A visit to American Bodhi Center

Blue skies with bit overcast so there was no sun; absolutely, beautiful weather with some cool breezes to walk on the trail for a Sunday afternoon. Dozen of us decide to take a stroll to the Gwan Shr Yin’ lake with Venerable Jian Dan – we were receiving ample of information regarding the history of the Temple, story of the lake with few fishes (not for fishing purpose) in front of the grand and tall statue of Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva – God of Mercy.

During this field trip – we were fed with delicious, tasty dishes that were presented on buffet line. The menus was prepared with good nutritional value and colorful suitable to all taste including non-vegetarians. Transportation was arranged to carpool to the facility – a thoughtful gesture to save the environment. We learned different techniques of meditation for example breathing, counting numbers with proper sitting position (crossing our legs and palms).

Venerable Jian Dan was coaching us during the hour long meditation, to remind us to return to our focus and attention; since, our minds were often wondering and drifting away when we are sitting too long in one position. He was showing us the proper way to prostrate and to bow to the Buddha & to the Sangha. Many Buddhist stories were used during his lecture so that we can learn about the religion. In the afternoon, there were few performances that Venerable Jian Dan was chanting a melody while striking the bell for evening service. He even performed the “Heavenly Drum” that we only can hear once in a great while when he return from his overseas studies. There were questions and answers throughout the lecture and presentation for the devoted practitioners who eagerly to learn more about Buddhism.

Finally, this is our annual fieldtrip from Sunday Dharma class to visit the serenity, peaceful and huge retreat center that was built by Texas Buddhist Association – Reverend HungI (Abbot of Jade Buddha Temple). It is a perfect place for all or anyone of us wish to stay for day, few days or months to escape our busy daily life, to get in touch with the nature (many trail walks) and the spiritual needs within our heart and mind.

by Vivi Louie


Relax the Night Away

With a variety of tasks to complete, college students live a busy and stressful life. Relaxation of mind and body is an efficient way to lessen the burden. But how can we achieve to have a relaxed and peaceful mind? Research has shown that meditation, if practiced appropriately, can serve to reduce stress, adjust mood and increase focus. In the evening of September 28, we’re honored to have Venerable Jian Dan give a lecture on meditation. The new Resident Assistant attended the meditation workshop at Learning Support Services. She thought it’s a good idea to hold a meditation workshop because the one she went was a huge success. She remembered there was a long line outside of the room where the class was held and only a certain amount of people were allowed in because of the amount of space. She had a great experience in Master Jian Dan’s class and she thought she would hold one where a lot more people would come.

The class started with students asking some interesting questions, which, as always, showed the students’ curiosity about Buddhism and the practice of meditation. Then the students began to complain about the amount of homework, the tough tests they need to take, and some questions about socializing with other people. As the conversation went, we touched and discussed some more philosophical questions. Where do our sufferings come from? The Venerable explained while gesturing to indicate the difference between expectation levels, “When we have high level of expectation, we’ll feel frustrated if we can’t get to it.” Sufferings come from our mind within, not from external sources. “Wouldn’t you be suffered if you didn’t make the score you wished to get in the exams?”

Next, the Venerable guided us through a 5 minute meditation. The Venerable especially talked about how we intend to attach ourselves to many things and people in our lives. It is those attachments that make us suffer. Meditation will eventually make us obtain a peaceful and happy mind without being attached to anything.

The “Relax the Night Away” was very relaxing and enjoyable. It’s true no single person can control the conditions around them. All we can do is focus on the present situation. It’s the gap between our expectations and actuality that causes the unnecessary stress in our lives.

To end the class, we feel we want to learn much more about the practice of meditation…


New path ahead – YiLan State penitentiary visit

Over two hundred female prisoners listened to Ven Jian Dan’s talk tentatively

Invited by Taiwan’s YiLan State penitentiary, Ven Jian Dan visited the prisoners on August 21 to provide guidance and support. Before his talk, the warden met with Ven Jian Dan to thank him for his visit. The Warden mentioned that the spread of illegal drugs has caused many social issues. Especially, once addicted to drugs, the rehabilitation is extremely difficult. Many prisoners complete their sentence and reenter the society, only to be addicted to drugs. Working hard to fight against such a vicious cycle has proved close to mission impossible. However, the correction system still holds hope for these people. Ven Jian Dan praised Warden and compared what they are doing as a practice of that of a Bodhisattva – never give up on anyone out of compassion.

