According to the sutras: “It is difficult to be reborn as a human, very hard to encounter the Buddha Dharma, and very rare to meet a wise teacher.” In the predominantly Catholic Philippines, it is indeed not easy to encounter Buddha’s teachings. To make it easier for the good-natured Filipinos to know about true Dharma, the compassionate Grand Master Wei Chueh of Chung Tai Chan Monastery in Taiwan established Ocean Sky Chan Monastery in the Philippines, in order to give the locals an auspicious opportunity amid a serene and pristine setting, to study Zen Buddhism and meditation, which is the essence of Buddha’s teachings.
Ocean Sky Chan Monastery is located right at the center of the National Capital Region of Metro Manila, in a barangay (Filipino for the smallest district) called “Little Baguio”, adjacent to the booming Greenhills commercial district in San Juan City. The Monastery is an elegant and spacious building with a small pocket garden at its entrance. The Meditation Hall and Lecture Hall can separately accommodate more than a hundred people, who regularly come to attend meditation classes, listen to Dharma talks, and join in the liturgical ceremonies, or other activities.
From its inception in 2002, up to the present, Ocean Sky has been offering all levels of weekly meditation classes, conducted in both Chinese and English, chanting class, Mandarin class, Bodhi Star classes for kids, and also children’s meditation camps during summer vacation. It also holds regular ceremonies like the Grand Meal Offering to the Buddha, blessing and memorial prayers, repentance ceremonies, etc., and other special events. The classes and activities enumerated above all aim to plant the Bodhi seed in the minds of tens of thousands of locals who have entered the Monastery through these ten years. As a result, many lives have been positively transformed, and people have found new meaning to their ordinary lives, giving them a new perspective in viewing themselves in relation to the world around them. This inspires them to lead a life of integrity, contributing greatly to the improvement of the society.
Students, volunteers, and visitors to the Monastery come from all walks of life and cut across all cultural and economic strata of the Philippine society. From the youngest Bodhi Stars at 5 to 6 years old, to the oldest practitioners at age 80 and above, people in Ocean Sky have proven that Truth transcends age, culture, language, and religion, in that everybody has an equal chance to discover the True Mind. In fact, most of its students are confirmed Catholics. And yet, they have faith in Buddha’s teachings and have adopted Buddhism as a way of life.
Throughout its short history, Ocean Sky has had a number of changes in the composition of its resident Sangha (Dharma Masters or Shifu). But that is very normal in the scheme of things at the parent monastery, Chung Tai Chan Monastery. In fact, the comings and goings of the Shifus provide excellent training for the lay people in understanding the reality of impermanence. Even with the constant change the Sangha, all the Shifus have been teaching the Ocean Sky family a precious lesson—the true mind is neither coming nor going.
The present Abbess, Venerable Jianshu, has followed the guidance and compassionate vow of Grand Master Wei Chueh in the dissemination of the Buddha Dharma. Setting the “Four Tenets of Chung Tai—Respect, Compassion, Harmony, and Truthfulness” as the foundation in spreading Buddha’s teachings, Master Jianshu, using various expedient means, hopes to attract even more people to Ocean Sky, to let them learn about true Dharma and apply these principles in their lives. Philippine society can surely benefit greatly when its citizens know how to conduct their lives more meaningfully, and eventually realize their most precious True Mind.