Dharma Realm Buddhist Youth (DRBY) held its annual spring conference at Gold Sage Monastery during the weekend of March 19-22. The title of the conference was “A Lifetime of Practice.” Rev. Heng Sure set the tone in the opening lecture when he added an ‘s’ to the title to make it “Lifetimes of Practice,” commenting on how cultivation can be over many lives, not just one.
Drawing on feedback from previous years, the conference this year featured three tracks in an effort to meet everyone’s needs. The beginner’s track focused on introducing Buddhism to people completely new to it. The intermediate track focused on participants who may have attended a conference before and wanted to deepen their understanding. The final track was for those who wanted to focus on one dharma door, the Great Compassion Repentance.
Many participants encountering Buddhism for the first time felt these tracks were a wonderful introduction. Speakers such as Ron Epstein and David Rounds gave tips and advice on cultivation for lay people, both in the personal and public spheres. Their advice was especially useful given that many of the attendees were college students who had not settled on a career yet. Meanwhile, DM Liang, DM Yin, DM Je, and DM Jiao gave wonderful talks on Buddhist practices.
This conference was the first time we had the advanced track focusing on the Great Compassion Repentance. DM Yun, with the support of many of the nuns at Gold Sage, led the discussion on the repentance. The participants first bowed the repentance and then had an hour-and-a-half-long discussion.
One of the participants came as a parent standing in for her children who were too busy to come. She commented, “I naturally like these DRBY youth. They are not only optimistic, but vigorous. Even more important, DRBY can lead other youth to understand Buddhism. They are internally motivated and enthusiastically organize their events. This group is effective, and they also try their best. There is a cooperative relationship among students, as well as between teachers and students.”
Upon leaving, the participants were asked to fill out evaluation forms on the retreat. Here is one of the responses:
The conference has been a very memorable experience for me, and I am filled with a lot of gratitude for everyone who made this conference possible…. The whole experience of living at this monastery, performing the ceremonies with the nuns and everyone else, eating with everyone in silence, etc.—all weaved together to create an experience that really touched me. I’ve felt so peaceful here and light at heart. I just wanted to thank you all for putting this conference together—you really are making a difference in people’s lives. In the last couple days, for instance, I’ve decided to switch to vegetarianism.