Venerable Jian Dan spoke to the prisoners and used the analogy of making a path to illustrate how we can follow an existing path or create a new one. For example, if you keep walking on the same path on the lawn, day after day, eventually you will create a path and will always follow it. Our way of thinking and our habits are cultivated overtime as well. If we continue to repeat how we think or how we act, we will always follow the same pattern, just like how we will always follow the same path. As a habitual being, once we are used to things a certain way, it is not easy to change it. The only way to escape from the habitual thinking and action is to make a change. It requires courage. However, in order to start a new trail, you need to start walking on a different path. We should cultivate goodness of mind, try to help each other, and face life challenges with patience and perseverance. Get rid of the old past and walk a new tomorrow for yourself.

Poster created for Ven Jian Dan’s visit


Study Abroad China - Summer 2009

During the month of July, Ven Jian Dan visited China with the study abroad program with the University of Houston. During this study trip, he had the chance to visit several well-known temples in Shanghai and Beijing. He also had the privilege to meet with several authorities and discussed Buddhism’s development and local differences between the east and the west. Ven Jian Dan also spent time meeting with local lay Buddhists, offering lectures and facilitating discussions.

Shanghai JadeBuddha Temple (上海玉佛寺). Picture taken in front of the grand hall.

Shanghai Jing’an Temple (上海靜安寺). Picture taken in front of the grand hall.

Shanghai Longhua Temple (上海龍華古寺) Picture taken in front of the grand hall.

Shanghai Pupu Bridge with study aborad student.

Picture taken in front of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower

Picture taken in front of Beijing Hall of Supreme


Conclusion of Sutra of the Forty-Two Chapters

Sutra of the Forty-Two Chapters class came to a conclusion on May 3rd. Several impressive records were set during this nine-class semester. For example, class location had to be changed to accommodate the large number of attendees. On average, the number of weekly attendees exceeded 36. At the end of the term, 28 people received a certificate of completion while 18 students attended all classes.

May 3rd coincidently was also Shifu’s birthday. Current and past students gathered and gave him a surprise birthday party. Shifu expressed his deepest appreciation to both Venerable Jin Hai and Venerable Hung I, and all the students and supporters for the past two years. He was especially grateful of the encouragement and opportunities granted by the two Venerables. Because of their trust and support, he was able to continue his study for the past two years while offering classes at Jade Buddha Temple. Similarity, students were thankful that Shiful would share his teachings while juggling with busy academic schedules. Everyone wished him to complete his degree soon.

Graduation ceremony was held the following week. Venerable Jin Hai and Venerable Hung I were present to give the awards. Eighteen students who maintained a perfect attendance received a black sandalwood wooden fish, completed with a golden-stringed cotton pad. Shifu joked that the unprecedented high level of full attendance must due to everyone’s desire to receive this gift. This phenomenon reflected what the sutra said, “give them what they desire to attract them in, then teach them the dharma.”

After the ceremony, some students shared their reflections. Here are some selected contents:

Student1: This was my first dharma class. I hope I can continue.

Student2: I had never stepped into a temple, let alone taking dharma class. Being a Christian for 40 years, I continued to struggle with things in life and were unable to find an answer. A friend introduced me to this class. I thought I would take it as a philosophy class. However, this class was like a door to a new world. Even though I have not taken the refuge, I have started to think deeper and wilder. I hope I can continue to take Shifu’s class.

Student 3: I am ashamed to say that I have been coming to the temple for many years; however, this was my first dharma class. I was so blessed to be able to attend this class and I have benefited greatly.

Student4: This was my second time taking Shifu’s class. However, my husband challenged me: how come you are leaning the dharma yet you have not yet changed your temper? There are still rooms for improvement!

