The ceremony launched at 10:00 AM. With the sound of bell and drum, all the devout members greeted the masters when they entering the Grand Hall. Led by the Venerables, members began to recite the Heart Sutra. After the chant, Venerable Jing-Hai gave a lesson on “The Triple Gem is The Best Refuge,” beginning by explaining “What is the Triple Gem.” Venerable Jing-Hai told us, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha are the three most important elements of Buddhism. They are called the Triple Gem because they represent excellent qualities as precious as gems. The Triple Gem is the field of merit for the world – we can train ourselves in order to attain the virtues of the Triple Gem. Triple Gem is like an island in the ocean. Triple Gem is like the light that illuminates a path in darkness.
Benefits of Taking Refuge in the Triple Gem:
· One will not fall into the realm of evil.
· One will gain dignity in character.
· One will gain the respect from others.
· One will accomplish good deeds.
· One will accumulate merits.
· One will be well, happy, and peaceful.
In the next section was the Bodhi Scholarship Award which was awarded to the hard working children of the members.
In the last section, Venerable Katapunno, Supervisor of the Meditation Hall of the American Bodhi Center, gave a blessing to everyone in Chinese, English and Pali based on Dhammapada. With the power of the Triple Gem merits, Venerable Katapunno wished the world peace, everyone peace, good luck, and reach Nirvana. The ceremony successfully ended by the bathing of the Buddha from the members one by one.