2010.04.17 Becoming A Buddhist On An Auspicious Day
The 2010 Buddha¡¯s Birthday Celebrations also included the opening of artist Xu Ruifen¡¯s Majestic Painting Exhibition, the Baby Blessing Ceremony, Taking Refuge in Triple Gem and Five Precepts Conferring Ceremony. This made the annual festival all the more solemn and sacred, and empowered devotees with strength, unity, faith and hope.
The Baby Blessing Ceremony took place at the Temple¡¯s courtyard. Accompanied by more than 100 guests, Venerable Abbess Manshin blessed 60 babies; two pregnant mothers also seized this rare opportunity and participated in the blessing.
The Taking Refuge in Triple Gem and Five Precepts Conferring Ceremony was conducted in the Buddha Hall. Venerable Abbess Manshin presided over the ceremony, where 29 devotees officially became Buddhists; 11 of them also took part in the Five Precepts. The Abbess explained the merits and benefits of Taking Refuge, and encouraged everyone to cherish the conditions of becoming a Buddhist by diligently cultivating the Buddhist Way, allowing Buddha¡¯s light to shine forth and nourish their lives. Everyone opened their heart with some devotees moved to tears, while others smiled with joy.
2010.02.26 Faith between Faiths
The 7th Interfaith Forum in Christchurch has truthfully inspired New Zealand IBA and BLIA South Island to seek opportunities to co-operate and build trust and respect for other groups of faith.
The 7th Annual National Interfaith Forum began on 26 February 2010. The three-day event took place in Christchurch. New Zealand International Buddhist Association, together with BLIA (South Island) NZ President Almeric Cheng, Vice President Jack Liu and members of the Young Adult Division (YAD) attended the forum. The theme for last year¡¯s forum was ¡°Keeping Faith in the Modern World¡±. Representatives from various religious groups participated in the forum.
New Zealand Representative of UNESCO Paul Morris gave a speech, followed by a series of keynote speakers. Reverend Margaret Mayman spoke on ¡°My Experience in Faith, Involvement in the UN and development of women¡¯s rights.¡± Several panel discussions on ¡°Living My Faith in the Modern World¡± were also conducted to seek solutions and opinions on how to face today¡¯s technological and materialistic challenges. Catherine Jones and Superintendent Dave Cliff led workshops ¡°Faith and Safer Cities¡± and ¡°Seeing the Best in Each Other¡± respectively.
On the last day of the forum, seven members of BLIA YAD joined the 3rd National Youth Forum. They attended a series of activities and workshops, including keynote speech ¡°Regenerate Your Faith¡± by Imam Afroz Ali. Members were excited to join discussions on faith and sustainability on a national scale. They expressed how much they learned about inappropriate shopping behaviors that cause excess waste, and realised the importance of involving themselves with protecting the earth by reducing waste. The forum inspired everyone to seek opportunities to cooperate and build trust and respect for one another, with the common goal of finding solutions and strategies to benefit all religions.
2010.02.13 Chinese New Year¡¯s Eve First Incense Offering Draws Crowds
2010 Roaring Into The Year Of The Tiger
On 13 February at 10:30 pm, the Chinese New Year¡¯s Eve Dharma Function was held to celebrate the beginning of the year of Tiger. The Venerables lead the devotees in chanting ¡°Medicine Buddha Mantra¡±, followed by Founder of Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order Venerable Master Hsing Yun¡¯s ¡°New Year¡¯s Eve Prayer¡±. Nearly 200 devotees, members and visitors of various nationalities came, in hope of receiving good luck for the New Year. At midnight, more devotees entered the Main Shrine to offer their first incense of the year and wished for a prosperous New Year.
On 14 February at 10 am, the ¡°Thousand Buddha Dharma Function¡± was held, attracting over 100 members and devotees. Everyone participated in paying respect to the Thousand Buddhas¡¯, and sending New Year wishes to Venerable Master Hsing Yun, Venerable Abbess Xinpei of Fo Guang Shan Headquarters and Venerable Abbess Manshin of Fo Guang Shan New Zealand.
2010.01.01 Pilgrimage Greets New Year
Through taking part in the pilgrimage with a sincere heart, one could repent their sins, develop a compassionate mind, make firm resolutions to improve one self and enhance their cultivation
To welcome the arrival of the New Year, Fo Guang Shan South Island held a Pilgrimage Procession. Starting at 6:30am on the first day of 2010, Venerable Juexi and Venerable Miaoyu led 60 devotees in an hour-long chanting procession to the Temple¡¯s Buddha Hall. Venerable Juexi explained the meaning of a pilgrimage: far to near, outwards to within, low to high, dark to bright, cold to warm, hard to soft, and from arrogant to humble and compassionate. Through taking part in the pilgrimage with a sincere heart, one could repent their sins, develop a compassionate mind, make firm resolution to improve oneself and enhance their cultivation.
After breakfast, everyone watched a documentary on the construction of the Buddha Memorial Centre in Taiwan. This was followed by a sutra transcription session, and everyone transcribed their own unique copy of the Heart Sutra, word by word, one stroke at a time, with their most sincere heart and utmost focus.
In response to One Million Heart Sutras in the Buddha program, subsequent sutra transcription sessions were held until the end of March. Although unable to read or understand the Sutra, many locals still attended and participated with all their heart and sincerity. This was very moving for everyone to witness; their determination is something that we should all learn from. 500 copies of the Heart Sutra were transcribed in total, and the merits were transferred to the participants¡¯ families and friends as well as the community in special ceremonies lead by Venerable Abbess Manshin.
2009.12.25 House Blessing Ceremony Brings Peace and Happiness
In order to bless the new home of Buddha¡¯s Light International Association South Island Director Christine Wang, and at the same time provide an opportunity for BLIA members to socialize, a house blessing ceremony was conducted on the 25th December. BLIA South Island North One Subchapter was the event organiser, and Subchapter President Guihua Yang and Ms. Wang cordially invited Venerable Abbess Manshin, Venerable Juexi and Venerable Miaoyu to her new home for the blessing ceremony and social. The Abbess passed on her wishes to Ms. Wang and her family, hoping that they may find peace and happiness in their new home, as ¡°home is not only a harbor of refuge but also a place where one can practice the Buddhist way¡±, as Abbess noted. After the blessing ceremony, Venerable Abbess Manshin gave a Dharma Talk, and those present also shared their interesting stories of their experiences at the Temple. Ms. Wang thanked all the Venerables and guests who attended the ceremony, and noted that she will return to the Temple to volunteer and share her Dharma joy with everyone.
2009.10.30 Buddhism on the International Stage - 5th Interfaith Dialogue-
The Fifth Asia-Pacific Regional Interfaith Dialogue was held at the Sheraton Hotel of Perth, Australia from 28th to 30th October. Over 160 delegates from fourteen Asia-Pacific countries including Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Philippine, Thailand and Vietnam attended. Under the recommendation of Venerable Abbess Manshin, Buddha¡¯s Light International Association South Island Young Adults Division member Seeshen Lee was chosen by Honourable Pansy Wong to represent the Buddhist faith of New Zealand.
The theme for this year¡¯s Interfaith dialogue was ¡®Future Faith Leaders: Regional Challenges and Cooperation¡¯, and four sub-topics were assigned to group discussions led by Australia, Indonesia, Philippine and New Zealand. On the morning of the 30th, all religious groups were invited to carry out a blessing ceremony, in prayer for world peace and harmony between religions. Hon. Pansy Wong represented New Zealand and led the discussion on the fourth topic, igniting enthusiasm within the group members.
Lee Seeshen was very grateful towards Venerable Abbess Manshin for providing her with this chance of walking onto a world stage. Hon. Pansy Wong has been involved with Fo Guang Shan New Zealand events for many years and Humanistic Buddhism has become a vital concept in her political career. During the conference, the representatives of New Zealand interacted and worked together with representatives of other countries. Buddhism, being able to proliferate in New Zealand and receive approval on a world stage is a milestone for everyone. This conference has allowed FGS New Zealand to make connections with the religious groups from various parts of the world; through interaction and conversation, we can learn from each other and gain ideas which may aid the propagation of Buddhism.
2009.08.01 Two Day Cultivation Retreat Revitalizes the Weary-
With the aim of improving the Buddhism experience for Buddha¡¯s Light International Association members and devotees, as well as allowing them to gain insight into the practitioner¡¯s way of the life, a Two-Day Cultivation Retreat and Taking Refuge in Triple Gem Ceremony was held on 31st July and 1st August. Those attended included BLIA South Island Committee members, BLIA YAD South Island and devotees of over 50 people.
On 31st July, Venerable Juexi commenced the Retreat by introducing the syllabus, rules and regulations for the retreat. Following the prompt briefing, Venerable Miaoyu and Venerable Rulian led the participants in chanting the ¡®Eight-Eight Buddha Great Repentance¡¯. During the following morning, Venerable Abbess Manshin conducted a two-hour Dharma Class, and using joyful and lively Dharma words, she expounded the functions and significance of the Temple as well as the way to settle one¡¯s mind. Using real life examples and Dharma worlds from Meditation Masters, Abbess described the attitude a practitioner has towards life and living.
Venerable Abbess Manshin presided over the Taking Refuge in the Triple Gem Ceremony on behalf of 11 students, where they officially became Buddhists. Ms. Chiu, friend of Pressed Flower Artist Shan Shan Shiao, under her friend¡¯s recommendation visited Fo Guang Shan South Island on 31st July during her holiday in the South Island and also took the Triple Gem Ceremony here at FGS South Island.
The two day retreat concluded with a joyful, serene and majestic atmosphere. Venerable Abbess Manshin encouraged everyone to be diligent in learning Buddhism teachings and to become a practitioner of Humanistic Buddhism. The participants expressed their appreciation for the compassion and guidance of the Venerables in allowing them to participate in the meaningful and spiritually revitalizing retreat, and promised to return to the Temple as volunteers.
2008.10.25 Fo Guang Shan South Island held the ¡°Peaceful Country, Praying for Peace, Light Offering¡± Medicine Buddha's Dharma Function. Devotees who participated included Buddha's Light International Association South Island President Almeric Cheng and his wife, Advisor John Lai, Vice-President Mei-Hua Chen and her husband, BLIA Committee Members and many others to a total of 80 people. Venerable Juexi gave a Dharma talk on Medicine Buddha¡¯s 12 great vows and explained the significance and capabilities of Medicine Buddha¡¯s Mantra and encouraged devotees to follow the teachings. Venerable Juexi also encouraged everyone to learn the song ¡°Singing Praises to the Master¡±. Through the music, devotees can understand the wisdom and compassion of Grand Master and allow their light to shine on each other.
