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What is Chan?

Chan is freedom, expressed through wisdom and compassion. Awakening in Chan means the direct experience of being freed from self-referentiality and vexations. Buddhism articulates this freedom as the wisdom of emptiness (śūnyatā), which is not nothingness but that everything is interdependent, connected. Selflessness or wisdom of emptiness simply means relationships. Compassion is the activity of selfless wisdom. This means wisdom and compassion is selfless activity, the ability to connect with everyone and everything, beyond the duality of self and others, grasping and rejecting.

Chan as practice means grounding and engaging. Grounding means facing, embracing, working through, and letting go of the self. Engaging means offering oneself to the benefit of others. In this practice, all the ups and downs of life become part of the path.

Chan is also a school within East Asian Buddhism, with a history dating back to 7th century CE in China. Later this form of Buddhism was transmitted to Japan as “Zen” in the 13th century.

"One Minute Chan"

During your busy day, try to find a few moments to stop, sit, relax, and clear your mind. You need not always sit on a cushion to practice for thirty minutes. You can do your practice anywhere, at anytime, at your desk, in a car, an elevator, or train, right now. Pick five times or situations to practice the “one-minute Chan” method, which is for one minute relax your body and mind and be completely with the task at hand. If you pick 10am as one of your five “one-minute Chan” practices, then when 10am comes just relax and be with whatever you happen to be doing. If you pick going up the elevator as one of the situations for daily practice, then in the elevator ride just stand there and scan your body to make sure your body is fully relaxed. Let clarity and a gentle smile arise from within; allow your body and mind to refresh itself. if you do this everyday, the power of your mindfulness and focus will increase and these five moments will start to have a positive impact on the rest of your day.

Your Life as Practice

Practice should not be separated from daily living. Proper practice includes cultivating mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom. Be aware of your changing mental and physical conditions. See how they affect your thoughts, words, and actions. In all our actions of body, speech, and mind, we should consider whether our intentions are beneficial to others. In this way, we can check ourselves before acting. If we put other people before ourselves, self-referential feelings will not arise as frequently.

Considering others is as much a form of practice as formal seated meditation. Sentient beings have their own karmic causes and conditions, their own merits and virtues, their own karma. You cannot change them, nor can you take on others’ karma. Of key importance is your intention. You should sincerely try to help others, whether or not you succeed. Do not do anything that will make you feel tense, tired, or miserable. If you whip yourself all the time, you will be no use to others or yourself. Use meditation as a supporting discipline and Buddhadharma as your guide. Do the best you can, but don’t push too hard.

Upcoming Dharma Talks 

Tallahassee Chan Center (Online)

Guided Meditation + Dharma Talk + Live Q&A

Next Talks: Mon., March 08, March 22, 7:30pm – 9:00pm EST

March Meditation Month @ Tricycle Magazine (Online)

This year, Tricycle’s Meditation Month teacher is Guo Gu, who will introduce basic relaxtion and awareness exercises and then guide us through the Chan (Zen) practice of silent illumination.

Zoom calls on Sat., March 6, 12:00pm EST and Fri., March 19, 5:00pm EST

Chan Silent Illumination & Mahamudra: A Discussion Across Buddhist Traditions @ The Guhyasamaja Center (Online)

Sat., March 13, 10:30am EST

Saturday London Affiliate Q&A (Online)

Guided Meditation + Live Q&A for the London Chan Group

Next Talk: Sat., March 20, 10am EST

Silent Illumination Dialogue @ Florida Community of Mindfulness (Online)

Sun., March 14, 10:00am – 12:00pm EST

Silent Illumination Dialogue @ North Carolina Zen Center (Online)

Sun., March 28, 11am EST

Silent Illumination Dialogue @ Houston Zen Center (Online)

Sun., April 04, 10:45 am EST

Silent Illumination Dialogue @ Bright Way Zen (Online)

Sun., April 11, 2pm

Upcoming Retreats / Workshops

Relax: Stress Reduction for Young Adults

This short, four-hour workshop is designed for young adults (aged 15 – 35) to help them to personally experience relaxation, presence, and awareness amidst daily life, achieving peace – regardless of the source of stress.

Sun., March 21, 10am – 3pm EST

Silent Illumination 6-Week Workshop (Online)

This six-week course will explore: silent illumination through foundational practices of embodied experiencing of progressive relaxation; somatic integration of breath/experiencing/present moment; direct contemplation of seeing and hearing; and the realization of silent illumination in daily life. The course will meet online together once a week for instructions and discussion of the week’s topics, with readings assigned each week.

April 17 – May 22 (Saturdays, 10am-12pm EST)

Person of Color Chan Retreat (Online)

This retreat, held online through the Tallahassee Chan Center, aims to create a supportive environment for people of color to learn about the foundation of Chan practice. It will be held online thru Memorial Day weekend (May 28 – May 31). More details to be released soon.

Fri May 28 – Mon May 31

7-Day Intensive Chan Retreat (Online)

Intensive Chan retreat aims to deepen your practice. This retreat includes 30-minute sitting meditation periods punctuated by mindful yoga and walking meditation. Daily Dharma talks by Guo Gu, and opportunities for personal consultations on practice. 

Sat July 3 – Sat July 10