Avatamsaka Monastery in Calgary celebrated the completion of the first phase of itsexpansion project with a series of events. These included the Emperor Liang Repentance Ceremony (Sep. 23 ~ 30), several Dharma lectures by visiting nuns on weekday evenings and by DM Sure over the weekend, a benefit concert by Miss Gwhyneth Chen, and a trip to the mountains. All these events were attended by many local people as well as others coming from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in California, Gold Buddha Monastery in Vancouver, Prajna Guanyin Sagely Monastery in Malaysia and other places.
On Oct. 1, there was a piano concert benefit that rallied a huge crowd of more than 1,300 people. The well-known Taiwanese piano soloist Gwhyneth Chen, accompanied by the Spanish conductor Edmon Colomer and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, offered a superb rendering of two of the most difficult concerts in the world. Everybody left the concert hall invigorated by the music. The next day, Sunday, DM Sure lectured three times to a crowd that packed the Buddha Hall of Avatamsaka Monastery. The day before he gave a lecture and conducted a leaving-home ceremony to receive three new novice nuns (Shramanerikas Jin Je, Jin Lang, Jin Chih) into the Sangha and transmitted the Three Refuges and Five Precepts to many new disciples.
For the next three days, a full bus and two vans went on a trip to the magnificent mountains of Banff National Park where everybody could enjoy panoramic views unique in the world. Hiking to Castle Mountain was not easy but many were able to reach to the lakes on top and admire the beautiful view. Venerable Master Hua had said that Manjushri Bodhisattva had moved to that mountain, so everybody bowed in respect before starting the hike, which was more like a pilgrimage.
One of the most interesting parts of the trip was the visit to DRBA’s property at Golden, which is in the midst of nature, protected by high mountains, crisscrossed by creeks, and inhabited by all kind of animals, including bears! Venerable Master Hua had personally selected this place as the future settlement for true cultivators and had predicted that it would be one of the most important Buddhist communities in the world. All the visitors were surprised to be greeted by a young man, Leik, who has been meditating there for several months and who is even building his own hut. In fact, we arrived just in time to help him to raise the walls. That was one among the many responses he told us he had witnessed since he had moved to live and cultivate at Golden.
The combination of bowing the repentance ceremony, the music, a large assembly of about eighteen Sangha members, and the many visiting participants created a very uplifting and festive atmosphere for the entire ten days. These events also marked a turning point for Avatamsaka Monastery which from now on will be administered by Bhikshunis. With the new remodeled facilities and much more space to accomodate the growing numbers of people, the monastery has a very bright future as it continues to turn the wonderful wheel of Dharma in the West.
It would not be fair to finish this report without acknowledging the merit of DM Tso, who worked so hard for so many years at Calgary to leave behind such a wonderful legacy, in terms of both physical facilities and well-trained and sincere Dharma protectors.