Abbot President Venerable Guo-Huei’s Visit to Los Angeles and Tea Gathering with DDMLAC Volunteers
As part of the new Abbot President's North America trip, Venerable Guo-Huei arrived at Los Angeles on Sep 21 2019 after visiting Vancouver and San Francisco. Before delivering his speech "Five Blessings at the Door: The Five Powers in Human Beings" the next day, The Venerable had a tea party with the LA center's volunteers, and he took this opportunity to understand the center's history. Over 100 participants came to the gathering to meet and talk to the Venerable. Venerable Guo-Xing, who was also visiting the center and led a 7-day Hua-Tou Chan retreat right before Venerable Guo-Huei’s visit, also came to the tea gathering to meet the volunteers.
After a shorting opening speech by the center's directors Venerables Guo-Jian and Chang Yue, the host put on a photo show to give the participants an idea of the development of the LA center. Some of the pictures showed Master Sheng-Yen's three visits to the LA center, and some showed the center's previous residing monastics giving Buddhist teaching to the local community. A few other pictures showed some followers who have been supporting the center from their younger age to their mature years. When people started recognizing these "senior-Bodhisattvas" (older Buddhist practitioners) from the pictures of their younger years, a smile appeared on everyone's face. The photos also told a story of seven families which made a vow 28 years ago to support the development of Dharma Drum Mountain (DDM). Their continuous support and donations were one of the causes which helped DDM develop into its current stage as a well established Buddhist organization.
After the photo show, a few of the larger Chan practice groups and volunteer groups of the center introduced themselves to Venerable Guo-Huei, and explained to the Venerable their groups’ duties and the center's internal operations. There were also dancing and singing performance which showed the cheerful and vibrant characteristics of the center's volunteers.
At the closing of the tea party, Venerable Guo-Huei encouraged everyone to "be the best of him/her-self": to uplift oneself through reciting the Buddha's name and practicing Chan. The Venerable gave an example of himself: He recites the Buddha's name throughout the day, practices sitting meditation in the early morning, and recites Guanyin Bodhisattva's name at night. The Venerable lives a busy life as the Abbot President, but he manages to delegate his work to other monastics with trust. The Venerable also seeks to communicate with others, so he can make improvements and better fulfill his responsibilities. The Venerable added that his responsibilities are important but he doesn't see them as burdens on his shoulders. Instead, he sees them as opportunities to practice compassion and wisdom, and to serve others with a grateful heart.
Venerable Guo-Huei also pointed out that the LA center is full of potential. Despite the busy traffic in the surrounding area, Los Angeles provides a great environment for practice: The weather is always good, a lot of agricultural products are available and there is also a lot of vegetarian restaurants in the area. The LA center itself also has a very well maintained Grand Hall, meditation hall, dormitory, kitchen, and other facilities. The Venerable reminded everyone to make good use of the facilities in the center, and added that despite everyone's wish to see more residing monastics in the LA center, it is not easy to foster monastic talent. Therefore, when one makes a wish to support DDM, it is important to devote one's time to practice Buddhism, and devote one's mind to support the Three Jewels. At the end of the tea gathering, Venerable Guo-Huei gave his blessing to everyone, and encouraged the younger generation to continue their practice of Buddhism.