2008.07.26 The month long Ullambhana Ksitigarbha Dharma Function began at Fo Guang Shan South Island. Not only did our long term devotees attend this month long Dharma Function, many locals and Japanese BLIA YAD members came also. In total, around 300 devotees came to the month long Dharma Function. Venerable Juexi gave a Dharma talk on the story behind this Dharma Function and encouraged everyone to seize this chance and attend as many Dharma Functions as possible.
2008.07.19 Great Compassionate Dharma Function was held at Fo Guang Shan South Island and was attended by over 50 devotees. Venerable Juexi held the Dharma Function and cleansed their souls with Dharma Water. Venerable Juexi gave a Dharma talk on water and encouraged everyone to learn from water. Water may seem unimportant and common, but we should learn from their flexibility and humbleness.
2008.05.25 Abbess Venerable Manshin, Venerable Juehao, BLIA South Island President Almeric Chan and BLIA members, a group of over 30 people when to BLIA South Island Advisor Mr. Gu¡¯s house for the one month celebration of his first grandson. Over 80 friends and family came to the celebration. Abbess Venerable Manshin blessed the child with health, happiness and wisdom with Grand Master Venerable Hsing Yun¡¯s ¡®Prayer for the Newborn Baby¡¯. Advisor Mr. and Mrs. Gu expressed their gratitude to the blessings given to their grandchild and showed appreciation for their attendance at the celebration.
2008.05.17 A special Dharma Function was held for victims of Sichuan Earthquake at Fo Guang Shan South Island. Led by Venerable Abbess Manshin, the attending devotees chanted in unison and read Grand Master Venerable Hsing Yun¡¯s ¡®Prayer for Victims of Sichuan Earthquake¡¯. During Abbess¡¯s Dharma talk, she said that, Taiwan has been through the disastrous 921 Earthquake, so we can feel the pain that people in China are feeling right now. Since we understand their pain, we should be even more supportive of their reconstruction plans and help them get back onto their feet. Fo Guang Shan has also been very active in helping countries in need under the leadership of Grand Master Venerable Hsing Yun. Hopefully, our actions will let those people in need that we are thinking of them, even if we are on the other side of the world.
2008.03.29 Ching Ming Dharma Function was held at Fo Guang Shan South Island and attended by over 80 devotees. Everyone, under the leadership of Venerable Juehao, chanted in unison. After the Dharma Function, Venerable Juexi gave a Dharma talk on the importance of repent, mentioned in the Sutra.
2008.02.06 To celebrate the coming of Chinese New Year, on the night of 6th February a celebration was held at Fo Guang Shan South Island. Devotees from China, Taiwan and Malaysia attended the special Dharma Function which began at 10:30 pm running to midnight. From attending this special Dharma Function, the devotees hope to gain some good luck to this New Year. Over 200 devotees came to the Dharma Function and wished Grand Master Venerable Hsing Yun and Fo Guang Shan Monastery Abbott a happy New Year. After the Dharma Function, Venerable Juehao gifted everyone with red envelopes symbolizing good luck, hoping everyone will have a wonderful year. Following on, devotees lined up to offer the first incense and made wishes as the wishing bell, all in hope for a peaceful and lucky year.
2008.01.26 Buddha¡¯s Light Dharma Function to send away the past and welcome the new, was held on 26th January, Fulfilling Buddha¡¯s Light Dharma Function was held at Fo Guang Shan South Island. This special Dharma Function was held by Venerable Abbess Manshin and attended by over 100 devotees. Within the grand Buddha Hall, everyone prayed and chanted in unison. Abbess gave a Dharma talk on Grand Master¡¯s New Year Dharma Words ¡®Prosperous Future Generations¡¯ and ¡®Harmonious Conditions in All¡¯. The 2008 Buddha¡¯s Light Dharma Function was held on 16th February and Venerable Juehao led the 70 devotees present in a series of chants. Venerable Juehao also gave a Dharma talk on the meanings of Buddha¡¯s Light Dharma Function, as lighting it symbolizes light shining onto your heart and wisdom. She also encouraged the devotees to seize the chance and sign up for ¡®Sutra Reading with Guidance Class¡¯ and to learn from the Dharma to build on our wisdom.
2007.07.22 South Island Fo Guang Shan organised the first ¡°Three hour Memorial Service¡± which was presided the Abbess Venerable Man Shin, following the completion of the new temple and before the official ceremony so that we can offer the good merits to all sentient beings in the dharma world and let them be received by the Buddha in the Pure Land. More than 100 people attended the service on those winter day including the President, executives and members of Buddha¡¯s Light International Association and the Young Adult Division.
2007.06.23/24 Eight Precepts Retreat - On the 23rd and 24th of June 2007, Fo Guang Shan organised the first ever Eight Precepts Retreat since its establishment 15 years ago. 45 people participated to experience the monastery life including President Almeric Cheng and Vice President Mei Hwa Chen of the South Island Buddha¡¯s Light International Association and members of the Young Adult Division. The Young Adult Division members spent a cold but memorable night in the temple as temperature dropped below zero degree during the night.