Student5: I particularly liked how Shufu always pulled us back to focus on the cultivation of our mind. This method can be easily applied to my daily life and I have received great benefits.

Student6: This was my first dharma class. Shiful pointed out in the first class some common pitfalls we parents share today. He advised us to create a positive relationship with our children and respect their own development. At times, we should learn to let go and try not to always make decisions for them from our own angles. My daughter asked me about the class when I returned home. Upon hearing what Shiful said, she eagerly encouraged me to continue taking the class.

Student7: what stayed with me the most is what Shifu asked: what is true happiness: away from suffering is true happiness.

Student8: I have been to the temple for over 20 years and my first dharma class was with Shifu. In the past two years, except for one time I was sick, I have never missed a class. In order to succeed in Shifu’s classes, I began to pick up books and dictionary again. Unfortunately my memory is not as sharp as before, so I can only continue to attend class to make up my own shortcomings.

Student9: I feel I still have yet learned enough. This was my third semester. I was clueless in the first semester. Second semester was a little better. This semester was the best because Shifu’s skillful way of designing the homework. It forced us to read the sutra and review the handout. I often stayed up pass midnight for homework. Two-hour class was too short. I hope Shifu will return soon so we can take more classes.

Student10: I attended Christen schools and requested that my husband accept Jesus before I would marry him. Because my father passed away last year, I came in contact with the temple then. Thank to Shifu’s class, I realized my own misunderstanding about Buddhism and finally had the chance to uncover the real Buddhism. My husband was especially looking forward to the weekly class.

Student11: After two semesters, I can now apply Buddhism in my daily life. I used to change job every other year because I seemed to be able to find faults in everything. After these classes, I began to see people, things, and events with a different light. As a result, I felt more at ease.

A farewell party for Shifu was held the next day at Sweet Tomato.


Meditation to Reduce Academic Stress

Location: Social Work Building #328, University of Houston

Date: Tuesday (3/31) & Thursday (4/2)

Time: 4:00pm – 5:00pm

Sponsor: Learning Support Services (http://www.las.uh.edu/lss/)

Due to popular demand, Master Jian Dan was invited back by University of Houston’s Learning Support Services to give two seminars on mediation and academic stress. Learning Support Services offers tutoring, learning strategies workshops, learning style assessments and other activities to support and increase student academic performance. Master was invited to teach students how to reduce academic stress through meditation practice.

Survey collected by Learning Support Services showed that students regarded this seminar a positive experience. One student commented, “the presenter was knowledgeable & entertaining,” while another wrote, “the topics is pretty interesting for me.” Students listed new skills they learned from “take a deep breath and count the number,” “meditation to concentrate,” “focus on only present situation,” to “trying to stop wondering thoughts.” So, how will the new learned skill help them academically? One student shared, “It would affect me greatly academically because I could reduce lots of stress.” Another student indicated that the new skill will help him or her more “easier to focus on assignments & exams w/o being distracted.” “Help me pay attention in class,” “be able to concentrate better and relax more”, and "better performance grades wise and career goal wise” were among other answers.

Integrating regular mediation sitting into daily routine undoubtedly requires certain level of commitment and motivation. Students who are interested in knowing more about mediation should go to a reputable mediation center and seek guidance from well-trained teachers.


Integrating Chan into Your Life

Date: March 27, 2009 (Friday)
Time: 7:00-8:30pm
Location: University of Texas, Austin
Venue: Texas Union Asian Culture Room 4.224

Venerable introduced the difference between Chinese Chan and other Buddhist practices. He emphasized the application of Chan into day to day activities. Venerable borrowed stories from Chan koans to illustrate the skillful integration of Chan in daily life.


AMZH @ Aloha - Beach Picnic with Chan Talk

Master’s Wednesday talk at the Chinese Pure Land Buddhist Association, Hawaii Chapter was so well received. As a result, members voluntarily organized a beach picnic Friday. The picnic was held at Honolulu’s famous Ala Moana beach park and over 50 to 60 people gathered. With delicious home-cooked food and beautiful Hawaii weather as companies, everyone sat under the shade to take the last chance to listen to Master’s teachings.


