A Journey to Discovery – The Power of Mindfulness 2016 ESRR

National Headquarters  |  August 22, 2016
The third annual English Spiritual Resource Retreat took place on the weekend of July 15-17, 2016, in San Dimas, California.

Individuals from 11 states and 3 countries participated in this powerful and thought-provoking retreat. Volunteers had the opportunity to get to know Tzu Chi and its unique spirit, to inspire new and lasting bonds with fellow‪ volunteers, and to connect with the extraordinary Master Cheng Yen at the Jing Si Abode via a live video link. The retreat also sought to foster a new sense of insight and inspiring new ways of incorporating “The Power of Mindfulness” into our daily lives.

Many expressed great enthusiasm and gratitude for the new perspectives granted to them by the exercises that were engaged in:

Listening to each of the sharings from the group was so inspiring. For the first time, everyone took part and shared their feelings. We were truly a family being reunited. Having the scenario group discussions allows each of us to learn how to understand situations we may not have experienced. We remember why we do what we do to take the suffering away, and why we replace it with love, kindness, and trust.

The volunteers spoke with tremendous emotion and wisdom about the sharing process, and how each story has the ability to affect someone else.

The film footage on people who are homeless touched us. It hit home, for our brother was homeless for nearly 20 years, and we spent 17 years looking for him. Today, he is doing very well, but it was still hard to watch the video. The retreat has once again given us hope for the future of mankind throughout the world. Each of the sharings and the songs have filled our heart – it’s hard to choose one when each sharing touched us, and inspired us to keep doing what we love to do the most: ‘volunteering with compassion’.

Each volunteer found something about the retreat that they will hold in their heart forever:

It is difficult to pick just one heartfelt moment to share about. But I was struck by the combination of earnestness, playfulness, generosity, and caring, on the part of the attendees. The care and thoughtfulness that went to planning the camp, blending receptive lecturing, reflective discussions, actual experimentation and play to keep us engaged and thinking. I valued the sangha- it is not often that I am in a community where people share their desires to be more loving, kind, more compassionate, more joyful and have better equanimity.

My most heartfelt memory is when they shared the video about homelessness. I was very moved; it is not my first time watching that video, but it always reminds me of a memory when I volunteered in DC back in 2011-2012. It reminded me of when I helped sell newspapers for homeless people there, and there were others yelling at me-- telling me to go away, to get a life. Seeing that video reminds me to always be mindful, and have loving-kindness! We want to treat everyone equally with love and compassion. I will forever remember to practice Four Infinite Minds (Love, Compassion, Joy, and Equanimity). That really brought me to tears. I learned so much, with so many amazing people. Every moment is heartfelt for me. Great retreat. We are one big family! 感恩!

Volunteers also expressed their feelings about Tzu Chi’s mission, and how their time with everyone had strengthened their resolve to do as much good for as many people as possible:

In this retreat, I felt that I resonated the most with the parts about paving the path for the future. I've always gotten inspired and looked up to those volunteers who are so amazing, and do so much work. But through this panel, I realized that I am inspired by these people not really because of the amount of things that they do, but because of the fact that they embody and diligently practice the Four Infinite Minds. In the past, I just simply hoped to do as many amazing things as these volunteers and panelists do. But now, I realize that that is not the real point. As Master [Cheng Yen] reminds us, we need to act with wisdom – with the Four Infinite Minds always in our hearts, and always be mindful. This is how we can cultivate ourselves, to help and inspire others.

I loved the panel with four different Tzu Chi volunteers, knowing their story, and why they joined Tzu Chi. I felt touched and motivated. Knowing all the people who work together to make this world better, I felt very proud that I am part of the group. I know they are good role models for us to follow. I also loved the discussion with the senior volunteers. I loved to hear about their experiences, how they face obstacles, and how should I face my obstacles with Master's teachings. After the retreat, I felt more motivated on how to continue the Tzu Chi path, and how to pass it down to the next generation.

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This third annual English Spiritual Resource Retreat was a wonderful adventure for all who were involved, and a fantastic way to open doors to new ways of thinking, and embracing others!

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