The Origin

Dharma Drum Mountain developed from Nung Chan Monastery and the Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Culture, which were both founded by Venerable Master Dongchu. Nung Chan Monastery, whose early residents dedicated themselves to the practice of Chan and grew their own food (hence its name, “Nung,” which means “to farm”), was established in 1975. At that time, Venerable Master Dongchu was devoted to promoting Buddhist culture in Taiwan, cultivating Buddhist talent, and holding annual winter charity events.

In 1978, Master Sheng Yen succeeded Venerable Master Dongchu as the abbot of Nung Chan Monastery and the Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Culture, carrying on his master’s vocation and popularizing the Buddha Dharma by converting it into concepts and methods that everyone can understand, accept and use. As the number of devotees at Nung Chan Monastery and students at the Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies continued to increase, in 1989,a plot of land in Jinshan Township, Taipei County, was purchased. Master Sheng Yen named this land “Dharma Drum Mountain,” and the organization Dharma Drum Mountain was formally established.

Blazing a New Road One Step at a Time

In 1993, the first phase of the Dharma Drum Mountain World Center for Buddhist Education broke ground, and the preparatory office for Dharma Drum University was formally established. As construction progressed,  the practice of ancient Chinese monasteries of building a treasure vault below the ground of the main Buddha hall was followed. In 1996, during the joint foundation-laying and treasure-enshrining ceremony, over three hundred Taiwanese Buddhist texts and artifacts were installed within the vault, which is not to be opened until the year 3000 C.E. This event turned a new page in the transmission of Taiwanese Buddhist culture to later generations.

After more than ten years of hard work, the first phase of the project was completed and inaugurated in 2001, and the Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies and Dharma Drum Sangha University moved into the new site of the Dharma Drum Mountain World Center for Buddhist Education. In 2002, the ceremony for installing the main crossbeam of the Grand Buddha Hall was held, heralding a brand new stage in the construction process.

Beating the Great Dharma Drum

Venerable Master Sheng Yen once said, “Although Dharma Drum Mountain does not have extensive financial resources, its influence is far-reaching: this is our special characteristic. Dharma Drum Mountain promotes a healthy ethos in society and provides effective methods for spiritual practice: this is our contribution.”

After Dharma Drum Mountain formally declared its vision to “uplift the character of humanity and build a pure land on earth” in 1989, all the organization’s subsequent projects and activities have been based on this fundamental motif. The concept of Protecting the Spiritual Environment was announced in 1992, which was declared the “Year of Protecting the Spiritual Environment.” The Four Kinds of Environmentalism were announced in 1994, the same year in which our first Buddhist-style joint funeral, wedding, and birthday celebrations for the elderly were held. They have since become regular activities of Dharma Drum Mountain and have helped people put the Four Kinds of Environmentalism into practice in daily life. The Fivefold Spiritual Renaissance Campaign, initiated in 1999, integrates important concepts and methods promoted over the years to form a guidepost for living in the twenty-first century.

Dharma Drum Mountain, its concern focuses on the purification of society, after many years of effort has received a positive responses from the general public, attracting more and more people tp join the ranks of those working to actualize its ideals. Dharma Drum Mountain is no longer just the name of a place – it has become an organization that gathers the collective energies and vows of the public and channels them to promote the happiness of all humanity.

Global Involvement in the Spirit of Chan

In 1997, Dharma Drum Mountain Retreat Center in Shawangunk, New York, was established. That same year, Venerable Master Sheng Yen attended the International Meetings Peoples and Religion, where along with other leaders of the major religions, he stressed the importance of respecting different viewpoints. In 1998, Master Sheng Yen and the Dalai Lama held a dialogue titled, “In the Spirit of Manjushri: The Wisdom Teaching of Buddhism” in New York, attracting almost three thousand people both Asian and Western in attendance.

In recent years, Dharma Drum Mountain’s ideal of Protecting the Spiritual Environment has gained international recognition. At the dawn of the new century, a steady stream of invitations from international conferences arrived. First, in 2000, Master Sheng Yen participated in the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual leaders as the only representative of Chinese Buddhism to deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony. Then, in 2002, he was invited to attend the World Economic Forum annual meeting, the Inaugural Meeting of the World Council of Religious Leaders, and the First Conference of the Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders.

Pages: 1 2