AMZH @ Aloha - Spiritual Conversation with a Buddhist Monk

Spiritual Conversation is a student group initiated and organized by University of Hawaii students to have a safe place to discuss various religions. They often invite teachers from different faith traditions to share their perspectives and answer questions from people who do not share the same religion. Venerable Jian Dan was invited to offer his take on the unique teachings of Chinese Chan Buddhism.

Venerable pointed out that Chan originated in China and its teaching highlights the quest to uncover our original pure mind. For example, the concept of “dust” and “guest” from the Shurangama Sutra 《楞嚴經》can help illustrate this concept. Buddhist’s quest is to realize what/who is the dust and guest. Guests are those coming and going in a hotel while the owner is the real host. We should observe the impermanence of the world, and recognize that all phenomena are dust and guest where they appear and fade away. This way, we will not waste our lives on pursuing mirage (dust/guest) but to uncover our true host – our pure mind.

Among the attendees were trained teacher in Japanese True Pureland, scholar in Japanese Buddhism, and many other students with different faith traditions. After the detailed and lively talk, many people stayed and took this rare opportunity to ask more questions.


AMZH @ Aloha - Chan & Pure Land

Date: March 18 (Wednesday)
Time: 7:00 - 9:00 pm
Location: Chinatown, N Hotel St & Kekaulike St, Honolulu, HI 96817
Sponsor: Chinese Pure Land Buddhist Association, Hawaii Chapter

Chinese Chan Buddhism highlights how an enlightened mind sees the nature(明心見性)。On the other hand, Chinese Pure Land Buddhism emphasizes when the inner flower blossoms, one sees the Buddha (花開見佛) 。In reality, these two represent identical meaning: seeing one’s true nature is seeing one’s Buddha nature. Therefore, practicing Chan is the same as practicing Pure Land, even though Chan does emphasize more on the causes while Pure Land pays more attention to the results. Nonetheless, these two practices point to the same path. In this interactive talk, Venerable Jian Dan explained the two practices and encouraged all practitioners to purify one’s mind to attend Pure Land.


AMZH @ Aloha - Meditation & Inner Peace

Date: March 18
Time: 1:30 – 2:30 pm
Location: University of Hawaii at Manoa, REL 475 Seminar on Buddhism class

Venerable Dr. Mun is a Korean monk and a visiting scholar to University of Hawaii at Manon. He offers classes about Buddhism at the department of philosophy and religion. When he received the news about Venerable Jian Dan’s visit, he eagerly invited Venerable Jian Dan to give a talk at his undergraduate seminar class. This semester, this seminar class focuses on the investigation of Buddhism in peace. Based on this idea, Venerable Jian Dan was asked to teach basic meditation techniques and addresses the relationship between meditation and individual inner peace.

Venerable taught basic breath counting method and let the students practice twice. After the short meditation practices, students expressed the difficulty of focusing on the breath. Many indicated that their minds wondered around and were unable to concentrate. Venerable Jian Dan pointed out that we are habitual beings who are used to allow our wondering thoughts control us. We follow our thoughts everywhere but here. Most of the time, we are not even aware that out thoughts have gone a thousand miles away. By relying on counting the breath, we can gradually train our mind to be more aware, more concentrated and therefore more peaceful.

Venerable stressed at the end that peace is not something external for us to seek. Inner peace is already in our Buddha nature. All we need to do is to uncover it within.


AMZH @ Aloha - Dharma Talk at Fo Guang Shan

Date: March 17, 2007
Time: 10am – noon
Location: Fo Guang Shan Hawaii Center@ Chinese Culture Plaza
The Abbot of Fo Guang Shan Hawaii Center, Venerable Yi Hong, was generous enough to give their regularly scheduled book club meeting time to Venerable Jian Dan for a dharma talk. Venerable Jian Dan used some frequently used Chinese idioms to illustrate some Buddhist concepts. Interestingly, many of these Chinese idioms were originally from Buddhist text. However, over the years, their meanings have changed. For example, tian hua luan zhui (天花亂墜) means smooth talking that stretches the truth. However, from the Buddhist text, it means heavenly beings are so joyful after hearing Buddha’s teaching, they drop flowers from heaven to express their appreciation.

