A simple approach to building a pure land on Earth is to make the Common Endeavor of Buddhists the foundation of the Threefold Education, and with the Common Ethos of Dharma Drum Mountain as its purpose. Besides, we can actualize the Four Kinds of Environmentalism through practicing the Fivefold Spiritual Renaissance Campaign and the Six Ethics of the Mind Campaign.
When mentioning Dharma Drum Mountain, most people’s understanding of the spirit of Dharma Drum Mountain merely came from slogans such as “Uplift the character of humanity and build a pure land on earth” or “Protect the spiritual environment”, while they might not have truly appreciated our ideals as a whole or how they are interrelated. Therefore, I have integrated some of our important ideals and am putting forward the Four Affirmations, in order for people to gain a clearer sense of direction.
◎Affirm Dharma Drum Mountain’s ideals
The first of Dharma Drum Mountain’s Four Affirmations is to adhere to our ideal of “uplifting the character of humanity and building a pure land on earth”. With uplifting the character of humanity we should start from ourselves. By uplifting our own character we will benefit our families and ourselves. How can the character of humanity be uplifted? The key lies in the realization of the Threefold Education and the Four Kinds of Environmentalism.
We make use of the Threefold Education to carry out our ideal and the Four Kinds of Environmentalism as a highly adaptable means to apply the Buddhist teaching in our life. With the protection of the spiritual environment as the leading principle, we implement the protection of our social, living and natural environment. With these transcendent concepts and healthy approaches to purify spirituality, uplift the character of humanity, and purify society, the compassionate vow to build a pure land on earth is thereby achieved.
◎Affirm the Threefold Education
Dharma Drum Mountain’s second affirmation is the Threefold Education, encompassing Extensive Academic Education, Extensive Public Buddhist Education and Extensive Social Care Education. The Threefold Education serves both as a method and a bridge toward building a pure land on Earth. The purpose of Extensive Academic Education is to nurture talented personnel for Extensive Public Buddhist Education and Extensive Social Care Education. Therefore, it is vital that Extensive Academic Education is to be carried out successfully, and then the Threefold Education can be truly realized.
Our approach, as stated in the Common Ethos of Dharma Drum Mountain, is to “promote comprehensive education and extend loving care to all”. “Comprehensive education” refers to the Threefold Education. The Threefold Education in itself is social care, because the Threefold Education is wholly committed to achieving this same goal, namely social care. Social care and education are carried out in parallel, whereby education works towards fulfilling our goal of social caring, and social caring works as a means of rendering educaiton. The two reciprocate and complement each other.
◎Affirm the Four Kinds of Environmentalism
The third affirmation is to adhere to the Four Kinds of Environmentalism, encompassing the protection of the spiritual, social, living, and the natural environment. Among all of these the protection of the spiritual environment forms the essential core.
The first kind of environmentalism is the protection of spiritual environment, which is concerned with mental build-up, and the uplifting and development of the spiritual life. The uplifting and development of spiritual life enables the growth of a healthy and wholesome character. The original idea behind protecting the spiritual environment actually stems from the Buddhist concept of compassion, as well as its wisdom, vows, and practice. Buddhist compassion, wisdom, compassionate vows, and bodhisattva practice form the starting point, and which are none other than the essence of the Buddhadharma.
The Fivefold Spiritual Renaissance campaign, the Six Ethics of the Mind campaign, and the Caring for Life campaign are all interrelated. All three spring from the protection of the spiritual environment, which aims to help people safeguard the mind and cultivate peace of mind.
The Fivefold Spiritual Renaissance campaign includes the Four Fields for Cultivating Peace, the Four Guidelines for Dealing with Desires, the Four Steps for Handling a Problem, the Four Practices for Helping Oneself and Others, the Four Ways to Cultivate Merit. Each of these five major issues further encompasses four spiritual concepts and methods, and this is why they are referred to as the Fivefold Spiritual Renaissance. The Six Ethics of the Mind, on the other hand, was initiated in response to environmental demand and the people’s need for concepts of the mind for our time. It is an extension of the ideal of Protecting the Spiritual Environment and aims to uplift the character of humanity and build a pure land on earth. The mind reflects our conscience. Each and every one of us should uphold morality and ethics, but the question still lies in whether every individual can put in sincerity and enthusiasm, and whether one has integrated ethics and morality into one’s life. Therefore, the Six Ethics of the Mind campaign we have launched requires people to start with their mind, in the same way that the protection of spiritual environment Dharma Drum Mountain has always emphasized starting from the mind.
Social Environmentalism is the second of the Four Kinds of Environmentalism, and is concerned with the bodily, verbal and mental etiquette we use in interactions with others. All of these make up Social Environmentalism. So, everyday manners and decorum fall under Social Environmentalism. The third kind is Living Environmentalism, and this includes avoiding being noisy and messy, refraining from wasting natural resources, and practicing frugality, cleanliness, and simplicity. In fact, Living Ethics is about being thrifty with all manner of resources. Thrift represents a merit and virtue, and so too represents a kind of environmentalism. The fourth, Natural Environmentalism, means reducing waste and destruction, saving natural resources as much as possible, and minimizing the use and waste of natural resources.
◎Affirm Chan Buddhism
The fourth is affirming Chan Buddhism. Chan Buddhism is the position connecting Dharma Drum Mountain to the world. We actively seek international contact and interaction, and introduce to the world the Chinese Buddhist tradition, as well as Buddhism’s most brilliant and essential part—Chan. We are currently developing toward the trend of global Buddhism. By “global Buddhism” I mean linking up with Southern Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Northern Buddhism, and Buddhism as practiced in the West, so as to further integrate with other religions in the world.
Chinese Buddhism does not seek to only perfect itself and does not exclude other traditions. It is tolerant of all cultures, without discriminating between sexes and ethnic groups. Therefore, the multi-cultural world of today is a most suitable arena for the development of Chinese Buddhism. That is why Dharma Drum Mountain’s final affirmation is upholding Chinese Chan Buddhism, and working from this standpoint we seek to connect and interact with other Buddhist traditions and cultures in the world, in the hope of building a pure land on Earth that is peaceful and joyful.
Dharma Voice Series