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An Eightfold Dharma Reflection - Alumni Spotlight : Feishan Chong
Why did I choose to study at DRBU?
I came to DRBU because VM Hsuan Hua is the founder of DRBU and because of the wonder and beauty of CTTB’s natural surroundings. Personally, I have benefitted from the transformational power of the Buddha’s teaching through the work of VM Hsuan Hua. The opportunity to study at DRBU has given me a new lease on life and changed my perspectives on how I view the world, the people around me, and myself.
My DRBU Journey Through Eight Reflections
#1 Reflection on Faith
I have better faith in my Buddha nature than ever before. Faith is an initial attitude for any cultivator to begin practice and study. Because of my faith in the Buddha and VM Hsuan Hua, I came to DRBU to study Buddhadharma. Because in order to deepen my faith in my own Buddha nature, I came to DRBU to deepen my understanding of the Buddha’s scriptures.
#2 Reflection on Going Upstream, Against the Flow
Coming to DRBU and CTTB to continue my spiritual journey was on my bucket list. I decided to leave the comfort of my home for a change and hope to do something meaningful before my life ends. I do not wish to waste my life away following the worldly path.
#3 Reflection on Finding the Middle Way with the “Self”
Here, I was given the opportunity to challenge my status quo and do the things I would not have done in the past. Basically, I have been doing the polar opposite of what I used to do in the past. For instance, I confronted my stage fright with public speaking and doing a solo piano performance, which I had not done before after stopping piano more than 17 years ago.
#4 Reflection on Self-discipline and Vigor
Self-discipline and proper time management are two key ingredients to get through the master's program here. With the weekly heavy reading assignments and a full schedule, I could not afford to procrastinate like I used to, and there wasn’t much room for false thinking either.
#5 Reflection on Reverence, Patience, and Concentration
In the MA program, I had a chance to delve deep into many Buddhist scriptures that are rare treasures to find in modern times. The weekly reading could be heavy, and they were not the easiest texts to read. I had to develop patience from reading these profound texts and form a relationship with the texts to be able to connect with the underlying meaning of the scriptures and what it means to me. I also learned to stay away from activities and conditions that could cause distraction to me.
#6 Reflection on Practice of Joy and Peace
Finding joy and peace in practice is one of the key principles of practice taught by the Buddha in the Lotus Sutra. Studying the sutras and shastra is something which I find joy in. It keeps me sane and maintains clarity of mind. No amount of happiness from mundane activities can give me this kind of peace and joy that engaging the scriptures can give. In the Avatamsaka Sutra, this is what it means by becoming joyful due to “turning away from and abandoning all worldly states” (Dharmamitra, Vol. 2, 886).
#7 Reflection on Study and Practice
We need study to be informed about why we are cultivating and we need practice to “test it out” in order to enhance our understanding of the scriptures. With that understanding through our direct experience, faith is replaced by knowledge, which in return deepens our faith in the Buddha’s teaching. Apart from the spiritual practice at the Buddha hall, practice can also be found in our daily life through interactions with others.
#8 Reflection on Good Spiritual Companions
My cohort is the largest and most diverse group in DRBU’s history. In such a big group, we learned to respect each other's culture and point of view, embrace differences, suspend judgment, and practice patience and deep listening with empathy. In the course of doing that, I found a deeper faith in myself. To conclude, I would like to share the verses of insight, which I composed after reading the Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra.
The True Mind
Joy is the mind that is contented,
Peace is the mind that does not seek.
Good is the mind that does no evil,
Liberation is the mind that does not grasp.
When the mad mind ceases,
All illusion-like bubbles collapse.
Nowhere to dwell, nowhere to abide,
Where will the true mind hide?
Chinese Translated Version: