Abbots of the Po Lin Monastery, past and present, have all taken the motto of "Serving in the Buddha's Cause" in leading the Buddhist order spreading and practicing Buddha's teachings, and in organising religious services for the benefit of the Buddhist order and for all sentient beings. Services organized on a regular and scheduled basis include the 7-Day Meditation Retreat, Water Repentance Service during the Qingming Festival, Great Compassion Repentance Service during the Buddha's Birthday, Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara's Great Compassion Repentance Service, Great Compassion Repentance Service during the Ullambamna Festival, Dharma Ritual of Water and Land Commemorating the Anniversary of Tiantan Big Buddha, and the Three-fold Ordination Ceremony.

7-Day Meditation Retreat

Since 1935, Po Lin Monastery has been holding the 7-Day Meditation Retreat during the period from the 22nd to the 29th of the First Month of the Lunar Year. Respected senior monks would be invited to lead the retreat in the repeated practices of sitting meditation and walking meditation and to deliver talks on Buddha's teaching for the benefits of all participants, helping them achieve clarity of mind.

According to Ch'an (Zen) teaching, the mind is originally pure. However, due to the corruption by selfish thoughts of greed, hatred and delusion, discriminating thoughts are aroused, leading to further delusion and the creation of karma that is stored within the eighth (Alaya) consciousness. Buddhism believes that from beginningless time, because the seventh (Manas) consciousness grasps the Alaya Consciousness as the "self", our self-attachment thus arose. When our selfish mind takes control of us, it will directly influence our thoughts and actions. In other words, a defiled mind creates a world that is self-centred and illusive, which is the source of our suffering.

The 7-Day Meditation Service targets the self-attachment of the seventh consciousness. During the 7 days of the service, the sole focus is upon the question of "Who is the one who is reciting the name of the Buddha?" Participants are inspired to ask themselves, before they recite the name of Buddha Amitabha, "what I am" (or what is self), to raise the question and to inquire into the true meaning of I, me, or mine. Through focused and intensive inquiry, one will understand that "self" is merely an imagined entity. The idea of self is a delusion because there is no abiding self. One will be able to release oneself from self-attachment onto the way of enlightenment.