On 27th February, Supervising Ven Miao Yung visited the City of Perth Council House with BLIAWA President Patrick Cheow, Head of Love & Care Group Adeline Lim, Advisor Natasha Tang, Director Grace Collins, BLIAWA member who is also the Councillor of the City of Perth Keith Yong to present a donation of $5,000 to the Lord Mayor Distress Relief Fund in aid of the Parkerville bushfire victims.
The Love & Care Group represented BLIAWA in presenting the cheque to Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi, to demonstrate the care and concern of all members of Fo Guang Shan Temple and BLIAWA towards those affected by the bushfire tragedy. It gave us an opportunity to promote Buddha’s teachings of loving kindness and compassion, stepping out of the temple to show our care for the community and to be of service to others.
During the meeting, Advisor Natasha Tang invited the Lord Mayor to the temple to attend Buddha’s Birthday Festival 2014 and mentioned the plan to hold the event in Perth city centre the following year for 2015. The Lord Mayor welcomed the idea and said that the City of Perth has always felt confident and acknowledged the many activities organised by BLIA especially in promoting cultural and religious exchange such as the Buddha’s Birthday Festival. She looks forward to the return of BLIA members to the Perth city to hold this annual event.
The BLIAWA held its monthly meeting on 23rd February at the temple conference room. It was conducted by President Patrick Cheow and attended by some 26 members including Advisors Carol Su, Linda Tang and Natasha Tang, and various Sub-chapter Presidents and committees.
Various reporting were carried out for activities held in the month of January including 1)BLIAWA AGM cum Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner 2) Perth Chinese New Year Fair 3) Gloucester Park food sale 4) Guest Relations Workshop.
Other agenda discussions 1) Clean up Australia Day 2) Harmony Day celebrations 3) Buddhist Examination 4) Oldies charity singing in aid of Nan Tien Institute 5) 2015 Buddha’s Birthday Festival – it was voted to hold it in Perth city for 2015 and sometime during the month of May 6) Election for BLIAWA and Sub-chapters 7) Forming a group to participate in the Nan Tien Temple’s 20th anniversary celebrations and activities 8) Renaming of all Sub-chapters.
Guiding Ven Miao Yung praised everyone for learning how to summarise their reporting during the meeting in order not to waste everyone’s time. She feels that using the power point presentation can enable us to first collect collate our thoughts together so that it will appear more methodical during reporting. She hoped that everyone can bear this in mind for future meetings to fully prepare in advance so as to achieve better results with lesser effort.
The BLIAWA held it’s first round of ‘Guest Relations Workshop’at the temple on 22nd February, presided by Advisor Carol Su. The first session was in the form of a talk and speakers included BLIAWA Guiding Ven Miao Yung, President Patrick Cheow and Advisor Foo Jong Seng. Attendees comprised of Sub-chapter Presidents, committee and members totalling some 31 people.
The workshop began with President Patrick Cheow, Advisor Foo and Ven Miao Yung each speaking on the role of a Guest Relations volunteer, requirements and it’s importance. President Patrick Cheow mentioned the need for a mind like the Bodhisattva, filled with joy and with a friendly attitude towards visitors. Advisor Foo Jong Seng likened it to a bridge, linking the temple and the visitor and that the volunteer should possess a constant mind which does not discriminate, emanating love and care from within to others. Ven Miao Yung emphasized that the Guest Relations volunteer is like the front door of the temple, the public relations officer, the branding of Fo Guang Shan, the front line of saving sentient beings. Every speech and behaviour of the volunteer affects the visitor and therefore they must possess the right thoughts and right views by practising the ‘three acts of goodness’ and the ‘four forms of giving’ as promoted by Ven Master Hsing Yun in their daily lives.
The second session was group and general discussion with everyone enthusiastically sharing their thoughts. In her concluding speech, Ven Miao Yung said that the role of a Guest Relations volunteer is an important one covering a wide area of responsibilities from the reception, main shrine, including servicing in the kitchen which is also a part of Guest Relations. She encouraged everyone to shine in whatever capacity they may be taking up and hoped that all Guest Relations volunteers can offer their services with a heart filled with joy, compassion and wisdom to develop auspicious affinity with others.
