UKIAH, California, February 3, 2014 — Dharma Realm Buddhist University (DRBU) today announced that the Senior College and University Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) has granted DRBU eligibility to proceed with an application for WASC Candidacy and Initial Accreditation—a significant progress in the University’s pursuit of regional accreditation.

In its letter, the Commission expressed appreciation for the “preparation DRBU undertook in its application which exhibited depth of consideration and care” as well as the “clear articulation of [DRBU’s] philosophy blending the East and West in a broad liberal arts-based education growing out of Buddhism.” Further, the Commission stated that DRBU’s “strong program with solid academics, a qualified administration, faculty, and staff” and thorough understanding of the accreditation process are evidence of the University’s “potential to achieve accreditation and to show further growth.” The Commission also provided feedback on DRBU’s Eligibility application and highlighted important areas that require additional attention as DRBU works toward WASC Candidacy, which it has “until Fall 2017 to achieve.” Read More …

Connecting to my Family Roots

The Monastery   |   Bhikshu Jin Chuan  |   October 7, 2013, 3:33 pm

父母呼,應勿緩,父母命,行勿懶。
父母教,須敬聽,父母責,須順承。

When my parents call me, answer immediately.
When they give instructions, carry them out, don’t drag my feet.
When they give advice, listen respectfully.
When they scold me, accept it with gratitude.

- Standard for Students [Note: translation is a bit different than the one provided by the link —I think filiality looks different in 21st century America than it did 2000 years ago in China, but the spirit is the same.]

[This is the seventh in a series of posts reflecting on how I found myself drawn to monasticism despite (or perhaps because of) my upbringing in the Bay Area and providing insight into how the relatively secular environment in which I grew up prompted me to look deeper into the meaning of life.]

Probably the biggest change I made in myself in relation to my parents was based on the first two verses in the section on filiality in Standard for Students.

Namely, when my parents called for me, I did my best to respond immediately. Read More …

Learn and Live

The Scene  |  The University   |   James Roberts  |   April 20, 2013, 4:49 pm

… perhaps during those impending college years that I was so looking forward to, I would decide “what to be when I grow up.”

When I was a kid, I naturally had different—and significantly simpler—assumptions about how the world operates than I do today. Based on my upbringing and education, I had the impression that at some point in my life, perhaps during those impending college years that I was so looking forward to, I would decide “what to be when I grow up.” Logically this decision would take into account things like enjoyment, aptitude, and economic factors. There were a few options that I was considering, mostly involving technology—maybe engineering or aerospace—but whatever my choice, I was confident that my grown-up life would be a great success.

In hindsight, perhaps I was just a bit overconfident. But I was certainly determined, and over the years I’ve found that determination counts for a lot. When my grandfather—a man of few words—dropped me off at college, he told me, “work hard.” So I did. I chose my path, and years later found myself with a Bachelor’s degree in Music (see enjoyment, above) and Physics (aptitude), working in an administrative position at Apple Computer (economic factors). And as my grandmother used to tell me, “you’ve made your bed, and now you have to lie in it.” So I did that too. Live and learn. Read More …

How to be a Good Son?

The Monastery   |   Bhikshu Jin Chuan  |   April 8, 2013, 5:00 pm

[This is the sixth in a series of posts reflecting on how I found myself drawn to monasticism despite (or perhaps because of) my upbringing in the Bay Area and providing insight into how the relatively secular environment in which I grew up prompted me to look deeper into the meaning of life.]

弟子規,聖人訓。首孝悌,次謹信
泛愛眾,而親仁。有餘力,則學文。

The sages have left these standards for being a student.
You first begin with filial respect and then learn to be careful and trustworthy.
Be kind and caring to all and stay near good people.
With any time left, you should devote it to study.

-Standards for Students

To be honest, I never thought about what it meant to be a “good son” until I became interested in Buddhism and the monastic life.  It was an unexpected teaching that really sank in when I became a sophomore in college.

In hindsight, I was a typical callow youth, with an attitude of putting myself first and my parents second.  I remember one story from when I was in pre-school.  My mom gave me a chocolate bar and then asked me if I would share some of it with her.  Reluctantly, I broke the chocolate bar in half, planning on giving her the smaller piece.  To my dismay, I saw that they were both the same size, so what did I do next?  I took a bite out of one half and then sheepishly offered it to her.  Talk about filiality! Read More …

Requisites of a Bodhisattva

The Mind  |  The Scene   |   Lauren Bausch  |   March 31, 2013, 2:14 pm


Although these figures may use different words to express their ideals and look after separate communities, they all share one thing in common. They do not live for themselves.

In the eight months that I have spent in India so far this year, I have encountered a number of modern day gurus. I stumbled across the Karmapa’s Kagyu Monlam in Bodhgaya, served others alongside Swami Asimatmananda in Chapra, felt the warmth of Amma’s embrace in Delhi, and watched the transformation of Maharaj Yadneshwara in Beed. Although these figures may use different words to express their ideals and look after separate communities, they all share one thing in common. They do not live for themselves. The lives of the Karmapa, Asimatmananda, Amma, and Yadneshwara are dedicated to serving living beings and helping them to fully develop their humanity. Toward this end, each of them supports an educational institution: the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute, Ramakrishna Mission’s school for poor children, Amma’s Amrita University, and Yajneshwara’s traditional Vedic gurukula.

