ON FO-KUANG MOUNTAIN
|By Bhiksuni Hsin-hsi (I-lien)
Translated by Sramanerika Heng Ch'ing
Reviewed by Bhiksuni Heng Yin
Today is the first day of the Dharma Assembly. At eight this morning, the purification service was held. At the sound of the bell and drum, many serene-looking Dharma Masters in radiant golden robes proceeded slowly towards the Great Compassion Hall. Except for the sound of the Dharma instruments, no other sounds could be heard. Everyone placed their palms together in respect and watched the procession with rapt attention.
The Dharma Masters and others entered the hall, which was filled with flowers and the fragrance of incense, and lit with candles. The Abbot Hsing-yun, leading the Dharma Masters, stood in the center of the hall, facing the image of the Bodhisattva Who Contemplates the World's Sounds, while the assembly chanted the verse for purification.
Everyone felt as if the water of the compassionate Dharma were moistening them.
The assembly then left the hall and the procession started to circumambulate the entire mountain, passing through the Prince Pavilion, the Jeweled Fall of Great Heroes, and the Pilgrim House, to the image of Amitabha Buddha. The High Master, holding the sweet-dew water bottle, sprinkled water along the way while the four classes of Buddhist disciples followed him chanting the name of the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion. The entire mountain was covered with the solemn atmosphere, while the press was busy taking pictures, "he Great Wisdom Hall was then purified and this verse recited:
The Bodhisattva's willow branch and sweet-dew water,
Can cleanse the ten directions with a single drop;
All dirt and defilements are completely dispelled
And the Bodhimanda is perfectly pure.
THE OPENING OF THE EXHIBITION
The teachers and students of the Monastery College held an exhibition of objects of Buddhist culture in celebration of the completion of the Monastery College. Objects were displayed in eight classrooms and the Memorial Hall. There were various categories of objects: Buddha images, Dharma instruments, Sutras and texts, calligraphy and painting, exhibits from the daily life of the students, students' works, and an introduction to Fo-kuang Mountain with slides. They were so tastefully displayed that they did not fail to capture everyone's heart and eyes.
In the hall were many kinds of Buddha images, large and small, copper, wood, lapis lazuli, carnelian. Precious relics were shown in the Nan-shan Hall. There were leaves from the Bodhi Tree, the tree under which the Buddha sat in meditation and realized enlightenment. Also shown was a brick from the tower where the Buddha entered Nirvana, and a piece of the platform where the Buddha spoke the Dharma. Seeing those relics brought to mind how the Buddha had taught and transformed living beings in India. There were also incense burners, scepters, beads, bowls, and rare manuscripts.
The introduction to Fo-kuang Mountain left one with the impression that life in a Buddhist college is highly disciplined, and the students resourceful and lively. From the slides, one learned that in addition to their regular classes, students are also required to attend morning and evening recitation, and to take turns with the cooking and waiting on tables and other types of manual labor. Whether left-home or lay students, all receive strict training in academics and practical arts.
Four attractively designed wall-maps depicted Longevity Garden Cemetery, the Buddha Light Cottage, the Universal Light Middle School, and the towering image of Amitabha Buddha. Our aim is to make Fo-kuang Mountain a field of the Way for all Buddhist disciples and to provide for the needs of all. For example, to educate the young, there is a kindergarten, and a middle school. There is also the cemetery to take care of life's final affair. From this, we can see that Fo-kuang Mountain is actively engaged in benefiting society in educational, cultural, and charitable activities.
BREAKING GROUND FOR THE BUDDHA HALL
More than twenty High Masters leading a great number of Dharma Masters and disciples circumambulate the entire mountain. On the Mountain there was no sound except that of the assembly reciting, "Namo Original Teacher Shakyamuni Buddha." Dharma Master Ming-ch'ang from Hong Kong was invited to break the ground for the Buddha Hall, and Abbot Hsing-yun laid the foundation placing in it a brick inscribed with Sanskrit words and also some sand from the Ganges River. The hall, indeed a large one, will provide room for thousands of people to worship the Buddha.
THE MONASTERY COLLEGE
There are four buildings in the Monastery College. Although most of the students are Bhiksus and Bhiksunis, there are lay students attending. The students have come from every part of the island of Taiwan, and from as far away as the southeastern Buddhist countries. There is even a young American from the University of Washington currently attending the college. He told the writer that he was interested in Eastern culture, and especially Buddhism. The college is made up of five divisions: The College of the Tripitaka, the College of Teaching, the College of Practice, the College of Language, and the College of Arts.
UNVEILING THE BUDDHA IMAGE
Abbot Hsing-yun conducted the ceremony to unveil the image of Amitabha Buddha, leading a large group of Dharma Masters in chanting the Brahma sounds. In the midst of the newspaper reporters, and an attentive crowd, he conducted the solemn ritual saying:
Great Buddha! You are most great. Your
great Dharma body pervades empty space.
Thus, in the midst of the pure sounds, the ceremony was completed.
TEN THOUSAND CONDITIONS VEGETARIAN MEAL
After the ceremonies, the vegetarian feast was held and countless tables of food were provided to "establish ten thousand affinities."
The celebration was then complete, and as the Abbot said,
May all who have heard and seen this Dharma Assembly,
Obtain bliss and rejoice in the Dharma.