The Young Adult Division participated with a food stall at the annual ‘Perth Chinese New Year Fair’ held in Northbridge on 9th February, organised by the Chung Wah Association. About 20 members volunteered and Supervising Ven Miao Yung and Ven Miao Xi turned up at the stall to show their support and encouragement.
In planning for the food stall and types of food for sale, the YAD members submitted their application at the end of January and invited BLIA aunties to provide advice and guidance on how to make Chendol, Ice Kachang and Twirly Fries in the hope that the food sold will be an attraction. On the day of the event, the members arrived early at the temple at 7 am, to bring all stuff to the stall in order to set up the items for sale. Amidst the rousing atmosphere, even though they encountered constant power failures, they persevered in order to fundraise for extra funds to subsidise members wishing to attend the International Youth Conference to be held in July in Taiwan.
The food sale ended at 9 pm. All the members were grateful to the uncles and aunties who provided assistance in the transportation of items and helped at the stall to enable them to achieve a good result.
Supervising Ven Miao Yung and Ven Miao Xi were invited to the home of BLIAWA 5th Sub-chapter member Ong Khian Sin on 8th February to conduct a blessing ceremony. Advisor Carol Su, Advisor Natasha Tang, 5th Sub-chapter President Ha Tran, 4th Sub-chapter President Janet Loke, committee and members totalling some 30 people turned up to offer their good wishes.
On behalf of the temple, Ven Miao Yung presented Master Hsing Yun’s New Year calligraphy ‘The noble steed gallops into a bright future’ to Ong for the establishment of his new home, asking for the blessings and protection of the Bodhisattvas to allow family members to ‘happily step out and safely return to the house’. In addition, Ven Miao Yung praised Ong for his support to the temple over the last two years, not only in the developing auspicious affinities with others through his cooking in the temple kitchen but also participating in the planning for Buddha’s Birthday Festival, Harmony Day, etc to achieve success.
Ong expressed that he has come to know a lot of kind-hearted BLIA members through cooking in the kitchen and learned a lot in the process. At the same time, he was grateful to the Venerables for their blessings and thanked all the BLIA members for attending and sharing his joy in moving into the new home.
The temple held a “Chinese New Year Prayer to a Thousand Buddhas Dharma Service” on 31st January with Supervising Ven Miao Yung leading a gathering of 350 devotees to sincerely offer prayers and read the founder of Fo Guang Shan Ven Master Hsing Yun’s ‘Chinese New Year prayer’. Everyone exchanged greetings for the New Year that everything will be auspicious and smooth and may the steed gallops into a bright future.
After the service, Ven Miao Yung shared Master’s New Year wishes for 2014, encouraging everyone to take advantage of the present and with a generous heart, create good affinity with others. She also explained that accumulating wealth should start from humble beginnings, learn to be economical and manage our wealth. In addition, the “Vimalakirtinirdesa-sutra” was quoted as an example in the hope that everyone will diligently make progress, be guided by wisdom in life in order to transform troubles into a Bodhi mind.
During the Chinese New Year season, the temple also organised various activities including Chinese lion dance, The Fortune Deity distributing goodies, tea appreciation, make-a-wish gong, light offering, vegetarian meals, etc. The Three Acts of Goodness novice monk was placed outdoors for visitors to take photos with for memories keepsake. From the eve of the Chinese New Year, the temple started to receive many visitors who came to make offerings and exchange wishes with each other saying “gong xi going xi’ which gave a sense of joy and added a happy atmosphere for the Chinese New Year festivities.
In welcoming the Year of the Horse for 2014, the temple held a Dharma Service cum Offering Incense for the New Year on the eve of Chinese New Year on 30th January, to farewell the old and welcome the new, at the same time offering wishes to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Supervising Ven Miao Yung led a gathering of 600 devotees to chant the Incense Anthem and the Eighty-eight Buddhas Repentance Sutra, read out Ven Master Hsing Yun’s ‘New Year’s Eve Prayer’ and offer New Year wishes to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the Founder of Fo Guang Shan Ven Master Hsing Yun, Abbot Xin Bao and Chief Abbess of Fo Guang Shan Australia Ven Man Ko.
Apart from the dharma service, the temple arranged for an exciting Chinese lion dance performance which captivated all the Australian friends, followed by the appearance of the Deity of Good Fortune ‘Cai Shen Ye’ with his golden treasure to excite the audience. In addition, the BLIAWA Choir performed a New Year song ‘Da Di Hui Chun’ to offer auspicious wishes, spreading joy with their lovely voices and smiling faces. The main shrine was filled with a happy New Year festival atmosphere.
At midnight, everyone joined in to offer prayers and light the first incense for the New Year. The temple gave out ‘hong baos’ and Master Hsing Yun’s calligraphy for the New Year ‘A noble steed gallops into a bright future’, wishing everyone to make progresss with speed like the noble horse. In view of the Year of the Horse, Supervising Ven Miao Yung shared the four characteristics of the horse which included its fast speed, ability to withstand the load, gentle and strength. A video was shown of Master’s New Year speech, wishing everyone’s career and personal life to progress like the noble steed galloping into a bright future. In addition, everyone took the opportunity to sound the gong for blessings and light a candle to make a wish. The New Year’s eve activities ended at about 1 am, welcoming everyone to return the next day to make offering to a Thousand Buddhas, take part in tea appreciation and other celebratory activities.
The temple held a year-end Commemoration of Ancestors Dharma Service on 26th January, inviting Chief Abbess of Fo Guang Shan Australia, Ven Man Ko to conduct the service. It was attended by 100 sincere devotees who chanted the ‘Eighty-Eight Buddhas Repentance Sutra’, making offering and transfer of merits, etc.
At the end of the service, Chief Abbess introduced the ‘Buddhist Affinities Across 100 years’ and used ‘Master and I’ as the main topic, sharing the view of Master in the hearts of his disciples. Firstly, Chief Abbess used Master’s One-stroke Calligraphy ‘It’s great to have you’ as an example, describing how an entrepreneur was influenced by this phrase and in a short time, was able to improve his relationship with his staff and family.
At the same time, Abbess also shared disciple Ven Man Yi’s view on Master “Waited for a lifetime, a lifetime of punctuality”; Ven Jue Ju’s “Only after work is accomplished before food is taken, keeping busy is nutrition”; Ven Man Ji’s “Hundred dollar vegetarian food” and “Master’s spirit of giving”; Ven Miao Gong’s “Can’t bear the suffering of sentient beings, the loving kindness and compassion of being one with others” etc. Chief Abbess also described her personal experience such as having a meal with Master but can only be half-full. This is because Master cares for his devotees he will always distribute the good food which he has not touched and the story of ‘a bowl of tomato noodles’ etc.
Chief Abbess hope that everyone can learn Master’s philosophy of ‘being second’ and his spirit of ‘giving’, tolerance is strength, it is great to have you, being punctual and reliable, being magnanimous, etc. Master’s wisdom and his every word is our daily Buddhist cultivation. Lastly, Chief Abbess wished everyone in the New Year “The noble steed gallops into a bright future”.
The BLIAWA held it’s Annual General Meeting at the Melville Civic Centre on 25th January afternoon, inviting the Vice Secretary-General of BLIA Oceania, Ven Man Ko to give guidance. Nearly 70 members attended including President Patrick Cheow, Advisors Carol Su, Jong Seng Foo, Linda Tang, Natasha Tang, Sub-chapter Presidents, Directors, committee and members.
In his speech President Patrick Cheow said that BLIAWA has always carried out the four objectives of Fo Guang Shan through organising various activities. He thanked BLIA members for their support and help over the past year. A photo slideshow presentation was used to report and reflect on the many interesting activities for 2013. At the same time, to inform members of the upcoming activities planned for 2014, including charity fun walk in aid of Nan Tien Institute, Buddhist examination, golden oldies charity singing in aid of Nan Tien Institute, etc. After the financial report, a presentation of donation was made to Nan Tien Institute with total proceeds from the Mid-Autumn Festival 2013 and was accepted on behalf by the Vice Secretary-General of BLIA Oceania, Ven Man Ko.
