2016 The Buddhist Teachings Program at DDVC

Like many of my classmates in the Buddhist Teachings Program, I grew up seeing and following our parents going to temples, burning incense, and praying to Bodhisattva and other spiritual beings in hope for their protection. In my heart, although not understanding how it all works, I was told holding a deep respect in my heart will grant me the protection I hope for. Seeing countless others in the temple bowing and trembling, I thought in certain way, like a society needs its rules and punishments, fear was the driving force in religion that keeps all of us inline.

However, when I was first introduced to the Dharma Drum Mountain, I could clearly see the difference. Rather than fear or praying for something, people came to the Center with smiles. I noticed even how people bow in the DDM Centre is different; there is a sense of peace in their movement. This was one of the biggest driving forces for me to attend the Buddhist Teachings Program - I want to understand how the DDM teachings changed people’s view on religion.

Some people might say Buddhism’s peaceful nature is passive and non-productive, but what I learned from the program was just the opposite. The Causes and Consequences principle explains how we come to be who we are, the Four Noble Truths and the Triple Studies show us what is the path to take, and we abide by the Five Percepts and encourage the Ten Good Deeds to better ourselves. Although the Program’s very first term was only showing us the basic ideas, “better selves” is indeed what happened to each of us. Our lives have changed because we believe in the ideas, and this belief has impacted our actions, and therefore touched the people, the environment, and the world around us.

In this world with so much hatred and violence, it is hard not to focus on the suffering. But I learn from the Four Noble Truths that there is a method to rise above the negatives. The Six Paramitas helped me realize that, instead of praying something for myself, all along I have the ability to give to others and make a difference in their lives. It could be something as small as giving my pocket change to the people in need, or something greater like sharing what I learned to those in fear or confusion. I believe as long as I can hold these principles in my mind, I can make a difference.

I am very happy to have joined the Buddhist Teachings Program. The confusion and fear that were once in my heart are now replaced by clarity and peace. I am definitely looking forward to what the next term will bring. Master Sheng Yen’s words and everything he did showed us there is hope, and each of us can make a difference to make the world a better place - a pure land on earth.

By Will Hsu

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