In MacDougall Hall 243 of the University of Prince Edward Island, April 2, 2015 was a day when the Monks from GEBIS made their encounter with University students for the course Religious Studies 102 — RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD: EASTERN TRADITIONS offered by Professor Philip G. Davis, Ph.D. This is a course, meeting three hours each week for a semester, which intends to provide an introduction to the major living religions of the East: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism.
A decent turnout – almost 40 students showed up for this lecture by Venerable Liu, President of GEBIS, who was a computer IT professional in New York before having ordained as a Buddhist monk more than 10 years ago.
Scheduling for a right time was quite a challenge itself, GEBIS particularly felt privileged to be able to finally get connected with Religious Studies students on this date (right after our 2015 GEBIS Spring Fest with not much break). We can only imagine how hard it can be for Professor Davis constantly rearranging for the course plans for the entire semester which has been impacted a lot by the snow storms.
This opportunity was first brought up to Professor Davis’ attention by Josh Duffy, a Moonlight Scholarship recipient (sponsored by Moonlight International Foundation, a Stratford-based non-profit organization operated by laypersons following the same Buddhist faith).
GEBIS was invited to go and speak about Buddhism, especially from the point of view of a practitioner rather than an academic. This is an interesting concept while obviously a very good opportunity to reach out to the university so that Buddhist monks can have a direct and hopefully fruitful conversation with UPEI students. When they were called upon, decision and effort was made without much difficulty, with scheduling issue being the only road block.
He clearly went over the definition of meditation in general; the grasping of our minds onto objects, ways for ordinary beings to transcend, and the compositional activity. Venerable Liu further led the audience to examine the subjective aspect of the mind at both the coarse and subtle levels.
All these concepts were laid out as groundwork for the highlight of the day — when a concept called OMAK (Observe Merits & Appreciate Kindness) was introduced. Clearly, OMAK is a good example of how we can gradually attain happiness through applying meditation technique by repeatedly focusing our minds onto virtuous objects.
Much of the class in RS102 stayed quite focused for the lecture, and from their expression, you can almost sense that there should be more encounters in the future. Many beautiful smiles, and good questions and feedback! OMAK to you — Professor Davis and Chair Joe Velaidum, Josh Duffy, all RS102 students, and of course, UPEI.