Dharma Drum Mountain Los Angeles Center
A Brief Introduction: Values, Founder, and Organization
Dharma Drum Mountain (DDM) is a non-profit Buddhist organization established in 1989. Its core value is to further the protection and cultivation of our spiritual environment. It was founded by the Venerable Master Sheng Yen (1930-2009), an internationally renowned Chan master who inherited both the Caodong and Linji lineages, and established in 2006 the Dharma Drum lineage of Chan Buddhism dedicated to the promotion of Chinese Buddhism and Chan meditation practices. Master Sheng Yen was actively involved in activities across the globe for many years, and engaged with world religious leaders in interfaith dialogues through multiple forums.
DDM’s world headquarter, the DDM World Center for Buddhist Education, is located in Jinshan District, New Taipei City, Taiwan. There are six more major centers and tens of chapters and branches worldwide within the DDM organization, other than those in Taiwan. Dharma Drum Mountain Los Angeles Center (DDMLAC or the Center), located in El Monte, CA, officially opened to the public in 2012. It is the third major DDM center established in the U.S., after Chan Meditation Center (CMC) in New York City and Dharma Drum Retreat Center (DDRC), and the second on the North American West Coast, after Dharma Drum Vancouver Center (DDVC).
History of Our Center
As a Branch Office
DDM members in the Los Angeles area first begin to practice together in 1992. Before a permanent site was located, they met at each other’s homes for regular Dharma studies and meditation, or rented facilities outside. In 1996, a branch office was set up in the city of Rosemead to facilitate offering Chan meditation classes and Dharma talks and holding the Great Compassion Repentance Service.
As a Chapter
In 2006, the branch office developed into a chapter, called the Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association Los Angeles Chapter. The following year, a new location was leased on Telstar Avenue, near the Taipei Economic & Cultural Office. As a result of an increase in participants who were drawn by the lectures, retreats, and special events, capacity at the Telstar location began to seem limited. As the lease renewal date approached, finding a more permanent location became a common aspiration of the member practitioners.
Although monastics visited periodically to support Dharma activities, they were unable to guide the practitioners’ cultivation or care for them on an uninterrupted, long-term basis. Thus the search for a new home was taken on enthusiastically. In July of 2011, with support local as well as global, an old church on Peck Road in the city of El Monte was purchased as the permanent location for Dharma Drum Mountain Los Angeles Center (DDMLAC).
As a Center
DDMLAC officially opened to the public on May 27, 2012. The Venerable Abbot President Guo Dong of Dharma Drum Mountain, together with the Most Venerable Yinhai, founder of the Dharma Seal Temple, led the inaugural ceremony. The Center was temporarily managed by CMC until the summer of 2014, when resident monastics were formally appointed. Upon their arrival, the monastics supervised major physical renovations and initiated more systematic program offerings and general management.
The Center is in total 65,608 square feet, with five buildings together having a building space of 21,428 square feet. There are parking spaces front and rear totaling 80 spaces.
All our activities are offered to encourage a practice that is close to daily life. The Center offers regular activities and hosts special events, and provides a bilingual learning environment for Chan meditation, Dharma study groups, weekly Dharma lectures, introductory Dharma classes, chanting services, special Dharma ceremony services, as well as flower arrangement, yoga, and other activities. We hope to practice together with you, drawing on concepts and methods that can be readily understood and used. Please join us!
Each aspect of our environment—natural, daily living, social, and spiritual—is worthy of our attention, cultivation, or stewardship. DDM is committed to the protection of every aspects of our environment through the Threefold Education—extensive academic, public Buddhist, and social care education. It is our hope that through practicing together, we may come to realize DDM’s vision, “to uplift the character of humanity and build a pure land on earth.”
We are deeply grateful to practitioners and volunteers, monastic and lay, who have dedicated themselves and contributed to establishing the Center, to the presidents of its forebear organizations, and to Dharma benefactors from the ten directions. DDMLAC is able to offer and promote Dharma activities effectively and continue improving its physical facilities only because of your compassionate devotion. We invite your further participation. May we build its future together!