Grand Opening of the Life Memorial Garden at DDM World Center for Buddhist Education

On the morning of 24 November 2007, the President Abbot of Dharma Drum Mountain, Venerable Guo Dong, and the Abbot of the Chung Hwa Institute of Buddhist Culture, Venerable Jian Xin, buried the ashes of Most Venerable Master Dong Chu in the Life Memorial Garden. The Most Venerable Master Dong Chu had been the teacher of Venerable Sheng Yen.

The Life Memorial Garden is located in the DDM World Center for Buddhist Education in the Jinshan Township of Taipei County. It is a unique and peaceful resting place because it embodies DDM's ideals for the spiritual environment. The design of the Life Memorial Garden is bright and minimalist. There are no tomb stones or worshiping rites and despite being a burial site, the Gardens do not elicit the conventional feelings of gloom associated with traditional cemeteries.

"This garden is intended to embody an educational and compassionate message and is the best illustration of practicing environmental protection," says Venerable Guo Dong. "Our bodies are ephemeral, whereas the spirit is eternal. Although we cannot see the tombs of our loved ones here we continue to remember them."

DDM designed the garden path into a "Z" shape at a 15-degree slope, so that family members of the deceased can ascend the winding slope with ease and simultaneously appreciate the impermanence and preciousness of life.

After the burial of Most Venerable Master Dong Chu, the Abbot President separately led nine other families in burying the ashes of their deceased. Each ceremony ended with family members sprinkling flowers over the earth where their loved one had been buried as a symbol of eternal peace.

Mr Chilin Wong, a relative of one of those buried on the day, thanked DDM and Venerable Sheng Yen for creating the Garden. When asked about what he thought of the garden, Mr Wong said that the Garden reminds him to actively make the most of every moment of his life; to care about his family and rather than dwelling on his grief he should work towards the Buddhist goal of a pure mind.

Mr Weiren Chen, Taipei County's Deputy Magistrate said in his speech, "The idea behind the Garden is to let the living live to the fullest and to let the dead return to the nature. The Taipei County Government is grateful to DDM for providing this the wonderful and meaningful garden as an alternative final resting place."

DDM hopes that the burial of Venerable Dong Chu in the Life Memorial Garden will encourage more people in Taiwan to echo DDM's efforts in protecting the physical and spiritual environment.

(translated by Jin Yang/edited by DDM Australia Editing Team)

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