Where the Mind Rests: Guang Jue Temple Buddhist Retreat

Where the Mind Rests: Guang Jue Temple Buddhist Retreat
By Katie Letheren , eChinacities.com

Where the Mind Rests: Guang Jue Temple Buddhist Retreat

Nestled in the mountains of rural China lies Guang Jue Temple – a simple sanctuary located just one and a half hours outside the city of Hangzhou. Upon arriving at the monastery, Retreat Facilitator and Mindfulness Trainer Zhe Sheng (Malcolm Hunt) uttered the following words when introducing life at the temple: "Here at Guang Jue Temple, it is a place for being, not a place for doing. So just be."

A sanctuary for all

Following the Pure Land tradition, Malcolm Hunt leads various types of retreats throughout the month. From the very popular Meditation Weekend Retreat to the more intensive T'ai Shen Pure Land Practice Week, these retreats range in both their duration and their character. Whether you are a practicing Buddhist or someone who has always been interested in Buddhism as a philosophy, a person who wants to try something new while in China or a person simply looking to get out of the city to catch up on some sleep in a quiet place, all are welcome at Guang Jue Temple. One hour, one night, three days, three months, it doesn't matter. Guests with all varying sorts of agendas and needs are welcome to come and go as they please. All they ask is for you to be mindful of your surroundings and to let them know for how long you wish to stay so they can make the necessary arrangements.

Pay by donation

In keeping in line with the Buddhist tradition known as dàna, or generosity, the pricing is very simple – pay by donation. Whatever it is you feel in your heart you should give, you give. Due to the heavy snowfall they experienced this winter, the temple is undergoing serious renovations so if you are in a position to donate any amount towards the repairs, they would greatly welcome and appreciate your contribution.

Getting there

Getting there from Hangzhou is also very easy, and with the help from the genial Malcolm and team, almost effortless. One may take bus k598 from either Huanglong Stadium or West Bus Station to the town of Lin'an (10 RMB leaving approximately every 10 minutes). As the bus takes just about forty minutes to Lin'an, make sure you give Malcolm a call just as you are boarding so that he can send the driver over to Lin'an to take you the remaining thirty minutes to the temple located in Zaoxi. Using the services of the driver is 100 RMB to be split among each car full. All in all, the total travel time will take you just about an hour and a half.  If you would like to head over a day or so early to hike Tianmushan, this can easily be arranged as the mountain is also situated in Lin'an and it is well worth the hike.

"4:30 am, I am awakened by the knocking on my door. It's Mari, a long term temple resident who has kindly agreed to wake me as I am not used to rising at such an early hour. I open the door to the outside—it is still dark but I can just make out the silhouette of the mountains. The nun at the end of the hall slowly passes before me chanting "Namo Amituofo" as she does every morning. I brush my teeth, wash my face, and walk up to the temple for morning rituals. As the chanting begins, I simply listen. As I'm sitting there, the giant Buddha statues adorned in lights similar to those on a Christmas tree begin to take on a fantastical element in my mind. As I start to feel out the chanting, I join in with the monks and my fellow retreatants. I have the 'wow' moment which Malcolm speaks of. I am glad I came. I know I will be back."

In today's world, it is hard to find the things one will come across at Guang Jue Temple, and before even stepping foot in the town of Zaoxi. I can't remember the last time I received a detailed, personal and incredibly considerate email from a friend, never mind from a person I had never met before. Nobody takes the time to do this anymore. Malcolm does however, each and every time, and this never ceases to amaze me. Nowadays, life is fast – everything is just fast.

It is nice to be reminded of what's important; the moments spent at Guang Jue Temple help do just this. During one of our morning sessions, Malcolm was speaking about how so often in our lives we do things solely out of habit, without ever taking the time to think and to be present in the current moment. When addressing our morning routines, he said so many of us turn on Shanghai's weather report or Hangzhou's weather report and jump straight in to getting ready for the day without any thought. With a grin on his face, he said let's mix things up a bit while at the temple and hear a report from the Buddha. He then read a scripture from one of the sutras about merit and subsequently, a shared dialogue among the retreatants ensued.

Later that day, Venerable Master Zheng Rong, Abbott of Guang Jue Monastery, led a lively discussion regarding the Buddha's teachings and how they can be applied to our lives today.  He spoke about the world's troubles and how the world at present is a very complicated place. He kept going back to the heart and he maintained that by having a pure heart, a compassionate heart, we can begin to fix the problems we are facing today. During the talk, a phone rang. We all looked around the room to see where it was coming from. The master then reached into the pocket of his robe and pulled out a phone placing it on the chair next to him, but the ringing continued. He reached into the same pocket for a second time and pulled out a second phone, now the cordless phone from the temple's office. We all chuckled. He closed by saying this, "Life is short so make it a happy and good one." 

Namo Amituofo.

Guang Jue Temple's website: http://www.taishendo.com/

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Keywords: Guang Jue Temple travelling around Hangzhou day-trips Hangzhou Buddhist retreats near Hangzhou

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