A Spiritual Journey

A Spiritual Journey
Buddhist students of Pelita Harapan University

Here I am, a year later, sitting on the same exact spot writing about the same event and yet a whole different experience. KMVB UPH hosted another event called ‘Fun with Dhamma’ with the emphasis on ‘Finding Peace within You.’ Because I attended the last event, consciously I have made some expectations and was hoping that this time will be as good as last year’s. Fortunately, the event was as expected and yet, another eye-opening experience for me.

It was the same routine of meditation but, somehow the experience was different. As if there will always be something new to discover and explore. Be it with the practice, or within yourself. So, the fact that I attended the last event does not really matter because I experienced a whole another experience.

In one of the Dhamma Sharing session, a friend asked about sitting meditation and how to deal with the cries of our legs and feet. With enthusiasm and a bit of humor, Bhante Kirya answered, “Feel it, feel the pain, feel where the pain comes from. The pain will always be there but it is always up to you whether you want to suffer or not.” It opened a whole new perspective regarding my aching legs and feet. What he said makes total sense, pain and suffering are two different objects and we can separate one from the other.

With that new, interesting knowledge in my mind, I set a resolution that I will try to sit thirty minutes without moving at all. Interestingly enough, I did it. Despite the constant struggle and battle inside my mind, I managed to persevere through the pain and decided not to suffer. During the thirty minutes, I kept thinking if my blood stopped flowing and my legs cant feel anything, does my legs need to be amputated? Those thoughts constantly tested my resolution but now I can finally say that indeed, there can be pain and no suffering.

In another session of Questions and Answers with the monastics, my other friend asked a question that piqued the interest of Bhante Nyanabhadra; the question was so long that in one question there were four questions. It was regarding self-love, hopelessness, self-hate, and ways to overcome them. In the case of self-love, he simply answered, “Taking enough sleep is loving yourself, taking care of your body is loving yourself, eating the right food is loving yourself. These are the things that you are currently doing in this camp and these are the ways to love yourself.” So simple yet so profound.

In regards to hopelessness and self-hate, he told my friend that it is both a blessing and a curse that you were feeling this way at that point. A curse because you hate yourself but also a blessing because you admitted and acknowledged that there is self-hate. He continued, “Just like the Four Noble Truth, first, the acknowledgement of hating yourself. Second, find the reasons why you hate yourself. Thirdly, knowing the reasons will help you in overcoming your self-hate. Lastly, find the ways to overcome that suffering.”

His answer did not stop there, he began explaining, “Consistent practice of meditation and application of mindfulness can help and guide you, but of course to a certain extent. Eventually the that feeling will come back again and knock your door. But this time, you are more prepared in facing it. It is also impossible to avoid the problem and please do not try to avoid the problem because it will make you suffer more. Instead, acknowledge that feeling and embrace it and know that this will pass.”

When he finished talking, my friend started to tear up and Bhante Nyanabhadra was clueless on what he said wrong. I spontaneously said, “Its tears of happiness” and I hope it was.

Another perspective that amazes me was when Bhante Nyanabhadra was speaking about the shape and content of Buddhist teachings. He elucidated that there are many shapes of traditions of Buddhist teachings but essentially, the most important aspect is its content rather than the shape. Many people put significance on the shape but lose sight of the essence. As long as the content reflects the core of Buddhism principles, the shape is of secondary importance.

Previously, I said I gained a drop of enlightenment in the boundless ocean of Buddhist teachings and this time I can say I gained another priceless drop of enlightenment through this event. Although there are challenges and difficulties ahead of me, I am sure that with practicing these mindfulness methods will help me reach equanimity. Credits to the committees that made this whole thing happened and to my new Dharma friends. I hope we will cross each other’s paths again in the future.

Oleh: Hendy, Keluarga Mahasiswa Vidya Buddhis, Universitas Pelita Harapan.

