30th Anniversary of LJM Legion of Dharmapala: For A Happy Life with Honor & Gratitude

30th Anniversary of LJM Legion of Dharmapala: For A Happy Life with Honor & Gratitude
Celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the Ling Jiou Mountain Legion of Dharmapala took place at the Heping Sports Arena in Taipei on October 31, 2020. Residential masters of LJM joined the Legion's commissioners in celebrating the life-glorifying event, which was taken online for live streaming to be shared with all LJM followers the world over. The event served to express gratitude to Legion commissioners for their services and dedications that have been and continue to be mission-critical for all LJM endeavors. Former President Ma Ying-Jiou, incumbent Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-Tsan, and former New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu were among the dignitaries present.

What convictions it be that have been sustaining the perseverance of this elite group of Legion commissioners for thirty years in their commitment to LJM? It's the result of combining Buddha's Dharma teaching, the commissioners' devotion and pledge of practicing Bodhisattva's compassion, as well as the guidance of venerable guru Dharma Master Hsin Tao who keeps their morale in high gear as Dharma protectors. As Master Hsin Tao has in his work of liberating sentient beings been a role model who so lives and breathes compassion for all that his disciples emulated one another to become his avatars to go wherever necessary. Likewise, this group of commissioners of Dharmapala is steadfast with the conviction that ‘our lives are for the service of, and dedication to, all lives’ and have been with LJM each step of the way from an obscure location in the wilderness to a Buddhist establishment that promotes Buddha's teaching globally. Their contributions have been remarkable and do not go unnoticed.

Master Hsin Tao said that the Legion of Dharmapala would not be, were it not for LJM. And without the Legion, LJM would not have become what it is today. The two have always been together through thick and thin. To accentuate the sincerity of gratitude for the Dharmapala, a red-carpet reception spearheaded the event and Legion commissioners took turns in entering the venue in that dignified fashion and in chronological order of their sub-groups labeled ‘Iron Bucket’, ‘Budding Sprout’, ‘Incubation Era’, and ‘Development Era’ respectively. Each phase has its place in the LJM history to-date, and only with the Legion's perseverance and contributions that LJM grew to what it is today.

Dharma Master Hsin Tao's pre-taped congratulatory recording opened the evening with the message that ‘May all sentient beings come join the Way to attain Buddhahood. Almost all of you in the audience have been with me as your mentor for thirty years with mutual support in our unity. You have joined the Legion to achieve benevolence for lives, and your participation never once wavered even in the face of the pandemic. On this celebratory occasion, I bid you blessings of peace and fortune. May the strengths of our faith bring to life unlimited power.’ Following that was a stage production that told of the story of inheritance, with young commissioner Lin Fu-Yi and his veteran counterpart Dai Fei-Yen in the leading roles. The theatrical performance brought to life how it has been with the Legion's working alongside the Buddhist Society LJM over time.

The Legion was established in 1990 and Dharma Master Hsin Tao was already making a significant gift to the world with the launch of the Museum of World Religions (MWR) in 2001. The choreography of a dance performance in documenting what a challenge and daunting task it was for the Legion to secure funding support also made use of three huge pieces of fabric with wordings for the MWR's philosophy as ‘Respect’, ‘Tolerance’, and ‘Love’. When those banners unfolded, it was an emotional moment when tears could no longer be blinked away for many Legion members.

Legion members have been winning rounds of applause for their toils and achievement in life. The internationally acclaimed U Theatre put on a performance of drumming in the Chan/Zen style worthy of their stature and was a poignant interpretation of the Legion's accomplishment with their trademark expertise in drumming. Talented violinist Liao Pei-Wen practically gave the evening's heroes a standing ovation with her music, which symbolically conveyed the sturdy confirmation of Legion members to suggest a firm foundation for more and better to come for LJM as a whole.

Former President Ma Ying-Jiou took part in a jogging event to help raise funds for the MWR some 25 years ago, and already then he was rather impressed by the LJM fund-raising campaign with the theme ‘Out of Thin Air & By Transforming The Ordinary into The Spectacular’. In 2018, he went inside the cave where Dharma Master Hsin Tao had practiced solitary retreat with strict fasting for an amazing two-year period in a space no bigger than one ping (equivalent to 3.305 square meters). The realization stunned him. On the recent anniversary occasion, he was quoted as saying that Taiwan practices religious freedom, and people here display valued qualities of diligence, trustworthiness, tolerance, fairness, and kindness. The MWR and the University for Life & Peace are the right things to do, and he is earnestly hopeful that the University for Life & Peace will finally make the world understand the significance of peace for it to prevail so that there are no more wars.

Former New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu also participated in the auspicious event and delivered remarks to express gratitude to Venerable Master Hsin Tao for his long-term tutelage and encouragement. He also stressed that LJM is committed long-term to education, sustainability, and world peace, which ought to be worthy causes for people of all walks of life to dedicate themselves to. Having been associated with LJM for 22 long years, Mayor Chu considers himself a Budding Sprout member of the Legion and supports more young people to join in and endeavor collectively to help keep the world at peace, and the mind at peace as well.

Incumbent Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-Tsan was likewise present on the occasion, who is hardly ever absent from any major LJM events whenever time permits. He said that the LJM Water-Land-Air Dharma Assembly will soon take place in Taoyuan for the 27th consecutive time and his 6th participation without interruption. The strengths of Dharma Master's pledged vows find expressions in LJM activities such as the LJM Mahapuja, the Pu-Jen Scholarship Award, the Water-Land-Air Dharma Assembly, the University for Life & Peace, and that special trait common among people at LJM that plainly says ‘We aim to impress and be impressed / We believe in becoming enlightened and help others to do just that’. Such also remains Dharma Master Hsin Tao's uncompromising commitment. On the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the Legion of LJM Dharmapala, Mayor Cheng of Taoyuan makes an appointment with everybody for the next three decades of happiness and gratitude. In closing, he waved good-bye and shouted out loud - ‘See you all in December at the Water-Land-Air Dharma Assembly in Taoyuan!’