of course the service would not stop and neither would life.

  That afternoon we took the Three Refuges with the Grandmaster. Despite the huge crowd, it was a very personal experience for me——as the rows were distributed for people to come in front of him, I went exactly in the middle on the front row and he looked into my eyes. I felt very happy.

  Later that night, we attended a 3-hour service for hungry ghosts. It felt solemn but I didn't feel 3 hours. My thoughts were about my elderly parents.

  Day 3. At a local paper factory, we learned how the paper is made. The paper is made with sweat. Just like 5 contemplations about food in Buddhism, we need to contemplate where the paper comes from——a lot of hard work and we waste it so easily.

  We also visited Pu Tai Elementary and Junior High School. It was obvious that great world leadership is soon to come up from the place like that. We hoped that one day we could contribute to setting up a program to allow some students from Russia to study here and bring the teaching to Russia.

  Day 4. We left Chung Tai and set out for Taipei. On the bus, I had a lot of vexations. But instead of turning away from them, I could observe them and question them rationally.

  In Taipei, we visited the Zen Center and one of the volunteers accompanied us to the National Museum. My strongest impression was from looking at wooden Buddha statues. Looking at the statues made me connect to those old times, I thought those perhaps were the times when more people used to get enlightened in front of these statutes.

  Day 5. That night we spent in a monastery where the Grandmaster was ordained. The monastery seemed to be situated above the clouds. It was a very compact and old structure. My sleep was very deep and peaceful there. In the morning, we had a service and a meditation at the Chan Hall. We toured the monastery and observed the statue of the Master Empty Cloud. His image looked very familiar. I might have read about him in a book about Chan Buddhism in Russia at the end of the eighties.

  Just a couple of hours later, we went to a beautiful small monastery in the forest. It was the first one that Grandmaster built himself. We walked around, listened to the sound of the creeks. The place felt very warm and cozy. The Buddha in the Zen Hall was reclining. For some reason the moment of Buddha's nirvana was very easy to feel here. That day I was inside a Chan hall for the first time and experienced a walking meditation.

  Jian Hu Shifu led a walking meditation. I discovered that the mind didn't need to rush even though the pace was getting faster and faster——a very useful secret for the Silicon Valley. But most importantly, I could come to an absolute stop when the stop signal came in. I discovered the emptiness. It seemed almost too easy and it lasted for several minutes. And it was very joyful.

  Day 6-9. The trip to Thailand provided an overview of a very old and very new Theravadin Buddhism. We visited some very special places, and received many blessings including little threads that came from the clothing offered to the Buddha and especially how fortunate we were to meet with the Deputy Sangha King, one of the spiritual leaders of Thailand and to receive his blessing as well.

  Although the pilgrimage trip was over, my future, a new trip, suddenly became clear.

  中台朝聖的因緣,第一次來到台灣。從小在俄國長大,不曾聽過「台灣」這個國家。1980那一年,看到一個電子產品上寫著「台灣製」,十分好奇。聽說「台灣是個島嶼」,孩童時代讀了許多尋寶故事,對島嶼充滿嚮往之情。如今,身為太谷精舍的學員,學會了辨別與世間不同的寶藏。此次參加由見護法師帶領的「年度朝聖團」,從曼谷飛往台北的機上,沉浸在一股即將歸家的寧靜與喜悅之中,宛如期待已久的重逢,一切恍如隔世。

  從踏上台灣的那一刻起,我們受到了許多關心與照顧。每次的參訪行程,足以寫成一篇篇的旅遊札記,在此簡略記敘如下:

  第一天初抵埔里,踏出車外的剎那,一陣清香撲鼻而來。熟悉的味道,正如同俄國教堂娷燒ladan淨化殿堂的香味。中台處處瀰漫著這股氣味,像在訴說著這塊淨地多麼的神聖。身歷其中,立即感受到中台的一切無一不令人驚喜,大大小小的成就,皆源自於大眾的發心與愛心。參訪殿堂時,不禁想著:是什麼樣的心念創造了這樣一座建築?又是什麼樣的信念使它屹立不墜?下午,參加了 老和尚主持的法會,內心法喜充滿。

  次日清晨參加早課,可是卻跟不上唱誦。「等一等,停一下我才跟得上!」──這樣的念頭才興起,赫然發現自己多麼執著──現實中的早課不會為自己停下來,真實的人生亦然。要學習放下。

  下午,皈依了 老和尚。儘管置身於一片擁擠的人群,卻獨有如此深刻的經驗──輪到我們向前排班時,剛好就站在前排正中央,一抬頭見到 老和尚正看著自己,感到分外高興。 晚上,參加大蒙山法會,莊嚴肅穆,全程專注想著年邁的雙親,倒不覺得有三小時這麼久。

  第三天,參觀紙工廠了解造紙的過程。原來紙張得之不易,誠如佛法中要「食存五觀」的道理,也當思惟紙從何來──來自於許多人的辛苦付出,然而我們卻不懂得惜福。我們又參觀了普台國民中小學。顯而易見,世界未來的領袖就是從像這樣的學校教育栽培而成。希望有一天,我們能夠成就俄國的學生來這裡學習,然後把普台的教育理念帶回到俄國。

  第四天,離開中台前往台北。在車上起了些煩惱,但是卻沒有逃避,反而看著煩惱,冷靜地思惟分析。抵達台北,我們參觀了故宮博物院。印象最深刻的,是一尊尊的木雕佛像。看著這些佛像,如同走進古老年代,也許那時候比較多人在佛像前開悟吧!

  這一天, 我們在 老和尚受具足戒的大覺寺裡度過了一晚。寺院像是一座矗立於雲端上的古剎。那晚睡得特別安詳。隔天在禪堂上早課、靜坐。之後四處參觀,見到 虛雲老和尚的雕像時倍覺親切,大概是因為曾在俄國一本禪宗書上讀過 虛雲老和尚的事蹟吧!

  幾個小時後,我們進入了森林裡一座小而幽雅的寺院。這是 老和尚親手建造的第一間寺院。漫步其中,聆聽潺潺的溪水聲流,令人心曠神怡。看著禪堂裡的臥佛,似乎自然而然地就能意會佛陀的涅槃寂靜。

  那天也是第一次進到禪堂行香,由見護法師親自帶領。自己發現:即使步伐越來越快,心念卻可以不用跟著急躁──這對矽谷人很有幫助。當站板乍響的瞬間,自己能夠完全停住不動,當下並輕而易舉地感受到空的境界,而且持續了幾分鐘,這感覺十分愉悅。

  最後四天是泰國之旅,讓我們對新、舊南傳佛教有整體的認識。參訪了幾處特別的地方,收到許多祝福,包括來自供養佛陀的哈達上面的小絲線。特別的是我們很有福報,和泰國第二精神領袖副僧王會面,並且獲得他的祝願。

  朝聖之旅雖然結束了,我的未來──另一趟嶄新的旅程,卻霎時明亮鮮活了起來!

  


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