The Vice Secretary-General of BLIA Oceania, Ven Man Ko said that as BLIA maintains the ideals of Humanistic Buddhism in carrying out its activities, BLIA members should also take it as their personal vocation and carry on the work. At the same time, she used Master Hsing Yun’s “being busy is nutrition”, encouraging everyone to continue to move forward through participating in the various activities and offering of services in order to enrich themselves. Lastly she hope for everyone to practise the three acts of goodness to cultivate their body, speech and mind and enable Buddhism to be handed down to the next generation, passing the light from one to another.
The BLIAWA held a Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner at the Melville Civic Centre on 25th January, inviting Chief Abbess of Fo Guang Shan Australia, Ven Man Ko to attend the dinner. Specially invited guests included representative of the Office of Multicultural Interests, Mr Mat Taylor MLA, Mayor Sylvan Albert of the City of Bayswater, Dr Liu Yutong of the General Consulate of the People’s Republic of China in Perth and Mrs Liu, Councillor Keith Yong of the City of Perth, Mr Sammy Yap, President of the Chung Wah Association, BLIAWA Directors, members, friends and YAD members, totalling some 240 people.
BLIAWA President Patrick Cheow welcomed everyone to this social event and hoped that they will give their further support to BLIAWA’s activities in the coming year. Mr Matt Taylor thanked BLIAWA and Fo Guang Shan Temple in his speech for bringing the rich cultural traditions of Buddhism to Australia. The development of multicultural harmony will surely bring new growth opportunities and strength and he look forward to the progression of the Buddhist culture by BLIAWA and Fo Guang Shan to achieve a proactive and positive role.
Mayor Sylvan Albert of the City of Bayswater wished everyone a happy Chinese New Year. In his speech, he emphasized the fact that BLIAWA has always made a positive contribution to the community. This goes to show that it has been acknowledged by the local council and receiving a good verbal feedback. In addition, the Vice Consul-General Dr Liu Yutong praised the efforts by Fo Guang Shan in propagating Buddhism and its transmission of the Chinese culture. He wished that this promotion and integration can be further established in Australia to allow the Chinese culture to flourish indefinitely.
The Office of the Multicultural Interests and the City of Bayswater brought good news to BLIAWA in making a sponsorship of $10,000 each in support of the Buddha’s Birthday Festival 2014. It was accepted by Chief Abbess Ven Man Ko and President Patrick Cheow on behalf of BLIAWA.
In addition, Chief Abbess Ven Man Ko made a short video presentation of the construction progress of Nan Tien Institute situated in Wollongong. She thanked all the supporters in WA for their contribution, saying that Nan Tien Institute is possible due to their support and hope for their continued effort, leaving Nan Tien Institute to society, leaving wisdom to humanity and fulfil this lifelong educational vision.
Throughout the evening’s program, there were some very interesting performances, Chinese lion dance to usher the new year, stirring Er-hu performance, YAD presenting lively song and dance, stylish line dancing, hand gestures to the song ‘Pilgrimage’ by the BLIAWA ladies and the BLIAWA Choir singing a popular Chinese New Year song ‘Da Di Hui Chun’ which brought loud applause from the audience. There was also an auction to fundraise for Nan Tien Institute alternating with lucky draw, creating an exciting and joyful atmosphere. Lastly, the deity of good fortune, ‘Cai Shen Ye’, made an appearance and with the song ‘My home is in Fo Guang Shan’, the evening came to a warm and perfect ending.
The BLIAWA held the 6th meeting of the 7th Board of Directors on 24th January at the temple, inviting the Vice Secretary-General of BLIA Oceania, Ven Man Ko to give guidance. The meeting was chaired by BLIAWA President Patrick Cheow and attended by Advisors Carol Su, Linda Tang, Natasha Tang, Directors and Sub-chapter Presidents, totaling some 16 people.
The agenda discussed: 1) Financial report for 2013 2) Venue and date for BBF 2015 3) Election for BLIAWA and Sub-chapters 4) Organizing group volunteering work for Buddha Memorial Center 5) Charity singing to fundraise for Nan Tien Institute 6) Travel expenses for administrative volunteer 7) Organizing group tour to Nan Tien Temple to participate in the 20th anniversary activities 8) Re-naming of Sub-chapters.
In addition, the progress of major activities for 2014 were also been reported : 1) Pilgrimage to India 2) Charity Fun Walk to fundraise for Nan Tien Institute 3) Establishing the Advisors committee – in the preparation meeting, Advisor Carol Su was voted to head up the planning committee 4) Harmony Day planning progress 5) BLIAWA 20th anniversary publication.
The Vice Secretary-General Ven Man Ko said: There is a difference between the function of a Director’s meeting and that of a BLIA committee meeting. A Director’s meeting discusses the major activities of BLIA and it’s for the committee to carry it out at the committee meeting. After setting up the advisor’s committee, it is hope that the committee will be able to advise and assist in different aspects of the BLIAWA activities. Being BLIAWA core planners, the role of the Director’s and Advisor’s committee is very important in holding everything together to bring about complete connection.
The Vice Secretary-General Ven Man Ko also said that the development of BLIAWA and its activities must change with the times and progress towards multiculturalism. It must strengthen the Dharma transmission and scatter the seeds in every stage of life in the hope that the parent-child relationship may become stronger, enabling children to have a religious notion from young so as to develop their life’s education, moral education, respect for their elders. In addition, we must pay attention to the Young Adult Division, allowing them to have the freedom of space to develop, closely following the footsteps of BLIA and grow with BLIA.
Ven Man Ko also suggested activities such as ‘Senior Citizens Week’ as a way to demonstrate our concern for elderly Buddhist practitioners and to share in their experience of how Buddhism has affected their lives. She deeply expressed her thoughts on the transmission of the Dharma, that it requires everyone’s effort for BLIA members to spread the Dharma through their own practice in order for it to be hopeful. In addition, when working hard to our best, one must be mindful of the resources, have a structure that is rich and varied. That way, BLIA will surely be able to stable and strong and share with even more people the spirit and ideals of the Humanistic Buddhism.
The BLIAWA organized a ‘New Members Welcome Event’ for 26 new members joining the big Fo Guang family on 5th January. During the event, BLIAWA President Patrick Cheow introduced the life of the Venerable Master Hsing Yun, the origin and history of BLIA and Humanistic Buddhism as promoted by Venerable Master.
While sharing her thoughts, Advisor Natasha Tang emphasized “Where there is sunshine, there will be BLIA, where there is the ocean, there will be BLIA members”. She hoped that after joining BLIA, they will be like fish who have found water in this big family. At the same time, Advisor Linda Tang also expressed her welcome and said that BLIA is a place for everyone to develop their talent and to learn to be giving, tolerant and handle matters with wisdom. In addition, Vice-President Kiat Nee Kho explained about the BLIA member’s creed and it’s objectives and as a young person learning the Dharma, she said Buddhism relies on the young people and likewise, young people need Buddhism.
BLIAWA Guiding Venerable Miao Yung presented BLIA vests to the new members and had a group photo taken with them. She said that BLIA was established because of the Dharma, through Master’s hard work and it’s bond with the temple is inseparable like the wings of the bird. Finally, Ven Miao Yung encouraged everyone to use the BLIA as a platform for develop their talent, to shine like the light and to create auspicious affinity with others.
The volunteers in the temple kitchen arrived early on the morning of 5th January to cook Laba Porridge, from the preparation of ingredients, cooking, packing the porridge, they all worked hard together as a team to cook over 600 portions of porridge for devotees.
On the Lunar eighth day of the twelve month is also called “Dharma Day”, the day Sakyamuni Buddha achieved enlightenment. Devotees would cook porridge consisting of rice and grain to make offering to Buddha, to commemorate the time when Buddha accepted the offer of milk porridge from the shepherd girl. Therefore to celebrate the occasion, the temple volunteers took the opportunity to demonstrate the team spirit of BLIA organizing various groups for cutting vegetables, cooking, packing, delivery, etc all coordinating perfectly for the day’s distribution of the Laba Porridge. Even the devotees who attended the morning service had the chance to taste the delicious porridge.
The temple thanked all the volunteers for their hard work and even though it looked like the usual Laba Porridge, it contained the volunteers’ sincere intentions, hoping to create auspicious affinity with everyone and share in the Dharma joy through tasting the delicious porridge.
The temple held a two-day meditation retreat on 3rd January, inviting Supervising Ven Miao Yung to give guidance and attended by 11 BLIAWA committee members and devotees. Firstly, Ven Miao Yung explained the meaning of meditation, introduce on how to balance the body, breath and mind during meditation and the rules of the meditation retreat.
The two-day lessons included sitting, walking and tea meditation, helping the temple’s chores, etc. Ven Miao Yung pointed out the meditators’ incorrect habits and posture, encouraging everyone to overcome their bad habits, using the counting of the breath or chanting of the Buddha’s name to curb their body and mind. During the outdoor meditation on the second day, everyone meditated in a peaceful atmosphere with a gentle breeze blowing. In the evening, Ven Miao Yung used the example of ‘Nan Quan’ Chan Master’s “beheaded cat” to encourage everyone to be mindful of their mind at all times, maintain the right thoughts, reflect on their own practice to see if they are on the right Dharma path.
The retreat concluded on 5th January and during the discussion, everyone enthusiastically shared their thoughts and thanked the temple for organizing this cultivation activity to enable everyone to relieve themselves of their personal affairs and cultivate peacefully. They look forward to practice diligently in the future and continue their participation in the next meditation retreat.
The temple held a “Pilgrimage and Sutra Transcribing” activity on 1st January. Supervising Ven Miao Yung led a gathering of 110 devotees to sincerely pray to Buddha. Everyone gathered at the temple early in the morning and after chanting the Heart Sutra, they chanted “Namo Sakyamuni Buddha”. With a sincere and respectful heart, they started from the temple’s front gate with three steps and a bow and once they were in the main shrine, they read Master Hsing Yun’s “Prayer for Pilgrimage” to seek blessings from Buddha and transfer the merits from the Pilgrimage to wish for a peaceful new year for everyone.
After the Pilgrimage, everyone settled down to copy the Heart Sutra and transfer the merits. Supervising Ven Miao Yung said that in taking three steps and a bow during the Pilgrimage, one is to focus on the underfoot, just like the life of every person, they can live a busy life or choose a peaceful and focused life. If everyone is able to live in the present and possess a pure and righteous knowledge of the present, then 2014 will be a different year. Pilgrimage is not based on whether it’s a long or short journey. Similarly in life, it is only once and never repeated. Therefore when something is past, do not regret or be sentimental about it. Ven Miao Yung also used the “Sutra in Forty-two Sections” to remind everyone that life is only a breath away and therefore for the coming year, she encouraged everyone to make a vow to be diligent and value their causes and conditions.
The BLIAWA 4th Sub-chapter held a ‘Laba Porridge Cooking Competition’ at the temple dining hall on 29th December. A total of 28 people participated including BLIAWA President Patrick Cheow, 5th Sub-chapter President Ha Tran, members and Australian friends who were divided into 10 groups.
Before the competition began, 4th Sub-chapter President Janet Loke thanked everyone for their participation. She shared with them the story of how the shepherd girl offered milk porridge to Buddha and the origination of using 5 grains and vegetables to cook the Laba Porridge to make an offering during the celebration of Buddha’s enlightenment day on 8th day of the 12th month of the lunar calendar. To enable the participants to cook a delicious pot of the porridge, the organisers even showed a video of Ven Master Hsing Yun giving instructions on how to cook the perfect Laba Porridge.
There were several Australian friends who took part and everyone exchanged Oriental and Western cooking tips in the process. Whether it was choosing the ingredients, cutting skills, cooking order, seasoning, etc, each of them put in their own experience, creating a rousing atmosphere. Some of the Australian friends were not familiar with the cooking but were very keen to know the origination of the Laba Porridge and the method of cooking as they find out about the recipe and ingredients. Each group showed their individual skills and although the recipe was the same and the ingredients provided were similar, their cutting skills, fire control, mix of ingredients and seaasonings were different, resulting in each group presenting a variety of colour, smell and taste.
