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Student Testimonials

On this page you will find a number of short testimonies written both in English and Chinese by students about their experience studying at the department of Buddhist studies. DILA students an alumni are always happy to answer questions from prospective students who are encouraged to get in touch during the annual information meeting in January (see admission) or via email. For more information or to get in touch with students or alumni, please contact the institute’s Office of International Affairs.

心得

Chris (December 2014)

        Choosing to study at a private, Buddhist university on the secluded north coast of Taiwan, and choosing to accept all of the “limitations” that come with life in a monastic environment is—at least according to the secular standards of today—unusual and unexpected. For me, I chose DILA (instead of a university back in the Unites States or in Taipei) partly because of my previous experiences with the broader Dharma Drum community. In 2011, while studying Chinese in Taipei as part of an undergraduate Study Abroad program, I participated in Dharma Drum’s Awakening Camp (自覺營), and later participated in multiple Chan retreats. While many of the linguistic, ritual and aesthetic features of the Chinese Buddhist world seemed (and often still seem) incomprehensible to me, the basic principles of simplicity and compassion were intelligible enough to move me in profound ways, and I was encouraged to learn and to practice more. “Practice” is the key word, because Dharma Drum’s emphasis on implementing the Buddhist teachings, as opposed to studying them in a sterile intellectual manner, is what makes it unique.

Students at DILA are expected to attend courses and to complete specific academic requirements like graduate students everywhere, but the training here goes beyond the merely intellectual. Living in a dormitory on a secluded mountain campus, interacting with classmates that are usually monastics, and eating vegetarian meals in silence everyday influences your mood and disposition over time. This kind of training is subtle, but like the slow flow of water, which can eventually carve a deep canyon out of solid rock, these basic daily patterns can powerfully shape an individual’s habits, and therefore his or her direction in life. In the twenty-first century we are facing enormous environmental challenges, which we know are brought about by overpopulation, mass-consumption and industrialization. But from the standpoint of Master Sheng Yan, the founder of Dharma Drum and a formidable scholar of Buddhism, these issues are more fundamentally caused by the restless desires of the human mind. The structure of life at Dharma Drum encourages students to observe their own minds, while academic courses provide students with the tools to understand and to transform what they find.

Morning and evening chanting, along with certain chores that students are responsible for (I clean a bathroom, wash communal dishes, and sweep the dormitory common area every week), like the features of daily life mentioned above, gradually attune students to a mindset of community participation, and encourage responsibility and compassion. The Four Great Vows (四弘誓願) are an essential aspect of Chinese Buddhism, and students chant these vows during morning and evening service. At first it seems unbelievable, promising to save all creatures from all forms of suffering, but exposing oneself to the possibility every day is deeply thought provoking. Not only that, by citing compassionate vows as the basic motivation for offering and pursuing higher education, DILA distinguishes itself from most modern academic institutions.

Many universities throughout the world are succumbing to the instrumentalist mentality, which views education as valuable only if it leads to some tangible economic rewards, but DILA remains true to classic, even ancient academic standards, aiming to transform individuals into wiser, more self-reliant and responsible religious teachers.

 

點滴心頭

釋洞崧 (September 2013)

       法鼓佛教學院,可說是我出家生涯裡第二個往生的淨土。從福嚴佛學院畢業以後,即入學碩一班就讀。體驗不同的環境、學風,使我對於研習佛法,有了另一番的體會。對我而言,這裡每一天的訓練,都是一種享受。現在就以這幾個月以來的喜悅,略作分享。

在學院裡,最讓我印象深刻的是良好的讀書環境。這裡的幽靜,使我感到內心容易沉澱下來,細細品嚐所學習到的課程內容。這裡的學習,感覺上是活潑的、輕鬆的。課堂上充滿了歡笑,卻不失其教學的品質。老師的細心準備,使同學更易掌握學習的要點。當然,這裡的同學可說都是善男子、善女人,而且來自「各路人馬」。由於背景知識不同,使課堂上可有不同的思考交流。還有,設施齊全的圖資館,讓我們可以對興趣的主題,有更深度的研究。

學院的辦學宗旨,是要養成解行並重的人才。除了做學問以外,也強調平常的早晚二課,靜坐禪修。每日與百來位的出家眾一起體驗漢傳佛教的早晚課,內心感到無比的攝受與震撼!在不同的時間點,還有密集式的禪修活動、大悲懺、念佛共修等行門活動。對於同學的法身慧命,可說是有兼顧到的。在此,學習了法鼓山的禪修系統,淺嚐了法鼓山的禪風,內心感到法喜充滿!

