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Words of Wisdom by the Abbot President – Highlighting the Core Teachings of Master Sheng Yen

“To build a Pure Land on Earth with the wisdom and compassion of the Dharma”: this core intent of the Dharma has always been upheld by the sangha of Dharma Drum Mountain since its establishment by the late Master Sheng Yen (Shifu). Shifu explained the significance of the ground breaking ceremony, often referred to as ‘opening the mountain’, as thus “To unlock the dormant potential that lies within each of us so that we develop wisdom and compassion, which lead to harmony, peace, happiness and health in society and the world at large. This is the significance of ‘Opening the Mountain’.

In order to achieve liberation, we must observe our mind and actions mindfully in wisdom; learn to be contented and to temper down our cravings; to be free from vexation and finally attains the wisdom of non-self. For example, Buddhist countries such as Thailand and Bhutan are not as wealthy economically as many western countries but their national happiness index is very high. The Dharma teaches us that being contented and easily satisfied is the way to less vexation and angst; application of Buddhist principles in our daily life is the way to a purer body and mind.


Treating everyone with compassion is practicing the way of the Bodhisattva; wisdom can be developed through the elimination of cravings and to be contented; in addition, we should rouse our Bodhi mind to proactively benefit all sentient beings. A compassionate mind can be developed through learning and practicing. I was fortunate to join our monastic and dharmapala sangha on the sixth “Pilgrimage to the Buddha’s Sacred Sites” in India late March this year. Various chants from different Buddhist traditions, in different languages and tunes, could be heard during the evening service near the Mahabodhi Temple; some may consider this distractive but I encourage everyone to think of this as: everyone is transferring the merits of their practices to each other, in different languages and tunes, just as our chanting to transfer our merits to others.


This is equivalent to all groups practicing together with an atmosphere of calmness and everyone feeling the blessings from one another. In addition, the practice of compassion entails putting the needs of others first. When we went to the Dhamekh Stupa near Varanasi that commemorates Buddha’s turning of the dharma wheel for the first time, there were a group of Theravadan Buddhist chanting in front of the stupa. As such, I had our group circumambulate and recite the Buddha’s name in silence so as not to disrupt the other group; the benefit of this practice session was greatly felt by all group members.


Recently, I read in the news that in an effort to promote peace in South Sudan, Catholic Pope Francis knelt down and kiss the shoes of both the President of South Sudan and his opposition leader; I was immensely moved. The Buddha travelled up and down along the banks of Ganges River to teach the Dharma. Likewise, despite poor health since childhood, Master Sheng Yen studied, protected and disseminated the Dharma, undeterred by hardship. These are prime examples of compassion.

Shifu encouraged us to improve ourselves and inspire others, to follow the Path and to uphold the “Four Perseverances” – the vision of Dharma Drum Mountain, three types of education, four kinds of environmentalism, as well as the Chinese Chan tradition of Buddhism. I hope that every one of you will develop wisdom and compassion through practicing the Buddhadharma. By protecting and propagating the Dharma, we can build a pure land on Earth.

Text: Abbot President: Venerable Guo Huei (方丈和尚果暉法師)
Translation: Shu-Jen, Yeh (葉姝蓁)
Editing: Leefah Thong



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