In December, his Holiness the Karmapa led the Kagyu Monlam in Bodhgaya, where he taught about Bodhisattva Samantabadra’s prayer for excellent conduct. The event brought together people from all over the world who strengthened their resolve for awakening. After a couple from Germany guided me to the prayer site, Lamas came around with hot butter tea and steamed bread to make sure all the guests were comfortable. The ancient Mahābodi Temple came alive with color, lights, and hospitality. The merit generated from this practice is thought to pacify disasters and remove obstacles not only for those to take part in the Monlam, but for all living beings. Read More …

A Verse for Guan Yin

The Encounter  |  The University   |   James Roberts  |   March 23, 2013, 4:07 pm


Cultivate and walk the Way, and never seek outside,
The hidden cause is just the wisdom-nature of the mind.
White billows soar to heaven and the black breakers subside,
Now to the other shore, Nirvana, effortlessly climb.
Don’t miss another chance, return, return, time after time,
Take care, take care, attentive to this innocence divine,
The news arrives in shadows, shadows hazy through the blind,
In fleeting, fleeting glances, the inherently sublime.

–Master Hsuan Hua, Verses on the Heart Sutra

How does a verse communicate all of its meanings to us?

With midterm break just beginning, I’ll be spending the week contemplating and reciting Guan Yin’s name. In some sense I feel that for every session I have to reorient myself to practice, and of course, exactly what this means is different every time. Luckily, my recent classes have been providing a lot of food for thought. In our Avatamsaka Sutra class, we spent the last several weeks translating verses about spiritual practices. There has been quite a bit of discussion about their meaning, as well as about literary style and accuracy. How does a verse communicate all of its meanings to us? What is the experiential difference between reading prose and chanting verse, and how does this affect our consciousness?

Translation for me, like spiritual cultivation, has become a constant balancing act between strict discipline, focus, creativity, learning, and of course humility, as the ego tends to always show its face. In our Heart Sutra class this semester, we focused on commentary by Master Hua, also written in verse. On of my favorite verses is the exhortation for practice above—and seeing that the Sutra was spoken by Guan Yin Bodhisattva, I thought it might be an appropriate verse to inspire aspirations for the spring Guan Yin Session.

Dispatch from a Chan Session

The Mind   |   Jason Tseng  |   March 14, 2013, 10:00 pm


The atmosphere was alert, clear, and crisp, yet quiet and pleasant. The spirit of shared collected effort across the campus gave it a sense of not solitude, not loneliness.

I went to the City of Ten Thousand Buddha in January and most of the residents were in the midst of the final week of a three-week Chan meditation retreat. I dropped by the DRBU building and only a few staff were there. The entire building and the surrounding campus were completely silent. It was a wonderfully quiet feeling. The atmosphere was alert, clear, and crisp, yet quiet and pleasant. The spirit of shared collected effort across the campus gave it a sense of not solitude, not loneliness.  I was trying to reflect on why that is.

A lot of the writers on our blog have been discussing and reflecting on the idea of loneliness and solitude and the idea of camaraderie.  James had, in various living situations, found himself in situations where he spends a lot of his time in solitude.  Alexandra in her response states that “solitude, on the other hand, is something that we choose for ourselves, or at least accept.”  In a way, a communal, silent meditation retreat is a collective choice in group solitude–everybody practicing meditation, working on being totally concentrated in their own minds, together. Read More …

In a Land of Lotus Blossoms

The Mind   |   James Roberts  |   February 18, 2013, 1:14 pm


For the past several months, I’ve been part of a translation team that is working on the verses of the Lotus Sutra. I think of translating as a practice; it contains a lot of different opportunities to learn about the Buddha’s teachings and about myself at the same time. I’ve been finding that translating verses in particular is a really wonderful practice, and like any Dharma practice, its benefits are gradually revealed as one delves more deeply into its subtleties.

The rhythm of a verse gets into your bones, puts a spring in your step. Its beauty inspires the heart.

A good verse can have some really wonderful qualities — it has its own rhythm, its own ways of resonating. A steady rhythm can be like a resting heartbeat, its regularity calming the mind. When chanted, regular line length regulates the breathing, which calms the body. The rhythm of a verse gets into your bones, puts a spring in your step. Its beauty inspires the heart.

I often chant while I’m translating, sometimes “working” for many hours a day, and I find that the rhythm itself has a way of inspiring creativity. Sometimes it is almost as if the translated verses appear on their own, without any effort on my part. I feel that I may be experiencing something described by many creative types, but also something that anyone who has spent time reciting a mantra, or has even gotten a favorite song stuck in their head, has probably touched upon. Read More …