為了讓美國人有一個好環境學習佛法，法師在美國華盛頓州，建立舍衛精舍（Sravasti Abbey），該精舍只接受眾生慈悲的供養來維持一切經濟。雖地處偏僻，但卻從未因為供養的缺乏而面臨飢餓。後來一位記者造訪，並將精舍宣傳出去，便有更多人來精舍學習佛法。法師最後唱誦英譯版的三皈依，並開朗地邀請大家，「歡迎大家有機會就來舍衛精舍！」（文／知文 圖／劉育宏、知文）2017.11.28
One of the pioneering Western Buddhist nuns, Thubten Chodron, shares the Dharma with the Buddhist Studies Department
(Fo Guang University Reporting) Venerable Thubten Chodron is amongst the first generation of Western women who ordained in the Tibetan tradition. At the invitation of the Buddhist Studies department, she gave a talk on November 28 at the Buddhist Studies department in Yilan, sharing how her Buddhist education and efforts to spread the Dharma have straddled Tibetan, Chinese, and American cultures.
“Why did I decide to ordain?” Venerable spoke about how in the past she sought out different religions, hoping to find answers to her questions about life. As she has the character of an independent thinker, this led her to reject religion for a period of time. “However, I always believed that the greatest value in life must have something to do with ‘benefitting others’.” Later, by chance, she participated in a meditation class taught by Tibetan Lamas, and was astonished to hear them say, “You can completely disbelieve whatever I say, but you have to think about and practice what I have said, and see whether it benefits you or not.” From then on, she became interested in Buddhism.
In 1975, Venerable went to Nepal and India to study Tibetan Buddhism, and was ordained by Ling Rinpoche. In 1986, she went to Taiwan to take the bhikshuni ordination, and became connected to Fo Guang Shan through participating in a conference. The poor conditions that she studied in at the time in Dharamsala, India, made her even more appreciative of the opportunity to learn the Dharma, and the relationship between teachers and students was as close as that between parents and children.
In the process of learning, Venerable sought out female role models, but due to the lower status of women in the Tibetan sangha, they did not have the opportunity to develop their talents, and female role models were difficult to find. Aside from this, she often struggled with her afflictions when she perceived that she was not practicing well. Through repeatedly learning how to accept herself, to laugh at her weaknesses, and reflecting upon how afflictions and faults can be reduced over time, she was gradually able to release them.
When asked what school of Tibetan Buddhism she belongs to, Venerable replied directly that although she began learning the Dharma in the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, she also received the precepts in the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya lineage practiced in the Chinese tradition, and thus feels a close connection with Chinese Buddhism. Furthermore, she believes in non-sectarian Mahayana Buddhism, “Therefore I only wish to say, I am a Buddhist.” Venerable encouraged students that as the Mahayana bodhisattva path is very long, they should study a broad range of Buddhist teachings in order to benefit all kinds of sentient beings. Even though there are misunderstandings between different Buddhist traditions, but in this age that is said to transcend national boundaries, there is greater opportunity to overcome these misunderstandings and conflicts between traditions.
In order to provide a conducive environment for Americans to learn and study Buddhism, Venerable established Sravasti Abbey in Washington State in America. The Abbey only accepts offerings from the kindness of others to sustain their entire economy. Although their location is rural, they have never gone hungry due to lack of donations. After a reporter visited and spread the word about the Abbey, then more people came to the Abbey to learn the Buddhadharma.
Finally, Venerable chanted the English version of the Three Refuges, and joyfully invited everyone, “We welcome everyone to visit Sravasti Abbey when you have the opportunity!” (English Translation by Ven. Damcho.)