A three-day bonding session-cum-meditation retreat was held from 15th to 17th December 2012 at Samadhi Centre in Pontian.
A total of fourteen students from YMBA Senior 1 and the Mandarin class, devotees, and teachers under the mentorship of Bhante Raja were in our midst.
“Bhikkus, there are these four kinds of person found existing in the world. What four? One who has gone on retreat by body but not by mind; one who has not gone on retreat by body but by mind; one who has not gone on retreat either by body or by mind; and one who has gone on retreat both by body and by mind.” (Anguttara Nikaya, The Book of the Fours, The Third Fifty – Persons, Sutta 138 Retreats).
We started the day at 4:15 am with stretching exercises to relax the body for the meditation session.
The morning group mediation session commenced at 4:30 am with walking and or sitting meditation according to the individual’s own preference and pace.
Sanghika dana for breakfast was at 6:00 am, followed by breakfast by the devotees.
“Bhikkhus, when a donor gives food, he gives the recipients four things. What four? He gives life, beauty, happiness and strength. Having given life, he partakes of life; having given beauty he partakes beauty; having given happiness, he partakes happiness; having given strengthen, he partakes strengthen whether celestial or human. ” (Anguttara Nikaya, The Book of the Fours, The Second Fifty – Streams of Merit, Sutta 59(9) Food).
After breakfast until puja at 11:00 am, the time was for our own activity and area cleaning.
Sanghika dana lunch at 11:30 was preceded by the 11:00 am puja. Monks adhered strictly to their meal time. “He parctises eating only one meal a day, abstaining from eating at night and outside proper time.” (Majjhima Nikaya, Culahatthipadopama Sutta 22: The Simile of the Elephant’s Footprint). According to the Vinaya the proper time for bhikkhus to eat is between dawn and noon. From noon until the next dawn only liquids are allowed.
It is, therefore, of paramount importance to adhere strictly to the stipulated meal time. “One who respectfully gives timely food to those self-controlled ones who eats what others give provides them with four things: life, beauty, happiness, and strength. The man who gives life and beauty, who gives happiness and strengthen, will obtain long life and fame wherever he is reborn.” (Anguttara Nikaya, The Book of the Fours, The Second Fifty – The Streams, Sutta 58(8) Sudatta).
In one of the Dhamma sharing sessions we had Brother Raymond Lee who broached on the topic of paying homage to the image of the Buddha.
to go along with the saying: “Variety is a spice of life”, we had a session on mudras for a holistic healing workshop, a deviation from the norm on Buddhist topical subjects, conducted by the undersigned.
“Monks, these two are worthy of a relic-shrine (stupa). What two? A Tathagata, an Arahant who is a Fully Enlightened One, and a world-ruling monarch.” (Anguttara Nikaya, The Book of the Threes, Chapter VI, S1.1 On Persons).
The doubt on Buddhist relics, especially with their proliferation, on their authenticity was clarified by Bhante Raja in one of the Dhamma sharing sessions. When one had faith in the Triple Gem, one would not be distracted, analogous to paying homage to a Buddha image by not discerning whether it was crafted from wood or sculptured from marble or made of porcelain and neither in form as Thai or Burmese tradition or otherwise.
The day ended with an evening puja followed by group meditation and rounded up with question-and-answer session with Bhante at around 10:00 pm.
Incidentally, our visit coincided with the durian season and we enjoyed a sumptuous meal of the king of fruits. Although we were mindful on food consumption in moderation, as Aňguttara-Nikăya, IV, XVI, 159 aptly reminded us, “Here, sister, a monk takes food with reflection and judgment, not for sport, not for indulgence, not for personal charm, not for beautifying, but just enough for the support, for the upkeep of the body ……………..”,
but as human we, “ … always take delight in food, both devas and human beings. So what sort of spirit could be, that does not take delight in food?” (Saṃyutta Nikăya – Sutta 1 Devatăsamyutta – Connected Discourses with Devatăs).
Yes, in moderation, of course.
Contributor: Chin Kee Thou