SFYAD Navigates Through Adversities With Compassion: The First Online Retreat 舊金山青年線上禪修營「以慈悲力,轉逆為安」

Participants used Zoom's annotation feature to interact with the question on the screen

In response to the anxiety and stress caused by the COVID-19 outbreak to various YAD members, San Francisco YAD organized their first ever half-day online meditation retreat themed: “Finding the Oasis: An Online Guide to Navigating Adversity with Compassion”, with hopes to develop right mindfulness and provide practical compassion-based techniques to help members cope with the situation. 24 members from San Francisco, Montreal, Dallas, Orlando, and Los Angeles participated in the online event held on April 12, 2020.


Group picture with Venerable Ru Yang, Abbess of Northern California Fo Guang Shan

Venerable Master Hsing Yun once said “One can have nothing, but cannot be without compassion.” In her opening speech, the Abbess of Northern California Fo Guang Shan, Venerable Ru Yang, cited Master’s words to explain that compassion can guide us in resolving our anger and afflictions, and help us achieve a tranquil mind. She reminded us that “compassion” is not just a word, but something to take action on, and we should practice compassion in our daily lives. The strength of compassion can help us overcome any problems and also allow us to resonate with the buddhas and bodhisattvas.


Meditation class led by Venerable Miao Zhong

The 6-hour long retreat comprises four main sessions. Venerable Miao Zhong from Fo Guang Shan San Bao Temple led a class on compassion-based meditation. Kee Heng Tiow, the facilitator of the English Buddhism Class at Fo Guang Shan San Bao Temple, shared the topic of “Building Courage for Compassion”; the courage that comes from the willingness to forebear, and doing things with others in mind, is the drive for personal growth. Winson Yang, PhD in Neuroscience specializing in Meditation, and this retreat’s Coordinator Benson Kwek, shared the topics of “Compassion for Self”, and “Compassion for Others”; giving with compassion is actually benefiting oneself. More importantly, we should live in the present and recognize ourselves.

長達6小時的線上禪修營內容豐富,佛光山舊金山三寶寺妙忠法師指導禪修;英文讀書會帶領人蕭繼興分享「慈悲的勇氣」,讓大家了解這份勇氣是來自承擔,心甘情願為他人著想,是一份自我成長的動力。研究禪修的腦神經科博士生Winson Yang與這次活動總召Benson Kwek 分享「自利利他的慈悲」,表達慈悲給予的時候其實就是一種自受用,並要活在當下,認識自己。

Participants used Zoom's annotation feature to interact with the content

Each session utilized various Zoom features such as annotation, chat, and breakout rooms to deliver the content in an interactive and reflective manner. Furthermore, the discussed concepts and integrated practical exercises tightly relate to the current COVID-19 situation and can be applied to their lives immediately after the workshop.


Participants expressed that they’ve learned actionable ways of being compassionate to themselves and others through the three acts of goodness, four givings, and having courage for compassion; they can immediately apply these methods in their daily lives. Benjamin from Dallas YAD shared that this online retreat helped him see hope in the negative emotions that arise from the pandemic.


One writing exercise from "Compassion for Others" - to write a message to frontline workers.

At closing, Benson Kwek, and Selene Chew, President of San Francisco YAD, expressed their gratitude towards the support from the temple, Venerables, and facilitators for putting together the event within 2 weeks. San Francisco YAD will continue to organize various online events to support all YAD members in their Dharma learning journey. The event ended with a recitation of “A Prayer to Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva for Safety from the Novel Coronavirus” by Venerable Master Hsing Yun, wishing that everyone learns from the compassion of a bodhisattva to navigate through adversities.

最後,活動總召Benson K.和青年團團長Selene Chew感謝常住和講師們的支持,在2週內把這個線上活動呈獻給大家。未來,舊金山青年團將不斷推出這類型的線上修持營,讓佛光青年在佛道上互相扶持。活動以星雲大師的〈為新冠肺炎疫情向觀世音菩薩祈願文〉畫上圓滿句點,祈願大衆學習菩薩的慈悲,轉逆為安。

Reciting "A Prayer to Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva for Safety from the Novel Coronavirus” by Venerable Master Hsing Yun

Unlike traditional formats of retreats, the participants can join the event from the comfort of their homes. Some participants had to make special arrangements with their family members in order to not be disturbed over the time of the event.


"Drawful 2" was played as an icebreaker

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