After a short and humorous talk, attendees started to ask questions. For example, one person asked, if Buddhism talks about cause and effect and stresses that we are always the receiver of our own action, no one else could take our consequences away from us, then why when America made a big mistake and dug a big financial hole that caused economical crisis, the rest of the world has to suffer with America? In other words, America created the cause but everyone else suffers the effects? Venerable quickly pointed that there are at least two kinds of karma – individual karma (別業) and collective karma (共業). Countries that have a close economic tie to America share the collective karma, therefore suffer when the entire economy changes. However, not all countries or all companies are losing money under current situation. They have individual karma that separates them from America, therefore can avoid been affected by the economy.

After the talk, Venerable stayed for some delicious homemade vegetarian meals. Another visiting Buddhist nun, Venerable Yi Fa, also joined for lunch. During lunch, Abbot introduced both Venerables and praised Venerable Jian Dan for his right view, sharp concepts, and skillful presentations.

Many members gathered around Venerable Jian Dan after lunch and continued to seize the opportunity to ask more questions. Most of them commended on his talk and was eager to see him visit Hawaii again.


AMZH @ Aloha - Temple Visits

While in Hawaii, Venerable Jian Dan took the time to visit a couple of local temples.

Venerable Yi Hong, Abbot of Fo Guang Shan Hawaii Center, and members welcomed Venerable Jian Dan for his visit to the center

Venerable Jian Dan visited Guan Yin Temple, a traditional Chinese temple of over 100 years old. Abbot of Guan Yin Temple, Venerable Hong En, encouraged Venerable Jian Dan to visit Hawaii again.

Venerable Jian Dan visited Xu Yuan Temple, a 40-year temple in Honolulu. Venerable is in the lineage of Master Xu Yuan (empty cloud)

Venerable visited a Korean Temple called Dae Won Sa Buddhist Temple of Hawaii. It is said that this temple is the largest Korean temple outside of Korea


AMZH @ Aloha - From Chinese Idioms to Learning about Buddhism

Date: March 13 (Friday)
Time: 3:30 - 5:30 pm
Location: Wist 115 (University of Hawaii @ Manoa - College of Education)
Sponsors: Center for Chinese Studies

Buddhism came into China as a foreign religion, yet it not only flourished in China, Buddhism also deeply integrated into the Chinese culture. For example, Buddhism impacted significantly on Chinese literary styles by introducing new imaginary concepts, terminologies, and narrative styles. Many everyday Chinese idioms are from Buddhist texts and Chan stories. In this interactive and humorous talk, Venerable Jian Dan, a visiting Buddhist monk from Houston, Texas, deciphered some deepest Buddhism concepts using everyday Chinese idioms.

Participants asked many practical questions after the talk. One professor from social work shared her reflection afterward, "it was a very interesting talk that I really enjoyed. The teacher is not a old monk we usually have in our mind. He is a young, funny, and intelligent teacher. I am glad we will all go to meet him and listen to his talk."

Venerable gave blessings to those who wish to receive by giving them a rosary. Several people indicated that they will also attend Venerable's upcoming talk in China Town.


AMZH @ Aloha - Meditation on Encounter Dialogues: At the Core of the Chan Tradition

Location: Sakamaki Hall A302 (University of Hawaii @ Manoa - Department of Religion)
Date: March 13 (Friday)
Time: 1:00 - 2:00 pm
Sponsors: Department of Religion & Center for Chinese Studies

Abstract: Encounter dialogues refer to the questions and responses that take place between Chan masters and their students. These spontaneous everyday conversations showcase Chan’s core tradition a practice of “living,” rather than just “sitting.” In this down-to-earth talk, Venerable Jian Dan will use many well-known Chan stories to illustrate the concept of Chan meditation – to cultivate in sitting (stillness) but to practice in living (movement). He will even share some of his personal encounters with his teacher and use those stories to help bring Chan practice from ancient China to 21st century America.

