Last month, I was asked to pen a letter to the members of BLIA Houston (Buddha's Light International Association) for inclusion in the monthly newsletter, concerning the success of our recent trip to the main temple in Taiwan. I don't know if it's the kind of thing that anyone wants to read on this blog, but here 'tis:
I came to Zhong Mei Temple to learn more about Buddhism, and to strengthen my practice. Venerable Abbess and Reverend Hong have shown me that there’s a whole world of Buddhist thought and lifestyle that I’d never even considered. They’ve even shown me a whole country!
Last month, I was privileged to attend the BLIA General Conference in Taiwan as a delegate of BLIA Houston. But it was much, much more than that.
I’ve traveled before, and have been to many countries, including some in Asia (Korea, Japan, Thailand). But thanks to BLIA Houston, I’ve done the pilgrimage at Fo Guang Shan, have meditated in that beautiful meditation hall, and have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a thousand fellow Buddhists in the Main Shrine for the morning service. How exciting it was, to be able to practice in that breathtaking place!
I’ve read several of Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s books, but there’s nothing like hearing the author’s voice to give life to his words. If you’ve not had the chance to hear Venerable Master speak in person, I recommend that you do so whenever you can. It’s a deeply inspiring experience (even, as in my case, through an interpreter).
In addition to our activities at Fo Guang Shan, we got to see a lot of Taiwan. We traveled down the west coast and up the east coast, got to see most of the major cities, hot springs, some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen (as in Taroko National Park), and even experienced a scary earthquake in Lotung (Yilan County). We sampled (and bought) the finest green tea I’ve ever had, ate traditional Chinese and Taiwanese food, and even got to learn a few Chinese words. We met Aboriginal people and explored the history of Taiwanese baseball, rode the fast elevator to the top of the tallest building in the world, and took a guided tour of the National Palace Museum, which if course is one of the finest museums in the world. We actually saw and did much more than I can list in this letter.
All of this was possible because of the efforts of BLIA Houston, and the Venerable Monastics of Zhong Mei Temple, whose compassion and generosity are beyond any I’ve ever seen before. I’m amazed at how wonderful a job the Abbess and Rev. Hong did organizing and preparing this trip.
For those of you who were able to accompany us to Taiwan this year, I’d like to say that it was a genuine honor to be invited, and to travel with you. I hope you’ll allow me the same honor next time.
For those of you who couldn’t make it this time, I’d like to say that you were missed. I sincerely hope that you get to come with us next time. It would be wonderful if all of our devotees could come with us – especially since the next General Conference looks like it may be held in Mainland China!
Until then, I'll see you at the Temple!