The 1-day retreat was DDM Sydney’s first event after becoming homeless again; for the third time! On 3 April, the fire that ripped through the swimming pool supply shop next door has rendered our centre unusable for at least six to twelve months. The damage was extensive, leaving behind a partially destroyed building and ruined equipment.
A lesson of “impermanence” indeed! The Buddhist concept of “formation, existence, destruction and emptiness” was clear and loud. The incident threw all our plans for Guo Chii Fashi’s teaching program into chaos. Instead of our cosy and comfortable home, which is well equipped for our regular activities, we had to find new venues for upcoming events specially led by Fashi.
Yet none of us were disheartened or discouraged. Our committee immediately convened to tackle the issues ahead of us. With the dedication, determination and tireless efforts of our volunteers, we were able to salvage what we could from the disaster zone. Everyone quietly did what was necessary while caring for each other’s safety. We moved everything salvageable into storage, and hired a new venue for the 1-day retreat, all within a week!
We were racing against time, with only two weeks left. Our volunteers researched and purchased new padding for meditation mats, sewed new covers for them as well as the meditation cushions. The cushions and mats were completed only two days before the retreat.
Originally, the plan was to conduct a 2-day retreat but because of the narrow lead time and the limited venues available, we changed it to one day only. Causes and conditions in the works; another great lesson for us to learn from!
On Saturday 30 April, the day of the retreat, we arrived at Mt Colah Community Centre, about a 10 minute drive from our centre Hornsby. During the retreat, Fashi played a DVD by Shifu who talked about “causes and conditions”, “impermanence” and “emptiness”. Shifu explained that because we do not understand impermanence, therefore we suffer. What a timely lesson and reminder! What we are going through right now is only an impermanent process. We need to embrace change, forge ahead and move on. We will definitely keep running our regular activities and continue with our regular practice! Through this ordeal we learnt to apply Chan teaching and practice while facing and dealing with the situation. In so doing, we mature as a group and become a supportive community that follows the Guanyin Bodhisattva path.