Sean: Whenever I felt I could no longer go on, I could still find strength and continue
—-Retreat Sharing, TP7R1, Jun 4-11, 2016
What I learned and experienced during this retreat are:
- Don’t make up things to doubt.
During one of the sessions of day 3, I thought what if I was truly “No-self”, then how should I face what I had been through? I also thought about people I loved, and people I loved who’d been gone. Then I felt very sad about all of these and even burst into tears. I really wanted to figure it out and to know what no-self is. I thought I was doubting for real by this way, but actually I was just creating an environment and atmosphere for myself to indulge in. This was making things up, not real doubt.
- To doubt on my fear for real.
During the first 3 days of the retreat, I had been struggling a lot with pain and methods. I started to fight against pain by all means nearly at the moment I sat on the cushion. After tutorial talk with Shifu, I finally realized that I was actually venting my emotions, not doubting or even asking. In day 4, I followed Shifu’s instructions and doubted on fears I encountered. Then I was truly aware that I had such a huge fear of sitting practice. I also realized that even before pain came, I already put so much effort like straining my muscle or breathing shortly to fight against pain or to escape from fears. Since I faced all those fears, my doubts finally became real doubts.
- Don’t deliberately create concentration to doubt. Don’t grab doubting feelings to doubt. Don’t let my former successful experience become obstacles of this moment.
During the practice of day 4, I reached certain level of being focused, and experienced some physical and metal feelings that I didn’t have before, like slower sense of time and more sensitive feelings than usual. With Shifu’s explanation, I understood these physical and mental activity reductions went with concentration. After that session, I found myself took it as an indicator to check my practice, to check if I was focused or not, or tried to reach the same level of concentration. This made my former experience become obstacles for this moment. But Shifu kept emphasizing that no matter good or bad, thoughts or no thoughts, emotions or no emotions, and no matter what happened, all I should do was just continue to doubt. Then I finally realized that the point was this second, this question, and one question by one question, not compare or check again and again, not create concentration or grab doubting feelings either.
- As long as I keep doubting, it is power, and it is building the mainstream.
During the retreat, sometimes I cared too much about whether I asked loudly or not, did it right or wrong, and sometimes I felt I just didn’t have that strength to move on. With Shifu’s instructions, I knew that as long as I continued to doubt, that would be my power. I didn’t have to pursue or create concentration to gain strength. Also, whenever I felt I could no longer go on, I could still find strength and continue to doubt. Even though the voice was so slight, I could still move on.
- To connect the doubt with myself. To doubt into my heart and feel the strength come from there.
Last day, Shifu reminded us to doubt into hearts, and the strength should come from there. Then when I started my sitting session, I tried to doubt this way. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if my doubt dug into my heart, but sometimes there were some emotions like sadness, anger, and loneliness emerged from there while I was doubting. I didn’t exactly know the reasons why I had these feelings, but I did know they were genuine, not made up by me. Also, when these emotions came out, I found myself full of strength, and my doubt was real doubt. During the practice, Shifu told me I had a lot more than this deep in my heart, and I should go through it at one time instead of sitting there and waiting. For now, I haven’t learned how to go through it at one time, to doubt into my heart from the very beginning, and to keep doubting continually with the strength coming from my heart. But I do know there’s still something in my heart which I don’t understand, and I really want to doubt continually. After this retreat, I have more clear vision of self-training, and I’ll follow Shifu’s instructions to keep practicing and doubting. ****check for more Student Sharing ****