Sounding the Lotus Bell for Peace
For the first time on Chinese New Year's Eve, the Lotus Bell was sounded at Dharma Drum Mountain World Center for Buddhist Education to bring blessing and peace.
Nearly 3,000 people gathered at DDM to participate in this solemn, remarkable and blissful ceremony after enjoying their warm family-reunion dinners at home.
Honored guests including the Premier of the Executive Yuan, Su Zhenchang, the Magistrate of Taipei County, Zhou Hsiwei, and DDM followers sat attentively around the Lotus Bell at Lotus Park for the program to begin at 10:00pm.
Venerable Guo Pin made the announcement that DDM warmly welcomes everyone for participating in this special ceremony held on the eve of Chinese Lunar New Year. According to the Venerable, it is a traditional practice for Buddhist countries, including Japan and China, to sound the bell 108 times on the eve of the New Year to bring peace and harmony. However in entire country of Taiwan, DDM's Sangha community is the only Buddhist organization that sounds the bell on the eve of Chinese New Year for blessing.
"What we have witnessed tonight is the striking of the unique Lotus Bell, the only bell in the world inscribed with the Lotus Sutra. The bell encompasses the great wisdom and compassion of the Lotus Sutra and its sound generates infinite light and hope to all people. It is a treasured landmark of Dharma Drum Mountain, and radiates the wisdom of Buddhism throughout the generations."
Venerable Master Sheng Yen also explained, "We are gathered here tonight at DDM to bestow blessings to all the people of Taiwan, to pray for harmony in our society, a co-operative cross-strait relationship and peace to the world."
The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra (Lotus Sutra) says: "Upon hearing the bell, I shall eliminate my own mental afflictions, grow in wisdom, increase in the Bodhi Mind, escape hell, climb out of the fiery pit, vow to attain Buddhahood and save all sentient beings."
The Lotus Bell is a spiritual symbol for all DDM followers and future generations to nurture compassion and to spread the Dharma throughout the world. DDM will sound the Lotus Bell every year on the eve of Chinese New Year for peace and harmony in the world.
The ceremony was a huge success and concluded at 1:00am on New Year's Day. Participants formed a line and walked around the Lotus Bell one more time before leaving for home, praying that in the Year of the Pig, they will grow in wisdom and enjoy peace.
(Reported & photos taken by Jin Yang/edited by Agnes Chow)