Meeting at the global Buddhist community to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary for Humanity Magazine

In a fast changing world, how can societies in the west and east invite collective insight by drawing on Buddhist wisdom, to map out a blueprint for Buddhist practice in the global community? To mark the imminent 70th anniversary of Humanity Magazine and commemorate the upcoming 10th anniversary of Master Sheng Yen’s passing in 2019, Humanity Magazine, Dharma Drum Corporation, DDM Public Buddhist Education Center, and Sheng Yen Education Foundation co-organized a Global Buddhist Community Symposium at the GIS NTU Convention Center on June 27, 2018. The symposium invited delegates from Buddhist sanghas, Buddhist publishers, and scholars across the globe to have a dialogue. Special guests and over 600 people attended the meeting.

“In response to the radically changing era, the first thing Ven. Dong Chu (東初老和尚) did was to launch Humanity Magazine,” DDM Abbot President Ven. Guo Dong (果東法師) said in his opening remarks. The Magazine started in 1949, an era when Taiwan was in turmoil and faced many changes. Now, modern technology and convenient communications may have facilitated the forming of a global Buddhist community, but it is also facing some confusion regarding its possible direction of development. The abbot president quoted Master Sheng Yen as addressing the future of Buddhism, hoping that people can use a macro perspective to approach Sakyamuni Buddha’s teaching as a whole, about its diversity and singularity in terms of historical development, doctrinal essence, so as to return to the Buddha’s original intention and reinvent the prospect of a global Buddhist community.

The symposium had two sessions, on the themes of “Buddhism in Times of Radical Changes” and “Multi-dimensional Development of Buddhist Cultures,” with Jakusho Kwong -roshi (關寂照老師), founder of Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, and Ven. Chi Chern, (繼程法師) leader of practice at Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia, as the keynote speakers. Already in his 80s, Jakusho Kwong roshi was the first Zen master in the US to invite Master Sheng Yen to travel to California to share the Dharma in the west. When discussing late Master Sheng Yen’s ideal of “building a pure land on earth,” he expressed that the pure land is originally there, and it is our task to discover it. In addition, sitting in meditation is not for the mere purpose of seeking calm and peace, it also requires the practitioners to further contemplate and realize the truth that “our mind is originally in a state of calm and peace.” By saying that, he encouraged people to face the ever changing world with a clear and luminous mind.

“Buddhism is not only a way of life, but more of a path to life,” said Ven. Chi Chern, who stressed that birth and death are important parts of life. What the Buddha taught is all about the path to liberating from the cycle of birth and death. Whether by using mindful breathing, playing music spiritually, practicing Buddha-name recitation, or even incorporating psychology, there are no fixed forms as to the Dharma that leads us to the liberation from samsara. The venerable blessed everyone present to learn a most beneficial method to calm the mind from their Dharma teachers, finding the path to a life of genuine happiness.

The first session of symposium featured Jakusho Kwong-roshi, head abbot of Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, Rev. Master Meian Elbert, abbess of Shasta Abbey Buddhist Monastery, Ven. Phap Kham, executive director of the Plum Village Foundation Hong Kong, and Ven. Guo Hui, vice abbot-president of Dharma Drum Mountain, sharing their views in terms of their respective Buddhist traditions. In the second session, Ven. Chi Chern, Ven. Guo Xian, director and editor-in-chief of Dharma Drum Corporation, Daniel Aitken, CEO of Wisdom Publications, Sam Mowe, associate publisher of Tricycle, Chen Chien-huang (陳劍鍠) director of the Centre for the Study of Humanistic Buddhism, Chinese University of Hong Kong, discussed how Buddhist publishers should address and deal with the challenges from the rapidly changing world.

Yan Hui-chi (顏卉池), a participant from Hsinchu, said that the forum had opened up her perspective in accessing Buddhism. Thanks to the speakers’ sharing, she gained a further understanding of the traditions and features of various Buddhist groups around the world. Liao Ming-xuan (廖明璇), who made a special effort to travel from Yuanlin County, was particularly moved by the charisma of Jakusho Kwong roshi as a Zen teacher, who, embodying a traditional teaching and always maintaining a stable composure, indeed inspired people the most with his calming power.

Texts: Chen, Meijuan (陳玫娟) from Dharma Drum Monthly (法鼓雜誌)
Translation: Chang, Chia-Cheng (張家誠)
Editings: DDM Editorial Team

More info of Dharma Drum Monthly

Extended Readings

Finding Unity among Differences, Opening for Collaboration

Venerable Guo Huei

According to Venerable Guo Huei (果暉法師) newly elected sixth Abbot President of Dharma Drum Mountain and current Vice Abbot, Dharma Drum Mountain comes from the tradition of Chinese Chan Buddhism. Its core ideal is to protect the spiritual environment, and its approach to altruism is “Great Compassionate Mind Arising”, while its approach to self-elevation is “vexations dissolve through returning to one’s own mind”.

The Venerable commented that, as we face many challenges in the age of artificial intelligence, technology in itself is neutral. It can be used to do evil, but it can also be used to spread the dharma. Use of the Internet to deliver online Buddhism courses is a good example of holding Buddha dharma in the core while utilizing technology as the means. The Venerable recommended use of “observing the present and now” derived from Chinese Chan Buddhism, in the face of the modern day challenges of information overflow and constant demand of instantaneous response. “Contemplating the present and now” is to maintain clear awareness anytime and anywhere, that is, “wherever the body is, the mind follows.”

Many Buddhist methods have been widely adopted in western societies, where many religious and Buddhist traditions coexist. Individuals have diverse choices of religious identification or paths of exploration. Regarding this, Venerable Guo Hui quoted Master Sheng Yen: “We offer the wisdom and compassion of Buddha Dharma to others, but we don’t intend to change their religions.” Different religions and different Buddhist traditions each has their own historical paths of evolution, and there are many opportunities for dialogue and learning from each other. Through emphasis on the commonality and common goals instead of focusing on the differences, we could find unity among differences, and find more grounds for collaboration to make greater contributions internationally.

Texts: Dharma Drum Monthly (法鼓雜誌)
Translation: Yeh, Shu-jen (葉姝蓁)
Editing: DDM Editorial Team

Promoting Orthodox Buddhism & Right Views: Sharing Answers to Life’s questions

Venerable Guo Shyan

Venerable Guo Shyan (果賢法師), Managing Director of Dharma Drum Cultural Center, has dedicated 23 years to Buddhist cultural publication, personally experienced its progress not only in the quality of the printed books, but also evolving to the use of diversified medias such as audio-visual films, daily necessities, cultural products etc. As the publication session of DDM, the unwavering principles of publication have a foothold on Chinese Chan Buddhism, adhering to the concept of "protecting the spiritual environment", in the promotion of orthodox Buddhism and right view.

Although it has been a multi-media era, Ven. Guo Xian emphasized that the only difference is in the medium, while the content remains the primary essence. Given the difficulties of preserving knowledge, DDM has already entered the digital information era, striving to pass on the wisdom of Buddha and our ancestry masters.

Master Sheng-Yen once said, "There is no best or worst era", even the world today seems to be in turmoil and its people in unrest. The Venerable explained that this phenomenon is already the "effect", and we should focus on changing the "causes".

She shared with the audience that she has been searching for the answers to life’s questions since young. One day, she incidentally came across Master Sheng-Yen's "The Life of Chan" in a bookshop, and in that moment felt that the questions in life have answered. It was the turning point of her life, finding this wise teacher on the path of Buddhism. As for the "Humanity Magazine ", it was based on Master Tai-xu's (太虛大師)" Human Life Buddhism " philosophy, aspiring to resolve the dilemmas of birth, aging, sickness and death through the wisdom of the Dharma.

Texts: Dharma Drum Monthly (法鼓雜誌)
Translation: Chang, Cheng-yu (張振郁)
Editings: DDM Editorial Team

Viewing the Changing World with a Calm Mind

Jakusho Kwong-roshi

Jakusho Kwong-roshi (關寂照老師), a third-generation Chinese American, began studying Zen with Shunryu Suzuki-roshi in 1959 and later became a successor to his lineage of Soto Zen School in Japan. Kwong-roshi has taught Zen in the US and Europe for more than forty years. He also founded the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center in northen California, Kannon Zen Center in Warsaw, Poland and the Nátthagi Zen Center in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Kwong-roshi mentioned that he is from a very traditional Zen lineage, following traditional ways of practice. Upon seeing the topic of this keynote speech, Buddhism in Times of Radical Changes, one may feel that the world out there is constantly changing, which, in fact, reflects that one is confused and deluded by the phenomenon without knowing it.

“There is something that doesn’t change. This is really important!”! He quoted from The Six Patriarch Huineng "originally there was nothing."(本來無一物) , and reminded the audience that our mind is already calm, no need to “become” calm. And we will realize it through our practices. In fact, “Practice is very simple and it needs to be done in a repeated way, a relentless way."

” Kwong-roshi shared that Master Sheng Yen often mentioned the ideal of "building a pure land on earth.", but, if we do not understand that the pure land is already there in our mind, how could we actually build a pure land out of nothing? It could be seen simply because "it" already exists and is complete in itself.

According to Kwong-roshi, each of us already has our own illumination. He indicated that it is the nature of the whole universe, namely, at every current moment everything is created by the mind alone.

“We're all jewels connecting, shinning, and creating each other in the Indra's net."
Taken an example from daily life, he said when riding on a bus, if we find people around us not lovely at all, just laugh at our own stupidity and conditionality. The light of the jewel illumines itself and the whole universe, and at the same time the boundless world is also manifested in each and every pearl. It is the expression of emptiness, infinite space, said Kwong-roshi.

"A Japanese Zen master once said that when the horizontal and the vertical intersect; so it is when there is this, there is that; when there is not this, there is not that; when there is no longer this, no longer that, it is the freedom from karma." It is basically “dependent origination”, meaning the law of the causes and effects.

All the teachings from those eminent masters are about nothing but how to view this changing world with a calm mind, this is our work and practices for ourselves, to be done from the ancestors, emphasized Kwong-roshi.

Texts: Dharma Drum Monthly (法鼓雜誌)
Translation: John Wu (吳俊宏); Elenda Huang (頤嵐達)
Editings: DDM Editorial Team

Returning to the present Moment and Regressing to Totality

Rev. Meian Elbert, Abbot of Shasta Abbey, California, USA

Rev. Meian Elbert, the abbot of Shasta Abbey in northern California, said that the fundamental problem in human spirits is nothing but vexations generated from greed, hatred, and ignorance. The Reverend believes that living in an era dominated by economy and technology and of momentous, sudden changes, the best way is to lead a life based on practicing precepts, meditative concentration, and compassion. This way, one could be free from the invisible constraints of material life and navigate the mind to purity and compassion.

Nonetheless, modern people confronted with overwhelming inputs yet have to make timely decisions. Even if one got his own mind settled, still there would be conflicts between the individual and the organization. In this regard, how to keep practicing in daily life? Rev. Meian suggested that the best way is “to be present for your life”. That is, just to take care of the problem at the present moment, nothing else. In fact, no matter what position one is at, the significance of the individual is far less than he could image. Rather, one could try to consider the self as part of the whole, instead of an entity independent from the organization, so as to live with others in harmony. When one keeps trying to help others instead of grasping firmly onto one’s desires, one could become soften and could have the self dissolved.

For human kind, it’s the most important to nurture compassion and virtues. The Reverend reminded us not to lose faith and basic goodness of human being. Keep on trying the best, and never give up!!

Texts: Dharma Drum Monthly (法鼓雜誌)
Translation: Liu, Wenren (呂文仁)
Editings: DDM Editorial Team

Breathing, Smiling, Being Mindful and Aware, Moment by Moment
Ven. Phap Kham,
Executive Director of Plum Village Foundation Hong Kong& Dharma Teacher

In an era of dramatic shifts, Ven. Phap Kham, Executive Director of Plum Village Foundation Hong Kong, believes that technology has significantly changed human lives and brought great convenience, yet it could not fulfill the connections among human minds, neither will it replace the function and works of human minds. For example, even if, with bio-technology, Master Thich Nhat Hanh could be duplicated physically and physiologically in perfection, such technology won’t be possible to recreate the same Master Thich Nhat Hanh, grown up from the background of Vietnamese War.

The Venerable also believes that human is still the most intelligent in this world, and there is no need to worry about being replaced by technology. It is more important for one to better understand impermanence, suffering, emptiness, and selflessness than to worry about the impacts external world might bring to human beings. As to face the various challenges in contemporary society, the best approach is to apply mindfulness in daily life. The Venerable recommends for everyone to try being aware of one’s own breathing, moment by moment. Once losing mindfulness, one just keep returning to the awareness of breathing.

If one has the chance to meditate, one would realize that what is really important is not pursuing the satisfaction in external material world but returning to the original integration internally. The Venerable suggested living up every step at the present moment, just like the flowing water without existence of the “self,” yet to be aware of all the phenomena produced by encounters of sensory organs and objects.

For twice, the venerable delivered the joy of awareness of breathing and smiling to the audience, by singing wisdom words such as “I am free!” and “I have arrived home.”

Texts: Dharma Drum Monthly (法鼓雜誌)
Translation: Liu, Wenren (呂文仁)
Editings: DDM Editorial Team

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