I live in Hsin-Chu City, Taiwan, and am a member of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Society (DRBBDS).
In 1988, due to auspicious causes and conditions, I was able to go to DRBBDS in Taipei to attend a Dharma Assembly for the first time. Although I had already begun to investigate the principles in the Sutras, my understanding was only literary and quite shallow. Moreover, my enthusiasm and interest in the dharma had ebbed and flowed according to the ups and downs of my life. After reading the Memorial Volumes on the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, I figured the Avatamsaka Sutra Wayplace ought to be my place of refuge. My wife and I thus decided to cultivate with the assembly at Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Society.
In the beginning, I went once a month to recite the
Shurangama Mantra. Even though the all-day recitation was physically very difficult, I experienced a refreshing coolness afterwards. In 1998 a Dharma Realm Buddhist Association delegation came to Taiwan and I took refuge with the Triple Jewel at Hsi-Chi City. I also continued to recite the
Shurangama Mantra with the assembly at DRBBDS, knowing that it helps to perpetuate the Proper Dharma in the world, and rains down limitless Dharma bliss. In early 1999, I worked on the East Coast of the United States for three months. Since the Avatamsaka Vihara was nearby, I cultivated there on Sundays and also received the Five Precepts there. As time went on, I appreciated all the different ceremonies and would sometimes help out with the work to be done at Avatamsaka Vihara.
In this so-called Information Age, with everyone pursuing news and information like mad, “entering the sea in order to count the grains of sand” (as described in
Song of Enlightenment), it’s easy to get lost. So I’m grateful to have been able to learn how to properly cultivate at the Venerable Master’s Wayplaces. In every second, in every minute, we can be vigorous in the Dharma. How? First, by working to support the cultivation of others; and second, by our own personal cultivation—constantly dedicating merit and virtue to all sentient beings throughout the Dharma Realm.
Even though the Venerable Master’s instructional talks during the noon meal in the Wayplace are short, they are long enough to truly benefit all of us, as does the Dharma talk that follows. I derive great benefit from such activities, as they tie up affinities with our friends in the Dharma, and serve the single purpose of benefiting all sentient beings. Not only that, but on a personal level, it is most satisfying to see that I have gradually learned to focus and not be so easily distracted by so many different things. I am a lot less flighty, not so greedy and aggressive, and not always running after this, that, or the other. As I reflect upon my personal growth in the last five or six years, it’s quite amazing. I’ve changed a lot. For one thing, I’ve been able to commit to one Wayplace (the Venerable Master’s), to do my regular daily homework, and to experience the indescribable joy of returning home from a wonderful Dharma Assembly, again and again.
Indeed, in the slow evolution from revolving on the wheel of suffering since time immemorial to the cultivation of this wonderful Dharma now, I have truly tasted Dharma bliss. I well understand that in studying Buddhism, I’m certainly on the right path. So now, as I settle in for the never ending lifetime-after-lifetime of cultivation and study, my gratitude to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and to the Venerable Master is limitless and boundless. May all friends in the Dharma become Buddhas quickly! Amitabha.