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The Path Taken by volunteers of Dharma Drum Mountain (DDM) Toward Realization and Attainment of Buddhahood

On January 21, 2017, at the invitation of Venerable Chang Xing, director of the San Francisco Bay Area Center, Venerable Yen-Ben (演本) delivered a lecture on “Approaches to Dharma Practice in the Daily Life of DDM Volunteers”.

Venerable Yen-Ben began the lecture by pointing out that the purpose of meditation is to pursue inner and outer peace, leading to a pure mind. The question is, does a purified mind naturally result in a pure land? This is not so, as according to Venerable Yen-Ben, a purified mind does not automatically generate a pure land.

It takes a transitional phase of ‘benefiting oneself for the purpose of benefiting others’ to progress from the stage of ‘purified mind’ to that of the ‘pure land’. Learning the Dharma is akin to learning to be a better person; the six kinds of emotional control, that is, solicitude, respect, gratitude, sense of shame, repentance and empathy, are to be nurtured in order to improve our character as well as social relations.

Through observation and interviews, Venerable Yen-Ben noticed that volunteers at DDM are able to draw on their five senses to be receptive of the needs of others, in addition to acting and speaking with understanding and compassion. Moreover, these volunteers are able to creatively establish and improve interpersonal relationships.

DDM advocates that life itself is a Dharma practice. Volunteers at DDM constantly observe and apply the Buddhadharma in their daily lives to improve their conduct and character, leading to a happy and harmonious atmosphere. These practices are essentially a realization of DDM’s vision, which is to create a pure land on earth.

In adherence to Master Sheng-Yen’s teachings, the four assemblies of monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen at DDM discharge their duties with a liberated mind, not affected by fame, gain, praise or blame. Volunteers at DDM are regarded as ‘Bodhisattvas’ as they provide the necessary support to the sangha; the support provided by these volunteer benefits others as well as themselves, thereby, assisting them in their journey towards Buddhahood.

Texts: San Francisco Bay Area Center March 2, 2017
Editor: Leefah Thong

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