Other than normal repentance service, chanting sutras and formal temple lunch, special lecture on ¡°Discover the Treasure from inner heart¡± and ¡°Appreciating life and death¡± was delivered by the Abbess and Dharma Master to enhance the participants¡¯ religious knowledge and to provide a correct view to the participants on death.
2007.01.07 - Jade Buddha Settling Ceremony. Led by Abbes Man Shin, over 200 members of Si Buddha¡¯s Light International Association attended the ¡°Jade Buddha Settling Ceremony¡± for South Island Fo Guang Shan. The South Island Fo Guang Shan building included the Buddha Hall, Art Gallery, Water Drop Teahouse, Library and Classrooms. Abbess Man Shin thanked our Venerable Master for giving us a platform in this southern most part of the world to propagate Buddhism. The temple use natural and simple building materials to recount the wisdom and thinking of the practitioner, to expand the compassion and mercy connotation of the Bodhisattva and to reflect the return to nature mood of modern people. With the fine co-operation of the South Island Young Adult Division members and volunteers of Fo Guang Shan, the ceremony ended with a complete period.
2005.01.09 Responding to Buddha¡¯s Light International Association¡¯s ¡°Heatless Tsunami, Loving World¡± disaster relief movement, the South Island Buddha¡¯s Light International Association organised a memorial service for the South Asia Tsunami victims. Over 120 people attended the service including Dharma Masters from other Buddhist Association, representatives of Christchurch Chinese Associations and members of Buddha¡¯s Light International Association. World TV, the Chinese TV station of New Zealand came and broadcasted the event as this is the first Asian community group which conducted disaster relief activity.
2003.03.15 The South Island Fo Guang Shan and BLIA jointly organize 'the Dharma Lecture and Taking Refuge Ceremony¡± at the Aurora Centre for The Performing Arts of Burnside High School. Over 800 people attended including Christchurch Huaxing Association President Fu bright, City Councilor Ron Wright. Abbess Man Chien delivered the lecture ¡°The spring of life¡± and take refuge for 60 devotees including 10 Kiwis.
1993.11.03 Buddha¡¯s Light International Association President Venerable Master Hsing Yun visit New Zealand South Island Fo Guang Shan, holds 'the Taking Refuge Ceremony and Dharma Lecture¡± for Christchurch which has a population of only 300,000 person and convenes 'the Buddha Light Executive Seminar'.
2009.12.25 House Blessing Ceremony Brings Peace and Happiness
In order to bless the new home of BLIA director Ms. Christine Wang, and at the same time provide an opportunity for BLIA members to socialise, a house blessing ceremony was conducted on the 25th December. BLIA North-one Subchapter was the event organiser, and Subchapter President Guihua Yang and Ms. Wang cordially invited Venerable Abbess Manshin, Venerable Juexi and Venerable Miaoyu to her new home to conduct a blessing ceremony.
The Venerables led the 30 people present through the blessing procedure, which included chanting the ¡°Praise of the Holy Water¡± and the ¡°Chapter of the Universal Gateway of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva¡± and reciting the ¡°Prayer for New Residence¡±. The maje ceremony concluded with a water cleansing ritual while reciting Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva¡¯s name.
Venerable Abbess Manshin prayed for the peace, harmony and safety of Ms. Wang¡¯s family; and for the conditions to continue practicing Buddhism without hindrance. Abbess also presented Ms. Wang with a copy of ¡°Fo Guang Shan 40th Anniversary Special Issue¡±.
After the blessing ceremony, the Abbess shared some words with everyone present, noting that all the achievements of Fo Guang Shan and BLIA are the result of the hard work of BLIA members and devotees.
Special mention was given to the volunteers at Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery Christchurch; they have used their wholehearted enthusiasm to introduce the Art Gallery and Temple architecture to the visitors of the Temple, and in doing so, have moved the locals with their efforts and contribution. They have also helped bring into motion the propagation of Buddhism through art.
Those present shared their experiences of volunteering at the Temple, expressing that language is not a barrier if one has the heart to serve society; and that giving others confidence and joy are the missions of all Fo Guang people.
Abbess passed on her wishes to Ms. Wang and her family, hoping that they may find peace and happiness in their new home. Ms. Wang thanked all the Venerables and guests who attended the ceremony, and noted that she will return to the Temple to volunteer and share her Dharma joy with everyone.
2009.11.14 BLIA South Island Members Make a Courageous Commitment
On 14th November, BLIA Vice-president Ms. Meihua Chen, Directors Ms. Gina Chen and Ms. Laifai Ng, Committee Member Ms. Suzhen Wang and Young Adults Division Members Jason Liu, Benny Wong and Sheng-Han Lim made their way up to FGS North Island Temple to take part in the Five Precepts and Bodhisattva Precepts Ceremony.
Concluding on 15th November, the devotees gathered in the afternoon for a heart to heart session with Venerable Abbess Manshin and to share their experiences of the ceremony. The committee members were all grateful to the Temple for giving them the opportunity to take precepts, and realised the rarity and preciousness of the Buddha-Dharma and Precepts-Dharma during the process of precepts conferment, particularly during the lighting of the precepts incense. Although some pain was experienced, the heart and soul gained everlasting peace.
The Abbess reminded everyone that the conditions for taking precepts are rare, and again encouraged all to cherish the present opportunity for making the great precept promise, overcome whatever obstacles that lies before, and to let go of the attachments of the mind and plant the seeds of Bodhi in themselves with courage.