有人說:法鼓山的美與寧靜,也許只有到此一遊的人能體會到的。每日用餐完後,也不忘到步道上經行。聽聽小溪的流水聲,感受迎面吹來的楊柳風,讓大自然調整一天以來的疲憊身心。也只能說:感謝聖嚴師父的遠見、僧團的護念、學院善知識,以及十方的護法善信,使我們能夠在良好的環境,接受優良的教育。說來不過分,我們這一代可說是坐享其成,而我們又憑什麼去受用呢?個人是用之有愧,感到福報日損,卻又不捨得離開。但我想,我們下一代的使命,也只有盡心地為佛教服務,弘法利生,以感恩學院對我們的栽培與期望。

法音鼓動

鍾澤豐 (September 2013)

末學是大陸廣東中山大學來法鼓佛教學院交換學習的碩士研究生,雖不是這裡的正式學員,然而在此受益良多,請允許我在此做一分享。

首先是佛教學院的環境。由於佛教學院是法鼓山的一部份,所以大環境十分的安寧平靜,然而如果因為這份安靜而以為這裡是深山野林則大錯特錯了。學院各方面的設備十分齊全且先進,圖書、電子資訊、投影儀、電腦與無線網路等配備使我為之讚嘆,心裡琢磨著“這條件也太好了”,與此前僧人以及佛學院在我心中的印象簡單純樸的形象大相徑庭。因為據我所知,大陸没有哪所大學可以有如此好的條件(不知道大陸的佛教學院的條件如何)。不過轉念一想,爲了求學求佛道,如果能有更高效率的方法,又何必執著于簡樸呢!

接下來是課堂上的學習氛圍。學院的老師優秀而各有特色,無論學生是屬於以傾聽學習還是以討論發言、以偏學術或者偏信仰為面向的,都可以找到與自己相應的老師。在阿含導論的課上,聽楊郁文老師一連四節課深入淺出的嚴密分析與娓娓道來,頓覺醍醐灌體、法喜充滿。正念學研究課程裡,溫宗堃老師與我們分享將佛法(禪修)與科學結合的最新研究成果,讓我們增長見識的同時體會入世度化的情懷。鄧偉仁老師的漢傳佛教史專題研究,會讓你在許多有意思的問題裡不斷探索,通過與老師同學的討論激發思想的源泉,不斷進步。在中國淨土思想研究和漢傳禪學的課程裡,在果鏡法師的帶領下深入經藏,討論與分享古文佛典中蘊含的無盡意味,旁徵博引以證明自己理解是否正確的同時,對佛法有更深更廣的感悟,而且時常因為課時所限,討論與分享的熱情需要到課後與同學繼續切磋才能得以抒發。而在我們以各種方式學習的時候,校長惠敏法師的教學會讓我們反思,所過掌握原典語言,那我們的理解是否正確?有正確的理解能不能有適當的創新?篇幅與精力所限,我這裡只例舉了幾位老師,其餘的相信同學們進來學習後,對他們這些善知識一定會有所體會與崇敬。

學無止境,在佛教學院的學習遠不止于課上。由課堂學習引發的一些問題,可以讓我們在課餘時間利用圖資館幫忙解疑。而除了這些以“書本”形式出現的學習,我們還可以通過行門課程的實修,從“文字般若”證入“實相般若”。

除了以上提及的兩種學習形式,其實還有第三種,即在日常生活中體會。無論是走路說話吃飯還是出坡,只要能靜下心來,用心體會,就能發現真的無處不是知識,處處都是智慧。法不一定要用嘴說,亦非只有耳朵可聞。置身于法鼓山中,誇張一點說,猶有一種進入西方極樂淨土,一花一草一鳥一獸皆在令法音宣流的感覺。

作為一名交換生,由於不是正式編制的學生,也許在感受上會有不同,比如我感受到的課業壓力沒有正式編制的同學重。然而在我們找這些理由的時候,同樣有法師與同學們以言傳與身教說明,課業也非一定會有壓力,學習能有無盡的快樂。

法鼓山法音鼓動,讓我為之振奮鼓動,也鼓動我起心動念:“可以的話,我來這裡讀博士吧!”

感恩三寶!感恩聖嚴師父!感恩所有成就法鼓山的僧俗四眾!

