The City of Philadelphia is located in the southeast region of Pennsylvania of U.S.A. where Delaware River and Schuylkill River merge. It is approximately 142 kilometer due east of Atlantic Ocean; the city occupies an area of 352 square kilometers and sustains a population of 1.586 million people.
Philadelphia has been an ancient city of America, as well as the sixth largest city in the U.S. and the largest city in the State of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia is a renowned historic city of America which has been a milestone in the quest for independence during the Civil War.
In the mid 18th Century, Philadelphia has been the breeding ground for engenderment and endorsement of the Declaration of Independence. Two critical meetings called Continental Congresses were convened here during 1774-1775 period, whereupon the Declaration of Independence was hence ratified.
Moreover, American Constitutional Rights were first conceived of and endorsed in Philadelphia.
In 1787, an legislature was formed in Philadelphia to enact the Constitution from which the first section of the Constitution stemmed. The city was once the capital of the United States during 1790-1800 period. The American flag was first designed and hoisted here by a lady named Betsy Ross; our founding father, George Washington had also been living here for sometime.
Since 19th century, (transportation of goods and services via) railroads and sea ports have grown exponentially mustering strength in manufacturing sector. In 1860 alone, the city had contributed 30 percent to the national GDP. To this day, Philadelphia still stands as an important hub for transportation, commercial and cultural interests.
On October 9th of 2011, the sun shone forth in all its might spanning thousands of miles in clear blue sky.
The outdoor temperature was seasonably low at dawn. However, the arrival of Grand Master, His Holiness Lian-Sheng has brought forth the (warm) radiances of Tathagata Buddha therewith to the ancient city.
At ten 10 o`clock a.m. that morning, Grand Master Lian-Sheng and Grand Madam Lian-Siang Acharya stately arrived at Lian-Yen Chapter in Philadelphia. Upon arrival, two crowded rows of inspired devotees were standing along both sides of the entrance way ready to greet the Grand Master, Grand Madam, Acharya masters, lecturers, monks and nuns, who have arrived from North America and other parts of the world.
At first, Grand Master and Grand Madam proceeded to host the ribbon-cutting inauguration ceremony (so as to ritualistically charter the chapter as a temple). Thereupon, they went on to unmask the new inscribed tablet bearing the new temple name.
The temple was converted from a two-story church building and is solemnly majestic. All the buddha statues and effigies were glistening with nimbus and imbued with an air of auspiciousness. As Grand Master acceded to the throne at the podium, all the heavenly Buddhas, Boddhisattvas, Devas, Nagas and Dharma Tutelaries descended upon on the venue. Numerous Prajna orbs were captured by camera.
As one sets foot in the threshold of the newly chartered Lian-Yen True Buddha Temple, he/she is immediately on cloud nine and blissful of dharma. The dazzling and glittering statues and effigies of Buddhas and Boddhisattvas and Tankas captivated the minds of the attending participants.
The Temple is endowed with a Mandala Shrine exclusively dedicated to the Root Lineage Acharya, His Holiness Grand Master Lian-Sheng, the Living Buddha and thereby engenders a realistic sensation of His presence and close proximity.
The Mandala Shrine is flanked by two brush-calligraphic mottos bestowed by Grand Master Lian-Sheng which read: 「Multitudes of Lotus Blossom Celebrating Favorable Auspices」and 「Elegantly Subliming Sentient Beings into Realization of Innate Buddha Nature」.
Upon completion of the inauguration ceremony, Grand Master Lian-Sheng awarded a piece of brush-calligraphic artwork to the new temple for which a solemnizing sanctification ritual was thereupon performed.
Grand Master was wearing a brand new golden dharma-king crown and a golden dragon vest suggestive of a mutual spiritual response that culminated in transmission of Heavenly Deity of Wealth and Treasure dharma, at His magnaminous grace.
As Grand Master securely seated Himself in the dharma throne, several line-ups of lion dancers clad in traditional Chinese lion-dance costume jumped in past the temple threshold to celebrate the occasion. The lion dance performance was thus arranged to cheerfully entertain and pay homage to Grand Master, the Living Buddha. The solemnly majestic temple was fully occupied with people on both floors leaving the remaining unseated disciples of the Four Groups standing on the outside. There were over five hundred followers who came to uphold this dharma ceremonial assembly.
Among the Acharya masters present were Acharya Master Lian-Ning, Lian-Yin, Lian-Zher, Lian-Seng, Lian-Yuen, Lian-Shuong, Lian-Tzen, Lian-Jieh, Lian-Fu, Lian-Siang, Lian-Dien, Lian-Yo and so on. In addition, there were 1 professor dharma instructor, 30 dharma instructors and 7 assistant dharma instructors. Afar had come devotees from different areas of North America, and the Canadian devotees from Toronto have been on the road for over ten hours on a chartered bus.
