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2024 Buddha's Light Young Adult Oceania White Elephant Executive Training




The “2024 Buddha's Light Young Adult Oceania White Elephant Executive Training” was held across five sessions from 17 December 2023 to 10 March 2024, hosted by Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) Queensland Young Adult Division (YAD). A total of 19 current and prospective White Elephant Executives across Oceania registered for training and met online every three weeks to deepen their understanding of Humanistic Buddhism, what it means to be a Buddha’s Light Young Adult and the significance of being a White Elephant Executive. A range of speakers presented and facilitated learning, including certified White Elephant Executives and Sumagahdi Lecturers throughout Oceania, BLIA Sydney Advisor, BLIA Queensland Directors, BLIA Queensland YAD committee members, as well as Fo Guang Shan Oceania Venerables.


During the opening address, Deputy Secretary General of Oceania, Chief Abbess Man Ko shared that the propagation of Buddhism is people-oriented, and as the saying goes, “people can propagate the Way, but the Way does not propagate people”. Therefore, this training for youths will bring truth, goodness, and beauty into our life’s practice, along with a Bodhisattva heart, allowing youths to practice the Bodhisattva vows of doing great deeds and performing virtuous acts.

 

The diverse range of topics presented directly aligned with the main criteria for White Elephant certification. To understand Fo Guang Shan (FGS) and BLIA, trainees covered topics such as, “The origins of White Elephant” by Henry Liao of Queensland YAD, “The History of FGS and its organisational structure” by Joseph Wilczer of Melbourne YAD, “Origins of YAD, its vision and mission” by Lucy Chen of Queensland YAD, and “The Three Acts of Goodness, Four Givings and Five Harmonies” by Hui Wen Lim of Perth YAD.


Trainees delved deeper into the Fundamentals of Buddhism through presentations on the “Three Dharma Seals, Threefold Training and Four Means of Embracing” by David Chen of Perth YAD, “The Five Precepts and their purpose” by Daimi Zhang of Sydney YAD, “An Introduction to the Four Noble Truths” by Edwin Teoh of Auckland YAD, “What are your views on Humanistic Buddhism” by Wendy Tang of Queensland YAD, “The Six Paramitas and how we practice it in our daily lives” by Steven Sun of Auckland YAD, “Five Contemplations” by Joseph Wilczer and “An Introduction to the Four Great Bodhisattvas” by Linda Chang of BLIA Queensland.


To equip trainees for the range of activities and events they would be contributing to, and potentially leading within their respective YADs, an activities and event planning session was run by Serinna Ha of Melbourne YAD. Trainees learnt about YAD event objectives and how to create an event proposal before working in groups to create and present their own proposals for a YAD event.


A Buddhist Etiquette session run by Joseph Wilczer prepared trainees to attend Dharma functions, Dharma classes and activities at their respective temples with the expected decorum. Paired with a Buddhist Hymns (chanting) session facilitated by Brandon Wong of Queensland YAD, trainees better understood the significance of participating in Dharma functions.


As youth seek peace within the busyness of their daily activities, Venerable Miao Zhe guided trainees through a meditation session, explaining what it is and the benefits of its practice. Ms Sue Wong, BLIA Sydney Advisor and Tea Chan teacher, introduced trainees to the beauty and tranquility of Tea Chan with a demonstration and explanation of its purpose.


A session on “Sounds of the Human World” by Belinda Hsueh of Queensland YAD, touched the hearts of trainees as they followed the history of Sounds of the Human World and Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s vision to bring Humanistic Buddhism to every corner of society. Expounding the Dharma through music, deep within the hearts of human beings to cleanse their spirit as the purity, harmony and lyrics of Buddhist music can be brought into changing people’s lives and bringing peace and harmony into the world. This was directly followed by a song memorisation workshop led by Renee Kwok of Queensland YAD, who used the Sounds of the Human World songs, “Harmonize” and “Buddha’s Light Always Shines On You” to teach trainees how to effectively learn song lyrics through connecting and understanding the meaning of the words.


As this year’s Oceania White Elephant Executive Training came to a close, Abbess of Chung Tian Temple, Venerable Man Wang expressed that the final training session was held on the renunciation anniversary of Fo Guang Shan’s founding master, Venerable Master Hsing Yun, who has been recognised globally for his lifelong dedication to culture, education, charity and practice for the betterment of humanity. Therefore, the premise of the White Elephant training program begins from understanding society, oneself, and the world. “Understanding society” is to understand the content and meaning of the Dharma, “Understanding oneself” is to develop a habit of meditation so that we can build confidence, grow, and truly see ourselves so as to focus on the present moment, “Understanding the world” is to use the Six Paramitas to understand the world and transcend worldly afflictions.


After five diverse and enriching sessions, trainees expressed their appreciation for learning from Venerables and fellow YADs, strengthening their faith and commitment to the Buddhist path. One trainee commented he enjoyed the time to self-reflect and learn from role models, inspiring him to also aspire to become a role model for others.As the training concludes, the White Elephant certification criteria ensures that these young leaders are well-prepared to make a meaningful impact.


As they continue with their white elephant training assessment, they carry the realisation that like-minded youth across Oceania share a Bodhisattva heart and a common vow that “youth need Buddhism and Buddhism needs youth.”


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