Designed in collaboration with the department’s Center for Practice and Study (研修中心), the following four items include both hands-on practice as well as classroom instruction and guidance. The aim of the practice curriculum is to guide and support students along their path of inner cultivation, fostering the growth of wisdom and compassion, so that they may be of service to their communities and society at large. While the two classroom courses listed below are part of the department’s master’s program, they are representative of other similar courses found in the undergraduate and doctoral programs.
Each semester at the department starts with a residential retreat (five days for the first semester and seven for the second) at Dharma Drum Mountain’s main Chan Hall (禪堂) or at one of the organization’s other retreat centers on the island. During the course of the retreat’s daily dharma talks (開示), attendees receive instruction in one or several of the methods of practice of Chan Buddhism, including mindfulness of breathing meditation (隨息觀), silent illumination meditation (默照禪, akin to Japanese Zen Shinkantaza), Hua-tou (話頭, akin to Koan practice), reciting the Buddha’s name (念佛), etc.
Morning and Evening Meditation and Recitation (朝暮課誦與禪坐)
As part of the graduate and undergraduate programs, students develop a daily practice of recitation and meditation to help them find mental balance in the midst of a demanding study schedule. Although students are asked to gain some experience with both practices, they are free to give greater emphasis to meditation practice or recitation. Whether students practice in the dormitory’s Buddha Hall (佛堂) for meditation or in the adjacent Dharma Drum monastery’s Main Hall (大殿) for the morning and evening chanting, they will enjoy the support that comes with group practice. Students are free to choose which part of the week and day are most suitable for their practice.
(classroom) Study and Practice in the Essentials of the Three Studies (三學精要研修)
Offered by the head of the Institute, Venerable Huimin (惠敏校長), this one year course lays out the theoretical foundation for the aforementioned practices by explaining the contents of daily recitations (課誦) in Chinese Buddhism, initiating students to the basic methods for relaxing body and mind, and reviewing a selection of publications relevant to precepts and meditation (戒定). The course also seeks to discuss contemporary understandings of body and mind as well as offers a survey of Buddhist cultivation practices.
(classroom) Practice Seminar (elective) (專題研修)
In order to help students deepen their personal interest in one aspect of Buddhist practice, they are given the choice between the following 4 seminars listed below. As a conclusion to these year-long seminars, students are encouraged to elaborate and conduct a project (畢業呈現) to put into use the skills acquired throughout the year.
- Study and Practice in Buddhist Fine Arts (佛教藝術專題研修)
- Study and Practice in Preaching and Teaching Ministry (弘化專題研修)
- Study and Practice in Meditation (禪學專題研修)
- Study and Practice in Buddhist Rituals (儀軌專題研修)