Sunday, October 19, 2008

Faithful partake in Buddhist mountain retreats (Taiwan Journal)

Taiwan's social freedoms and religious diversity have led to a proliferation of sects, faith-based charities and evangelical organizations. One of the best known is Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association (DDMBA), founded in 1989 by revered monk Master Sheng Yen.

According to one of its Web sites, DDMBA is "committed to serving humanity by working to relieve human suffering--physical, emotional and spiritual." The association, which has affiliates in several Asian and Western countries, also aims to "eliminate conflicts and barriers through global interaction, dialogue, and collaboration." Dharma Drum members practice Chan Buddhism, a form better known in the West as Zen.

DDMBA's main base is in Jinshan, a coastal township north of Taipei City. Called the World Center for Buddhist Education, it includes Dharma Drum Sangha University, which trains monks and nuns, Dharma Drum Buddhist College, the Chung Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies, and the Museum of Buddhist History and Culture.

"We do encourage people outside Taiwan to join retreat activities held in the World Center for Buddhist Education," said Ivy Cheng of DDMBA's Division of International Relations and Developments. "We don't actually calculate the exact number of people from overseas who join retreat activities," she added explaining, though, that most of the people who attend are ethnic Chinese, and include Dharma Drum followers from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

"Most of the retreats held in the center are conducted in Chinese. People who cannot speak Chinese can contact us and we can help arrange interpretation. The retreats range from two days to 49 days..."

This article, which appears beside the one below in the print version of the Taiwan Journal, is also online.

No comments: