Meditation at Buddhist conference open by donation

Midterms, papers, readings, illness and jobs – stress is manifested everywhere at this time of year.

Bodhiyana Buddhist Education Society is organizing an event – The Buddhist Way to Happiness – on November 1. It's a full day of Buddhist chanting, meditation and philosophical lectures teaching the proper way to practice meditation and ways to let go of stress. The event will be held at the VanDusen Botanical Garden from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“In the afternoon, we will have a meditation session,” said Shifu Showshir, who graduated from UBC in the 90s. “It is now a popular practice for not just Buddhists, but also people interested in spirituality. It’s about finding their internal peace.”

“When there is so much going on, one cannot think or study well,” said Shifu Zhihan — UBC graduate and director of Bodhiyana BES in Canada — who will be leading the practices at the event. “Basically, meditation is the way to train the ‘monkey mind.’ When you’re able to focus your mind, you have more peace in your heart and then everything become easier.”

"Take cramming for exams as an example — your mind is all bubbled up, there is no way for you to think,” said Showshir. “When you practice meditation, you can learn to have more control over your mind and use your inner peace to deal with things in your daily life.”

Meditation has proven to be successful with schoolwork and grades. Shifu Zhihan has been spreading Buddhist practice to help students in South America for many years. 

“The pilot program tried to teach and implement meditation in elementary school in South America 10 minutes before class start and they find that students are doing better. It’s practiced everyday,” Showshir said.

“Buddhism is more than a religion, but a way of life and thinking. It involves philosophy and a different way of looking at the world,” said Zhihan. “November 1 is a day for everyone to come and practice wisdom and compassion, and we will share with everyone.” 

“Shifu” is originally a word from Chinese origin meaning mentor — a title of respect like “Dr."

In fact, both Shifu Zhihan and Shifu Showshir — who will be leading the events on Sunday — are UBC alumni. Graduating in the early 1990s, they studied economics and commerce. Since then, they have taken a different path from most other alumni and have chosen to live a monastic life for over 20 years. 

“Yes, I graduated UBC with commerce degree, but I thought that Buddhism brought me the happiness that money was not able to,” said Shifu Showshir.

The BBES society has regular meet-ups and practices, but this event is open to the non-Buddhist and beginners of meditation. Shifu Showshir says that the meditation session won’t just be two hours of sitting meditation, but will take place in various forms such as walking and standing meditation. In addition, instructions will be available for each posture and for each practice.

The day will start with a lecture introducing Buddhism, followed by the traditional chanting. In the afternoon, there will be more chanting of the six syllable mantra and a group meditation session. Although suggested to all, it is not mandatory to make a whole day commitment as you can attend in parts.

The event will be free or by donation. RSVP and find more information about the agenda and other details online.