Cultivating from Within to Continue the Legacy of DDM: Dharma Drum Mountain Followers’ Forum

Cultivating from Within to Continue the Legacy of DDM: Dharma Drum Mountain Followers’ Forum

Dharma Drum Mountain Sangha held its fourth Followers’ Forum, a two-day event, at the NTU GIS Convention Center on June 29th, also marking the completion of DDM’s founder Master Sheng Yen’s chronicles, which includes some changes and updates up until his death. The Forum’s first session, entitled “Who, Will Continue the Legacy of Dharma Drum Mountain? An Outlook Inspired by the Master Sheng Yen’s Chronicles,” evoked over 600 participants’ memories of Master Sheng Yen about his actions and aspirations to benefit sentient beings. They expressed gratitude for being able to meet this good teacher and Dharma friend who inspired their Buddhist practice, which has greatly enriched their lives.

At the opening, Ven. Guo Dong, abbot president of DDM, expressed his thankfulness to the DDM Sangha for organizing this forum, allowing people to gain an understanding of how DDM comes up with solution plans when encountering new challenges. He stressed again the DDM’s mission— to spread Chinese Chan Buddhism, with Protecting the Spiritual Environment at the core; to achieve the purification of the world through the Threefold Education —and its guidelines for development—to deepen education and caring services, work toward enhancing the moral wellbeing of the world, and shape the organizational culture—as the core idea for this forum’s main theme: protecting the spiritual environment & great light.

Before the start of the forum, which features presentations on how DDM is promoting the protection of spiritual environment and Chan Buddhism, Ven. Guo Dong first shared what Master Sheng Yen once said, “The central philosophy of Buddhism is all about the mind. It requires us to start from within, develop from within, advocate the idea from within, and, ultimately, perfect our mind from within.” He pointed out that “protecting the spiritual environment,” a new expression to suit modern society, actually reflects the essence of Buddhism; he also urged followers to protect their spiritual environments as a primary goal of their practice by starting from the mind, thereby helping purify human minds and society.

Serving as a chance for the DDM Sangha and its lay followers to reflect and progress, this biennial forum saw participants from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Indonesia, among other nations, together with Dharma teachers from DDM’s Chan Practice Center. Based on the Master Sheng Yen’s Chronicles as a starting point, the forum topics include “Master Sheng Yen’s Ideals for Chan Practice: Its Transmission and Challenges in Modern Time,” “The Advocating of Protecting the Spiritual Environment,” “Protecting the Spiritual Environment and Its Global Development,” and “International Dissemination of Chinese Chan Buddhism,” covering discussions on how to continue the spirit of Master’s compassionate vows in the inter-faith, youth education, environmental protection, and peace efforts.

The forum also saw first time participants who had never met Master Sheng Yen in person but have started to relate to the Master’s teachings through the promotion efforts by DDM’s followers. Miko from Hong Kong said that she came into contact with Buddhist study and Chan practice thanks to her boss, and finds DDM’s style of sharing the Dharma particularly suitable for young people in modern society. The forum allowed her to appreciate the Master’s spirit in overcoming difficulties, spreading the Dharma by setting himself as an example, and still influencing people to join the Dharma endeavors up till to date.

Huang Yijuan, another first time participant, said that she had a chance to meet volunteers of DDM in Beijing for the first time, which inspired her to start her Buddhist practice. The volunteers’ speech and actions reflecting Master Sheng Yen’s character prompted her to also become a volunteer, to practice caring for others while keeping a pure mind. At the forum, Ven. Chang Kuan invited participants to say “Who, will continue the legacy of Dharma Drum Mountain?” as a huatou, making her deeply touched and leading her to look back on her Buddhist journey with more confidence to move forward.

After the forum, the DDM Sangha and the Sheng Yen Education Foundation went on to hold the sixth Seminar on Master Sheng Yen’s Thoughts at the same venue from July 1 to July 3. Entitled “Chinese Buddhism and Master Sheng Yen’s Thoughts in the Contexts of Historical Imagination and Modern Language,” the seminar emphasized on the cultivation of merit and wisdom, as well as study and practice. Together with the forum, the seminar will continue to strive to “uplift the character of humanity and build a pure land on earth,” bringing light and hope to the world.

Translated by Frances Liu (劉珮如)
Edited by Chiacheng Chang (張家誠)

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