On April 4, 2004, more than 30 people from the fourfold assembly from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB) and the Institute for World Religions in Berkeley came together for the second of a series of meetings about the future of Dharma Realm Buddhist University (DRBU). Since the February meeting, a survey had been created to determine how well DRBU is currently functioning and how it might be improved. Forty-seven written surveys were completed by members of the Sangha and laypeople. In addition a number of oral interviews were conducted at CTTB by members of Dharma Realm Buddhist Youth (DRBY). In these surveys and interviews, respondents were asked to consider the following excerpt from the 1979-81 DRBU catalog which provides a guiding vision for DRBU:
[The purpose of the University] is to bring the principles of the Buddha’s teachings to a wide range of people, and to inspire profound change in higher education and in society at large. At Dharma Realm Buddhist University, students and faculty work together to reform the process of teaching and learning so that the process is not only intellectual but spiritual and moral. Their aim is that the work of scholarship is guided by the principles of goodness. Therefore, each student at the University strives to act with unselfishness, equanimity, and wisdom in his or her daily life. Each works to free his or her nature from the habits of materialism and self-seeking which afflict and endanger modern society. The skills and knowledge gained in academic disciplines are seen not as ends in themselves but as tools to be used in the service of humanity. In this way, whatever walk of life students follow after graduation, their years of study will have provided them a firm basis for peaceful, vigorous, and intelligent lives which will be of transforming benefit to the world.
At the April 4 meeting, Shramanerika Jin Gwang and long time lay disciple Susan Rounds reported on the results of the written surveys, and DRBY member David Yin summarized the results of the oral interviews. There was general agreement that the Venerable Master’s great vision for DRBU should be maintained and supported, and that programs in Buddhist Study and Practice, Buddhist Education, and Translation and Language Study should receive special attention and support. The members of the DRBY interviewing team reported on the positive results of the interview process and their willingness to continue interviewing other members of DRBA in the near future.
It was agreed at the meeting that we will continue to gather information by encouraging more people to complete written surveys and/or to participate in oral interviews. In both meetings, and in the interviews and surveys, the problems in DRBU were frankly discussed in a positive spirit of determination to correct what is lacking. In the afternoon, small groups met to brainstorm what steps could be taken in the next year to continue the good work that DRBU is doing and to strengthen and enhance programs that fulfill DRBU’s mission.
Immediately after was another survey for CTTB residents regarding their personal preference for DRBU fall semester classes. On the evening of April 7, a meeting of the fourfold assembly was held in order to get oral feedback quickly. People spoke enthusiastically; westerners and Chinese contributed valuable ideas. DRBU faculty members had a lunch meeting on April 12, discussing their summer program and fall courses. Participants brought up ideas and suggestions. Discussions lasted for over five hours.
This round of feedback for DRBU was unexpectedly enthusiastic. The fourfold disciples of DRBA made every effort to emulate the Venerable Master’s spirit in establishing schools, hoping to bring his vast vision into reality. It is obvious that our determination is gaining momentum. The task is tough, but we’re sure that the core curriculum team’s analysis and summary of everyone’s needs will provide helpful input to DRBU, which will bring about a solid foundation for the university’s bright future and for the proper Dharma to reside in the world.