Message for the Summer Dharma Camp 2017 Empowering the Future of BAUS

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

This year the Buddhist Summer Camp will feature a special ceremony to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Great Buddha Hall, which took place in 1997. The ceremony will also mark the tenth anniversary of the passing away of two people who played major roles in the founding of BAUS and Chuang Yen Monastery: Dr. C.T. Shen, who passed away in November 2007, and Ven. Hsien Ming, who passed away just a few weeks later, in December 2007. Dr. Shen was a visionary who spearheaded the development of BAUS during its formative period. Ven. Hsien Ming was the first abbot of Chuang Yen Monastery, who guided the monastery from 1984 until 1992.

The theme of this year’s Summer Camp is “remembering with gratitude our virtuous ancestors and empowering the future.” To remember our ancestors is to acknowledge that our present success depends upon the efforts of our forerunners. For those of us in BAUS and its institutions, our gratitude goes toward the early pioneers who established the organization and created the monastery. It was indeed a remarkable achievement to have accomplished these tasks at a time when Buddhism was hardly known in America and Buddhists in the New York area were a very rare species.

Not only should we acknowledge our debt of gratitude toward our past ancestors but we should reflect on how we can “empower the future.” To empower the future means to enable BAUS to thrive and its institutions, especially Chuang Yen Monastery and Temple of Enlightenment, to continue as a source of blessings and spiritual guidance for many. The monastery depends on the dedication and contributions of countless people. It depends on the devoted Sangha members who maintain the monastery, and it depends on the lay leaders, supporters, and donors who contribute to its operation. These contributions may take the form of donations, but they also include services in many shapes and sizes. Without such generous offerings of funds and help the monastery could not survive.

As the membership of BAUS grows older with the years, we need Buddhists from the younger generation to come forward and take on a more active role in the organization. It’s not enough merely to attend the annual Summer Camp and participate in a few ceremonies during the year. Nor is it enough to make an occasional donation. Don’t think the monastery can thrive without the input of fresh talent, fresh energy, and fresh ideas. We urgently need all the talent, energy, and ideas we can get!

Those who live in the greater New York area should participate in more activities at the monastery or its Bronx affiliate, the Temple of Enlightenment. You can attend classes and retreats to deepen your knowledge of the precious teachings of Buddhism. You can volunteer to help with events. You should be ready to gradually take on a greater share of responsibilities for the future of BAUS. Learning the Dharma will help you “to adorn yourselves with wisdom.” Assisting the monastery will help you “to adorn yourselves with merits.” Bear in mind that as time rolls on, you in the younger generation will be responsible for seeing that BAUS provides the light of Dharma to generations still to come. Just as you have benefited from the efforts of your elders, so you must extend benefits to those who will follow you. So let us all join hearts and hands to ensure that BAUS and Chuang Yen Monastery continue long into the future.

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