Dharma Drum Mountain Vancouver Center
Friday 29 May 2015
All the versions of this article: [English] [中文]
On No. 5 Road in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, there is a monastery that has an exterior in the form of a triangular double layer wooden roof. At the front of the monastery are four shinning rectangular floor windows built between two concrete walls. The concrete colour of these two walls matches the concrete surface of the monastery’s parking lot. As if the parking lot is an extension of the front of the monastery. The inside of this temple is constructed with wood. The colour of wood, its pattern, and texture, are readily noticed upon entering the building, which provides a pleasing environment for everyone that enters. As a whole, the monastery exemplifies the quality of nature, being simplicity and stability.
This monastery is called the Dharma Drum Mountain Vancouver Center, having been inaugurated and consecrated on September 16, 2006. It is the principal centre in North America built by lay practitioners. The Dharma Drum Mountain Practice Group was formed in 1994 after Master Sheng Yen’s first visit to Vancouver, B.C., Canada. The group’s purpose is to share with others the Dharma Drum Mountain’s mission of “Uplifting the character of humanity and building a pure land on earth” and to care for its followers. Looking back over the years since its establishment, the Dharma Drum Mountain Practice Group in Vancouver started by using a community centre as a temporary meeting place. Subsequently the group rented Fantasy Garden in Stevenson as a more permanent meeting place for the group’s practice. The construction planning of the new Vancouver Center began in 2003. With the completion of the Center in 2006, it has taken twelve years since the group’s inception to have a permanent meeting place that exhibits the essence of Ch’an.
The construction of the monastery, which has the essence of Asia and instils a sense of calmness in practitioners and visitors, includes the Dharma centre and the male and female dormitories. The monastery has 11,000 square feet of useable area which is about 300 pins (a pin is a Chinese unit of measurement). The Dharma centre occupies about 8,066 square feet and includes the tallest part of the building, being the Grand Hall, which is located at the middle of the Dharma centre, a library, a conference room, an administration office, the Dinner Hall, a kitchen, a storage room, two change rooms, etc. Although the area of the Center is limited, it is fully functional, just like a sparrow with five main organs in its small-size cavity. Every space has multiple functions. The Grand Hall, which occupies about 2,200 square feet, has a capacity of 300 people for speeches, 100 people for the Great Compassion Dharani Repentance Ceremony, and 70 people for group meditation. The Dinning Hall can also be used as a classroom with a capacity of 200 people. The two back doors, located on left and right hand sides of the Dharma centre, have a walking path which separately connects to the male and female dormitories. The dormitories provide residence for Fashi (monastic) and living quarters for male and female followers during activities.
On No. 5 Road in Richmond, where the DDM Vancouver Center is located, there are a number of centres that represent world recognized religious organizations such as Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikhism and Buddhism. By being located on the same road as these other religious organizations, the Center provides an opportunity for practitioners to interact with other religions. Venerable Master Sheng Yen has provided advice on how the DDM Vancouver Center can be different from these other religious centres. Venerable Master Sheng Yen indicated that the Center should provide practitioners with a calm and tranquil atmosphere to study and practice the principles of Chan Buddhism. The objective of which is to uplift one’s character, and thereby uplift humanity, by providing a spiritual environment that helps people maintain a clear and tranquil mind. Through friendly interactions and encouraging pure conduct and proper speech we can transform ourselves and in turn have a positive affect on other people. Thereof, the essence of Chan, as exemplified by the DDM Vancouver Center, can be revealed. Venerable Master Sheng Yen furthermore wants to encourage bodhisattvas (referring to lay practitioners in this context) in Vancouver to persistently and diligently study and practice the Buddha Dharma, propagate the Buddha Dharma, and uphold the Buddha Dharma in their daily lives.
Following the opening of the DDM Vancouver Center, Venerable Guo Shu was appointed resident Dharma teacher and Director of the DDM Vancouver Center by the DDM Sangha Community. Venerable Guo Shu has indicated that she wants to expand the numerous group practice activities offered by the Center, such as holding Dharma ceremonies, Dharma instruments training, meditation practice, Buddha Dharma lecture series, etc. As well, based on Venerable Master Sheng Yen’s vow of compassion, she will introduce the Mahamudra Buddha teaching that amalgamate the goodness of all religious schools into western society. Furthermore, she will take up and continue the spirit of the inauguration of DDM, The Rising Great Compassion, to benefit sentient beings and make a positive contribution to local society.