Share Your Stories


Thoughts on the Chinese New Year Ceremonies
at Dharma Drum Mountain Los Angeles Center

From February 5 to 9, 2019, I participated in three ceremonies during Chinese New Year at Dharma Drum Mountain Los Angeles Center. These ceremonies were the Diamond Sutra Chanting Ceremony, the Medicine Buddha Dharma Ceremony and the Guanyin Blessing Ceremony.

I am a newcomer to Chinese Buddhism and to Chan, having started on this path in the autumn of 2017. Also, I am a third-generation Chinese-American who does not speak Mandarin and does not read or write Chinese. In the past year, I have participated in several ceremonies, including the Diamond Sutra and Medicine Buddha, at another Chinese Buddhist Center in Southern California. I now wanted to experience the ceremonies at Dharma Drum Mountain.

The first ceremony was the Diamond Sutra Chanting Ceremony. This was my first time to enter the Great Hall for a ceremony and one of the volunteers guided me to a seat at one of the tables. At the start, Chang Ju Fashi (常俱法師) spoke to the participants and allowed everyone to take a few moments to relax before commencing the ceremony.

I knew that the liturgy would be in Chinese with no Hanyu Pinyin romanization to help me pronounce and speak the words of the sutra. Consequently I had borrowed a liturgy from another source and was able to chant with the other participants although I did at times fail to keep up with the pace of the chanting.

After the chanting of the sutra had concluded, Chang Ju Fashi engaged the participants in a brief question and answer session, asking everyone several questions about the sutra. I thought that this was an excellent method of giving the participants the opportunity to speak.

At this time, Gloria came over to sit behind me and the other two English-speaking participants, and she very generously translated Chang Ju Fashi’s comments for us.

After Chang Ju Fashi concluded her remarks, we filed out of the Great Hall in orderly fashion. After a few minutes, the Great Offering to the Buddha took place with participants making flower offerings and lamp offerings. As I observed the people making the offerings I could feel their sincere and heartfelt gratitude.

After the offerings concluded, the chanting of the Blessing Service and the Memorial Service commenced. I asked Elaine, one of the volunteers, if there was a liturgy with Pinyin romanization. She said that there regrettably was none available but she then gave me the excellent advice to “listen to the chanting with my heart”. This was the first time that anyone gave me this advice and I found it to be very helpful.

The following day I participated in the Medicine Buddha Dharma Ceremony, again borrowing a liturgy with Pinyin from another source. After the lunch, Gloria came to speak with me, graciously inviting me to come on Saturday for the Guanyin Blessing Ceremony, as they would have liturgies in Pinyin and they would also set up the translation equipment so that I would have headphones for listening to Gloria’s translation of Chang Ju Fashi’s spoken words.

To conclude, I found the three ceremonies to be very profound and moving. I was impressed by the solemnity of each ceremony and by the dedication and commitment shown by all of the participants. Also, the volunteers at each of the ceremonies were very compassionate and gracious; Gloria was great with the translations and Sarah, Sherry, Elaine and the others whose names I do not yet know were very kind and helpful. I am very happy that causes and conditions have led me to Dharma Drum Mountain and to the teachings of Master Sheng Yen.

Written By: Brian Lee, DDM Los Angeles Center
More info of DDM Los Angeles Center

Back to list

Your are here : Share Your Stories > Thoughts on the Chinese New Year Ceremonies
at Dharma Drum Mountain Los Angeles Center