DDMBA recently hosted the “Finding Wholeness Retreat” for homeless at-risk youth on 10-13 May, 2011 in partnership with the Reciprocity Foundation at Dharma Drum Retreat Center in Pine Bush, New York.
Reciprocity founders, Taz Tagore and Adam Bucko guided the program for 12 youth with the support of Ven. Chang Ji and Ven. Guo Chan. The Reciprocity Foundation uses an approach that taps into and awakens the talents and gifts of homeless youth so that sustainable change is possible, thus they can re-join society from a place of strength and wholeness.
This was an exciting moment for many of the Reciprocity students–some of whom had never left an urban environment. When they pulled up at the retreat center, the youth seemed energized by their surroundings. Some immediately started sneezing as their bodies adjusted to the higher pollen count. Some took off their headphones and deeply drank in the sight of trees, lavender bushes, groundhogs and a pristine lake. They seemed unsure of their surroundings, but open.
Over the next three days, the Reciprocity students practiced yoga, sitting and walking meditation, silent meals and participated in discussions rooted in spiritual principles. They enjoyed taking walks by the lake, exploring the woods and taking the time to just rest and breathe.
As youth progress in the program, the Foundation teaches youth to assume a leadership role in creating sustainable and socially responsible enterprises and connects youth to creative, business and academic institutions as partners on their path to build meaningful careers. The program enables youth to permanently transition out of shelters, breaking the cycle of poverty and homelessness.
Master Sheng Yen stated that he studied buddhadharma for the sake of actualizing it and making it relevant to a modern society. For the last 30 years of his life, Master Sheng Yen tirelessly advanced Buddhist education as well as engaging in interfaith outreach, and working on behalf of world peace, youth development and gender equality worldwide. The “Finding Wholeness Retreat” is an example of the manifestation of Master Sheng Yen’s vision to uplift the social, spiritual and physical well being of others. He recognized the importance of reaching out to youth in particular and supporting programs that empowered them to take on their roles as future leaders. DDMBA continues to carry out international programs that are in alignment with his vision.