Retreat for Students

The Youth Retreat of "Return to a peaceful place" at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi

Update: 07/01/2021
From December 31th, 2020 - January 3, 2021 (Nov. 18th –21st, Year of Mouse), over than 200 students gathered to Hoa Phuc pagoda (Hoa Thach, Quoc Oai, Hanoi) participate in a youth retreat titled "Return to a peaceful place".
 

The Youth Retreat of

 

Practice a mindful living

During 4 days and 3 nights of practice at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, participants do not use electronic devices such as iPads, cell phones, and personal computers ... to focus on collective activities at the temple.

Early in the morning, three small bells rang; the cultivators woke up and started with exercise. Quang Chien (a student of the Tourism University) said: “Because I often use my phone when I stay at home, I usually sleep at 1 - 2 am, 7 am - 8 am to wake up. From the day I arrived at the temple without my phone, I felt better because I went to bed early and got up earlier. I realized that it took me too long to pay attention to useless things online. When staying at the temple, I absolutely did not use electronic devices; I seemed to find myself again”.

After the vegan meal at the dining hall, young learners divided into groups to do chores, diligently wash dishes, clean the floors, water plants, and clean up furniture.

“Although all chores at the temple are simple, it has given me many lessons. For example, when cleaning the floor, I look carefully at every cleaning path, not to hurt the ant around. Doing all of things with mindfulness helps me to get rid of the troubles in studying and in life”, said Kieu Luong (a student of the University of Labor and Social Affairs).

As for Thanh Tu (Polytechnic University), watering plants 2 times/ day helps me feel the intense vitality from the fresh sprouts, so I love nature and habitat more.

Peaceful step by step

Meditation is the main activity in the retreat under the guidance of monks. It is one of the most effective and practical ways to deal with stress and difficulties in life.

“In walking meditation, it is necessary to put all of our senses in our feet without any wild thoughts. When we focus on every step, breath, we are returning to the present” said Junior Thich Tam Phong (the monks of Hoang Phap pagoda).

In the early morning sun, Buddhist disciples gently walked around the temple grounds, walked step by step in mindfulness, away from past thoughts and future worries to return to peace in the present.

“I feel peaceful when I meditate, I have time to feel the sky, earth, trees, flowers surrounding things. And above all, I found myself again after the days of squeezing into my life and work”, said Thuy Hien (22 years old). 

Watering the seeds of goodness

The most awaited moment is when listening to Ven. Thich Tam Hoa - Abbot Hoa Phuc Temple to give the lecture. Because each sermon is like a medicine to change and purify their body and mind.

In lecture on number 3, he helps them understand the meaning of lighting three incense. Those are 3 representations of Heaven - Human - Earth. One incense on the left is Heaven, on the right is Earth, and in the middle is Human. Thus, Buddhism is human-centered.

“Number 3 represents Buddha - Dharma - Sangha. Passing away for more than 2,560 years, but Buddha has always been a shining example for people of all times. Dhamma is the Buddha's teaching recorded in the sutras. Sangha is present, representing Buddha, leading sentient beings on the path of finding enlightenment and deliverance.

Number 3 is Listening - Thinking - Practice. In it, the "listening" is receiving information, so that people need to practice listening before speaking.

The "thinking" is the activity of the brain. We need to think before we speak and do to benefit ourselves and others; need to let go of the seeds of selfishness, cruelty, pride; also need to nurture compassion and love.

The "practice" is to correct oneself to become better. Therefore, each person needs to actively practice according to the Buddha's teachings to renew body, mind, and progress every day”, the Ven said. 

From this lecture, learners become more absorbed in thinking and "enlighten" many subtleties in everyday life.

Some learners told me that during their days at the temple, she saw a mirror with the words: the image in the mirror is reflecting on us. ''Then, she remembers the "practice" that the monk taught. Since then, she realizes that she needs to always remind herself to correct the shortcomings of her thoughts, actions and words to make herself "beautiful" more everyday.

In the lecture on the leaf, the Junior shared: “seeing into the leaf, there is new life going on. Because when the leaves fall to the ground, they transmit life into the land. The land will nurture other things to grow again. Thus, death is not the end as many people think. Just like a leaf, each of us is still receiving energy from our parents, grandparents, our ancestors".

The monk advised the learners to cherish the merit of bringing up and nurturing their precreators. Because our mother gave birth to our body. Our dad has to work hard because he wants to create material possessions to take care of the best of his children. However, many youth are engrossed in the running of temptations, falling into games and demanding race. Some people also immersed themselves in evils such as alcohol, tobacco, addiction, lottery, gambling ... when parents scolded, many of them had acted foolishly or left home. Those actions are only a temporary solution, not dealing with the core of suffering. In order to transform negative into positive, we need a spiritual practice path. It is necessary to get close and rely on the Three Jewels to gradually learn how to master themselves, control their emotions.

After the talk, Ngoc Linh (a student of the University of Culture) realized that time passes quickly, life is impermanent. Every day we grow up means our parents are getting old and the time is to leave. Therefore, in return for the gratitude of birth, we should live a kind, good-natured life and rise up in life. Ngoc Linh confided: “Each of us has a different way of showing love. For me, when going to school far away, I often call to ask about my parents' health; When staying home, I will do housework to support my parents. Those are small actions but they are enough to warm the hearts of fathers and mothers.”

Some female youth shed tears of regret when realizing their wrong actions in the past. Once out of boredom, she drank alcohol a lot. In front of the Monks, nuns and friendly practitioners, she sincerely repented and promised not to fall into such nonsense things.

Rolled tears in the Mature Rite

During the retreat, the monks and nuns held a Mature Ceremony for 50 students who have just turned 18 years old.

This age of period is an important mark in everyone's life. It is the age when young people are naive and clumsy in their life, Nun Hue Thien said (the teaching of the retreat).

In fact, many of them have turned 18 in a hurry and quickly because there is no one to orient, encourage or share. There are mistakes in life that happened, even entangled in the circle of justice.

 Therefore, the mature rite is not only an important marking the maturity of each young person, but has an important meaning to the family and the whole society. This is an opportunity for parents to have a close relationship, motivate and orient their children to have correct perceptions of maturity.

Thanh Duong, a representative of the learners chokedly shared: “In order to raise their children to grow up like today, parents have gone over so many hardships. When I was young, I often cried and had a difficult time, so my mother had to stay awake for many nights, carrying and lulling her baby to sleep; when becoming a little older, I heard my mother tell me about it, I pouted again in annoyance. Then, there was a time when I used to think things like cooking, transporting or paying for school fees were obvious. Now, I understand that parents do all that not out of debt to their children, because of the unconditional love of parents. I would like to thank parents for giving me this life and will continue to accompany me on the path of life.”

After taking a vow to live a good life and become a good citizen, the participants performed the ritual of offering tea to the Buddhas, monks and parents.

Many parents shedding when they saw their baby, now grown up and kneeling in front of them, respectfully offered tea. Ms. Minh Dao (mother of Mai Anh, a learner from Forestry University) said emotionally: “With the desire for my daughter to become an honest person, since the age of 13, I have encouraged her to participate in the pagoda's retreats. It has been 5 years up to now, she has grown up a lot, living with morality and humanity. I hope on her path of life, my daughter will always rely on the Three Jewels, and live according to the teachings of Buddha and monks."

Together ...

During the days in Hoa Phuc, learners were in harmony with a big game titled "History of the Buddha's Life" to create a spiritual connection and educational orientation for young people.

To reach the destination, teams must pass 4 stations: Lumbini (the birth-place of the Buddha), Buddhagaya (where the Buddha attained Enlightenment), Sarnath (Deer Park/ where the Buddha preached his first sermon), Nirvana (where the Buddha passed away). In each challenge, the team members must create solidarity with each other to fulfill the requirements of the Organizers such as: Zen meditation, three steps with one worshiping, carrying Buddha palanquin ...

Before the end of the retreat, they were also gathered by a campfire in the Amitabha yard. Together, everyone sang songs of meditation, loving mothers, fathers, and the homeland. All of them feel warm when being transmitted valuable experiences on the path of practice by the Monks, nuns and previous generations.

Hoang Lan (Hanoi High Tech College) said that she really likes these activities. That is a team building, the organizers have cleverly integrated the Buddhist education to help them both have fun and learn more about the demeanor of the Buddha’s disciples, while remembering more Buddhist knowledge.

Farewell to the pagoda of Hoa Phuc, each young person has accumulated many useful lessons. It is an invaluable asset to help participants gradually step firmly on the path of life.    

Images recorded:

The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi
The Youth Retreat of Return to a peaceful place at Hoa Phuc Pagoda, Hanoi

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