The celebration was kicked off at 9:30 AM on February 9 (Saturday) by chanting "Pharmacist Repentance". More than a hundred people attended. "Medicine Buddha Repentance" is based on the "Sutra of the Vows of the Medicine Buddha of Lapis Lazuli Crystal Radiance." The participating people following the ceremony of "Medicine Buddha Repentance" were rid of bad karma, blessed with good karma, blessed for happiness, good fortune, and long life. The “Public Repentance Ceremony for Longevity” started at 9:30 PM on the same day. Led by the Venerables, more than 200 people piously payed respect and prayed to Buddha with vows and wishes. Everyone was filled with happiness. When the time was close to midnight before the new year arrived, the Grand Hall was crowded with people from inside to outside. There were people who wanted to join the Bell-Knocking Ceremony and people who wanted to light their incense at the strike of the new year. Everyone was full of joy and happiness.
Venerable Jing-Hai gave a speech and taught us: At the start of the new year, besides cleaning the house and yard, we also need to clean the filth in our heart and mind. The filth in our mind is the six troubles which are greed, hatred, delusion, arrogance, doubt and bias. The Buddha’s Dharma is like spiritual water that can be used to wash the filth out of our mind. If we work hard to practice the Dharma, and see the six troubles minimized in our life, that means the level in your practice of the Dharma has grown. Venerable Jing-Hai blessed us for peace and for our wisdom to grow. Venerable Hung-I excerpted four sentences from a Buddhist Sutraas a New Year gift to everyone: [Always meet people with happiness; When you meet sufferings, do not worry; Greet people with an open heart; Make donation when you can.]
February 10, 2013 (Sunday) was coincidently New Year's Day. Although it was drizzling outside, there were more than 1500 enthusiastic people participating in the Lunar New Year Dharma Ceremony. At ten o’clock, the ceremony began and the Venerables made their entrance to the Grand Hall.
Venerable Hung-I inculcated people on the topic “The good times in our life.”
Venerable Hung-I said: What are excessive matters in our life? The excessive matters are the ones where we do not mind our own business, the ones that will increase our worries, and the ones that will hinder our practice for increasing happiness and wisdom. In our daily lives, “don’t be a nosy-parker,”be aware of not crossing other people’s boundaries or businesses.
In accordance with the standards of Zen, "Every day is a good day, and each moment is a good moment.” In real life, we have seven good times:
1. Peaceful time: Staying healthy, making a living comfortably
2. Contented time: Enhancing good morals, knowledge and reducing materialistic desires
3. Forgiving time: The less hatred, the more compassion; The more compassion, the less fear.
4. Appreciating time: Showing gratitude and appreciation, joy will come naturally.
5. Good friends gathering time: Good friends will help us promote our life.
6. Volunteer time: Serving as volunteers will bring good karma, rewards of happiness and good friendships to you.
7. Practicing Dharma time: Practicing Dharma can relieve our mind and grow our wisdom.
Venerable Dharma Hung-I encouraged everyone to hold on to every chance for the seven good times whenever you can, so that our lives will be more full of satisfaction and happiness.
The program continued with the Bodhi choir singing beautiful Buddhist songs, the temple’s youth group performing dragon dances, children’s classes playing a Buddhist instrument, and Buddhists sharing their experience in their practicing. Everyone enjoyed the programs. The Venerables’ blessings to everyone made everyone felt rewarding.
Finally, in front of Sakyamuni Buddha, Venerable Jing-Hai led the audience with a prayer and blessing. The ceremony concluded with everyone wishing a happy new year to all the Venerables and to each other.
At 1:30 PM on the same day, the ceremony of the "Sutra of the Vows of the Medicine Buddha of Lapis Lazuli Crystal Radiance" completed the Lunar New Year celebrations.
Honorable guests went to Jade Buddha Temple for Lunar Year Celebration.
* President of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Houston, Mr. Liao, Section head, Mr. Chen and the Sub-director of Chinese Culture Center, Mr. Ye, are among the six honorable guests that arrived at Jade Buddha Temple on the night of February 9, new year's eve. They wished a happy new year and paid their respects to Venerable Jing-Hai and Venerable Hung-I at the new year celebration.
Director Liao is a devout Buddhist. He said that he scheduled every day to recite the "Diamond Sutra.” He expressed admiration for the two Venerables as the pioneers of Buddhism in southern area in US. He also expressed appreciation to Texas Buddhist Association for the contribution to the overseas Chinese community over the years. At the end of their visit, the two Venerables chatted with the guests for more than half an hour.
* Congressman Al Green, visited the Texas Buddhist Association, Jade Buddha Temple, in the afternoon of February 10, 2013. He wished a happy new year and paid respect to Venerable Jing-Hai, Venerable Hung-I and to all the people in the temple. The audience gave a warm welcome to Congressman Al Green. He then apologized to Venerable Hung-I that because of some businesses in the morning, he could not attend the ceremony in the morning. He showed appreciation to the Texas Buddhist Association for its contribution and for supporting the communities. He was very concerned about the thieves that Jade Buddha Temple frequently encountered recently and the dealing with the thieves’ aftermath. Venerable Hung-I told him that the temple has strengthened their security and that everything is okay now. Congressman Al Green and Venerable Hung-I met for more than twenty minutes before Congressman Al Green departed.