The Dharma Realm Buddhist Association (DRBA), formerly known as the Sino-American Buddhist Association, was founded by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua in 1959. It was established as a state and federally approved non-profit religious and educational corporation for the purpose of bringing the orthodox teachings of the Buddha to the entire world.
In 1962, Master Hua accepted his disciples’ invitation to come to America. In 1966 he set up an in-residence Buddhist study and practice center in San Francisco. In 1970 the center moved to larger quarters and became one of Northern California’s foremost Buddhist centers, Gold Mountain Monastery.
Later the Association founded a number of other centers: The International Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts (1973), The Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Talmage (1976), Gold Wheel Sagely Monastery in Los Angeles (1976), Gold Buddha Sagely Monastery in Vancouver (1984), Gold Summit Sagely Monastery in Seattle (1984), Avatamsaka Sagely Monastery in Calgary (1986), and Proper Dharma Buddhist Academy in Taiwan (1989). The Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas also houses Dharma Realm Buddhist University, Developing Virtue Secondary School, and Instilling Goodness Elementary School.
Taking the Dharma Realm as its scope, the Association aims to disseminate the genuine teachings of the Buddha throughout the world. The Association is dedicated to preserving the Sangha tradition by training and ordaining monks and nuns, by guiding lay people who wish to study Buddhism, by translating the Buddhist canon and propagating its teachings, by promoting education that instills in students a moral foundation and ethical behavior, and by bringing benefit and happiness to all beings. Its hope is that individuals, families, the society, the nation, and the entire world will, under the transforming influence of the Buddhadharma, gradually reach the state of ultimate truth and goodness.
A Bodhisattva reflects to himself, “From beginningless kalpas in the past, because of greed, hatred and stupidity, in body, speech, and thought, I have created measureless, limitless bad karma. If this bad karma had a substance and appearance, exhausting the reaches of space it could not be contained within. I now completely purify my three karmas, and sincerely repent of all this before all the Buddhas and assemblies of Bodhisattvas throughout the Dharma Realm in world systems as numerous as the particles of dust in a world. I will never do any of it again, rather I will always abide in the merit and virtue of the pure moral precepts.”
The more we study the Sutras and actually practice the teachings, the more we become aware of how great our ignorance and faults are. Indeed, the key to genuine wisdom is the ability to see our ignorance and faults. For how can we solve the problem of our ignorance, the root of suffering, if we do not even realize to what extent it exists?
If we really have faith and some understanding of the Buddha’s teachings, then, when we realize our faults, or when others point them out to us, we are truly happy, because we have the opportunity to change and go towards Enlightenment.
The kindness of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is difficult to repay. If it were not for their great compassion we would not have the opportunity even to know about our true, enlightened nature, let alone the way to practice in order to realize it.
“I am a good doctor for those who are suffering from sickness. I show the proper road to those who have lost their way. I am a bright light for those within the dark night. And I enable those who are poor to discover hidden treasures. A Bodhisattva in this way equally benefits all living beings…”
Why? Because all Buddhas, the Thus Come Ones, take a heart of great compassion as their substance. Because of living beings, they give rise to great compassion. From great compassion, the Bodhi-mind is born. Because of the Bodhi-mind they realize the Equal and Right Enlightenment.
If we maintain the high standards of the Buddha’s teachings, then we are giving ourselves and others the opportunity to realize the ultimate happiness and wisdom which come from studying and practicing them. The precious treasure of the Dharma must be carefully protected.