I went on a pilgrimage to Taiwan with our home monastery, Buddha Mind Monastery in Oklahoma City. The Pilgrimage began on July 30, 2014 and ended when we arrived back in OKC on August 15, 2014. It was quite a journey, and it did not end after coming home.
Our itinerary consisted of these places:
- Pu Zhung Zen Center, where we stayed our first night.
- The lotus farm! A very unique experience, and apparently all parts of a lotus can be used for many things; a very healthy and healing flower.
- We ate at the Tamsui Restaurant for lunch.
- Visited Shihsanhang Museum of Archaeology.
- Lunch at Shui Lai Qing House.
- Received incredible hospitality from Pu Xue Zen Center.
- On 8/2 we went to Tianxiang
- Visited and meditated at Ling Quan Monastery. You can read about this very special monastery through this link, section title, Chung Tai Chan Monastery (中台禪寺).
- Had evening service at Lotus Society.
- Had a short visit to Jiufen and then on to Yilan Hotel and Pu Yi Zen Center.
- On 8/4 we left on a bus to the beautiful Taiping Mountain and spent the night at the Taiping Mountain Forest Park (I LOVED THIS PLACE!!)
- The next day we walked around Cuifeng Lake then later that afternoon left Taiping Mountain to made headway toward our home sweet home branch, Chung Tai Chan Monastery. After a long and winding bus ride we spent our first night at Chung Tai in Puli, Taiwan.
- On 8/6 we had breakfast, working meditation, lunch and a meditation session within the borders of Chung Tai.
- The next day we retreated on a day trip to Sun Moon Lake, Pu Tian Zen Center & Earth Treasure Pagoda in Puli.
- 8/8 consisted of visiting Pu Tai Senior High School, another bout of working meditation and then evening bell prostrations.
- 8/9 was a very special day. We gathered for the Medicine Buddha Conclusion Ceremony (last ceremony of the ‘summer retreat’ in the monastic community), and then I had the great honor of accepting an award directly from our Grand Master on behalf of our Dharma Support Association President in OKC. There Certificate Conferring Ceremony had more than 14,000 viewers within the Chung Tai Chan Monastery walls. Directly after the ceremony I had to change clothes and fall into place for the very special, and emotional, Meng Shan Food Offering Ceremony. What a beautiful day.
- The next day was extra special as well, as I had been anticipating this day for months before leaving my home in Oklahoma City. On 8/10 at Chung Tai Chan Monastery we participated in the Ullambana Ceremony and then I received the Three Refugees and Five Precepts in a formal ceremony conducted by Venerable Grand Master Wei Chueh. My new Dharma name became Chuan Xing, meaning “luck, and blessings.”
- During the day on 8/11 we hiked in a gorgeous nearby mountain, visited Chang Tai’s Martial Art Hall and then arrived at Pu Zhung Zen Center where we spent that night.
- 8/13 consisted of visiting the National Palace Museum, having lunch at Pu Guan Zen Center and then having some free time to walk around and explore Taipei, Taiwan.
- 8/14 was the day we had to leave our pilgrimage, but take everything with us in our minds and hearts. With my survivors and memories I arrived back in the States on 8/15. Since I have an impeccable inability to sleep on airplanes, I was very tired in the San Francisco Airport. I laid down on the ground and 2 days later in OKC had to have a shot for diagnosis: severe bug bites. Note to self, do not lie down on airport floor. Chiggers and or bed bugs might eat your flesh. I decided that I donated dinner to them, but I will be a little more cautious when looking for a resting place next time.
A couple weeks after coming home, we were asked to put together a little speech to tell our Dharma brothers and sisters back at the monastery about our trip; about our experience. We were also asked to write a short article about our experience so it could be published and translated for our Dharma brothers and sisters in Taiwan to view. My speech can be read here, at Taiwan Through My Eyes. The very short and modest article in English and Chinese translation can be seen on ctworld.org.tw. The article is titled in Chinese, 中台朝聖殊勝行.