The second annual Hsi Lai Buddhist Cultivation Program began on June 12, 2016. Students George Milan, Archie Gonzalez and Alfredo Ellis joined from Orlando, Florida. Noah Sipkin and Long Qian flew in from St. Louis, in addition to Los Angeles residents Yu Ning Low, Yanping Huang, Naomi Nwe, Bryan Pereyra and Huaijin Sun. The average age of the group is 24.
During the Opening Ceremony, the students were welcomed by Abbot Ven. Hui Dong, who encouraged them to embrace the rigorous six weeks of training as a new learning experience. Then Ven. Mankuang and Ven. Youheng introduced the instructors and students to each other. Ven. Hui Dong concluded the ceremony by giving each student the Buddhist book entitled Great Realizations as a symbol for the transmission of the wisdom of the Dharma.
Until July 26, the students will be taught Buddhist etiquette, history of Buddhism, Buddhist arts, Life of the Buddha, Humanistic Buddhism, sutra study, and special lectures. There will also be daily routines such as meditation, Chan exercise, chanting, and walking meditation. Other cultural lessons include Buddhist painting, tea ceremony, Chinese language, vegetarian cooking, and yoga. Each student will keep a journal to see how their mind progresses.
The monastic instructors for this program include Ven. Hui Dong, Ven. Yi Chao, Ven. Mankuang, Ven. Mandeng, Ven. Jueqian, Ven. Miao Hsi, Ven. Miaoyue, Ven. Youheng, Ven. Youdao, Ven. Zhiyi, Ven. Zhixing, and Ven. Zhishuan. Professor Dr. Lewis Lancaster will speak about the Six Perfections in Buddhism, while Dr. Paul Kjellberg will explain the Platform Sutra and Heart Sutra. Temple volunteers Nancy Cowardin, Sacha Denijs, Ching Chausse, Ann Wu, Alex Amies, Nancy Ko and Dave Morley will also assist in teaching the students. Fo Guang Shan Buddhist College graduate Raymond Kong and one of the students from the first Cultivation Program Andrew Nguy both serve as the accompanying instructors for the entire six weeks.