2009.11.13 Young Adults Light Up the Lamp of their Hearts
The high schools and universities in New Zealand have reached the end of their academic year for 2009. Youth member Hao-Wen Lin will be pursuing her tertiary studies in her home country of Taiwan, and will be leaving for home along with many other members who will be returning for family visits.
On Canterbury Show Day, 13th November, the youth members gathered at the Temple to pay homage to the Buddha and bid there farewells. Temple Supervisor Venerable Juexi organised a simple yet solemn light offering ceremony in the hope that the youth members will grow in maturity year by year and become rich in heart.
In front of the altar, the YAD members lined up to make a light offering to the Buddha and after a reading ¡°Prayers for Offering Lights¡± by Venerable Master Hsing Yun, everyone diligently chanted along with the Venerables to pray for a bright future and life full of wisdom. Venerable Juexi encouraged everyone to: treasure their youth; to be diligent in expanding their knowledge and developing their minds; honour their parents and teachers; to become open minded people who have hearts of light and joy; and to be beneficial members of society.
2009.11.13 Medicine Buddha Dharma Function Concludes
On the evening of 13th November, the annual Medicine Buddha Dharma Function concluded with the transferring of merits, and around 60 devotees participated. The chanting of the Venerables resonated within the Buddha Hall and the devotees followed the chanting of the Medicine Buddha Sutra with joyous hearts.
At the conclusion of the function, Temple Supervisor Venerable Juexi delivered a Dharma talk, hoping that everyone may become givers of light; not only should they light their inner lamp, they should also illuminate others. The Venerable explained benefits of chanting the Medicine Buddha Sutra include longevity, the cleansing of the body and mind and the reduction of sickness and suffering. It is one of the wonders of the Buddha-Dharma.
The Venerable also explained that those who are filial to their parents will gain the protection of good gods while they chant, so that they can transfer merits to those who need it. At the conclusion of the evening, the Venerable gave a ¡°Six Word Mantra¡± talisman to everyone.
2009.11.06 Touching Hearts with Eternal Light
The first Medicine Buddha Dharma Function of year 2009 was held on the evening of 6th November with around 60 participants attending the special Function. Not only were the regular devotees present that evening, there were also Christchurch locals at the Function to pray for their loved ones and make light offerings.
The magnificently decorated Buddha Hall was illuminated with many coloured lamps, and combined with the Buddhist chanting of the Dharma Function, resonated on the hearts of whoever walked in.
Following the Dharma Function, the Venerable in charge, Venerable Juexi gave a Dharma talk on Humanistic Buddhism and how we must approach life with a positive attitude. She also touched on the fact that how much one can achieve in life depends on how much one can accommodate in their hearts; we must learn to be more accommodating in our hearts so as to create more good causes and aim to be a living Bodhisattva.
2009.09.19 Great Compassionate Repentance Dharma Function
19th September of the lunar calendar is Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva¡¯s day of renunciation, and to commemorate this auspicious day, FGS South Island held the Great Compassionate Repentance Dharma Function in advance on 30th October of the Western calendar, which equates to several days prior to the actual day. 50 devotees attended the special Dharma Function, and several were local English-speaking devotees who intently followed the Venerables led in the moving chanting.
At the conclusion of the chanting, Venerable Juexi shared a few words with everyone, highlighting the valuable experience gained from this year¡¯s International BLIA Director¡¯s Meeting and devotee¡¯s seminar.
The Venerable expressed that during the two annual meetings, all the hard work of both the Sangha and devotees in propagating the Dharma could be seen, and the Fo Guang spirit has pervaded the entire world; in order to raise school funds and the construction of the Buddha Memorial Hall, Venerable Master Hsing Yun has copied 7000 copies of calligraphy with ¡°a single-stroke character¡±, with each piece embodying the combination of art and Buddhism concepts. Naturally, everyone is inevitably moved by Venerable Master¡¯s spirit!
The Venerable reminded everyone that: a Fo Guang person should be global citizens; and conduct undertakings for humanity; and be open-thinking; and serve humankind with the vow of not tolerating any suffering of sentient beings.
2009.10.30 Buddhism on the International Stage-5th Interfaith Dialogue
From 28th to 30th October, the Fifth Asia-Pacific Regional Interfaith Dialogue was held in Perth of Australia. The three day conference consisted of keynote addresses from guest speakers and a series of plenary sessions as well as working group discussions. Out of the 160 delegates, ten delegates represented the faiths of New Zealand which included Maori, Catholic, Christian, Anglican Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhism.
Under the recommendation of Venerable Abbess Manshin, YAD member Seeshen Lee was chosen by Honourable Pansy Wong to represent the Buddhist faith in New Zealand, becoming one of ten New Zealand delegates who attended the Dialogue. FGS South Island was deeply honoured to have been bestowed this rare opportunity to represent Buddhism in the international arena.
Along with those delegates, two officials from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Minister of Ethnic Affairs, Honourable Pansy Wong also attended. In total, delegates from fourteen Asia-Pacific countries participated in the Interfaith Dialogue.
Seeshen Lee was gratitude for Venerable Abbess providing her the chance to walk onto the big stage, and reported that the contents of Hon. Pansy Wong¡¯s speech at the Dialogue closely reflects the ideals of humanistic Buddhism which Fo Guang Shan¡¯s founder Venerable Master Hsing Yun advocates.
