A group of
about fifty students from Humboldt State University paid a weekend
visit to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas on February 2-4, 1996. Many
of the students had no previous experience of monastic Buddhist life or
practices, while for others this was already their second or third
visit to CTTB. The weekend started with an introductory session on
Friday night, which was joined by two Ukrainian Catholic monks who were
visiting CTTB, Father Damian and a brother from Michigan.
Undaunted by the cold and rainy
weather the visitors immersed themselves into the daily regimen at
CTTB. The lectures and discussions of the weekend covered several
topics: introduction to Buddhist philosophy, the religious life, and
Buddhist practices. Monks, nuns, and laypeople residing at CTTB gave
brief introductions to each topic, with plenty of time left for the
students' questions. Dr. Akpinar, president of the Dharma Realm
Buddhist University, chaired many of the sessions.
On Saturday night the whole
assembly attended a panel discussion on “Personal Practice vs. Social
Action.” The speakers emphasized how personal spiritual practice, such
as daily meditation, is absolutely essential for successful social
action. Living in the world, one should be like a lotus flower that
grows out of the mud but is not defiled by it. Students’ questions
touching on various issues (the difficulties of an overactive life, or
of trying to become a vegetarian) were also considered.
In addition to attending lectures
and daily ceremonies, the students also sat in meditation and received
instruction in taiji. For many these practices were a profoundly
rewarding experience, and something they wished to explore further. The
vegetarian food of the dining hall was also much appreciated. (“If
there was vegetarian food like this all the time at Humboldt I might be
able to stay a vegetarian,” wrote one student in his evaluation.)
Before leaving, the students were presented a selection of books of
instructional talks by the Venerable Master.