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How Monastic Life Can Benefit One's Spirituality-Interfaith Dialogue (Continued from back cover)

謝福來 編輯 Compiled by Fulai Hsieh
逸蓮 英譯 English translation by Yilian



一如以往,學生們跟著一套緊湊的行程,重點放在隨眾實修與討論上。討論會有四場--兩場正式,兩場非正式。星期六晚於「道源堂」的討論會高潮迭起,從某種角度說,似為送行的告別會,聖城四眾共聚一堂參加這場討論會。給人印象最深刻莫過於列席討論會的主持成員都為來自於其他教派的人士。應邀而來的來賓中有:南傳佛教 Abhayagiri 寺的住持和尚帕沙諾和尚、耶穌會牧師與馬克大學教授雷蒙‧格隆斯基教父、浸信會牧師與曼都仙諾大學教授湯姆‧麥克米蘭博士。最吉祥的是整場討論中宗教之間的坦誠與相互尊重。討論的主題是:「寺院生活對靈修之助益」。



On Friday , March 7, 1998, shortly after CTTB saw off a group of U.C.Berkeley students who had participated in a special practice and study session the previous weekend, it welcomed yet another larger group of students from Humboldt State University (HSU), 56 in all, including some old faces. It has become a tradition for CTTB to host weekend visits by HSU students twice a year. Since it is so routine, why do we bother to mention it every time? Because each time there is a new experience, and also because these events symbolize the spread of Buddhism in the United States, the gradual acceptance of Buddhism by Westerners; it all starts with these educated young minds, searching for the meaning of life. They are like fertile fields. Who are the sowers of the seeds? Every one who renders his/her service to support the propagation of the Buddhist teachings and the students’ experience at CTTB. That is, the Dharma Masters who design and run the entire program, the supporting laity of CTTB, the long-time disciples of Shr Fu who live outside CTTB, and the students in CTTB who also assist in many ways. Many humble faces remain unnoticed as they work quietly “behind the scenes”. Their work may be fully appreciated when the food is fully savored. For example, among them was a layman who stayed up the whole night to prepare a special sesame bread. Their humble faces, warm hearts, and dedicated spirit speak the silent Dharma for these HSU students.

During the orientation on Friday, the students themselves took turns summing up their reasons for coming: “to expand my vision and open my mind; to gain some genuine understanding of cultivation and the way of life in CTTB; to experience some spiritual life; to open up some interfaith dialogue; or to experience Oriental culture...”

As usual the visiting students followed the tight schedule of the program, focused mainly on practice and discussion. There were four discussions held—two panel discussions and two informal group discussions. The height of the program was Saturday night with a panel discussion in the Daoyuan Hall. In a certain sense, it was more like a “farewell” party for the guest students, because all the four assemblies met together in the Daoyuan Hall to attend the discussion. The most striking feature of the panel was that guests from quite different faiths and traditions were invited. Among the guest speakers sitting in the same hall with the CTTB residents were the co-Abbot of Abhayagiri Theravada Buddhist Monastery, Venerable Pasanno; Jesuit priest and professor from Marquette University, Father Raymond Gawronski; and, Baptist pastor and professor from Mendocino College, Dr. Tom MacMillan. The openness and mutual respect in the interfaith dialogue and discussion was most auspicious. The topic was “The Benefits of Monastic Life to One’s Spirituality.”

The panelists took turns to speak, each one introducing anecdotes from his own journey on the spiritual path. Despite the formal setting, the atmosphere was quite friendly and delightful.

When asked what impressed him the most, Joshua, a Forestry major, commmented that it was “the example of the monks and nuns —their dedication to their belief system. I have never seen such humble giving people. My faith should cause me to seek God in the same way. I feel like I am in a foreign land and yet surrounded by friends—they had such openness that I did not feel any qualms to ask anything.”



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