My Vision of CTTB

By Wendi Chan, 2009

Starting from when I was a child, I had to go to a monastery every Saturday with my mother. There, I learned about a very spiritual place - CTTB, where everyone cultivates and every student is studious and angelic. I constantly heard compliments about this place, and my curiosity was aroused. Home was a horrible environment, and so I used the stress of living there as a reason to come to CTTB, the farthest place away from my parents. They’d heard that CTTB was a wonderful place, but they gave me the green light reluctantly.

Making the decision to come here changed my life. I never expected myself to be in a girls-only school. The reason that convinced me was the lack of distractions caused by the other gender. Being in an all-girls school taught me many values that I would never have learnt if I’d stayed in a co-ed school. In DVGS, I met many different kinds of people from all around the world. Life is very different when many international people live together under one roof. The obligation to follow the fixed schedule of this place guided me along, as I came here with horrible time management. Though I still have bad time management, the schedule makes my life a lot neater.

When many girls live together in a dorm, the unexpected happens. Not everyone gets along, and we have to deal with problems ourselves. This is something that we all have to live with and learn from. When people of different backgrounds and different cultures work together, conflicts inevitably result. These conflicts construct a better me. I have to crawl up a tall ladder to get over all the friction I’m experiencing, but at the end of my hard work, I’ve polished myself to a shine. These lessons cannot be found anywhere – not in public schools, and definitely not at home. At home, one is protected from the pain of the outside world.

Working in the Dining Hall and doing all sorts of community service (such as recycling and washing the kitchen) are things that I would never do if it wasn’t for this place, which has allowed me to try out many new activities. Thinking about it, CTTB, a place for cultivation, created opportunities for me to get dirty, work in the farm, and usher for events like Honoring Elders Day, Buddha’s Birthday, Shi Fu’s Nirvana Day and such. These are activities that I don’t usually have a chance to even get close to. I cannot say that I am a volunteer in CTTB because I’m obliged to be part of most of these activities, but it’s the activities that we volunteer in that allow us to stand out. Living a city life, I wouldn’t even volunteer. Here, I learned that volunteering means to help without expecting anything in return, to contribute to the society solely from the bottom of one’s heart.

Where would anyone get to see a community where everyone is so close to each other like a family? Where would you find a community where so many people willingly volunteer on a daily basis? Where would anyone see such big pots and so much food cooked daily? Where would anyone see peacocks crying out loud daily at random times and running around freely in any neighborhood? This place is like no other. We work in our own community, not depending on anyone else. People who live in CTTB often think: if I don’t do it, who will? Whereas in any city, the citizens depend on street cleaners to keep the environment clean. Seeing trash on the ground, no one would even bother to pick it up; but here, everyone does their part to keep the grounds clean.

With the daily ceremonies, I’ve learnt to reflect on myself. Before, I never stopped to wonder I was behaving the way I should. Here, I’ve learned that everything I do affects the people around me, and I often stop and reflect on my actions. In doing so, I see how I’ve changed through the years. Coming to this place definitely made a great impact in my life. I’ve done so many things I never thought I would. Being mesmerized by city life, I only saw the superficial part of life. I never saw life raw.

In CTTB, life is raw; every day, I experience hardships through the labor and interactions with people. Life is not perfect, but it is a long road that everyone has to walk on, overcoming all the obstacles that come along the way. Being in CTTB gave me the chance to experience the difficult part of life; it allowed me to realize that life doesn’t always run the way we want it to.

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THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS