Toronto YAD Presents White Elephant Training Lessons: Passing the Torch of Humanistic Buddhism

March 3, 2024

On March 3rd, the Fo Guang Shan Temple and the BLIA Toronto Young Adult Division (YAD) jointly launched the "BLIA White Elephant Training Lessons." These courses were designed by the BLIA Radiant Lights Subchapter to help youths who are new to the temple become familiar with FGS and the BLIA YAD and to enhance team spirit. The goal is to facilitate the transmission of knowledge and the inheritance of Buddha's teachings through the sharing and guidance of senior youth. 

The  Abbess, Venerable Chueh Fan and Superintendent Ven. Zhi Guan of FGS Toronto, hope that BLIA youths cultivate joy and confidence, and improve teamwork and self-growth through the training lessons. As exemplary BLIA youths, the White Elephant training sessions are expected to embody the spirit of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, which means persevering through difficulties and challenges in various activities. 

The BLIA White Elephant Training Lessons consist of eight sessions that cover various topics such as the structure of the Monastery, the YAD, and the BLIA organization, teamwork, introduction to Dharma, Buddhism etiquette, Sounds of the Human World and Buddhist chanting, and other relevant topics. The Deputy President of the BLIA Toronto Chapter, Kim Chan, Keven Chen, and the director of the BLIA Toronto Chapter, along Stacey Tran from the White Elephant, were invited to teach young adults.  

During the first class, Keven Chen and Stacey Tran provided a history of the BLIA YAD and explained the establishment process offices in Toronto. They guided everyone to understand the heritage and development of both FGS and the BLIA YAD in Toronto. The six principles of the YAD delineated the direction for young people to strive for improvement and provided the basis for initiating activities. These principles include "Three Acts of Goodness, Four Givings, and Five Harmonies", which establish behavioural and life standards for young people. The two White Elephant officials also encouraged the young people to be hardworking and diligent in their practice. 

Kim Chan shared insights into "Venerable Master Hsing Yun's Propagation Journey," beginning with the profound vow to continue as a monk lifetime after lifetime, which deeply touched the youths. Subsequently, a visit to the special exhibition "The Cultural Legacy of Venerable Master Hsing Yun" at the Buddha's Cultural Museum allowed the youth to delve into the Master's teachings through self-exploration and sharing. Through learning and understanding the propagation journey, the youths expressed deep admiration for his century-long commitment to spreading Dharma. 

Kim Chan utilized images to help the YADs comprehend the grand design of the Triple Gem Mountain of the FGS. She guided them through some open-ended questions to encourage them to explore more and gain a deeper understanding of both FGS and the Master's path of Dharma propagation. This sparked a desire in everyone to make a pilgrimage to FGS in Taiwan. 

In the third session of the "Sounds of the Human World" course, Ven. Zhi Guan gave a brief introduction to the concept of Music Dharma Propagation by Venerable Master Hsing Yun. This inspired young adult Buddhists to learn from Buddha and develop compassion and skillfulness. Later, Keven led the group to learn and sing the “Song of Fo Guang Shan.” 

The course, marked by its compact yet enriching nature, fostered an atmosphere of lively engagement, underscoring the vibrancy and hope inherent in promoting Buddhism among the youth through localized efforts. All sixteen participants hailed the training as a rare opportunity for growth, drawing inspiration from predecessors like Kim Chan, who joined BLIA in 1997, Keven Chen, who joined the BLIA Youth Division in 2005, and White Elephant Stacey Tran. They recognized their shared mission of upholding the legacy of Humanistic Buddhism.

On the afternoon of March 3rd, 2024 - The FGS and the Toronto YAD jointly launched the "BLIAWhite Elephant Training Lessons." Abbess Venerable Chueh Fan envisions the YADs cultivating consensus, confidence, joy, teamwork, and personal growth through this initiative. (Photo by Tiger Chen)
On the afternoon of March 3rd, 2024 - The FGS and the Toronto YAD jointly launched the "BLIA White Elephant Training Lessons." It was the first time that Kim Chan, formerly a member of YAD, attended the training as the BLIA Deputy President. (Photo by Tiger Chen)
The Deputy President of the BLIA Toronto chapter, Kim Chan, led the program. She used visual aids and open-ended questions to help the YADs explore and deepen their understanding of the grand vision of FGS and the teachings of the path of Dharma Propagation. (Photo by Tiger Chen)
YAD BLIA Toronto Director Keven Chen, lead the group to sing songs of Sounds of the Human World. (Photo by Tiger Chen)