Practicing the Path of Bodhisattva: The LJM Six Living Principles Implemented in Myanmar

Practicing the Path of Bodhisattva: The LJM Six Living Principles Implemented in MyanmarHonoring the instruction of Dharma Master Hsin Tao, Founding Abbot of the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society (LJM), students at the LJM School of Sramanas in Naung Mon, Myanmar, practice the six living principles of ‘One Heart, Two Loves, Three Goodnesses, Four Offerings, Five Virtues, and Six Perfections’ while endorsing the campaign of ‘Love the Earth & Love Peace’. Led by Master Heng Ming of the LJM and currently the chief executive of the school, the six principles and promotion of the campaign have been embedded as part of the long-term education of the institute. Master Heng Ming leads a faculty composed of members from Myanmar and Taiwan, working hard as a team for creating a brighter future for the Earth and the Sramanas regarding sustainability and sangha education.

The Six Principles are in fact one unity that transcends borders

The six living principles are actually in one unity, said Master Heng Ming, who continued by citing Master Hsin Tao’s teaching that ‘The Six Living Principles constitute the LJM culture. They are in one unity, representing a complete concept rather than six individual ideas.’ As for how to practice the six living principles in daily life, Master Heng Ming observed that the students at the LJM School of Sramanas have followed the principles in many aspects of their school life. She believed that when the young monks gain a better and more concrete understanding of the Six Principles, they will be better to honor the teachings both in daily life in words as well as in deeds.
Taking the One-minute Chan Meditation practice for example, the practice has been implemented at the Sramana School for six years running to help the pupils cultivate the Nirvana state of mind. The Nirvana state of mind in Buddhadharma gets rid of all wanton desires ranging from attachment, hatred to ignorance, and the young monks learn to calm down and attain inner peace by driving out the thoughts of attachment, hatred and ignorance to focus on, and rejoice in, the peace of mind thus attained. Other daily life examples include trash recycling, soap-making DIY, and other recycle practices which materialize the ‘Two Loves’ principle and the LJM signature campaign of ‘Loving the Earth & Loving Peace’ in practice.
Master Heng Ming is grateful that the voluntary faculty members brought with them creative and systematic modules of education for young sramanas to get a firm grip on what the Six Living Principles actually imply. To begin with, the faculty members had to study to thoroughly understand what the Six Principles refer to both concretely and figuratively before passing on the body of knowledge, making sure that there would be no barriers culturally or linguistically. After rounds of lengthy discussion, teaching modules were designed and workshops were conducted to familiarize local teachers with the modules as part of the ‘train the trainers’ plan for future faculty members. In so doing, the Six Principles were transformed to content that speaks local tongue and reflects local mindset to be more directly approachable for the young sramanas.

Overcoming technological gap with positivity and willpower

The pandemic of the past years made it too challenging for voluntary teachers to get to teach in person in Myanmar, yet the education for the young sramanas has been progressing without a halt to gain further traction thanks to the empowering strength of science and technology. The ‘Train the Trainers’ camp for teachers well groomed for the Six Living Principles went online to tap the Zoom platform for participants to familiarize the open and two-way online teaching pattern to better fit the era of the New Normal.
Master Heng Ming and her colleagues have been finding ways to compensate for Myanmar’s less developed broadband infrastructure. Teachers receive subsidies from the School as they must access the Internet via their own cell phones since the School is not yet fiber-connected. The School invested in overhead projectors with wide-angle capacities to facilitate classroom interaction for all students.
Power supply is another issue in Myanmar. Frequent outages present a challenge for online teaching and learning. Fortunately, dozens of notebook computers were donated by businesses exercising CSR, while the School stockpiled batteries to mitigate the power outage impact. Other external factors such as the pandemic, political instability, impacted commerce and impaired logistics pose further challenges to the operation of the School, but collective efforts have never been spared to help modify the future outlook through education of the sramanas.

The School centers on Master Hsin Tao’s teachings

In a country troubled by the pandemic and unstable politics, a well-managed LJM School of Sramanas in Naung Mon helps to calm people down, reinforcing people’s confidence in Buddhadharma. Master Heng Ming gives credit to the members of the school team for their mutual trust and support to sustain the strength the School needs to move forward amidst challenges and adversities. The bilateral team has been functioning well for about five years and Master Hsin Tao has appointed several local members to managerial positions, which have shown quite positive performance worthy of the duties entrusted to them in their positions. Background differences in culture and mentality require changes and adaptations, but the shared vision for the School to become better is a consensus that upholds an unfailing belief in cooperation.
Master Heng Ming remarked that it is quite a challenge to work as the front-runner and practice the path of Bodhisattvas to promote Dharma and lead people in Myanmar to move toward enlightenment. She considers herself fortunate to have been given the assignment to run the project of the Sramana School based on Master Hsin Tao’s teachings and Buddhist spirituality, so as to enable local sramanas access to compassion from fellow Buddhists around the world. The chance for young Burmese monks to be exposed to the LJM way of teaching and learning in Dharma, and the opportunities to gain a solid knowledge of the Six LJM Living Principles for lifelong practice will help the graduates from the School emerge as positive contributors to the society even that they do not end up ordained monastics after all.
From the viewpoint of Dharma promotion, practicing monastics would find it too challenging to concentrate on the mission if they still need to worry about their own livelihood. The School of Sramanas enables all sanghas and sramanas to focus on practicing regardless of the fact that whether they will become great achievers or just average abiding Bhikkhus to spread out Dharma. In so doing, the School fulfills its calling and we do whatever is meant for us to do. It is our good fortune to have the opportunity to perform the best to achieve what Master Hsin Tao has set out to achieve in Naung Mon.