At the invitation of various social welfare organizations and the Public Service Department, Dharma Drum Mountain Social Welfare and Charity Foundation (DDMSWCF) again sponsored a booth at the Fair for Single Elders at the Taipei City Zoo at 10:00 AM on January 18. Venerable Guo Qi (果器法師), the Secretary-General of DDMSWCF, and Zhixiu Xin (辛智秀), a board member of DDMSWCF, led 14 volunteers from the Wenshan District to bring gifts which signified blessings for more than one thousand senior citizens and families of disabilities and low income. It was heart-warming to see the long line of people wishing each other well.
When Buddhism first appeared in India, there were no specific dietary customs and rules for practitioners. Since religious practices were prevalent in India, most people of faith must have followed generally similar dietary customs. In the early stage of Buddhism, bhikshus and bhikshunis obtained their food by walking door to door through the village, carrying an alms bowl. This manner of subsisting is described by the saying “an alms bowl for food from a thousand households.” To treat everyone equally and to seize opportunities to cultivate karmic relations, the monastics did not choose from whom to receive food; neither were there dietary taboos over whether the food was clean or unclean, sacred or not sacred.
At the invitation of the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts(DILA) Associate Professor Yang Pei (楊蓓) in DILA lectured on “Chan Practices and Satir’s Theory of Self-Congruence: The Dialogue between Ten Ox Herding Pictures and the Iceberg Theory” on Dec 4, 2018. Nearly 80 participants attended this lecture.
Master Sheng Yen, founder of Dharma Drum Mountain, passed away in February 2009, hence the loss of a most revered spiritual mentor for Taiwan’s society. The Master’s funeral served as his final teaching by example and a valuable Dharma lesson for the public, on the meaning of life and death.

DDM’s spring couplet for this year is “A good wish for the world”, which was also late Master Sheng Yen‘s blessings and exhortation for the current society made in 2008.
If one wants to become an orthodox Buddhist disciple, one must take refuge in the Three Jewels. The significance of this ritual is very much the same as that of a royal coronation, the inauguration of a president, or the admission of a new member to a political party. It is an expression of loyalty from the bottom of one’s heart, a zealous promise, a prayer out of admiration, a new life, and a pious taking of sanctuary.
On Dec 10, 2018, at the invitation of Buddhist Studies Department in Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts (DILA), Professor Robert Sharf, the D. H. Chen Distinguished Professor of Buddhist Studies in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California Berkeley, gave a lecture entitled “Is Mindfulness Buddhist? Why it matters?? ” Professor Sharf spoke his mind freely; the audience responded energetically, discussion ensued with participants raising their observations, questions and opinions.
In September 2018, the Succession Ceremony for DDM’s sixth abbot president took place at the Dharma Drum Mountain complex. In 2006, late Master Sheng Yen handed the position of abbot president to Ven. Guo Dong. This year’s succession ceremony also held a significant meaning for the further development of Chinese Buddhism.

In carrying various Dharma affairs, including paying visits to victims of the big earthquake in Hualian and the Puyuma Express train disaster, holding international academic exchanges and Buddhist seminars, as well as organizing the Protecting the Spiritual Environment and Family Day event, DDM’s monastic and lay practitioners all continued the late Master Sheng Yen’s compassionate aspiration to build a pure land on earth. The year 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the Master’s passing and DDM’s 30th anniversary, we expect ourselves to keep making good wishes and putting our wishes into action, for the benefit of the world.
In principle, Buddhism asserts equality. Hence, everyone can become a devotee, and everyone has the potential to become a Buddha. But devotees do differ in their levels of practice and spiritual attainment. And furthermore, according to the type of precepts they take, Buddhists are classified into the following nine ranks: upāsaka (Buddhist laymandisciple; C. jinshinan), upāsikā (Buddhist laywoman disciple; C. jinshinü), layman upholding the upavāsa precepts (jinzhunan), laywoman upholding the upavāsa precepts (jinzhunü), śrāmanera (novice monk; C.shami), śrāmanerikā (novice nun; C. shamini), śiksamānā (probationer; C. shichamona), bhiksu (monk; C. biqiu), and bhiksunī (nun; C. biqiuni).
An Incredible Journey of Natural Farming Inspired by DDM’s Protecting the Spiritual Environment

Ven. Guo Xiang (果祥法師), the current Vice Abbot at Dharma Drum Mountain, is well known for her tireless work on promoting natural farming. Her work began 20 years ago as an interest but over the past two decades it has transformed not only how conventional farmers work with their land but also how we perceive our relationship with nature.

This special personal interview with Ven. Guo Xiang provides a closer understanding of her compassion for all living things and her mission connecting us back to nature.
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