Yesterday, Master Sheng Yen gave a public talk. Master Sheng Yen is the founder of Dharma Drum Buddhist College, where I am now conducting research in Abhidharma. During the talk yesterday, he first presided over the presentation of awards to distinguished students. It was a good occasion to take pictures but I had not realized that ahead of time and did not bring my camera.
After the awards, Master Sheng Yen reflected on the role of a founder and on the future of the educational facilities at Dharma Drum mountain. He was speaking Mandarin and his vocabulary was often way over my head but my roommate Weijen provided translation. I found particularly appropriate how he reminded the students that the money for their education comes from donations. He pointed out how they are part of a cycle of cause and effect. Donations allow them to study. If they study hard and then show the fruits of their efforts, donors are satisfied that their donations were not wasted. So donors donate again and the cycle continues.
As a visiting researcher at Dharma Drum Buddhist College, I am also part of this cycle. DDBC welcomed me to live in their facilities and perform research while at the same time the financial compensation they ask from me is quite minimal. So like the other students at DDBC I am benefiting from the donations. In any case, it would be out of character for me to squander the resources that are offered to me. Still, taking stock of the big picture helps to sharpen one’s focus.