A Hybrid Event — Innovating Dharma Propagation at Fo Guang Shan North America One Day Retreat

Fo Guang Shan North America One Day Retreat — a hybrid event with participants from east, central, to west America, was officially kicked off on June 26, 2022. Each participant had a well-planned schedule — a self retreat starting at 7am at their local time and a communal retreat starting from 10am to 3pm (PST). Sixty-six people attended this event — 18 online and 48 onsite — 24 at Hsi Lai Temple, and 24 at Xiang Yun Temple.

The theme, From Inner Peace to World Peace, for this retreat was to develop bodhisattva's spirit — benefiting self at the same time benefiting others. By cultivating inner peace, one could extend it outwards with compassion in mind to bring about world peace. This year’s agenda included cultivation lecture, Buddhist studies, chanting, mindful meditation, Doodle Chan Art, and interactive Q & A session. In order to incorporate time zones, space and technology issues, online and onsite attendance was adopted besides inviting instructors from several Fo Guang Shan branch temples — Ven. Huidong, abbot of Hsi Lai Temple, Ven. Man Kuang, abbess of IBPS Dallas, Ven. Youheng, superintendent of Chicago Buddhist Temple, Ven. Zhi Xing, group leader of the Dept. of Social Education & Localization of Hsi Lai Temple, and Ven. Hui Cheng of the Localization Group of Hsi Lai Temple. This was not only a brand new trial for students and monasteries but also a new way to propagate the Dharma for the future.

Ven. Abbot. Hui Dong of Hsi Lai Temple welcomed everyone and said the Five Harmonies, mentioned by Venerable Master Hsing Yun in Humanistic Buddhism, were the leading passage from inner cultivation to world peace. “The Five Harmonies are individual harmony achieved through joy, interpersonal harmony achieved through respect, family harmony achieved through deference, social harmony achieved through cooperation, and world harmony achieved through peace,” said Ven. Hui Dong. “To cultivate these Five Harmonies, we must base them on the Threefold Training — morality, meditative concentration, and wisdom. By practicing speaking good words, doing good deeds, thinking good thoughts daily, we led the example of self-interest. Then, we extend the scope to society by giving people hopes, joy, faith, and convenience. Eventually world peace will be reached.”

Ven. Abbess Man Kuang of Dallas taught From Inner Peace to World Peace. She shared the class, “Once someone told me that there was no real peace in this world because of human’s combative nature. I responded, ‘Peace begins in ourselves. Through compassionate minds, we can pass peace to others. If it spreads like this, if everyone lives peacefully like this, world peace will never be a concept or an empty talk.’.........There are two ways to cultivate our inner peace: cultivating awareness through meditation, and cultivation through arousing bodhicitta. Only through continuous practice on mindful meditation can we be aware of our own emotional feelings, and then to know how others feel. We have to increase our compassion for others, vow to help others, and hope others attain a carefree mind.”

The one-day retreat through various course arrangements, from dynamic to silence – from interactive Q & A to mindful meditation, not only introduced the students to the one-day monastic life, but also allowed the students to incorporate the Dharma into every moment of life. Attendees from Xiang Yun Temple felt benefited a lot from this retreat and the theme adhered to the needs of current society. Students online were grateful for this opportunity to slow down their pace and truthfully inspect their inner minds and things around them.