Thanks to the introduction and support of many new friends, I went yesterday to the Pu De Meditation Center (Pǔdé Jīngshè 普得精舍) in the Daan District of Taipei. This is one of the centers affiliated with the Chung Tai monastery (Zhōngtái Chánsì 中台禪寺), which belongs to the Chan (Zen) tradition like most major Buddhist schools in Taiwan. The same organization has an impressive network of centers in Taiwan and abroad. See http://www.ctworld.org.tw This was a refreshing experience, with about 50 participants, most of them regular members (it requires a certain level of commitment). Participants included roughly half males and half females, seated in two different rows. The ritual bows involve a distinctive sequence, which evokes the mudras (gestures) of Tantric Buddhism. The chanting of the sutras was uplifting and slow enough for new-comers to join the choir. Regarding the seated meditation, it probably lasted about 30 or 40 minutes but I lost track of time… Before beginning, when I asked the gentleman who was seated next to me how long the seating session would last, he just replied “as you wish” (suíbiàn 隨便). No clappers or directive bells, no keisaku (Ch. jǐngcè 警策) like in Japan. Overall, relaxed and dynamic atmosphere. The room is air-conditioned and even has humidifiers to keep practitioners comfortable. This was followed by a lecture by a female Dharma Master, Venerable Jianpin (Jiànpǐn Fǎshī 見品法師). Although my grasp of her words was still fragmentary, I recognized several Chan anecdotes she mentioned and was impressed by her energy and eloquence. We had a chance to exchange a few words after the talk. Teachers in this tradition display a phenomenal erudition, combined with their ability to connect in a modest way with ordinary people. They are skilled in using humour when it is effective and demonstrate the exemplary demeanor expected from authentic followers of the Dharma. The organization of this center seemed remarkable, in the sense that every single detail appears to have been taken into account. Even vegetarian meals are provided before the meditation for those who are hungry, and there is a light meal between the mediation and the Dharma talk. It seemed just the proper amount of adjustments to the needs of modern lay people who are engaged in a busy professional life and come after work to participate in these sessions. Yet the core content of the tradition does not appear to be adulterated.