The Dharma Realm Buddhist Association (formerly the Sino-American Buddhist Association) was founded by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua in the United States of America in 1959. Taking the Dharma Realm as its scope, the Association aims to disseminate the genuine teachings of the Buddha throughout the world. The Association is dedicated to translating the Buddhist canon, propagating the Orthodox Dharma, promoting ethical education, and bringing benefit and happiness to all beings. Its hope is that individuals, families, the society, the nation, and the entire world will, under the transforming influence of the Buddhadharma, gradually reach the state of ultimate truth and goodness.
The Venerable Master Hua developed the inclination to cultivate early on in his childhood. Influenced by the filial piety of Filial Son Wang (Great Master Chang Ren) of Shuangcheng County, the Master vowed to follow his example. Every morning and evening after bowing to the Buddhas, he would make three bows to his parents. Later he took refuge with the Triple Jewel and had deep faith in Buddhism. When he was nineteen his mother passed away, and he lived in a tiny hut by her graveside for three years in observance of filial piety. At that time he left the home-life with Venerable Master Chang Zhi and cultivated quietly and earnestly. He travelled widely to study under Elder Masters of great virtue. Later he received the transmission of Dharma from Venerable Master Hsu Yun and became the Ninth Patriarch of the Wei Yang Sect, the forty-fifth generation since the First Patriarch Mahakashyapa. In 1949 the Master went to Hong Kong to propagate the Dharma. He founded monasteries, delivered lectures on Sutras, and engaged in other activities to benefit living beings, thus causing Buddhism to flourish in Hong Kong. In 1962 he came to America alone. Responding to the ripening conditions in the West, he worked to gradually actualize his vow to raise the banner of the Proper Dharma in the West.
Establishing Centers of Cultivation and Bringing People Together
The Venerable Master Hua's three great vows after leaving the home-life were (1) to promote and develop education in the Buddhist tradition, (2) to translate the Buddhist Canon, and (3) to establish a foundation for Buddhism in America. In order to make these vows a reality, the Venerable Master based himself in the Three Great Principles and the Six Great Guidelines. Courageously facing every hardship, he founded monasteries, schools, and centers in the West, drawing in living beings and teaching them on a vast scale. Over the years, he founded the following institutions:
The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas
Purchased in 1974, the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is the hub of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association. The City is located in Talmage, Mendocino County, 110 miles north of San Francisco. The grounds cover 488 acres, and there are approximately 80 acres in active use. In the Jewelled Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas at the City, there is a large image of Guanyin Bodhisattva with a thousand hands and a thousand eyes. The four walls inside the Jewelled Hall are covered with over ten thousand small Buddha statues. The four assemblies of disciples gather daily in this Hall for the morning and evening recitation ceremonies, and after evening recitation they listen to the Venerable Master's lectures on the Mahayana Sutras. Whenever there are intensive sessions for reciting the name of a Buddha or Bodhisattva, devotees from all directions come together to cultivate. During the annual Jewelled Repentance before the Ten Thousand Buddhas, the Hall is filled with the vigorous energy of cultivation. There are many other buildings and schools on the grounds of the City, including the elementary schools and secondary schools, the university, the Sangha and Laity Training Programs, Tathagata Monastery, Great Compassion House, Joyous Giving House, Wonderful Words Hall, the Ordination Hall, the Library, Tower of Blessings (a seniors' center), and a vegetarian restaurant. There are more than seventy major buildings. The pure and peaceful atmosphere and the clean air at the City provide an ideal environment for study and spiritual cultivation.
Although the Venerable Master Hua belonged to the ninth generation in the lineage of the Wei Yang Sect of the Chan School, all the plans, Dharma events, and practices at the City give equal emphasis to the methods of cultivation of the Five Schools--the Chan School, the Pure Land School, the Esoteric School, the Vinaya School, and the School of Doctrine. Thus each person may choose the most appropriate method of practice to investigate and cultivate at a deeper level. That is also in accord with what the Buddha said, "The Dharma is level and equal, with no high or low." At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, the rules of purity are upheld strictly and carefully. All residents of the City undertake to regulate their own conduct and to cultivate with constant vigor. Taking refuge in the Proper Dharma, they lead pure and unselfish lives, and attain peace in body and mind. All residents are expected to dedicate themselves mentally and physically, follow the five precepts of Buddhism, and practice the principles of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. In this way they can nurture lofty moral character, activate their pure, inherent wisdom, and work for the prosperity of Buddhism.
Instilling Goodness Elementary School,
Developing Virtue Secondary School,
Dharma Realm Buddhist University
The Venerable Master Hua saw clearly that in order to save the world, the most urgent priority is to develop good education. If we want to save the world, we have to bring about a complete change in people's minds and guide them to cast out unwholesomeness and to pursue goodness. For this purpose the Master founded Instilling Goodness Elementary School in 1974, and he founded Developing Virtue Secondary School and Dharma Realm Buddhist University in 1976.