Enlightenment

釋覺宏 (September 2013)

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire” ~William Butler Yeats

        Please give me a few minutes to share with you my life as a student in Dharma Drum Buddhist College (DDBC). I am Malaysian, so it took about 5 hours of flight to reach Taiwan from Malaysia. So you may wonder, why did I come to study here? Why do not apply for a Buddhist College in my own country? The reason is very simple, because of the great facilities here, the wonderful environment, the highly qualified and knowledgeable teachers, a prefect course plan, etc. Those things all convinced me of choosing this college to study Buddhist Studies. Moreover, DDBC is unlike colleges you may find elsewhere. It combines Buddhist Studies and the practice of Dharma in daily life, such as meditation, chanting, humanitarian activities, etc. All these activities give us an opportunity to apply what we learn in the classroom. In this way, education in DDBC is not just about filling us with theoretical knowledge but also emphasizes the learning progress and provides us with a space to develop wisdom and a deeper understanding of what we have learned. Thus, I believe that after going through the program at DDBC, we will acquire the ability to face and overcome any problems and sufferings in our lives. In contrast, other colleges may only focus on the academic aspect and ignore inner cultivation. Indeed the burden of classes and homework may generate stress for many students, and might influence their physical and mental health. As a result, many of them won’t be able to complete their studies in good conditions. So I believe that coming here was a very wise decision.

Furthermore, you will learn several other languages which are rarely found in other colleges. Those languages are Sanskrit, Pali, Japanese and Tibetan. Learning these languages helps us understand the old Buddhist scriptures, which is essential if we wish to get a clear picture of the Buddha’s teaching, as well as guide our Buddhist practice. Besides that, DDBC also provides several courses for us to learn how to write a proper thesis. Those techniques will be useful in our future studies and can help us learn how to deliver speeches in public. Other than that, DDBC also has a Buddhist Informatics group, which had become more and more important in recent years. In short, DDBC gives us a great environment for us to learn many skills which will benefit us personally as well as help people around us.

As a conclusion, I would like to share with everyone Master Sheng Yen’s conception of education. Here I will quote one of Master’s adages: “Education is an undertaking that will have an impact for a thousand years; morality is a star that will shine for a hundred generations”. So I hope you won’t miss the chances to study in DDBC.

「學佛修行」與「佛學研究」

釋常光 (December 2014)

       報考碩士班之前,曾在僧團服務一段時間。隨著領職時間的增長,越益感到自己的不足,於是希望在教理與實修方面,有更多的學習與成長,以期增進奉獻能力的深度及廣度。

筆者在思考修學的方式與型態時,起初是傾向於自修──閉關打坐及教理研讀,而非重視「學術研究」的碩士課程。但,最終卻是選擇看似與學佛「修行」有別的「學術」課程,這是為什麼?筆者的一些思考與心得如下。

1. 佛法的「修行」大別於的佛學的「學術」研究?

我對「學術研究」的印象是「刻板」:總在文字上打轉,甚至過於批判。與佛法的實踐有別。實際上,批判的思維並不牴觸佛法的修行。聞、思、修三學是同等的重要。

2. 培養「自學的能力」

學術課程與自修相比,或許是較為嚴謹的。學校除了提供各類課程,更有師長可作諮詢及指引方向。最重要的,學生可透過課程的訓練──增長自學的能力。如能培養出「自學的能力」,未來無論是自學或與人分享,都是沒問題的。

3. 「學術研究」的基本訓練?

在學校修課幾個月之後,驚訝地了解──老師給予學生的,是研讀佛法的基礎訓練,及「精準」學習的方法。課堂中的主角不全然是授課的老師,更像是學生本身。老師提供的是引導、指引學習的方向,點出一些方法,提醒學生應該審察的地方。依循這些指引,學生學習如何閱讀、解讀及分析問題、如何尋找答案並有次序的整理、如何釐清自己的思維、如何呈現報告並精準的表達等等。

4. 學習的內容與對象?

「學習」不止於書本本身,也來自於師長與同儕。例如:留意老師授課──引導學生的方式、如何給作業、如何與學生互動。而同學作課堂報告時,他如何呈現及整理;回答師長問題時,他如何表達一些概念。

5. 時時處處都是禪修的方所

研究學習的時候,「清楚地接收及辨別訊息,清楚自己所得到的,以及腦子裡產生的概念想法,並且,能清楚地適當回應。在這些過程中,身心還是放鬆的!」能夠如此,可以說「研究學習的本身」,便是禪法的修行,兩相呼應。

如是經驗,筆者很開心地理解到佛法的「修行」與「學術研究」不相違背,在在處處都與禪修相應。

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