Tonsure Ceremony: Dharma Drum Mountain welcomes its newly ordained monastics

As the lyrics of the Song Of The Triple Gem goes: “The nights in human and heavenly realms are long, and the universe deluded and dark; so who is going to illuminate it?” The Dharma Drum Sangha University held its 2016 tonsure ceremony on the morning of August 31 at the Grand Buddha Hall of Dharma Drum Mountain World Center for Buddhist Education, for seven student monks vowing to devote themselves to Buddhist practices and benefitting the world. More than 400 people attended the ceremony to extend their congratulations. Ven. Yan Xian, one of the newly ordained, was accompanied by her sister, who performed the “offering the robe” ritual for her before she formally put on the monastic robe. This added a special touch for the ceremony, making the atmosphere all the more heartwarming.

“The first shave signifies severing all evil conducts, the second shave practicing all virtuous actions, and the third shave universally saving all sentient beings.” While announcing the verse of aspiration, Ven. Guo Dong, abbot president of Dharma Drum Mountain, also encouraged the newly ordained to “live a complete monastic life as an action leading to perfection liberation, and shave the hair to serve as a merit field by practicing bodhisattva’s actions.” The newly ordained then performed the “bidding farewell to parents and leaving home” ritual and were given blessings from their friends and relatives. Finally, elder monks from the DDM sangha, including the abbot president, the teaching acharya, and shaving-hair acharya, performed the tonsure ceremony together, completing the wishes of the newly ordained to receive the precepts.

The abbot president gave his blessings to the new sangha members by saying that shaving hair, like performing the consecration ceremony, symbolizes wiping away the dust of defilements and afflictions to allow our “original face” to appear, learning to constantly reflect on our selves, and removing our karmic obstacles by practising the Dharma, the teachings of the mind, and Chan practice. He also said, “Life is like a dream, like a drama, and you can’t take it with you when you die. Let go of mundane power, position, fame, and profit, and vow to share the Dharma for the benefit of sentient beings. The Dharma Drum Sangha University offers preparation education for Buddhist cultivation, and monastics should never forget the love and kindness of their parents. Practice the six paramitas and myriad good deeds on the bodhisattva path, and accomplish the great Buddhist task to cultivate perfect blessings and wisdom.” He urged everyone to keep in mind that “To refrain from engaging in any evil, to uphold and practice all that is good, and to purify our own mind—this is the teachings of the Buddha.” By returning to the original intention of the Buddha we can better help purify the world.

On behalf of the DDM sangha, Ven. Guo Hui, vice abbot president of Dharma Drum Mountain, expressed gratitude to the parents of the newly ordained for their profound merit in raising their children to contribute to society on the day coinciding with Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva’s birthday. The venerable encouraged the newly ordained to emulate the spirit of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva: aiming big but starting small; having a pure mind in every thought-moment; keeping every step firm and steady; vowing to let go of the self; carrying out the Buddha’s “family undertaking”; being empathetic to the suffering of sentient beings; endeavoring to keep Buddhism going; generating the mind of renunciation and the Bodhi-mind; dedicating the self to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha; and sharing Buddhist teaching in its true sense.

Zhang Mingling performed the robe-offering ritual for her sister, Ven. Yan Xian. Wiping joyful tears from her eyes, she said that her sister was a volunteer to offer the robe too. She also shared that at the ceremony she really witnessed a new life reborn. Therefore, she registered herself for the ritual this year, to offer her best wishes to her sister Ven. Yan Xian. Her mother, Lin Shuyuan, said she felt grateful for being able to grow and develop by becoming a volunteer, thanks to her daughter’s influence. Lin expressed that through the education provided by the DDM sangha she had learned how to share, and feel joyful and thankful.

Wu Yunzhen, Ven. Yan Gu’s mother, who was moved to tears several times, expressed that she was happy to see her child change greatly in her speech, thoughts, and conducts. Believing that Dharma Drum Mountain would be an ideal environment, she felt assured and more than joyful to give her blessings to Ven. Yan Gu, and also encouraged all the newly ordained to stay committed as long as they are monastics, to keep learning with compassion and give back to the needed in society with what they have studied in the Dharma.

Zheng Tenghui, Ven. Yan Xing’s father, agreed with what Master Sheng Yen said that the Dharma is great but so few people know about it. Many friends and relatives of the newly ordained came to give their blessings, in the hope that the Dharma can be further popularized and promoted to benefit sentient beings. They expected the new monastic members to be able to, under the guidance of the abbot president, work hard toward uplifting the character of humanity and building a pure land on earth, thereby achieving world peace. Zeng Xiuzhen, the venerable’s mother, urged the venerable to learn to have less affliction and cultivate both merit and wisdom, and benefit people with their learning and study.

As Ven. Yan Yun said, “Giving of this body and mind to the worlds as numerous as dusts—this is called ‘repaying the Buddha’s kindness.’” Becoming a monastic is like being reborn again. He vowed to dedicate the merit and blessings of his practice as a monastic to all, always keep his initial aspiration to enlightenment in mind, and never regress. Ven. Yan Sheng expected himself to, now having returned to the “tathagata family,” carry out Buddhist undertakings and continue Master Sheng Yen’s vows by helping more people benefit from the Dharma. Ven. Yan Yang said wearing the monk robe signifies that he should put more effort to learn the spirits of Buddha and the compassionate vows of Master Sheng Yen, by dedicating the self to the sentient beings.

According to the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism, the abbot president gave the seven newly ordained Dharma names respectively as: Yan-Yong Zhi-Ren (演勇智仁), Yan-Xing Zhi Jue (演醒智覺), Yan-Yang Zhi-Qing (演揚智清), Yan-Gu Zhi-Zhong (演鼓智鐘), Yan-Sheng Zhi-Ren (演勝智任), Yan-Xian Zhi-Ming (演獻智命), and Yan-Yun Zhi-Zuo (演運智作). Towards the end of the ceremony, he also urged the new sangha members and the 11 novices to “diligently practice precepts, concentration, and wisdom; eliminate greed, hatred, and ignorance,” as a blessing for them to embark on the monastic path with firm strides and a great future.

Reporter: Chang Yaochung (張曜鐘)
Photographer: Li Tungyang (李東陽)
Translator: Frances Liu (劉珮如)
Editor: Chiacheng Chang (張家誠)

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