The Master indicated that the elementary school should teach students to be filial to parents and respectful to teachers and elders, the secondary school should teach students to be good citizens, and the university should teach the principles of humaneness, righteousness, the Way, and virtue. Instilling Goodness Elementary School and Developing Virtue Secondary School merge the best of contemporary and traditional methods and of Western and Eastern cultures. Due to the emphasis on moral virtue and spiritual development, in addition to the required academic curriculum, courses are offered in ethics, meditation, Buddhist studies, and so on, giving students a foundation in virtue and guiding them gradually to know themselves and to explore the truths of the universe. At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, the elementary and secondary schools offer bilingual education (Chinese and English). Boys and girls are educated separately in order to avoid distractions and preserve their pure natures. Due to the many different cultures and nationalities that are represented among the teaching staff and student body, multiple grades are grouped together to allow students more flexibility in academic progress. Students learn to open their minds to respect and appreciate different cultural traditions. In offering an education based on virtue, Instilling Goodness Elementary School and Developing Virtue Secondary School hope to guide students to become good and capable citizens of the world, thus benefiting all of humankind. Aside from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, branches of the schools have also been formed at other affiliated monasteries with the aim of widely propagating filial piety and ethical education.
Dharma Realm Buddhist University does not merely transmit academic knowledge. It emphasizes a foundation in virtue, which expands into the study of how to help all people and all living beings return to their inherent nature. Thus Dharma Realm Buddhist University advocates a spirit of shared inquiry and free exchange of ideas, encouraging students to study various texts and use different experiences and learning styles to tap their inherent wisdom and fathom the meanings of those texts. Students are then encouraged to practice the principles they have understood and thus integrate the Buddhadharma into their lives. They will then be able to nurture their wisdom and become replete with virtue. The University aims to produce outstanding individuals of high moral character who will be able to bring benefit to all sentient beings.
The content of the courses taught by Dharma Realm Buddhist University consists primarily of the Proper Dharma. Faculty and students alike see this as the goal of their efforts in study and cultivation. Everyone investigates together in order to attain the ultimate state of wisdom and compassion. In such an environment, everyone's lifestyle is characterized by rigorous self-discipline. Whether students or teachers, monastics or laity, male or female, young or old, everyone is regarded with equal kindness. There are no distinctions of class and no personal differences. Every individual and the customs of every cultural tradition are respected. Beyond the physical manifestations of students, teachers, textbooks, and classrooms, the genuine and profound hallmark of the Dharma Realm Buddhist University is its spirit of taking the Dharma Realm as its substance and the Proper Dharma as its function. There is no place that is not a classroom, and nothing that is not a learning resource. There is no time when people are not mutually honing and refining each other's characters and talents. All people, events, and objects can be learned from and constantly give us good opportunities to accumulate blessings, grow in wholesome Dharma, and perpetuate wisdom.
Sangha and Laity Training Programs,
Proper Dharma Buddhist Academy
In the Dharma-Ending Age, in both Eastern and Western societies there are very few monasteries that actually practice the Buddha's regulations and strictly uphold the precepts. Teachers of genuine wisdom and proper understanding capable of guiding those who aspire to pursue careers in Buddhism are also very rare. In order to raise the caliber of the Sangha, cause the Proper Dharma to long endure, provide professional training for Buddhists from around the world that emphasizes practice as well as theory, and perpetuate the wisdom of the Buddha, the Venerable Master founded the Sangha and Laity Training Programs in 1982 and the Proper Dharma Buddhist Academy in 1988.
The Sangha Training Program provides left-home people with a solid foundation in Buddhist studies and practice, training them in the practical affairs of Buddhism and giving them a conception of Sangha management. After graduation, students will be able to assume various responsibilities related to Buddhism in monasteries, institutions, and other settings. Emphasis is placed on students' thorough knowledge of Buddhism, understanding of the scriptures, development of virtuous character, earnest cultivation, and strict observance of precepts, so that they will be able to propagate the orthodox Dharma and continue the Buddha's legacy. The Laity Training Program offers courses appropriate to laypeople, allowing them to develop proper knowledge and proper views, advance together in cultivation, and gain an understanding of the regulations of the monastery and the essentials of cultivation. After completing the Program, they will be able to serve humanity by contributing their abilities in Buddhist organizations. Proper Dharma Buddhist Academy, founded in Taiwan, focuses on the study and cultivation of the Shurangama Sutra. In the Dharma-Ending Age, a time when deviant theories are rife, the Academy is devoted to training students to have clear and penetrating views and to be able to propagate the Proper Dharma.
International Translation Institute,
Administrative Headquarters of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, and
Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Association
The Venerable Master vowed to translate the Buddhist Canon (Tripitaka) into Western languages so that it could become widespread in the world. In 1973, he founded the International Translation Institute at Washington Street in San Francisco for the purpose of translating the Venerable Master's commentaries on Buddhist scriptures into English and other languages. In 1977, the Institute was merged into Dharma Realm Buddhist University as the Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts. In 1991 and 1992, the Venerable Master purchased two bank buildings on adjacent lots in Burlingame (south of San Francisco) and officially established the International Translation Institute and the Administrative Headquarters of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association there for the purpose of translating and publishing Buddhist texts. To date the Association has published more than two hundred volumes of Buddhist texts translated from Chinese into English, French, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Japanese. Five bilingual (Chinese and English) volumes of Sutras and Dharma talks are also available.
One of the Venerable Master's three great vows was to translate the Buddhist scriptures. In China's past, this difficult and vast mission was directed and supported by the emperors and kings themselves. In the present, the Venerable Master encouraged his disciples to cooperatively shoulder this heavy responsibility, producing books and audio tapes and using the medium of language to turn the wheel of Proper Dharma and do the great work of the Buddha. All those who aspire to devote themselves to this work of sages should uphold the eight guidelines of the International Translation Institute--not being greedy for fame or profit, not being arrogant, not praising oneself and slandering others, not establishing oneself as the standard of correctness and looking for flaws in others' work, taking the Buddha-mind as one's own mind, using the Dharma-Selecting Vision to determine true principles, and requesting Virtuous Elders in the ten directions to certify one's translations, and endeavoring to propagate the teachings by printing Sutras, Shastras, and Vinaya texts when the translations are certified as being correct. These are the Venerable Master's wishes, and they should be the goals that participants in the work of translation strive to achieve.
Certain wise individuals in Taiwan, seeing the degeneration of human morality in the Dharma-Ending Age and wishing to avert the flood of disaster, organized and founded the Proper Dharma Buddhist Books Distribution Association in Taiwan in 1984. The Association's missions are to propagate the six great principles promoted by the Venerable Master Hua and to improve and transform social trends. Based on a membership system, the Association accepts donations to print books and reproduce tapes produced by Dharma Realm Buddhist Association in order to make the Proper Dharma available throughout the world. Since 1990, in addition to printing Buddhist texts, the Association began to hold a variety of other Dharma activities.
The Institute of World Religions
Founded in 1994, the Institute is located near the University of California at Berkeley. The purpose of the Institute is to study the truths of religion in harmony with other religious groups, without rejecting or opposing any religion. The six principles of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas serve as guidelines for the Institute. Propagating the spirit of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas with expansive open-mindedness, the Institute invites the members of various religions to give presentations, deepening our understanding of their ideals and practices. The Institute of World Religions offers an hour of meditation twice daily and presents evening and weekend programs that foster conversation between religions, the sciences, and the humanities. All truth-seeking individuals who wish to discover their innate wisdom, benefit all beings, and bring harmony to the world are invited to come to study and cultivate together.
In order to propagate the Proper Dharma, the Venerable Master not only trained and educated people, but also spent great effort in establishing various monasteries. He wanted to provide monasteries where people could cultivate in purity according to the Buddha's regulations as well as turn the Dharma wheel and carry out the Buddha's work. After coming to America, over the years he established the many monasteries of the Proper Dharma in the United States, Canada, and southeast Asia, including the following: Gold Mountain Monastery, Gold Wheel Monastery, Gold Summit Monastery, Gold Buddha Monastery, Avatamsaka Monastery, Long Beach Monastery, the City of the Dharma Realm, Dharma Realm Monastery and Amitabha Monastery in Taiwan, Purple Cloud Monastery in Malaysia, and others. All of these monasteries firmly uphold the credo:
Freezing to death, we do not scheme
Starving to death, we do not beg.
Dying of poverty, we ask for nothing.
According with conditions, we do not change.
Not changing, we accord with conditions.
We adhere firmly to our three great principles.
We renounce our lives to do the Buddha's work.
We take the responsibility to mold our own destinies.
We rectify our lives as the Sangha's work.
Encountering specific matters, we understand the principles.
Understanding the principles, we apply them in specific matters.
We carry on the single pulse of the patriarch's mind-transmission.
The monasteries follow the Six Guidelines: no fighting, no greed, no seeking, no pursuit of personal advantage, and no lying. They also honor the Venerable Master's rules of eating only one meal a day and only before noon and always wearing the kashaya sash. The monasteries have daily lectures on the Sutras, turning the great Dharma wheel to universally rescue living beings.
The Dharma is in decline and the world is under dangerous and evil influences. In accord with the mission of Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas has been established as an international center for the study of Buddhism and for spiritual cultivation. It is open to those of all ages, faiths, ethnic origins, and nationalities. Individuals devoted to seeking the truth, helping humankind, and working for the prosperity of society and the nation are welcome to gather in the City to honestly study, cultivate, and put forth effort to rescue the world.