Sunday, 1 April 2007, morning saw a group of the International Buddhist College (IBC) students setting off from Than Hsiang Temple for Mahindarama Buddhist Temple to show their appreciation for the Malaysian support of IBC, to inform about IBC and to present two Dhamma talks.
On arrival at the Mahindarama Buddhist Temple, the delegation, comprising of Venerable Phanuthep, Venerable Satyajit, Venerable Dipananda, Venerable Saddhananda, Maechee Alvarez Diana Graciela, Sis. Siriporn Chammanowong, and Bro. Yew Lye Hin, was received by Venerable Indaratana, the Chief Priest of Mahindarama Buddhist Temple. Venerable Indaratana graciously received a gift pack presented to him by Venerable Phanuthep and spoke to each individual Sangha member.
The delegation then proceeded to the temple's Preaching Hall and prepared for the presentation of the Dhamma talks. Meanwhile, Maechee Diana and Sis. Siriporn distributed IBC flyers, Than Hsiang Ezine and audio VCDs as well as talked about IBC to those who came to listen to the Dhamma talks.
Bro. Kung Kok Chye, the Chairman of Mahindarama Buddhist Temple Management Committee, started the proceedings by giving a brief introduction of IBC. He was followed by Bro. Yew Lye Hin who introduced Venerable Saddhananda, the first speaker for the morning.
Venerable Saddhananda was born in 1986 in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, a predominant Buddhist region of Bangladesh. After the completion of his primary schooling, he became a novice monk in 1999 and in the same year went to Sri Lanka to undergo five years of intensive monastic training under his preceptor Venerable Dr. K. L. Dhammajoti. Presently, Venerable Saddhananda is engaged in undergraduate Buddhist research studies at IBC.
Venerable Saddhananda started his Dhamma talk “Becoming a Buddhist Within” by pointing out the two greatest blessings of listening to and discussing the Dhamma on timely occasions (Mangala Sutta). He said that it was not good enough to profess to observe the Five Precepts when in our hearts we are not truly a Buddhist. He urged everyone to develope the Buddha nature that resides in each and everyone so that we would all reach Enlightenment.
The next speaker was Venerable Dipananda, who is also from Bangladesh. He was ordained as a novice-monk at the age of 12 in 1994 and in 1996 he underwent training at the Bangladesh Bhikkhu Training and Meditation Centre in Kadalpur. In 2002, he received full ordination and in the following year, with the help of Venerable K. L. Dhammajoti, went to Sri Lanka for higher Buddhist education. In 2004 he went to IBC to continue with his studies.
Venerable Dipananda spoke on the “Precious Human Life” and the Eight Freedoms of being able to practice the Dhamma by not being born in Hell, as a Hungry Ghost (Preta), as an Animal, as a Long-life God, as a Barbarian, in a Place where a Buddha has not come, not possessing all the faculties of body and mind, and as a heretic with grossly distorted attitudes and beliefs. He gave an analogy of the one-eyed turtle popping up to the surface of a vast ocean once in a hundred years and the extremely slim likelihood of its head passing through a hoop floating in this vast ocean to illustrate how rare and precious it is to have an optimum human rebirth. We should thus value highly this precious human life and concentrate on living a virtuous life towards attaining enlightenment.
After Venerable Dipananda had finshed his Dhamma talk, it was opened to the floor for a question and answer session. There was no questions, however, and the Dhamma talks closed with the Transference of Merits.
The Sangha members then proceeded to the Dining Hall with Venerable Indaratana and other Bhikkus to participate in a Sanghikadana. The Dining Hall was overflowing with the many devout devotees present for the Sanghikadana. Many of the devotees had accrued merits at the Sanghikadana to transfer to their departed loved ones as that Sunday was also the start of the Chinese Qing Ming (Tomb Sweeping Day or All Souls Day).
It can be said that the start of the IBC Dhamma Tour had gotten off on a sound footing and it is envisaged the rest of the Tour would be just as well received