Many people attended this talk, including professors from the Department of Religion and Department of Philosophy. After the talk, Venerable gave rosary to those who wish to receive blessings. Two students approached Venerable and requested to have private one-on-one lunch meeting with him.


From Chan Koans to Practicing Buddhism

Invited by the active English Dharma Group of Jade Buddha Temple, Master Jian Dan talked about the practice of Buddhism using koans. From the conversations between Chan masters and their students, Master explained the uniqueness of Chan Buddhism. Chan emphasizes the function of our mind as well as correct views. With the right view, a Buddhist practitioner can practice in the right path. Using a well-know story between the famous Chinese scholar Su Dongpo and his good friend Zen Buddhist Master Foyin, Master asked us to reflect on the "eight winds" (praise, ridicule, honor, disgrace, gain, loss, pleasure and misery) in our busy lives. Master encouraged everyone to be mindful of the “eight winds” in life and maintain an equanimous mind when facing these challenges.

During Q&A, one person expressed that he is fully aware the usefulness of meditation to self. However, he often forgets the practice when he is in the middle of a situation. Master acknowledged that this is a very common situation. However, through consistent practice, we will eventually be mastery of mindfulness. This is like any good habits we try to foster. It takes persistent daily practice. We can always start small, say, sitting for 5 minutes a day, and then gradually prolong the time. Try to set aside a fix time during the day, first thing in the morning, or last thing before retire to bed. Daily practice really helps in maintaining a consistent and peaceful mind.


New Class - Sutra of the Forty-Two Chapters

The Sutra of Forty-two Chapters (四十二章經) is the very first Buddhist sutra to be translated into Chinese. During emperor Ming of Han, Kasyapa-Matanga (迦葉摩騰) and Dharmaraksha (竺法蘭), two Buddhist monks from India, brought to China many sutras, Buddha relics, and Buddha paintings, reportedly on the back of a white horse. When they reached the Chinese capital of Luoyang, the emperor built the White Horse Temple for them. This was the very first Buddhist temple built in China. The emperor also requested that they translate the sutra into Chinese.

The Sutra of Forty-two Chapters consists of largely quotations from the Buddha. It is believed that these quotations were systematically selected and compiled by Buddha’s disciples after Buddha passed away and entail all major teachings of both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism.

Master Jian Dan carefully categorizes the forty-two chapters and selectively chooses sections that are more suitable for contemporary livings. Combining with real-life examples, Master skillfully explains the meanings of the sutra to realize Buddhism in everyday life.

Due to the overwhelmingly large audience, the class has to be moved to a larger classroom to accommodate everyone. Students always enjoy and appreciate Master’s humor and lively interactions.


Welcome OX; Goodbye Rat: 2008 Dharma Activities Recap

As we are welcoming the year of 2009, we also reflect on the journey of 2008. With his unyielding determination to propagate Buddhism and his untraditional approach to teaching, Master Jian Dan, a dedicated dharma worker, has turned in yet another productive report card.

Continuing his Dharma Lecturer post with Jade Buddha Temple, Master offered four structured dharma lecture series in 2008. It is worth noting that, in addition to the long-semester dharma lecture classes, Master tried something different during the shorter summer terms. He led a dharma assembly on Universal Door Chapter (from the Lotus Sutra) and also led a sutra-study seminar on The Eight Great Awakenings Sutra.

In addition, Maser maintained his active engagement with the large Chinese constituents at the Jade Buddha Temple by not only attending many activities such as Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara Ceremony and Jade Buddha Temple’s annual bazaar, he also organized or helped coordinate a couple of them. For example, he planned and coordinated a two-day Buddha's Relics Resting Ceremony. In con junction with this historical event, he created two volunteer trainings to ensure the quality of the ceremony.

As expected, Master maintained his engagement with the potentially even larger English-speaking audience. As listed below, you can see his English dharma activities of 2008. It is worth pointing out that 2008 also marked the year that Master made major strike in his dharma work with the younger generations. His works with University of Houston exemplified such an effort.
We are looking forward to an even more adventurous 2009. This year, Master’s dharma work will extend outside of Texas and come to a state maybe near you! Stay tuned.

Dharma Lecture Series
  1. 1/15~4/28/2008 Three Vehicles of Practices (10 classes). Used “The way to Buddhahood” (by Venerable Yin-Shun) as the guide to illustrate the concepts of Four Noble Truth and Twelve Casual Chains. Master even added additional materials to help us understand each concept as well as how they are related to each other.
  2. 5/30~6/27/2008 Dharma Assembly: Universal Door Chapter (5 classes). A five-week dharma assembly, reciting the Universal Door Chapter. Dharma talks were given on selected contents.
  3. 6/01~6/29/2008 The Eight Great Awakenings Sutra (5 classes). Through recitation, discussion, and dharma, participants gained deep understanding of the eight awakenings practiced by all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Buddhist followers.
  4. 8/24~12/14/2008 Bodhisattva’s Practices (12 classes). Learned the vows and practices of four celebrated Boddhisattvas and learned how to integrate our understandings into daily life.
  5. 3/7~23 Volunteer Trainings (2 series). A highly anticipated and practical training to enable volunteers to be more effective helpers for the temple. Covered topics such an overview of Texas Buddhist Association, an overview of major Buddhist ceremonies, the Buddhist way of interacting with each other and with the Masters in, out and around a Buddhist temple, and much more.
Public Activities in Chinese
  1. 2/10 Talk given at Jade Buddha Temple (Grand Hall) Happy New Year: Rats Bring Fortune
  2. 3/23 Attended Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara Ceremoney – Jade Buddha Temple (Grade Hall)
  3. 4/6 Planned and coordinated Buddha's Relics Resting Ceremony (American Buddha Center)
  4. 4/27 Hold Graduation Ceremony for Intermediate Dharma Class @ Jade Buddha Temple
  5. 4/28 Hold Jade Buddha Temple Member Spring gathering
  6. 5/11AttendedBuddha Bath Ceremony (Jade Buddha Temple)
  7. 6/29 Hold Graduation Ceremony for Summer Classes
  8. 7/06 Talk given at Jade Buddha Temple (Grand Hall) Connectedness in Life
  9. 8/10 Hold Jade Buddha Temple Fall Member gathering
  10. 8/17 Attended Ullambana Ceremony (Jade Buddha Temple)
  11. 9/26 Talk given at Port Lavaca, Texas: Wisdom and Compassion: Twin virtues of Mahayana Buddhism
  12. 10/19 Talk given at Jade Buddha Temple (Grand Hall) Cultivating merits and wisdoms during difficult times
  13. 11/15 Attended Jade Buddha Temple’s annual bazaar
  14. 12/14 Hold graduation ceremony for the fall
  15. 12/21 Hold Jade Buddha Temple Winter Member gathering

Public Activities in English
  1. 5/24 Talk given for Gulf Coast Mensa: Nothingness Explored @ Crowne Plaza Hotel in Houston, Texas
  2. 6/01 Talk given at English Dharma Group (Jade Buddha Temple): Freedom in Buddhism
  3. 9/7 Talk given at English Dharma Group (Jade Buddha Temple): Meditation in Everyday Life.

University Dharma Activities
  1. 2/20 The Awakening Mind: Path to True Freedom. Invited by University of Houston, College of Education Social Study Doctoral Seminar. Addressed true meaning of freedom in Buddhism. Student feedback.
  2. 3/10 American Buddhism: Challenges and Possibilities. Invited by University of Houston, Department of Religion. Addressed Buddhism in the west.
  3. 4/16 Introduction to Buddhism & Meditation. Invited by University of Houston, College of Education. Addressed to the undergraduate pre-service teachers about everyday meditation practices.
  4. 9/10 Meditation for a healthier you. Invited by University of Houston Wellness Center, the first official university-level invitation. Addressed the balanced between physical health and mental health and pointed out how meditation as a way to a healthier life style
  5. 10/28、30 Reduce Academic Stress through Meditation. Invited by University of Houston Learning Support Services. Addressed the relationship between meditation, concentration and academic success.

