Retreat Details

The next retreats will be held on the weekends of:

4-5 Nov 2017- Beijing (2 days retreat) Introduction of Buddhism (Fundamental Level)

18-19 Nov 2017- Beijing (2 days retreat) Introduction of Buddhism (Fundamental Level)

To register or request information these retreats, please fill out the form on the Contact Us page or send us an email: info@thinkcloudbj.com

See Participant’s Retreat Experiences

The retreats focus on what the Buddhists call the six sense organs: the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, body and mind the participants experience how practitioners utilize them by:

Seeing and reading the Buddhist statues and scriptures.

Hearing and reciting the Amitabha Buddha name and the Sutras.

Smelling the incense and the fruits offered to the Buddhas.

Enacting good deeds and performing the Buddhist practices.

Contemplating how to help karmic creditors, relatives and ways to improve karma.

During the retreat all the meals served will be vegetarian and no alcohol is served. Smoking is not encouraged but if you need to do so, please do so somewhere privately. No previous knowledge of Buddhism is required but if you already have practiced or have knowledge of another form of Buddhism, you are quite welcome to learn about the Six Step Retreat method.

The retreat takes place in a site in the suburbs of Beijing (starts on Friday evening) and Shanghai (starts on Friday Evening/Saturday morning and ends on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. In Beijing, participants should arrive on Friday night by 7:00 p.m. There are cars arranged to pick up participants from the Beigongmen subway station in Haidian on Friday night and drop them off again on Sunday.

“The truth is an elephant” 

Lina from Beijing’s Notes on her August 2012 Retreat Experience

A number of blind men came to an elephant. They had never encountered one before, so they wanted to find out what an elephant was like. One of them said: “It is like a tree!” This man had only touched its leg. Another man said: “The elephant is like a fan!” This person had only touched its ears. Similarly, he who touched its trunk or its belly talked of it differently. My understanding of spirituality can be best compared with the story of the elephant. All religions can show us one aspect or another of the truth. I have grown up in a Christian surrounding and do value the biblical moral ideals, but what hindered me from becoming a devout believer has been the fact that Christianity tends to claims a monopoly on the truth and that it asks its followers to more or less blindly believe a great number of what I like to call “fairy tale stories” in the bible. What has attracted me with Buddhism was its tolerance towards other religions and world views, but I do not consider myself Buddhist (yet? J). In the past, I have been staying at a couple of temples in Japan and learned the basics of Zen Buddhism. I was very happy when I found the Dizang Qi group in Beijing offering this retreat, as it seems quite difficult to find English speaking Buddhist events in China. As I was asked to write about my experiences, I would like to do so briefly. The retreat has been a great experience indeed!

First of all, I am deeply impressed by the group of Chinese Buddhist themselves. Teaching at university in China, I have been a bit shocked by the current way of thinking of many young people in this nation. A large number of them seem to believe that in order to succeed in life, one has to be a wicked, cheating business person. It seems that for many of them, the sole measure of success is the number in their bank account. What a different world however at the retreat! The group atmosphere can only be described as that of understanding, compassion and mutual support. It was clear that those people cared not only about their own spiritual improvements, but actively wanted to help others and leave a positive legacy. What a refreshing, what a hopeful experience! China urgently needs more people like this, who are willing to give, share and live in harmony, rather than only work for their own materialistic gains.

Secondly, the practice of prostrations was a very insightful discovery for me. I have been trying to continue doing prostrations in the mornings at home and definitely can feel a positive difference. Having the video as a support has been very useful, as it helps me to stick with it for 30 minutes and not give up after only a short time, as I would often do when I try to do other exercise, such as Yoga. On the days when I do prostrations, I definitely feel more awake, in a better mood and have better concentration. This is certainly a practice I will continue and one that I have not found in other Buddhist schools so far, which often only focus on sitting meditation.

Thirdly, the vegan food has been divine! I loved everything that the volunteers served and would not mind eating like this for the rest of my life. I am now trying to avoid meat and feel good doing it (I do not feel as stuffed after lunch or dinner when I do not eat meat). In some social settings, like when I am invited or go out eat with friends, I honestly find it still hard to stick completely to vegan food, in particular avoiding eggs. I have been interested in vegetarian lifestyle even before, but the retreat gave me an additional trigger to seriously give this lifestyle a chance. To sum it up, the retreat has been a wonderful, insightful and refreshing experience. I sincerely hope to stay in touch with the retreat group and help each other in our spiritual journey. Who knows? Maybe we can gain a better understanding together about that strange creature we call “life”, no matter what side of the elephant we might currently be standing on.

Vishy Viswanath’s Story

13-14-15 July 2012 I participated in the 3-day Introduction to Buddhism retreat in Beijing. I was introduced to the 6-steps of cultivation in which doing 108 prostrations is an integral part.  My expectation for the retreat was to learn to do the prostrations and combine it with the other steps ~ vegetarianism, meditation, etc. ~ to see the benefits it brings for me as a human being. Following the retreat, I made a commitment to myself to practice what I learnt and accrue the benefits.

16th July 2012 I did my first set of prostrations this morning at home.  I am certain it will help me to bring down my belly and at the same time make me a better human being.

18th July 2012 The retreat was a great experience. I personally learnt how to do prostrations and the benefits it brings along. After the retreat, I continue to practice prostrations at home. Today is the third consecutive day I have completed a full set of 108 prostrations at home. Feeling great.

