Professor Li BingNan (alias XueGong by his students for respect), the founder of Taichung Buddhist Lotus Society (TCBL), started the setting up of TCBL in 1950, with the intent to put the teachings of Great Master Ying Guang into practice, propagate Buddhist Dharma, and advocate Pure Land cultivation method of Amitabha Recitation, as an establishment for kulapati (Buddhist lay practitioners) to pursue enlightenment. Later on, he set up CiGuang Library in 1958, CiGuang Orphanage in 1959, Bodhi Relief Organization (now Bodhi Ren-Ai Home and Bodhi Hospital) in 1963, and many other sites around the island for Buddhist congregations to preach Confucian and Buddhist scriptures and practice Amitabha Recitation.
Professor Li’s purpose of founding TCBL is to expound Mahayana, concentrate on the practice of Sukhavati Dharmaparyaya (the exclusive cultivation on Amitabha Recitation), promote ethical principles, assist in social education, and undertake charity affairs. Our venerable teacher himself composed three guidelines for TCBL: first of all, expounding Confucian and Buddhist Scriptures to guide minds of the public; secondly, gathering people to recite the name of Amitabha for freeing oneself from reincarnation in this life; and thirdly, founding cultural organizations and charities to improve public morals and customs. Thus, it’s the Society’s first priority to attend educational and cultural activities, whereas charity affairs are of secondary importance.
For educational endeavors, there are Enlightenment Class (on Classic Chinese studies) and Chinese Music Orchestra, designed for children and teenagers from 7 to 18 during school semester time and summer vacation, and Ethics Seminar for students who are members of Buddhist Study Societies in college during winter and summer vacations. There is also Social Education Course, a two-year program, for college and graduate students. As it is the top level of study in TCBL aiming at delivering Buddhist preachers, students are intensively instructed to explore into the Tian Tai School, the Dharmalaksana School, the Pure Land School, or Confucian Analects according to their individual interest. In addition, there are Diligent Study Class offering devotees to delve into Confucian and Buddhist Scriptures for a lifelong pursuit, and Hong Ming School educating students ranging from kindergarten through senior high. Furthermore, TCBL expounds sutras to general members and the public on Wednesday and Thursday nights regularly; there are also lecture sessions on Confucian Analects for civil servants and teachers every Tuesday and Friday night to study the essences of Confucius’ teachings, i.e., Confucian Analects.
For cultural efforts, there is Ethics Monthly, publishing more than 7,000 copies per issue with both national and international editions; there is Qing Lian (Blue Lotus) Publishing Company, printing Confucian and Buddhist classics and various social educational publications for the publics; and there are Voice of Ethics and Voice of Buddhists broadcasting on the air.
For charity matters, the former CiGuang Orphanage and the present CiGuang Children’s House both embarks on raising the young; Bodhi Ren-Ai Home takes care of senior citizens; and Bodhi Hospital deals with medical treatments. TCBL also helps relieve the poor and the needed, mainly in central Taiwan, in case of emergency and when the Chinese Lunar New Year is coming.
For dedication to Pure Land Cultivation, Family Amitabha Recitation Congregations are organized to encourage the three generations within families to practice together, care for people nearing the end of their life, and offer free mercy Amitabha Recitation. So far, there are 64 congregations settled, with number of members varying from minimum 20 to maximum 200 in each. Besides regular gathering for each congregation, members from different congregations practice a joint Amitabha Recitation on the first three Saturdays and Sundays of each month. They also gather for a seven-day Amitabha Recitation in the beginning of each lunar month in honor of the late founder. For the convenience of accommodating the joint cultivation for three generations in families, some of the members develop two Buddhist communities, Ming Yang and Der Yuan.
Meanwhile, in order to promote filial piety and ancestor worshiping and to draw novices towards Buddhism, TCBL holds worshiping rituals, in honor of ancestors, and conversion ceremonies, for novices to become Buddhists, every spring and fall.
The above is the present condition of TCBL. We have adhered to Professor Li BingNan’s instructions during the past decades to distribute his teachings – Four Do’s and Three Don’ts. The Four Do’s are: to pursue the truth, to purify secular customs, to free oneself from reincarnation, and to defend genuine Buddhism. The Three Don’ts are: not to be exploited for the sake of Buddhism, not to indulge in fame and wealth in the name of Buddhism, and not to be swayed by bad examples for ignorance of Buddhism. As a result, all activities held by TCBL are free of charge; instructors are all volunteers and eager to perform their duties.
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