A Drop of Enlightenment in the Boundless Ocean

A Drop of Enlightenment in the Boundless Ocean
Fun With Dharma, KMVB UPH @PondokSadhanaAmitayus Cipayung

A constant feeling of consternation and curiosity combined together, a mind filled with thoughts that are unnecessary, a dormant way of thinking. That was how I felt before the five days pilgrimage began at Pondok Sadhana Amitayus, Cipayung, West Java. Well, it was not exactly a pilgrimage as I just spent the days at one place but it was definitely a journey for my soul.

KMVB UPH (Keluarga Mahasiswa Vidya Buddhis, Universitas Pelita Harapan) hosted an event called “Fun with Dharma” which basically means learning Dharma in a fun way. It was hosted in Cipayung, at a place called Pondok Sadhana Amitayus. It was led by Bhante Nyanabhadra (Br. Pháp Tử), a student of the world-renowned Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh. Bhante Nyanabhadra faced through many challenges in order to become one of 800 disciples of this great Zen master.

The challenges surely created many experiences for him because I can feel the knowledge emitting from his mouth every time he answered one of our stupid question. Stupid questions lead to great replies and great replies led to a great quote. “Do your best but not to be the best!” One of the spontaneous quote that he made during the Dharma Talk.

I can feel the burgeoning growth of my soul after listening talk about the principles of Buddhism. The ever-increasing Dharma knowledge about Buddhism. What is admirable about Bhante Nyanabhadra is his open-mindedness towards everyone’s perspective. Some might criticize him about how he acts but no matter what, people cannot criticize the way he pour the Dharma into us. It was poured in the most simplistic way, thus I can understand them easily.

For instance, I asked a very difficult question about finding the right partner and although, sometimes he found the questions rather complicated and unanswerable, he still provided us the best possible solution that he can think of. Not only that, the solution he provided was not biased in any way because he demonstrated his answer with perspectives not only his but also others’ perspectives. In the end of every Dharma talk session, he would say “Do not believe 100% of what I have said, always take time to digest them.” I was in awe of his modesty despite his achievements and intelligence.

It was not just Bhante Nyanabhadra that made the pilgrimage whole, but also the system. What I meant by system is how we eat, walk, taking the stairs, meditate, stopping when the clock chimes every 15 minutes and many others. Just by the way we eat, we were growing as a family of friends; because we have to wait for everyone to get their food and sit on our little circle of awkwardness. It was awkward at first, but the results were magnificent.

The solidarity, the sense of belonging, the feeling of a family; all of that dormant feelings woke up from their dreams. Furthermore, with the 15 minutes of constant chiming created a more unique sensation. Bhante Nyanabhadra instructed us to go back to our breath every time the clock chimes. Therefore, I have to stop and observe our pattern of breathing when I hear the ‘bell’ sound. It was strange at first but one of the funniest moments was probably invented there.

We consistently meditated at 5:30 am in the morning for 5 consecutive days. There was sitting meditation, walking meditation, and mindful movements. The sitting meditation lasted about 20-30 minutes in which Bhante Nyanabhadra gives simple instructions such as “Breathing in, I am aware of my in breath. Breathing out, I am aware of my out breath.” It helped us to get into the zone.

Afterwards, we did some walking meditation indoor and outdoor. In the case of outdoor, we ambled and ventured in the nature behind the house. Being in the present moment that I was, I observed how the leaves dancing when the wind blew past them; the grass gently kissing our feet; the mountains spreading across the horizon; the boundless blue sky; the tinkling sound of the bell.

All in all, the Amitayus pilgrimage experience was absolutely a good way to end our exam and start our holiday. The experiences that I obtained during this event was priceless and it was all thanks to our karma that I was able to attend “Fun With Dharma” with many other friends. I cannot say that I have completely understood Buddha’s teachings however, I for sure gained a drop of enlightenment in the boundless ocean of Buddha’s teachings.

One of the participant, student of Universitas Pelita Harapan, member of Keluarga Mahasiswa Vidya Buddhis