19th July 2012 Yes, combining prostrations with meditation session is really good.  This is what I am doing now: λ do 1 full set of 108 prostration – 30 minutes λ have a shower λ do meditation – I chant a Hindu Mantra – 108 times x 2 sets – 20 mins & try to focus my mind on not having any thoughts. So the whole process takes about an hour and fits well into my morning schedule.

31 July 2012 I was returning back to Beijing after a business trip late in the night.  I had an envelop with about 2000/- RMB cash in the back-pocket of my pant.  When I reached home, this envelop was missing.  I was initially feeling quite disturbed that I lost it ~ perhaps somebody pick-pocketed me or just that it fell off my pocket.  But soon, I reconciled thinking perhaps someone who needed the money more than me got it and that it will be utilized better.  This realization made me feel better and I attribute it to cultivating pure thought.

7th Aug 2012 Just wish to share that I continue doing 1 set of prostrations followed by a 30-min meditation session every morning. I feel really good and what’s better – my belly seems to have come down!!! Right now I do just one set of prostration (30 min pace) followed by meditation in the morning.  I plan to increase it to two sets as my body gets tuned up by mid-Aug which will be exactly one month after the retreat. Keeping my mind focused has not been an issue for me so far. And veg food is what I love and have had all my life. Practicing the 6 steps everyday has been a rewarding experience.

17th Aug 2012 Doing a set of prostration every morning also helps me to control my temper. Last week, I was in a taxi and found out the driver took the long way to the place I wanted to go and tried to put more mileages on the meter, so he can charge me more. When I found it out, I wasn’t angry with him and didn’t act to it at all. If it happened before I joined the retreat, I would lose my temper completely and started arguing with him. Apart from doing a prostration every morning, I also chant the name of Amitofo by using the counter whenever I remember. After the prostration, I do meditation for a while. Since I started doing the prostration, I lost 3kg already. I am thinking to increase the number of sets of prostration very soon. Two sets every morning, do one first, then have a short break, then do another one after.

20th Aug 2012 In Nov 2011, I got introduced to a CEO of a Shanghai-based enterprise who were requiring a business development consultant. I built a trusting relationship and helped his company by introducing a few projects.  By May 2012, we wanted to formalize the relationship and so we entered into a formal contract in June 2012 where I would be paid a fixed monthly retainers and a success fee for the services I rendered which were clearly spelt out in the contract. I worked diligently in June & July and fulfilled all the obligations in my job. However, when the time came for making the payments to me, the CEO did not keep his word.  I made repeated requests to him to send me the payment for my services for June & July 2012 but all was in vain. I stopped offering my services to his company from 20 August as I realized he had no intention to pay.  More than the money, what I felt hurt with the CEO was his breach of trust and not valuing the friendship I had cultivated with him over these last 10 months. Again, I reconciled this in a positive way by forgiving him and praying that better sense prevails in his mind so that he will turn a good leaf one day. This has made me feel stronger in my mind. I will continue to share my experiences of practicing good karma and cultivating pure conduct in my thoughts, words and actions.

Jonathan Hakim’s Buddhist Experience Summary

28th Nov 2012 I became interested in the six step retreats group when my wife who is Chinese started to attend the retreats. About 6 months ago I attended the first retreat. Before that I attended the retreat I was tired quite often and I would feel like I needed to take naps during the day. Quite soon after that I had more energy and have needed a lot less sleep. When I go back to the retreats and need to wake up early I do not really feel tired. I also do not get sick as often. I credit a lot of this improvement to the fact that I have been doing about 1 to 3 sets of prostrations each day since the retreat. I have memorized the names of the buddhas for the Eighty-Eight buddhas Repentance Ceremony which I read out during the prostrations instead of listening to the audio version. This is the first time I have memorized anything since I started studying Chinese about ten years ago. When I have been reciting the names of the buddhas from memory while doing the exercises, it has helped me to keep my mind clear from wandering thoughts. After I do this I feel much more calm and if I continue for a week without missing a day I really feel good and at peace with myself. Also doing the prostrations with reading out the names from memory makes the exercise something more than exercise which makes it easy to do each day as you get more out of than just physical benefits. If I were trying to run every day or do 100 push ups a day, I would not be able to do so as consistently. Also my mind is sharper now and I am surprised at how much I can memorize as long as I take B12 regularly to make up for the fact that I don’t eat meat anymore.

Since I have started doing the prostrations and become a vegetarian my blood pressure has dropped down quite a bit which is good. My blood pressure was not really high before but it is nice to keep it low. Its had a big impact on me and now I am trying to do as much as I can to utilize it to help me control my emotions for business before I get back into very stressful situations. I definitely get less stressed from stressful situations now but I still have a long ways to go. I notice that if I have been doing the prostrations consistently I am happier and handle stressful situations better but if I have not done them for awhile, it is easy again to get stressed. Also after doing prostrations consistently daily for a period of time, it is much easier for me to relate and interact with strangers and everyone else. I am more polite and friendly with people I don’t know. This seems to have more benefits in overseas countries than it does in China but overall it still seems to be a good thing. Generally in daily life I don’t notice how much joining the six step retreats has been beneficial to me but as I am writing down the changes now, I can see it has really been a big help. Other people may find they just need to exercise or do yoga to reach a similar level of happiness and healthiness but for me I don’t think I could have gotten to this point without this program.