DDMLAC Donates Dharma Service Offerings to Local Social Service Organizations
By Dharma Drum Mountain Los Angeles Center
After chants of Amitabha Buddha’s name have fallen silent and the bells of the Avatamsaka have been tolled, there remained the food: donated, blessed, and offered to sundry and all sentient beings in the course of the grandest of all Dharma services in Chinese Buddhism, the Great Compassion Water and Land Dharma Service.
As the spirit succors the flesh, Dharma Drum Mountain Los Angeles Center donated all nonperishable food items gathered from its seven-day 2015 Water and Land Dharma Service, which concluded on December 6, to those in need. In the past, the Center donated to a central food bank. This year, based on suggestions from volunteers who also participate in volunteer work elsewhere in the community, DDMLAC donated to three individual local social service organizations.
DDMLAC donated canned and other food items to the Adult Center in Pasadena, operated by Union Station Homeless Services. Union Station is the San Gabriel Valley’s largest social service agency assisting homeless and very low-income adults and families. The organization has helped rebuild the lives of thousands of people who were once homeless since 1973. With over 40 years of experience, it offers a full continuum of nine types of programs throughout the San Gabriel Valley. Adult Center on Raymond Avenue, Pasadena has 56 beds and provides homeless men and women with a safe, substance-free shelter, meals, and supportive services. It is also home to Union Station’s Community Meals and Shower programs.
DDMLAC also contributed dry goods and sesame oil to Sunny Cal Adult Day Health Care Center, a senior living community in Rosemead. Sunny Cal has been in operation since 2004. It provides care during the day to seniors and adults with disabilities or medical or mental health conditions, including those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Sunny Cal cares for a large Asian American population, for whom sesame oil is a stable seasoning. A DDMLAC volunteer works for a local company manufacturing sesame oil, and helped secure a donation of several cases of sesame oil in addition to dry food items from the Dharma service.
Rice and flour were donated to Care Mission USA. This organization was founded in 2011 to meet the needs of the sick and poor of Los Angeles, especially the children of this underserved population. It serves hot means every Sunday—except the first—in downtown L.A. on East 7th Street, and also distributes about 500 meals each week. (Its affiliate Care Mission en Mexico in Tijuana offers medical and dental care—the latter via a mobile dental clinic—in addition to serving meals.) Several founders of Care Mission also volunteer at the Tzu Chi Foundation, a Buddhist organization noted for its humanitarian and disaster relief efforts.
DDMLAC’s Director Venerable Guo-jiann indicated that the Center is committed to staying involved in the community through food donation and other efforts, some of which are being planned. Ven. Guo-jiann further stated, “Central to our organization’s mission is encouraging people to transform their character and minds through learning, self awareness, and cultivation. But since the purpose of such transformation is so that people will be happier and live more harmoniously with others, we care a great deal about our community. Offering care to the community is in fact one facet of the Threefold Education, a set of our core values and approaches. We are not an organization that subscribes to a kind of personal cultivation isolated from society.”
Whether in need of essentials, in relative health or sickness, being richer or poorer, we can all attend to those in even greater need, and just as important, our own state of mind. Both are ways of cultivating our spiritual environment. Master Sheng Yen taught that we should repay kindness to our community without seeking anything in return. This is how we build a pure land on earth. Let us put Dharma into practice in the new year, and help each other kindle the great light in us all.