The purpose of the Interfaith Dialogue is to bring together communities of different culture and religion to cultivate understanding of beliefs and practices; promoting good relations and respect among the diverse faiths and communities in the world. With many conflicts and outbreak of tensions between nations, news of terrorist attacks almost on a daily basis, the Interfaith Dialogue seeks out to address the fundamental underlying issues that are causing these problems and to discourage extremism.
The main theme of this year¡¯s Interfaith Dialogue was ¡°Future Faith Leaders: Regional Challenges and Cooperation¡±. Throughout the final two days, the plenary sessions were dedicated to discussions of topics such as: ¡°Building relationships among future faith leaders: fostering networks and practical partnerships amongst future faith leaders¡±, ¡°Youth and education: preventing the radicalisation of vulnerable youth¡±, ¡°Conflict prevention and peace-building: combating misinformation, prejudice and bigotry about faith groups¡± and ¡°Faith and the media/internet: combating religious stereotypes¡±.
Honourable Pansy Wong, who led the strong team of New Zealand delegates, became one of the subjects during a press conference with Asia media, expressed during the closing reception of the Interfaith Dialogue; ¡°the Interfaith Dialogue provided us with a platform to provide an insight into our multicultural, interfaith and inter-generational practices that ensure followers of all New Zealanders can not only stay true to their religion, but also participate in all aspects of Kiwi life¡±.
2009.09.04 Father¡¯s Day Special- Weekly Dharma Service With a Twist
Another session of the weekly Dharma Service was held on 4th of September at Fo Guang Shan South Island. Over 50 devotees attended the service, including BLIA South Island Advisor John Lai, BLIA South Island President Almeric Cheng, Vic-president Mei-Hua, committee members and Temple devotees. Everyone followed the Venerables lead in chanting the Amitabha Sutra.
After the service, Venerable Juexi shared some words with everyone on the importance role of parents¡¯ love towards their kids in the early stages of their lives by citing from ¡°The Sutra About the Deep Kindness of Parents and the Difficulty of Repaying it¡±. The Venerable said that children should always listen to their parents and remember the valuable advice they give them.
To celebrate Fathers Day, which will be on the first Sunday of September, the YAD members dedicated a hand gesture performance of the songs ¡°Home of Light¡± and Droplets of Gratitude to all the fathers present, as an early celebration to the special day. YAD¡¯s passionate performance received the applause of everyone present. YAD 1 President Jason Liu and YAD 2 President Danny Chen shared their thoughts on Father¡¯s Day and expressed their appreciation for the selfless love and care their fathers have given them. The service concluded with all the YAD members shouting out ¡°Happy Fathers Day¡± to all the fathers present.
2009.08.29 Final Week of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Dharma Function
Fo Guang Shan South Island held its final transfer of merits session of the three-week long Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Dharma Function on 29th August. In addition, a Dharma service for the victims of Taiwan¡¯s Morakot disaster was also held. BLIA South Island Advisor John Lai, BLIA South Island President Almeric Cheng and 80 devotees cherished the final opportunity to participate in this Dharma function.
During the Dharma Function, everyone followed the Venerables¡¯ lead in chanting the ¡°Past Vows of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra¡± and reading the ¡°Prayers for the victims of the Morakot Disaster¡±. When the chanting concluded, Venerable Juexi delivered a Dharma talk, where apart from explaining the significance of filial piety and the purpose of the Yogacara Ulka-mukha Dharma Function, the Venerable also briefed everyone on the role Fo Guang Shan is playing in assisting and caring for the victims of Mokarot in Taiwan.
The Venerable used the lotus flower as a metaphor for the journey of diligently practising Buddhism. One should equip themselves with the five attributes of lotus flowers, which are cleanliness, careful, soft, firm and fragrant.
After the Dharma Function, everyone enjoyed vegetarian food prepared by the Temple at the Dining Hall, and with that, marked the successful conclusion to the Dharma Function of filial piety.
2009.08.15 Majestic Ksitigarbha Dharma Function Alleviates Suffering
In conjunction with the lunar calendar¡¯s month of the spirits, FGS South Island organised the three-week long Ksitigarbha Bodisattva Dharma Function, which began on the 15th August.
Early in the morning on 15th August, 60 BLIA members and Temple devotees arrived at the Temple to participate in the majestic annual Dharma function, where they followed the Venerable¡¯s lead in chanting the ¡°The Past Vows of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra¡± and reading ¡°Prayers for the victims of Typhoon Morakot¡± for the victims of Taiwan¡¯s typhoon disaster. At the same time, everyone chanted for others who are also suffering or need their suffering alleviated.
After the Dharma function, Venerable Juexi gave a Dharma talk, encouraging everyone to adopt a self-help and self-responsible attitude, taking charge of one¡¯s own life. Using a story, the Venerable shared some wisdom of life with everyone, explaining that by having determination and will power, one can survive against all odds and live on in less than ideal situations and circumstances.
Venerable Juexi also said that one needs unwavering self-confidence to be able to realise their Buddha nature and gain enlightenment. After participating in the majestic Dharma function, everyone gained increased faith in Buddhism.
Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva¡¯s Day of Enlightenment falls on 19th June of the Lunar Calendar. To commemorate this auspicious day, on 8th August, FGS South Island conducted the ¡°Great Compassionate Repentance Dharma Function¡±. Over 60 BLIA South Island members and devotees participated in the special Dharma Function.
The devotees joyfully followed the Venerables in chanting and Repentance during the two hour long service. Following the chanting, Venerable Juexi delivered a Dharma talk, where the Venerable explained that the act of repentance has the function of washing away the dirt from our minds, and for that reason, one should participate in a repentance service with all their hearts. A clear mind naturally gives rise to great wisdom.
The Venerable also discussed the four characteristics of wisdom:
1. Distinguishing differences- The ability of noticing the subtle differences in the worldy phenomena surrounding us
2. Equality- The ability to solve problems with a mind of equality and without discrimination
3. Ability to accomplishing all tasks- When performing tasks and shouldering responsibilities, where there is wisdom, there is a way
4. To see the truth in everything- In this state of consciousness, the mind is impartial and can see beyond all the delusions of the world, and can thus be at one with the Buddha nature
Venerable Juexi encouraged everyone to be diligent on their path of practicing Buddhism, and wished that they may benefit from the Dharma and live successful lives.
2009.08.01 Two Day Cultivation Retreat Revitalises the Weary
With the aim of improving the Buddhism experience for BLIA members and devotees, as well as allowing them to gain insight into the practitioner¡¯s way of life, a Two-Day Cultivation Retreat and Taking Refuge in Triple Gem Ceremony was held on 31st of July and 1st of August. BLIA South Island President Almeric Cheng, Vice-president Mei-Hua Chen, committee members and BLIA YAD South Island members were among the 50 participants.
Everyone arrived at Fo Guang Shan South Island on 31st July at 7pm for registration. As everyone donned their meditation uniform, a sense of solemn emerged, as the participants become strict Buddhist practitioners for the next two days. Venerable Juexi commenced the Retreat by introducing the syllabus and rules and regulations for the retreat.
Following the prompt briefing, Venerable Miaoyu and Venerable Rulian led the participants in chanting the ¡°Eighty-eight Buddha Great Repentance¡±. Following evening chanting, Venerable Juexi demonstrated to everyone the mannerisms for having a formal meal.
During the following morning, Venerable Abbess Manshin conducted a two hour Dharma class, where she expounded the functions and significance of the temple, as well as the way to settle one¡¯s mind. Using real life examples and Dharma words from Meditation masters, Abbess described the attitude a practitioner has towards life and living. During the solemn quiet of the early morning, everyone enjoyed Abbesses joyful and lively Dharma words. The heart-touching class fostered positive interactions, where everyone spoke from their hearts.
After the interesting class, the participants continued their cultivation with chanting ¡°Developing One¡¯s Bodhi-mind¡± which was led by the Venerables. Following the class, Venerable Abbess Manshin presided over the Taking Refuge in the Triple Gem Ceremony on behalf of 11 students, where they officially became Buddhists. Venerable Abbess Manshin gave them her blessings and hoped that they will continue to progress in and apply Buddhism to their daily lives.
At lunchtime, participants went through formal dining procedures, and in serene atmosphere, enjoyed the traditional monastic meal prepared by the Temple. During the meal, Venerable Abbess Manshin explained the significance of having formal meals, and encouraged everyone to return to the Fo Guang Shan headquarters to experience having a formal meal with many others, when the conditions arise.
In the afternoon, Venerable Rulian held a class on Manjushri Bodhisattva¡¯s Ten Great Vows. The Venerable employed many examples to explain and describe the ten great vows made by Manjushri Bodhisattva, and encouraged everyone to learn and adopt the spirit of a bodhisattva.
The two day retreat concluded with a joyful, serene and majestic atmosphere. Venerable Abbess Manshin encouraged everyone to be diligent in learning Buddhism teachings and to become a practitioner of Humanistic Buddhism.
The participants expressed their appreciation for the compassion and guidance of the Venerables in allowing them to participate in the meaningful and spiritually revitalising retreat, and promised to return to the Temple as volunteers.
2009.08.01 A Ten Thousand Mile Journey to Seek the Dharma
On 31st and 1st August, FGS South Island organised a Two-Day Cultivation Retreat and Taking Refuge in the Triple Gem Ceremony. By coincidence, Ms. Yu Qing Qiu from far away Taiwan visited New Zealand for a holiday, and with the right conditions, had the opportunity of Taking Refuge in FGS¡¯s most southern Temple in the world and becoming an official Buddhist.
Ms. Yu Qing Qiu is the friend of famous flower pressings artist Shan Shan Shiao. With artist Ms. Hsiao¡¯s recommendation, Ms Qiu visited Venerable Abbess Manshin and FGS South Island on 31st July. Ms. Qiu expressed that she was drawn in by the unique architecture of the Temple, and after having a thorough look, knew that this was the Temple she was searching for.
At present, Ms. Qiu is an art teacher, and has engaged with other Buddhist groups; and her trip to New Zealand was an escape from her busy and stressful life in Taiwan. In a state of ¡°emptiness¡±, Ms. Qiu has peacefully experienced the local New Zealand culture.
Upon her arrival at the Temple, Venerable Abbess Manshin introduced to Ms. Qiu the special characteristics of FGS South Island Temple. Ms Qiu took to the opportunity of being in the presence of a practitioner, and thus engaged in a discussion with Abbess on questions about life. Ms. Qiu expressed her fondness for the simplicity and serenity of the Temple, and feels that she can learn different things in life; unique things that cannot be learnt elsewhere.
Following on, Abbess took Ms. Qiu around Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery South Island to appreciate the artworks from the ¡°Way of Life Photography Exhibition¡±. As she made her way to the Temple façade, Ms. Qiu couldn¡¯t help but gazed at the four practitioners. She commented that through looking at the four practitioners, she sensed that practicing the Buddhist way is the individual¡¯s business, and that the practitioner¡¯s life is arduous and lonely; hence she was deeply moved.
Holding back tears, she confided that the ten or more hour flight all the way from Taiwan to Christchurch was worthwhile, as she had found the inspiration she had been searching for. With Abbesses encouragement, she also attended the Two-Day Cultivation Retreat and Taking Refuge in the Triple Gem that was coincidently taking place at the time of her visit.
When Ms. Qiu received her Refuge Certificate from Abbess, she asked rhetorically, ¡°did I really receive ¡°Cherish¡± as my Dharma name? I wouldn¡¯t have thought I had flown all the way from Taiwan to take refuge here¡±. Under the right conditions she has officially become a Buddhist at FGS South Island. She was deeply moved, as she had discovered a new value and meaning to her life and had tapped into her inner wealth.
2009.07.29 Preparatory meeting for Cultivation Retreat
A Two-day Cultivation Retreat and Taking Refuge in the Triple Gem Ceremony will be held from 31st July to 1st August. On 29th July, a preparation meeting for the Retreat and Ceremony was held. Venerable Juexi chaired the meeting, and 10 Temple staff attended.
During the meeting, job allocations were discussed. The responsibilities were divided into the Dharma Function Team, Administration Team, Dining Hall Service Team, Education Team, Formal Meal Service Team and Meal Preparation Team, to name several.
At present, the number of people who have enrolled for the Retreat stands at 50, with 10 of the participants also attending the taking refuge in the Triple Gem Ceremony. The classes lined up for the Retreat include Temple Rules and Regulations, Samanthabadra Bodhisattva¡¯s Ten Great Vows, meditation.
Venerable Juexi explained the significance and purpose of attending the Cultivation Retreat, and wishes that while giving service to the public or going about their daily routine, the participants will keep the Dharma in their minds and practice it in their actions. The Venerable also wishes that the Temple staff may create the conditions for others to come into contact with the Triple Gem.
2008.10.25 Medicine Buddha's Dharma Function 2
On the 25th of October, Fo Guang Shan South Island Temple held their second session of the Medicine Buddha's Dharma Function, proceeding from the first one which was on the 18th of October. Around 80 people attended, with Venerable Juexi leading the Dharma function. During the Dharma talk, Venerable Juexi explained that heavenly guardians will reward sincere devotion and offerings with limitless blessings and constant protection. It was suggested that we should contemplate on the delightfulness of the human and celestial realms but at the same time be mindful of the sufferings of the three lower realms. Venerable Juexi concluded by reminding us to maintain steadfast self esteem and to be honest and keep a compassionate heart.
2008.10.18 South Island FGS Medicine Buddha¡¯s Dharma Function
On the 18th and 25th of October, South Island FGS will conduct the ¡°peaceful country, praying for peace, light offering¡± Medicine Buddha¡¯s Dharma Function. Devotees who participated included Buddha¡¯s Light International Association Advisor John Lai, BLIA president Almeric Cheng and his wife, vice-president and her husband, BLIA committee members and many others, accruing to a total of 80 people. Venerable Juexi gave a Dharma talk on Medicine Buddha¡¯s 12 great vows and explained the significance and capabilities of Medicine Buddha¡¯s Mantra, and encouraged devotees to make a big vow, have great compassion, cultivate merits and gain wisdom. Venerable Juexi also encouraged everyone to learn to sing the song ¡°Singing Praises to the Master¡± so they can use their voice to illustrate Grandmaster¡¯s entire lifetime and praise it. Through the music, devotees can understand the wisdom and compassion in Grandmaster and allow their light to shine on each other.
22nd July 2007 Three hour Memorial Service
South Island Fo Guang Shan organised the first ¡°Three hour Memorial Service¡± which was presided the Abbess Venerable Man Shin, following the completion of the new temple and before the official ceremony so that we can offer the good merits to all sentient beings in the dharma world and let them be received by the Buddha in the Pure Land. More than 100 people attended the service on those winter day including the President, executives and members of Buddha¡¯s Light International Association and the Young Adult Division.
23rd to 24th June 2007 Eight Precepts Retreat
On the 23rd and 24th of June 2007, Fo Guang Shan organised the first ever Eight Precepts Retreat since its establishment 15 years ago. 45 people participated to experience the monastery life including President Almeric Cheng and Vice President Mei Hwa Chen of the South Island Buddha¡¯s Light International Association and members of the Young Adult Division. The Young Adult Division members spent a cold but memorable night in the temple as temperature dropped below zero degree during the night.
Other than normal repentance service, chanting sutras and formal temple lunch, special lecture on ¡°Discover the Treasure from inner heart¡± and ¡°Appreciating life and death¡± was delivered by the Abbess and Dharma Master to enhance the participants¡¯ religious knowledge and to provide a correct view to the participants on death.