Amongst the special guests were the Director of the Lighthouse of Philadelphia - Mr. David Chen, Philadelphia City Council member - Mr. David Ou, Captain of the First District of Philadelphia Police Department-Mr. Louis Campione, Captain of the Third District of Philadelphia Police Department-Mr. Mike Ryan, the Special Representative of Philadelphia School District-Dr. Victoria Yancy, Pennsylvania State Senate Serving Philadelphia District - Senator Lawrence Farnese Jr., Pennsylvania House of Representatives-Democrat Representative - Kenyata Johnson, Philadelphia Departmental Inspector-Bill K., the Greater Philadelphia Chinese American Coalition-Woman`s Alliance Assistant Director-Ms. Siaolan Lee, the Greater Philadelphia Chinese American Coalition Director-Mr. Gwo Gwok-Keung, and the Greater Philadelphia Tsaojou Ethnic Federation Director-Mr. Gong Tsong-Wah. The visiting local news channel crews were: ABC News Channel (No. 6), CBS News Channel (No. 10), FOX News Channel, the Greater Philadelphia New Main Stream Press Newspaper represented by Reporter Mr. Bid Ging, the Greater Philadelphia Chinese Weekly Newspaper represented by Reporter Mr. Chu Bik. Most of the listed news agencies have taken video recording of the Temple site during the inauguration ceremony and was broadcasted on the public media.
Thereupon, Grand Master ministered the transmission of the Lay Boddhisattva Code of Precepts to twelve lay disciples. Prior to solemnization of the transmission, Grand Master queried the disciples whether they are willing to stand on observance of the Boddhisattva code of precepts? The subject disciples replied with an uproar of affirmative answer. Grand Master was delighted by the affirmative answer and replied with humor: ``Obviously, this (group of wannabe Lay Boddhisattvas) has undergone training already.``
Grand Master went on to deliver a dharma oration to this group of wannabe Lay Boddhisattvas, He said: 「To take solemnized vows of Boddhisattva Code of Precepts, one has to commit himself/herself wholeheartedly to it with both mind and body.
In respect of the mind observance, the disciple must constantly remember and think of the code of precepts that he/she took solemnly. He/she must make effort to remember by rote the stipulations of the handbook on the code of precepts upon completion of this solemnization.
In respect of the body observance, the body must take action to abide by the code of precepts. These are thus called the Will Boddhi and Action Boddhi. Once the disciple has called forth his/her volition to act by the precepts, the bodily action shall follow order accordingly. This is, once again, termed the Action Boddhi. One has to carry out the Action in good faith.
As one would carry out the actions of a Boddhisattva, he/she shall be deemed a Boddhisattva in the temporal world; likewise, he/she shall be deemed a Boddhisattva in the celestial world. Similarly, he/she shall be regarded as a Boddhisattva in the Pure Land of Buddhas. 」
Upon conclusion of the solemnization of the Vows of Boddhisattva Code of Precepts, the directors of the newly chartered Lian-Yen True Buddha Temple-Sister Mei-Diao Huang and Brother Jimmy Huang proceeded to represent the venue participants to tender Grand Master and Grand Madam sanctified Hakda Scarves and other offerings.
Next, Sister Mei-Diao Huang went on to deliver a welcoming address to Grand Master Lian-Sheng, Grand Madam Lian-Siang, missionaries of all rankings and all participating devotees. She expressed her sincere gratitude to the blessings rendered by Grand Master which thereby making possible the actualization of such a solemnly majestic Temple! She said that Lian-Yen Tang True Buddha Temple (along with its missionaries and staff) will follow the guidelines and instructions set forth by Grand Master. Based on the principle of gaining from multitude of sentient beings whereto the gaining is fed back; benefitting the multitude of sentient beings in order to vastly redeem them!
She further thanked Grand Master for personally and stately coming to the city of Philadelphia rendering a successful and satisfactory inauguration ceremony!
After the dharma oration, the magnanimous Grand Master bestowed the empowerment of Wealth and Treasure Deity dharma and All-in-One Pakmakumara Deity dharma (lineage-wise) upon all participants at the venue.
Throughout the entire dharma ceremony and oration ministered by Grand Master, everyone in the venue sensed intense flow of dharma currents whereby blessings were transmitted. The multitude of predecessors in the True Buddha School lineage, Buddhas and Boddhisattvas have descended upon the venue, and all the participating True Buddha devotees thereby take account of the unique, overwhelming genius loci of the True Buddha School`s tantric dharmas!
All the participants in the assembly were very blissful of dharma. Grand Master`s stately sojourn in the city of Philadelphia on a dharma-propagation mission has concluded satisfactorily as wished!