At the end of the cooking competition, Supervising Ven Miao Yung and everyone present voted for the best tasting porridge based on colour, fragrance, taste and texture. She praised all the participants for their courage to take part and hoped that through the process, they will learn to know the character of the ingredients in order to cook a delicious pot of porridge. Similarly, it is about learning how to work with others by knowing their strengths and weakness and their expertise in order to fully utilise their talent and achieve harmony.
From the tasting and voting by the general public, the 5th group won the highest votes and prizes were presented to all participants, encouraging everyone to take part again next year and amidst joy and laughter, the activity concluded.
Taking advantage of the long Christmas holiday, BLIAWA 2nd, 4th and 5th Sub-chapter committee and members were at the temple for spring cleaning to welcome the New Year.
15 members of the 5th Sub-chapter led by President Ha Tran teamed up on 22nd December to clean the kitchen stoves, smoke extractors, pots, pans, utensils, etc. Although they were perspiring profusely from the work but seeing the kitchen being spick and span gave them a great sense of achievement . The 2nd Sub-chapter also had 15 members on 27th December to clean up the main shrine, tidy the reception, souvenir shop, etc. Apart from having the main shrine looking clean and tidy, they also washed the cushion covers of the meditation room so that meditation students may have a clean and comfortable environment to quietly meditate.
In addition, on the 28th December, 7 members from the 4th Sub-chapter helped to clean up the class rooms, meditation rooms, exhibition room, etc. The men’s group, the Diamond Supporters which included Zhu Rui Feng, Ye Hua Hai, Lin Wen Sen, Fu Guo Xiu, Andrew and others also participated by decorating for the Chinese New Year. They began by putting up Ven Master Hsing Yun’s New Year Calligraphy “The noble steed gallops into a bright future” on the car park fence so that everyone will be able to share in the good wishes from Master. It was followed by decorating the main shrine with lanterns of varying sizes hanging from the ceiling, thus creating a joyful atmosphere in preparation for the coming Chinese New Year.
For the occasion of Amitabha Buddha’s birthday, the temple held a Amitabha Buddha’s Dharma service on 15th Dec with an all-day chanting service. Supervising Ven Miao Yung led some 150 devotees to chant the Amitabha Buddha Sutra, circumambulating, chanting the Buddha’s name, reciting the ‘Prayer to Amitabha Buddha’ written by the Founder of Fo Guang Shan Temple, Ven Master Hsing Yun, etc. The day’s service was divided into 4 segments with the devotees chanting in unison, filling the surrounds of the main shrine.
In the afternoon while having formal meal, Supervising Ven Miao Yung told the devotees that there are three kinds of minds in chanting the Buddha’s name: 1) Chanting with a mind of impermanence – life is short, what pleasure is there in being mercenary and sensual desires? 2) Chanting with a compassionate mind – maintaining the thought of kindness and compassion for all beings, allowing the continuous name of the Buddha to enter the mind in order to develop a compassionate mind. 3) Chanting with a Bodhi mind – this will surely interact with the Buddha and realize our inner self.
At the end of the 4th segment, Ven Miao Xi praised everyone for their effort and hoped that their existing diligence will be the beginning of their future cultivation. She used the teachings of Ven Master Hsing Yun which says that chanting the Buddha’s name can bring four major benefits: 1) Protection from all the Buddha’s 2) Often meet with auspicious people 3) Perfection in good fortune and wisdom 4) Joyfulness at the end of the life. Ven Miao Xi also emphasized the three nourishment of faith, vow and practice which the inner strength is the cause while relying on the Buddha creates the right conditions. In addition, the extract from “The Great Strength (Mahasthamaprapta) Bodhisattva’s Perfect Penetration through Mindfulness of the Buddha” was used to point out the importance of one-pointedly chanting the Buddha’s name with a pure mind as it says ‘think of the Buddha, chant the Buddha and you will surely see the Buddha before you’. If we could restrain the six sense-organs and continuously chant with a pure mind, we will enter Samadhi, such are the benefits of chanting the Buddha’s name. Lastly, the Venerable emphasized once again that the Dharma door of chanting the Buddha’s name relies on one’s honesty and sincerity, encouraging everyone to cultivate merits and wisdom.
