Nuns give meditation tips

by Karen Jonas, San Bernadino County Sun, July 21, 2008

Monastery offers classes for free

POMONA, CA (USA) -- A bell rings. The voices of four nuns fill the air. They kneel and rise again. After they have finished their chant, they fold blankets over their legs and begin meditation.

Such is a typical scene at the Middle Land Chan Monastery.

The Buddhist monastery opened in April and offers free meditation classes in English every Tuesday night and in Chinese on Thursday nights. The monastery also will offer free Mandarin classes on Saturday afternoons starting this weekend.

The monastery houses four nuns with varied backgrounds, but the same goal: to help people realize that they will be happier if they can calm their minds and live with less stress.

The nuns meditate every morning and invite others to do so with them on various days during the week.

The scriptures of Buddhism are called sutras, which are chanted aloud during the ceremony. These teach people the path to enlightenment.

The abbess or head nun is Jian Tai Shi (all of the nuns have the same first and last names, so they are referred to by their middle name). By becoming a dentist, she was following her father, a dentist in Taiwan.

"I wanted to simplify life. ... I really wanted to let my dream come true," she said.

Tai's dream is thinking positively and living stress-free. She also enjoys telling others about the benefits of living simply.

"If we can use a positive way to think about things, the pressure is gone immediately," Tai said.

Jian Cheng Shi, the executive director of the monastery, recently moved to the United States.

"I feel real happy here," said Cheng. "Everything is a blessing to me."

Another nun, Jian Lu Shi, said Buddhism helps teach people that many material possessions are meaningless in the overall picture.

"Buddhism is a great way to know yourself," said Lu.

It helps you to "stop getting attached to things that aren't real," she added.

Jian Jian Shi said that even though she has two children and grandchildren, she was not satisfied with her life prior to becoming a nun.

"All my life, I always wondered, `Is that all? Is that all?"' she said.

Through meditation, Jian discovered that there was more to her life than owning things.

"What is the one thing you cannot live without?" asked Jian. "Once you find that, then you're happy."

Middle Land Chan Monastery is at 1173 San Bernardino Ave., Pomona. For information, call (909) 625-0187.