A Joyful Life Starts With Gratitude
October 5 – 11, 2019 Report on the International Retreat
In October, our most revered Grandmaster JinBodhi personally conducted the 7-Day International Retreat held at the Cheras Bodhi Meditation Center in Malaysia. More than a thousand practitioners from Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and Romania attended. Being close to Grandmaster is a noteworthy karmic connection. Everyone gathered to receive true dharma teachings and compassionate learning as these are precious treasures. Though the 7-day retreat was short, the practitioners gained tremendous dharma.
Grandmaster JinBodhi on the Secret of Joyfulness
On the first day of the retreat, Grandmaster JinBodhi touched on the secret of joyfulness. The in-depth explanation seemed like a cool stream of nectar washing away afflictions and ignorance that had blanketed the practitioners, revealing the bright pearl buried in their hearts and restoring its pure nature.
Grandmaster knows that everyone hopes to be free of afflictions and have infinite joy and happiness; wishing to face all matters, whether good or bad, with a kind heart. Thus, he said, “To have a joyful life, start with a heart of gratitude.”
Grandmaster said that the ultimate goal of meditation and dharma is to be free from suffering and achieve bliss. Our happiness does not come solely from material things. Most times, it comes from feeling joyful. When we have a heart filled with gratitude, our joy will increase, thereby lessening our afflictions. Also, gratitude enables us to continually maintain kindness in our hearts.
Tears of repentance and memories flowed with every sincere chant. Immeasurable gratitude in each and everyone’s heart began to shine, resulting in the elimination of years of deeply-buried hurt. Soon everyone felt carefree and had a sense of peace, both physically and mentally.
Abundant Merits Turn Life Around for the Better
Grandmaster shared that when one’s merits are insufficient or have heavy negative karma, afflictions and troubles abound. However, by sharing and teaching others to be compassionate are ways in which to accumulate merits. When we do more kind deeds and let the heart live in a meditative state, we can compensate for the innate DNA disorder. Our heart will also feel more peaceful and so we will have a clearer mind to see through things. One who has amassed sufficient merits can turn bad things into good ones.
Everyone practiced diligently, be it the Meditation of Greater Illumination or chanting. By cherishing every valuable moment of the retreat, all practitioners gradually incorporated Grandmaster’s teachings into their lives.
By beginning with words of gratitude, every meditation practice and chanting session seemed a new beginning of life.
Kind Heart, Kind Words & Kind Deeds
Grandmaster taught that love is a form of giving. We must always use a compassionate heart to communicate with our family, friends, colleagues and all living beings. However, if one understands the logic but refuses to do it, then it all comes to naught; if one does it, it’s called enlightenment. To gain true happiness, start with the right attitude and action by having a kind heart, saying kind words and doing kind deeds.
In the past, we often neglected the feelings of those closest to us. We had forgotten our parents’ love for us, love between siblings, teachers who taught us, as well as all the friends we had in our lives. If you have a heart filled with gratefulness, express your gratitude in words and actions to your family, friends, and even your colleagues. You will get positive results immediately.
There were several couples, parents and children, friends and colleagues who attended this retreat. Everyone expressed their gratitude for the other party through words and hugs, a most direct way to show their utmost sincere and heartfelt gratitude for their loved ones.
In a mere seven days, practitioners benefited tremendously in terms of their mental and physical health. For some, pain was eliminated while others improved family relationships. Through chanting, one’s prayer for their father’s improved health was answered, and another untied a knot in her heart and let go of deep grievances. Many of them experienced an elevation of their soul and were able to let go of things they had persistently held onto in the past, thereby achieving liberation from them.
With Grandmaster’s compassionate blessings and practitioners’ sincerity, the international retreat came to an end. However, this is only the beginning of a wonderful connection with dharma. In time, practitioners will use what they have learned to navigate their life journey towards one that’s filled with happiness, joy and the energy of great illumination.
Testimonials from the Retreat:
Yee Kim Luay (Zeng Geng) 55 years old
In this retreat, I learned from Grandmaster what compassion really means. In the past, I thought I was a compassionate person, but now I know that my compassion only lies in my heart but not in my actions. After listening to Grandmaster’s teachings, my mind became clear and I knew I must express compassion through my actions and deeds.
From the first day of the retreat, all my joints were extremely painful. Because my knees hurt, I could not kneel to chant. However, on the fifth day, a great sense of repentance suddenly overcame me during the chanting session. I sincerely repented my past disrespectful behavior towards my parents and the hurt I had caused them. With utmost sincerity, I thanked them for their love. Miraculously, the pain in all my joints was gone on the sixth day. I could even kneel for an hour during the chanting.
After the retreat I went to China for a holiday. During those two weeks, I did not feel tired even after walking for several hours. My legs and knees felt no pain at all but were relaxed. It was an experience which I never had in the past. I was filled with energy after the retreat.
I didn’t know how to express myself well in the past, thus, I seldom showed my love and concern for my family. Now that I understand, I will use practical actions to show gratitude to my family, friends and fellow practitioners.
With utmost gratitude, I am very thankful to Grandmaster for his compassion and guidance. I have learned to show gratitude and it is most beneficial to my health, both physically and mentally. My life has definitely changed for the better.
Amy Phang Ah Mee (Fang Luo) 68 years old
In this retreat, I’ve learned to have a kind heart, to say kind words and perform kind deeds. In the past, though I empathized with hawkers who sell by the roadside, I never once bought anything from them as I couldn’t bear to spend money or didn’t dare do so. I wasn’t generous enough. After listening to Grandmaster’s teaching, my understanding of compassion grew. Now I practice generosity by giving more to others.
I used to pray selfishly for my own needs – for safety, good health, and protection – in front of Buddha and Grandmaster. I would only offer my gratitude when my prayers were answered. But during this retreat, I learned to feel grateful and express my gratitude sincerely from the bottom of my heart for all the things I have and for the love I receive from all those around me.
I want to follow Grandmaster’s footsteps to perform more kind deeds. I am deeply filled with gratitude for Grandmaster’s guidance on the path towards greater illumination so that we may know what to do and what not to do, thus, helping us commit less bad deeds. I am grateful to Grandmaster for the opportunity to practice dharma and meditation at such a wonderful meditation center. Our lives have definitely improved.
Diana Chan (Fang Chu) 43 years old
Tears flowed uncontrollably during the retreat. I was filled with gratitude and repentance towards my mother. She’s 81 and lives in Malaysia while I live in Melbourne, Australia. Thus, I’m unable to look after her. After the retreat, I apologized to her for being unable to be by her side, but she replied that it is more meaningful for me to spend time volunteering at the meditation center and looking after my own kids than to be by her side. I felt very touched by her words and was really grateful for her understanding.
Heng Shop Houi (Bai Chan) 54 years old
On the second day of the retreat, I received a phone call informing me that my father was hospitalized. I struggled between visiting him and continuing the retreat. I decided to offer a lamp and during chanting I prayed to Buddha for my father’s recovery. At the same time, I also visualized that the more than 800 practitioners were also chanting for my father. Two hours later I called to check on his condition and was told that he was out of intensive care.
That night my husband and I visited him at the hospital. He was discharged the next day in the evening. My father was in the hospital for only a day and had recovered completely, all thanks to the power of chanting.
Carina Lou (Fang Hong)
From Grandmaster’s teaching in this retreat, I’ve learned what gratitude is. Since then, I offer gratitude to all beings and things. For instance, I’ll offer my gratitude for daily meals and the opportunity to live another day upon waking. Also, I communicate with my plants at home by thanking them. They have grown beautifully since I’ve started doing this. I have also started to say kind and loving words to my husband and son, showing my gratitude for them.
I realized that since I started showing gratitude to people and things in my life, what I get in return is equally beautiful. Recently, my son called to say how much he missed me. In the past, he seldom did this. He made me feel the great power of gratitude and kindness.
Chua Lee Kew (He Cha) 46 years old
I had a work project and for a week I had no inspiration to complete it. On the night of the fourth day of the retreat, I recalled Grandmaster’s words during the class – all things have feelings; we have to respect them and show them our gratitude. Inspired by these words, I did my work with a sense of gratitude. I prayed to get it completed smoothly so that I could continue the retreat with no worries. Miraculously, on the morning of the fifth day, an inspiration dawned on me and my work was soon completed. It’s beneficial for us to learn to respect and be grateful to all things.
Chen Ah Ying 71 years old
In 2016, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. For half a year since April 2019, I could not straighten my left arm as it was extremely painful and would tremble as well. It was especially tedious when taking a shower and I could not stretch my left hand to the back to fasten my bra.
While on the way home on the third day of the retreat, I suddenly realized that I could straighten out my left hand without any pain and it wasn’t trembling. I was happier when I could finally fasten my bra without any help. It was truly miraculous.
Sin Song Man (Dan Cai) 59 years old
In the past, I often misunderstood my mother and thought that she did not like me and thus, often found fault with me. Even when it came to taking showers, she would keep rushing me.
During this retreat, Grandmaster shared that no matter how old we are, even when we are in our fifties or sixties, our parents will always treat us like their little children. They will continue to nag us because they love us. These words touched my heart deeply. It dawned on me that my mother had nagged me because she loves me dearly as I’m her daughter. It’s not because she wants to find fault with me.
I am filled with gratitude for my mother. During the retreat, I made a phone call to my mother to tell her how grateful I am to have her love.
Wong Kum Yen (Fan Qin)
For more than ten years, there were two hard growths on my legs which caused me fatigue and stiffness when walking. During this retreat, I learned to have a heart of gratitude, compassion and gentleness. On the fourth day, the growth on my left leg was completely gone; on the fifth day, the one on the right leg became softer and smaller. Now my legs feel relax and flexible when I walk.
Tan Hok Leong (He Lian)
I come from a conservative family. We only hug each other during Chinese New Year or other festivities.
On the second day of the retreat, I thought of my children when we chanted for them. I hoped blessings would be bestowed upon them. That night, my daughter called me into her room. Then she happily gave me a hug. Words can’t express the great joy I felt. At first, I was puzzled as she didn’t participate in the retreat and it was not the new year. Later I recalled that I had chanted for them to be blessed that day. I didn’t expect to reap such benefits from chanting. It was really a miraculous gain.
Wife: On the first day of the retreat, Grandmaster taught us the importance of gratitude. Early the next morning, I took the initiative to give my husband a hug. I am really grateful to him for his love and care all these years.
Husband: I felt a sense of warmth when my wife gave me a hug. During the retreat, Grandmaster talked about the secret of joyfulness, that is, to have a heart of gratitude and kindness, and to give praise and kind words. After getting hugs from my daughter and wife, there was a feeling of love within me which prompted me to give love back by cutting some fruit for them. Now I understand what Grandmaster meant when he said that love is a form of giving and offering.
During this retreat, I have also learned to offer words of praise. When I praise my wife, she reciprocates with her most loving and gentle smile which warms my heart. It seemed as if we were back to our dating days when I told her, “I love you.”
After the retreat, it seemed as though Grandmaster had opened our hearts. We became more gentle-hearted. In the past, we were not good at expressing ourselves and chose to keep our love for each other in our hearts. I am very grateful to Grandmaster for his guidance and blessings. My joy has increased over time and I feel much happier.
After this retreat, I also received my dharma name. When I first learned of my dharma name, tears flowed uncontrollably. My utmost gratitude to Grandmaster for accepting me as his disciple. My new life has just begun.