The temple held the last Nan Tien Institute Million Scholars Great Compassion Repentance Dharma Service for the year on 29th December. About 60 devotees attended led by Supervising Venerable Miao Yung in making sincere prayers and repentance. After the service, Ven Miao Xi reported on the construction progress of Nan Tien Institute and made a brief introduction saying that it is situated in Wollongong and will be a modern and integrated institute of higher learning, pairing with Nan Tien Temple which is the main temple of Fo Guang Shan in Australia.
Nan Tien Institute has been under planning for 7 years and Ven Master Hsing Yun was invited in 2007 to officiate the ground-breaking ceremony. Master gave the name of Nan Tien Institute in the hope that it will become the cradle for the intellects and the starting point for the exchange of cultures of the East and West and multiculturalism. Ven Miao Xi showed a power point presentation of the construction progress of Nan Tien Institute, the installation of the wall panels, etc. She also introduced the courses for 2014, encouraging anyone interested to enrol at Nan Tien Institute. Lastly, Ven Miao Xi emphasized the principle as laid down by Ven Master Hsing Yun ‘to foster talent through education’ and thanked everyone for their charity towards Nan Tien Institute. Education takes years of planning and look forward to everyone’s effort to complete this project.
The ‘Children Buddhist Studies Class in English’ organised by the temple concluded with a ceremony on 8th December, attended by parents, students and teachers totally some 26 people. After singing the Ode to the Triple Gem, Supervising Venerable Miao Yung presented the students with a “Dolphin Pen” each, to reward them for the hard work in completing a year of learning. At the same time, teachers were presented with a book each published by Buddha’s Light Publishing, to thank them for their contribution.
Ven Miao Yung said that the troubles in life are often due to having too many choices and attending the Buddhist Studies Class is to allow the children to have wisdom in the future and is therefore the best choice. In addition, Ven Miao Yong encouraged the children to register for future English Buddhist Studies Class so that they may apply the contents in their daily life and happily learn the Dharma.
BLIAWA 5th Sub-chapter held a ‘Nian Gao’(sticky rice cake for Chinese New Year) and ‘Tang Yuan’(glutinous rice balls) cooking class at the temple on 7th December taught by Ven Miao Yun and was attended by 20 students. The students at first followed the instructions closely with the right amount and method, rolled up their sleeves and mixed the sticky Nian Gao batter before putting it in the steamer to cook.
As they waited for the Nian Gao to cook, Ven Miao Yun also taught them to make salty Tang Yuan and sweet Tang Yuan. The students were very diligent, hoping to make delicious Tang Yuan to share with family and friends on the festive occasions. After the lesson, they all tasted the peanut Tang Yuan and salty Tang Yuan. Looking at the tubs of Nian Gao while tasting the delicious Tang Yuan, everyone was smiling with delight and looking forward with joy to the Chinese New Year mood.
Ven Miao Yun encouraged everyone to make progress by teaching one another. People who are good at vegetarian cooking or handicraft can impart their knowledge and also learn from others. It not only can enable us to hand down our talent, but also develop more cooking chefs at the temple to make food offering to the Buddha and devotees, in addition to creating good affinity with everyone.
The training officer from the WA Police Academy Carl Logan led a group of 20 Police recruits on 4th December to visit the temple in the hope of acquiring a better understanding of different multicultural faiths and religions.
Firstly the recruits made an offering of candle with the help of Ven Miao Xi and volunteer Bronia Brown and listened to an introduction of Fo Guang Shan temple and basic Buddhist knowledge. Bronia also answered questions such as why she has volunteered at the temple and her personal story of learning the Dharma. In addition, they visited the facilities of the temple, viewed the displays in the exhibition room relating to Dharma services, visited the meditation hall, calligraphy room, conference room, Fo Guang Chinese School classrooms, etc.
Officer Logan thanked the temple for the opportunity to allow them to visit and learn and the tour concluded with refreshments in the dining hall to complete their visit to a religious place of worship.