The 1968 Shurangama Sutra Summer Lecture and Cultivation Session
the conclusion of the spring session, students discussed with the
Master the possibility of holding a three month lecture and cultivation
session be held during the summer months. About thirty people decided
to attend. During that 98-day session, the Master lectured on the
Shurangama Sutra twice a day, and near the end of the session three and
even four times a day, to explain the entire Sutra. The lectures were
also open to the general public. The session itself started at six
every morning and officially ended at nine in the evening. In addition
to the Sutra lectures, the schedule consisted of alternate hours of
meditation, study, and discussion, so there was very little free time.
those who attended were of varied age and background, the majority were
young Americans of college age or in their middle or late twenties.
Most had had little or no previous training in Buddhism; however,
several had studied Buddhism at the undergraduate level and some at the
graduate level. A few had also had a little previous experience with
meditation. The handful who had some competency in Chinese provided
translations, which started out on a rather rudimentary level and
became quite competent during the course of the summer.
of special note that took place during the session included two refuge
ceremonies, at which most of the regular participants became formal
disciples of the Master, and a precept ceremony late in the summer in
which almost all the disciples took vows to follow moral precepts of
varying numbers, including some or all of the Five Moral Precepts up to
the Ten Major and Forty-Eight Minor Bodhisattva Precepts. One
participant took the vows of a novice monk. The Master's teachings that
summer specially emphasized the moral precepts as a foundation for the
spiritual life. In this way he used them as an effective antidote
against the proclivities of the popular culture for drug experience and
Excerpt from an article by Ron Epstein (Guorong), p. 61
"In Memory of the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, Vol. I"
Buddhist Lecture Hall, 1968
of the Shurangama Lecturing and Cultivation Summer Session. The
Venerable Master's patient teaching and compassionate expedients
awakened and inspired these young Americans according to their various
potentials. The majority of these students began the summer with little
or no understanding of Buddhism. At the end, most participants received
the Five Precepts, and many received the Bodhisattva Precepts. They are
shown here in robes and precept sashes with their bowing cloths.