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.


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.



釋洞崧 (September 2013)






鍾澤豐 (September 2013)










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.


釋常光 (December 2014)



1. 佛法的「修行」大別於的佛學的「學術」研究?


2. 培養「自學的能力」


3. 「學術研究」的基本訓練?


4. 學習的內容與對象?


5. 時時處處都是禪修的方所