Youth Activities:
  1. 2/17 Bodhi Chinese School’s annual New Year carnival. Invited to attend the annual Chinese school carnival. Gave out gifts and encouraged students to continue diligent study.
  2. 5/10 Bodhi Chinese School Commencement
  3. 5/24 Gulf Coast Mensa: Meditation for Children: Skillful Kong Fu for the Mind. Hold at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Houston, Texas.
  4. 10/12, 10/26 & 11/2 Growing a Good Mind: An Experiment. Invited to give a series of classes about the importance of practicing saying good words and cultivating good minds.


Conclusion of Fall Semester –Boddhisattva’s Practices

Fall semester’s class on Boddhisattva’s Practices ended on December 14th. It was a time to congratulate all dharma brothers and sisters for the completion of yet another semester of assiduous studying of Buddhism. It was also a time of renewing our vows and following the Boddhisattva’s path to benefit self and all sentinel beings.

This semester, Master spent a great deal in discussing each of the six paramitas (giving, virtue, tolerance, diligence, concentration and insight). Master emphasized the multi-facet understanding of each paramita and the practical ways to implement them in our everyday lives. Master’s teaching was well received, as evident by an impressive record of attendance. Nineteen (19) attendees attended eight (8) or more classes and received a certificate of completion. In addition, nine (9) attendees managed to attend all classes. Those with perfect attendance received a special rosary from the Master as an encouragement to their diligence.

Shortly after the certificate ceremony, the group moved to a newly opened coffee shop to continue the dharma discussion and celebration. Over 60 people gathered, including family members, children and new born babies. All students earnestly request to hear the spring class schedule soon.


Growing a good mind: an experiment

From late November to early December, Master held a series of special “experiment” with Bodhi Chinese School children about “growing a good mind.” The purpose of this experiment is to demonstrate the power of words. Using green beans as the experiment subjects, we test saying good words and bad words to them while growing them.

As always, to make any activity meaningful and successful, before Master’s visit to the classrooms, the school sent a letter home. In the letter, the school stressed how parents’ continued involvement is essential in any learning activity. As such, Master asked that parents come to both classes and be active in helping their children throughout this experiment. Together with the letter is an instruction sheet detailing the experiment procedures, which will be carried out at home with parental assistance.

Grade Level: 3rd grade (can be adjusted to fit all levels)

Key concept: Our mind can create positive energy
Title: Growing a Good Mind: An Experiment

Objectives: Students are able to
  1. relate the experiment results to daily interactions with others
  2. practice setting good intentions and using good words

Description: A two-class series about how important it is to set positive intentions and interact with others using positive words. Students, with the help from parents, grow green beans for two weeks at home. Students and their parents say good words to one cup of beans and bad words to another cup of beans for two weeks. At the end of the 2-week period, students bring back their experiments, discuss in class the findings and what it means to them.

Class 1 Anticipatory set:
  1. Story: Nails, Nails on the Wall: a story about how anger (bad words) leaves permanent scars and are hurtful to others and self.
  2. Interactive Questions: use questions from story to bring students to identify the power of words and how easy we can practice saying good words every day.

Class 1 Procedure (details omitted here)
At the end of the story and class time, ask students to predict what will happen to the beans.

Class 2 closure activity
After students examine each other’s experiments, compare, contrast, and discuss the reasons, play the game “thinking positively”

For example: On my way to school today, I realized that I lost the 5 dollars I put in my pocket… Now think positively …what would you say? 1) Thank goodness I did not lost 10 dollars or 2) Whoever finds it must be very happy

Another example: I studied very hard but still did not do well on the Chinese quiz. Now think positively … what would you say? 1) Thank goodness it is not the final examine or 2) I will have so much room for improvement

Each Chinese class’s homeroom teacher gives out Chinese-related homework based on this experiment.

Overall, students were engaged and enthusiastic about this experiment. One student even brought his beans to his American school every day, just to show off his experiment! Even though the end results did vary (while mostly favored the good-word group), students were able to relate the power of intentions and words into daily interactions.

The school has asked the Master to give another lesson next semester.