Children Learn the Protection of Spiritual Environment in Baoyun Branch Monastery of Dharma Drum Mountain
From July 22 to 25, Dharma Drum Mountain’s Baoyun Branch Monastery of Taichung City held a children’s summer camp. The theme of the camp was “Protecting the Spiritual Environment.” Summer camps held by DDM are highly recommended by parents. The response was so overwhelming this year that the registration for the camp became full once it was open to the public of central Taiwan and attracted more than 140 children.
The Abbot President of Dharma Drum Mountain, Venerable Guo Dong, made a special visit to the camp immediately after his trip to Singapore. He encouraged the children to face their adversities and shortcomings in a positive manner. He also amicably taught the children a tip of staying calm by chanting “Amituofo” when feeling angry.
With abundant natural ecology surrounding Baoyun Branch Monastery, teachers from Chinese Wild Bird Federation introduced the most common species of birds in the local environment and explained to the children in detail about each species’ habitat, behavior, and bird-watching. Through earnest participation and brainstorming, the children agreed it was a “practical lesson in nature”. In the Question & Answer session, the seeds of cherishing life have been sowed in these children’s mind.
In addition, the camp made use of the safe and spacious venue to encourage the children to experience nature through their sensations and awareness. During one of the games, children were given blindfolds and guided by the teacher to experience every detail in the environment only by smells and sounds. This helped build the trust among team members and gave some the opportunity to face some of their fears. Meanwhile, according to the volume, distance, and types of sound they heard, the children were asked to draw a “sound map.” Through this activity, they understood the fact that although nature doesn’t have a formal language, it can still communicate Dharma and the children were encouraged to listen mindfully to nature and what it has to teach.
The summer camp is popular among the parents as it fosters development of children’s personality and uplifts their characters. The monastic students from Dharma Drum Sangha University, told a story of Master Sheng Yen’s childhood which taught the spirit of “through benefitting others and you benefit yourself” in a vivid way and encouraged every child to vow to do things to the benefit of others. The camp also taught the children how to prostrate to the Buddha and learn Chan practice methods. For example, the children learned holding a bowl full of water and walking meditation to practice concentration. This is an unforgettable experience for the children.
After learning the idea that protection of environment begins with purifying one’s mind, a video about recycling was shown. The children were taught how to wash and reuse glass bottles for flower arrangements. During evening service, the children sincerely offered the Buddha their flower arrangements. With the ending of the summer camp, the parents and children promised that they would practice the concepts and methods of Chan meditation in daily life at home and would return for the summer camp next year and happily grow up with Dharma Drum Mountain.
(Translated by Tom Hsieh/Edited by DDM Australia Editing Team)