From an early age, I would go with my parents to a Buddhist temple to pray several times a year. However, before attending the Dharma Youth class, I never learned Buddhist teachings; much less apply it to my daily life. Moreover, my reading, listening, and writing Chinese skills are very basic. So, even if someone read the material to me, I often wouldn’t be able to understand it enough to know how to apply it to my daily life.
Later on, I found out about the Dharma Youth class and it was taught in English. In the class, the students learn about Buddha’s teachings, application, and meditation. The shifus were all very nice, patient, and welcomed questions from the students. Through the class, I’ve learned a lot. During the lecture/discussion portion, after the shifu read the chapter, the shifu would go back and explain what it meant. Sometimes, the shifu would tell stories that are related to the concept taught. Sometimes, there are students that asked questions about the principle(s) discussed and how to apply it, in general or to a specific situation. If the question was about how to apply to it to a certain situation, through the answer that the shifu gave, I learned to see the situation from another perspective, how to respond to the situation in another or better way, and the logic behind it. Whether through the questions asked, stories told, and/or explanations given, I learned how I should respond to a certain situation in the future, if I have never came across the situation before, or reflect on how I responded to that situation in the past--what was right and bad about the way I responded. For example, one of the chapters basically talked about how to respond if a person purposely tries to cause trouble for another person. I learned that it is best to stay as clear-minded as possible and think of a better way to respond than to retaliate or become very defensive. In the past, I would become defensive or upset. After learning this concept, I try my best to apply, although it is sometimes difficult. This is one of the concepts that have left the biggest impression because occasionally, I still see this situation arise in my everyday life.
In addition to learning the principles, the shifu teaches the students how to meditate. Before taking the class, I did not know how to meditate. This is especially useful after a long day at school or when I am too stressed from class to think clearly and concentrate. At home, when I find myself unable to focus, I would meditate for about 15 minutes. Afterwards, I find myself to be much calmer. My mind is clearer, thereby making it easier to focus and complete the task or assignment at hand.
Through attending the class, I have met people and made friends that I would not have met otherwise. I have made friends that attended the same university as I did.
In the past, if a person asked me what some of Buddhist teachings are and what it means, my answer would be very short, because my understanding was very limited. If a person were to ask me now, my answer would be longer and more detailed.