San Francisco Young Adult Division (SF YAD) hosted their first Temple Life Experience camp for two consecutive weekends in June. Attendees were exposed to a wide range of activities including sitting meditation, seminars, Buddhism classes, tea meditation, sutra transcribing, Buddhist etiquette, and morning and evening prayers. The 20 attendees across both weekends even took turns handling kitchen affairs themselves; the experiences gained from the camp will hopefully serve the attendees well in their daily lives.
The first week of the camp was themed “Science and Buddhism”. The famed scientist Albert Einstein once said, “If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism”. Recent scientific breakthroughs have constantly resonated with the Buddha’s teachings from 2,500 years ago, and attendees learned about many unexpected connection between the seemingly distinct fields of science and religion. In the Buddhist etiquette and tea meditation classes hosted by Venerable Miaozhong, attendees were taught to use their five senses to drive away unnecessary thoughts and focus on the changes in causes and conditions.
Going into the second week, the theme was changed to “How to Live a Balanced Life”. The camp began with a special lecture, “Turning Point”, held by Venerable Dr. Juewei, Director of Nan Tien Institute's Humanistic Buddhist Centre. Venerable Dr. Juewei used neuroscience to explain the reasons behind many psychological conditions, and shared stories of the practical application from Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s book “Humanistic Buddhism: Holding True to the Original Intents of Buddha”. The lecture brought a smooth transition between the science-oriented first week and the life-oriented second week.
The day’s activities included sutra transcribing, dharma instrument and Chinese knots classes, as well as a short film discussion. While participating in the activities, attendees learned how to focus on the present moment. Venerable Miaozhong led a discussion on the short film “The Last Knit”; attendees shared their many thoughts and reflections on the film, and learned from each other how to look at an event from different perspectives. Through Venerable Miaozhong’s guidance, students became more mindful of engaging in self-reflection, maintaining the right view, staying true to their goals, and practicing the Middle Way.
Cellphones and electronic devices were prohibited over the course of the camp; attendees were initially worried about being away from their phones, but later found that they became more focused and immersed in the camp. At the end of the Temple Life Experience camp, many attendees expressed their anticipation for the upcoming “International Buddha’s Light Young Adult Executive Conference” in July; they hope to bring back valuable knowledge and experience and host more spiritually cultivating events for Bay Area youths.
Text: Yen Ting Liew
Edited: Venerable Miao Zhong
Photos: Qiulin Peng, Selene Chew, Benson Kwek