Amituofo! The Humanistic Buddhist Monastic Life Program always kept evolving and developing over the years, and this year is no exception either! HBMLP 2016 is held mainly in Long Quan Si (meaning Dragon Spring Temple) outside of Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province. The temple has a beautiful park area which attracts many locals from the city to spend their free time here, and a staggering amount of stairs leading up to a pagoda and the Manjusri main shrine still under construction on the surrounding hills. The scenery is really magical though, making this temple and its surroundings an ideal space for practice. The students don’t need to worry about getting out of shape during their monastic life either as they have to walk over 200 stairs every morning for tai chi, and many hundreds more to get to class in the rooftop classroom and then return to their rooms. As Ven. Yifa always said: “If you like it it’s a blessing, if not - it’s cultivation!” This year’s HBMLP attracted over 160 students to apply and we could accept 87 of them to join our program, making the 2016 HBMLP the most attended year in mainland China in Woodenfish’s history! Another milestone in Woodenfish history is the approval and assistance of the local authorities to ensure our students’ safety. Many students are very diligent and sincere in their practice, meditating even in their break times after lunch in the park. Others had the opportunity to attend a dance therapy workshop and/or a yoga class in break times! And – naturally - everybody loves the delicious monastery cuisine! As one student put his internal struggle in words about enjoying the meals too much: “I feel like I am getting too attached to the food over here. Am I screwed?”
Woodenfish is really blessed to have such a good relationship with this temple and we are considering making Long Quan Si a stronghold for Woodenfish and the HBMLP in the future.
The students have just started their 6 days long meditation retreat, and all of us are looking forward to visiting Mt. Wutai for the pilgrimage and the Yungang Grottoes afterwards. This year’s HBMLP so far has been a huge success, living up to the reputation of the Woodenfish Foundation.