Changing Our Lives by Transforming Our Minds: DDM Water and Land Dharma Service signifies a pure land on earth

Changing Our Lives by Transforming Our Minds: DDM Water and Land Dharma Service signifies a pure land on earth

Nearly ten thousand devotees attended the ritual of Sending off the Sages toward the end of Dharma Drum Mountain Great Compassion Water and Land Dharma Service, in the afternoon of December 5, 2015. For the ritual, all the monastics and lay Buddhists sent off the four kinds of sages and six groups of ordinary beings in the ten spiritual realms with utmost gratitude and joyful mind by sincerely chanting the Buddha’s name, marking the completion of the Service.

In the Dharma ceremony, abbot president, Ven. Guo Dong (果東)emphasized that having a thankful heart is in itself Protecting the Spiritual Environment. The participants all vowed to learn the Dharma, support Buddhism, and spread the Buddha’s teaching, making an effort to build a pure land on Earth.

“Keep a peaceful and serene mind in both favorable and unfavorable situations. Practicing Chan and reciting the Buddha’s name keeps your mind in calm and concentration. A sense of shame and repentance purifies the mind. A mind like a bright mirror reflects the delight in Dharma and the joy of Chan. Give of your life to show gratitude and repay kindness. With compassion and wisdom, there are happiness, peace, and respect.” Ven. Guo Dong explained the six guidelines for protecting the spiritual environment, to encourage participants of this eight-day group practice event to change their lives from within and employ compassion in their daily activities, thereby experiencing serenity, freedom, calm, and peace in every moment, as if living in a Buddha-land. In addition, he reminded practitioners to have right mindfulness and remain hopeful at all times.

He also stressed that while favorable situations allow people to be humble and thankful, unfavorable ones enable people to learn the lessons and grown from those experiences. In facing the future, we should think positively and use reverse thinking. We should learn from each other with the attitude of appreciating both good and bad circumstances, while cultivating good interactions with others in a mindset to repay people’s kindness and contribute ourselves. We should also light up our inner brightness and lead our life by emulating Guanyin Bodhisattva. Afterwards, the presiding monastics, along with Ven. Guo Dong, led participants to chant the verses for merit-transfer, sharing the blessings with all beings and wishing them to benefit from the Dharma.

The pureness and solemnness on the Dharma venue of the Great Compassion Water and Land Dharma Service reflects the prospective pure land on earth with joyfulness. Yang Jiamin(楊嘉敏), who lives in Hong Kong and volunteered as a dormitory receptionist, shared her first-time experience for the Service by saying that she deeply felt the power of group practice at the extraordinary venue. The tranquility and harmony at DDM World Center for Buddhist Education allowed participants to fully calm body and mind, leaving worldly worries behind, as if being in a pure land on Earth. When not on duty, Yang concentrated on transcribing by hand the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows as a practice to cultivate merit and wisdom, and as a way to show her gratitude for the Three Jewels—the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.

Ronan Farrell, an Irish practitioner, joined the whole session of Shurangama Sutra alter, fulfilling his wish to chant the sutra, a Chinese-English bilingual version, in a group practice setting. Impressed by all participants’ diligence, Ronan humbly indicated that he is still learning to be a Buddhist, and is really grateful for the volunteers’ help at the venue. Influenced by his Buddhist father, Farrell reads Buddhist scriptures regularly, and considers actual practice essential alongside the study of Buddhist texts. When asked about why he decided to come and study at Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts and why he wanted to attend the Service, he simply answered in a straightforward, succinct manner: “To emulate the Buddha, to practice the Dharma, and to be a person.”

This year’s Service witnessed over 80,000 participants who attended the service in person at DDM’s centers at home and abroad, altogether 32 venues, and almost 900,000 people who registered on the Internet and took part in real time via our online broadcasting system, to jointly pray for blessings for the suffering and those in need of deliverance. Given the frequent disasters around the globe, the kindness and brightness of mind inspired by the Buddha’s teaching still bring warmth to our communities and societies.
As Ven. Guo Dong pointed out, optimistic and positive thinking is much needed in today’s world. Therefore, Dharma Drum Mountain’s theme for the year 2016 remains “Great Light.” Through it, we expect to continue our effort to build a wonderful pure land on earth, by upholding the principle: With a clear mind at every moment, you shine everywhere. With a stable footing at every step, your future is full of promise.

Report by Chang Yaochung (張曜鐘)
Photograph by Li Tungyang and Lin Yaying (李東陽,林雅櫻)
Video by Chang Tienpei (張田沛)
Translated by Kate Huang (黃婉琪) and edited by Chiacheng Chang (張家誠)

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