Holistic Caring for Life
Education through Caring Services means caring for all members of society equally and universally through Humanistic Buddhism.
As part of caring services, DDM started in 1992 the movement to protect the social environment, with activities such as Buddhist-style joint weddings, birthday celebrations for the elderly, and funerals. The purpose is to lead and influence Taiwanese society through the concept and practice of simplicity, non-wastefulness, and cherishment of blessings. The Interior Minister praised DDM'S leadership on end-of-life caring and praying, and the Buddhist-style memorials, saying, "what we at the Interior Ministry failed to do, Dharma Drum Mountain has achieved."
Every three months the DDM end-of-life chanting group collaborates with the city government of Taipei to hold a Buddhist-style joint funeral and memorial service. A departure from traditional funeral practice, the service is solemn, simple, peaceful, and graceful, filled with the calming chanting of Buddha'S name. Master Sheng Yen said:
From a Buddhist point of view, not only birth brings endless hope, but death also leads to brilliant future ... The ending of life, though not a joyful event, is neither a depressing thing. It is a graceful Dharma event.
The power of the Buddhist funeral memorial can overwhelm people attending one for the first time. They often leave expressing a wish that their own funeral will be like that. Zheng Wenlie, leader of the DDM End-of-life Chanting Group, offered this explanation: "Death prompts people to think about the deeper meaning of life. It releases them from avoiding talking about death."
Master Sheng Yen often stresses that every DDM activity has two purposes: education and caring. The Buddhist-style funeral not only teaches simplicity and gratefulness, but also transforms the traditionally negative attitude people hold towards death. In the caring aspect, it not only memorializes the dead but also comforts and enlightens family and friends, and encourages contemplating the deeper meaning of life.
Psychological Reconstruction after 9/21
In September 21, 1999, a massive earthquake shook Taiwan, causing record destruction. The central Taiwan region was the most severely affected. Fallen walls, damaged buildings, and the distraught faces of those who lost family members were visible everywhere. Shocking scene after shocking scene of destruction broke the hearts of the whole nation.
In the reconstruction after the [earthquake] disaster, peace of mind is of utmost importance ... The hurt and pain in the hearts [of the afflicted] will take ten, twenty years or even longer to heal. But we will not give up. The work of rebuilding the psychology and the mind's peace is hard and slow. As long as there is need, DDM will continue the work.
The psychological reconstruction after disasters is multi-faceted and needs continuous work. Soon after the quake, DDM established calming-mind service stations in Taichung Branch, Nantou, Buli, Zhushan, and Dongshi, providing long-term company and caring for needed residences in the affected areas, helping them to rebuild their lives as well as their confidence in life.
On the anniversary of the earthquake, DDM initiated "ten projects for the psychological reconstruction post-9/21." Cleansing rituals for the affected areas and thanksgiving art festivals offered comfort and strength through art and religion. Spiritual environmental protection camps, cultivating peaceful mind drawings on school campuses, scholarships, peace talks, distribution of cultivating peaceful mind booklets were ways of caring for school age children in the affected areas. One Card One Caring, Darani Chanting One Hundred Million Times, the peace bell, and public service publications on rebuilding peaceful mind helped the general public to rebuild its peaceful mind.
The relief efforts of DDM in the 9/21 earthquake disaster exemplified the organization's philosophy in disaster relief, which is: education to build the mind's peace as the main goal and material aids as the support. In later relief efforts in response to typhoon disasters and the 2003 SARS scare, DDM volunteers who traveled deep into the affected areas, the DDM emergency help stations and the supporting compassion relief foundation, all consistently responded in accordance with the DDM philosophy─ultimately for the peace of minds.
Instilling Concerns for Humanity
In its special two hundredth edition, the renowned magazine Common Wealth named the two hundred most influential individuals in four hundred years in Taiwan. It subsequently selected the fifty most influential ones. Master Sheng Yen was on both lists, cited as the spiritual navigator.Under his leadership, DDM stood in the mind of the public not only as a religious and public service organization, but also an enlightening social educational organization.
DDM's spiritual enlightenment efforts include the Four Kinds of Environmentalism and the Fivefold Spiritual Renaissance Campaign. The Four Kinds of Environmentalism provides a new vision for environmental protection, and the Fivefold Spiritual Renaissance Campaign brings the wisdom and compassion of Buddhadharma into the daily life of ordinary people.
In recent years DDM has emphasized its care for the various humanistic disciplines: in January 2000, the Dharma Drum Foundation for Humanities and Social Science Research Grants was established to further promote the spirit of humanity. The research grants originated from a memorial service Master Sheng Yen had in memory of his lineage master, Ven. Master Dongchu. The Dharma assembly raised more than NT$ 30million. Propelled further by a number of enthusiasts, the fund grew to NT$ 50million and the foundation was established. The foundation encourages people from all ranks of society to fund research arants and assistantships by donating money they would have spent on commemorating milestones in their life, or on family members or good friends, such as marriage, death, birth, or other celebrations. The foundation acts as the manager and custodian of the fund, and distributes the interest yearly by awarding humanity-related research and education. This helps mitigate the risk brought about by single-minded development of technology.
Since its establishment, the Dharma Drum Foundation for Humanities and Social Science Research Grants has left its mark on campuses, in communities, in public spheres and academic fields. It collaborated with National Taiwan University, Peking University, and Tsinghua University to establish Dharma Drum Lecture Series in the Humanities. It collaborated with Taipei National University of the Arts to found the Dharma Drum Lecture Series in on Technology and the Arts.
On the community level, it established the Dharma Drum College of Humanities and Social Sciences-at-Large program in Jinshan, Taipei County, where DDM is located, and published a quarterly Jinshan Sentiment, as feedback to the local community.
The foundation also organized many public lectures, commissioned special research projects and academic discussions.
In addition to the Humanity and Social Science Scholarship and Assistantship Foundation, Dharma Drum Mountain has several other foundations to support the goal of education through caring services.
Dharma Drum Social Welfare and Charity Foundation
Fostering Benevolence at Home and Abroad
Dharma Drum Mountain's charitable works began back in 1956 when Master Sheng Yen's teacher, Ven. Master Dong Chu, started a winter relief drive to help low-income families enjoy the Chinese New Year season. Carrying on his teacher's compassionate vow, Master Sheng Yen maintained this tradition, and also established the Merit Fields Society to extend the care to include visits throughout the year.
In 1999 the 921 Earthquake struck Taiwan. Dharma Drum Mountain set up Peace of Mind Relief Stations to provide immediate care and relief services to the victims in the disaster areas, to help them regain peace of mind. In March of 2001 DDM combined the Merit Fields Society and Peace of Mind Relief Stations to establish the DDM Social Welfare and Charity Foundation to further deliver emergency relief and care services. As part of DDM's Extensive Social Care Education effort, the Foundation hopes to use our finite resources to create a powerful force for good.
Since its inception, the Foundation has been committed to social care and relief efforts, by providing home visits and care services for desperate families and disadvantaged groups, as well as providing financial aid to needy students through domestic and overseas emergency relief programs. Upholding the ideal of Protecting the Spiritual Environment, the Foundation will continue its care and relief efforts, rendering peace of mind through spiritual education, creating a virtuous cycle to inspire good deeds.
Benevolent Thoughts and Beneficial Actions
We care for society as a whole, and provide social emergency aid, charitable assistance, and disaster relief transcending nation, religion, and race. Based on our core value of Protecting the Spiritual Environment, our activities are conducted in the spirit of compassion and wisdom, to bring humanitarian warmth and well-being to the people in need.
Areas of Care Services
1. Scholarships and stipends for students in need and the follow-up care
2. Relief aid and assistance for major disasters at home and abroad
•Emergency relief and post-disaster rebuild
3. Care for individuals and groups in need
•Emergency relief aid
•Care for major holidays and festivals
•Care for specific groups
4. Other charitable and philanthropic activities and events
Though each with a specific focus, all areas of our services reflect Protecting the Spiritual Environment, and are implemented starting from Four Kinds of Environmentalism, extending care of different phases and levels to all. We offer guidance to help the needy establish the goals for their lives, settle their body and mind, and lead a fulfilled life. By connecting and congregating international loving-kindness, we endeavor to bring benevolence to more communities.
Concern with Heart and Assistance with Love
Emergency relief as a priority: long-term, continual, and thorough care
As part of the global village, the Foundation empathizes with those who are hit by natural or man-made disasters. When providing emergency relief, we immediately head to the scene of the disaster to provide material aid and manpower that the affected families need. After providing emergency relief, we also continue to help the victims put their lives back together and regain hope for the future.
Efficient use of the relief resources available: emphasizing the spiritual, providing the material. Our charity and relief efforts are based on Master Sheng Yen's vision to build a pure land on Earth, and the principle of emphasizing the spiritual while providing the material. The Foundation combines public resources and collaborates with government agencies, aiding and caring for those in need through relief and rehabilitation work, enabling them to resume their normal lives soon.
Purifying human minds as the prime concern: relief and care efforts with an educational function
Seeking to "achieve social care objectives through education, and accomplish educational tasks through social care services,”the Foundation puts special emphasis on spiritual care in its charitable works. We also offer life-education programs and personal-growth activities for needy individuals and groups, to help empower them to improve their own lives.
Turning on the love and continuing the hope
With the spirit of giving and serving, we care for the world, carrying out social care activities, including emergency relief and home care visits, to help people attain a peaceful body-mind and to infuse calm into society. Starting from within and from individuals, we extend care to society, all of humanity, our environment, the natural world, and the entire eco-system.
While transforming, giving of, and developing ourselves, we also help ripen sentient beings and adorn a pure land on Earth.
Dharma Drum Cultural and Educational Foundation
Beginning operations in July of 1992, the foundation has the charter of extending Buddhist studies, culture, and education, and is responsible for all related public service activities. It is the administration and operation center of DDM, in charge of the planning and execution of all internal or external large-scale public activities.
Dharma Drum Buddhist Foundation
Established in July of 1997, the foundation has the charter of operating religious, social, educational and cultural activities. It creates and publishes Buddhist books, audio and visual productions to propagate the contents of correct Buddhist faith.