A Silicon Valley Scientist, Aravind's FoQi Experience in FoQi, Buddha's Name Recitation Retreat at Wei Mountain Temple.
Aravind came to Wei Mountain Temple and stayed for one week to participate FoQi Buddha’s name recitation retreat. FoQi literally means “Buddha Seven” and this is a #PureLand Dharma door to recite #Amitabha Buddha’s name all day. FoQi schedule is very hard. It starts at 4am and participants attend ceremonies and Buddha's name recitation all day until 10pm.
My name is Aravind Natarajan (male, 41yr). I work as a data scientist at #Fitbit, which is a health and wellness tech company in San Francisco. I grew up in India, and came to the U.S. to pursue my doctorate in Physics, and then as a research scientist. I later got interested in data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, and came to the bay area.
I got interested in Buddhism because I found Buddhist prayers to be peaceful, and I liked the message of non-violence, and compassion towards all living beings. In 2014, I volunteered as an English teacher for a short time at a Buddhist monastery in Ladakh (Ladakh is in India, but very close to Tibet), organized by the #Avalokitesvara Trust, and it was my first experience in a Buddhist environment. I later went to Japan on a research trip, and got the chance to visit Kamakura including the Hase Kannon temple and the famous Amida Daibutsu statue. Closer to home, in Ukiah, we have the large and beautiful City of Ten Thousand Buddhas with peacocks and deer. I found that I liked the chanting at CTTB and joined in when I could. I also like to attend the Saturday morning service at the Berkeley monastery.
When I started at Fitbit nearly 2 years ago, we had mindfulness classes at the company that I attended every week. They were pleasant, but I felt there was more to meditation, and started looking for a good book for beginners. That was how I found Master's Chan book which is an excellent resource for beginning students. I feel lucky to have met Master and his lay and monastic disciples at a #meetup event in San Francisco where Master spoke more about meditation and its ability to improve our physical and mental well-being, and to make us better human beings.
I participated in a 3 day #Amitabha recitation retreat at the Berkeley Monastery during Vesak (#Shakyamuni Buddha's birthday) this year. Last year, I went to the 3 day Amitabha recitation retreat during Thanksgiving, also at the Berkeley #Monastery. CTTB organizes Guan Yin name recitation retreats three times a year, and I attended these sessions on Sundays and Saturdays. The #FoQi at Wei Mountain #Temple was the first time I participated in a 7 day retreat, and the first time I stayed at the temple during the retreat.
When the first day concluded, I was extremely tired and had to drag myself downstairs even to brush my teeth - I was wondering what I had signed up for, and how I could finish the week! I got used to the schedule after a couple of days. Interestingly, I found it easier as the week progressed. Towards the end, I found myself having much more energy than usual, even though I was eating less and sleeping a lot less! The #recitations and meditation sessions help us attain a peaceful state of mind. I benefited greatly from the retreat and encourage everyone to give it a try.
At Fitbit, I worked on a project to investigate how the heart rate, breathing, and skin conductance change during #mindfulness experiences. Here is a photo of me, meditating while being connected to a machine that measures these different bio-signals.