The cause from long ago:
In year 1972, I was studying in my third year of college in Taiwan, when I joined the Buddhist club in the university. After school, I often went to Taipei to listen to Dharma talks; therefore I noticed the news that the Buddhist Association of the United States (BAUS) was entrusting Torch of Wisdom Publishing Company to set up a scholarship, and also printed various Dharma books to send to many colleges and universities on a regular basis. They encouraged college students to establish Buddhist clubs and study Dharma. No doubt that I was one of the benefiters.
Thus, when I visited New York in year 1977, September, the very first thing I did was to visit BAUS to express my deepest gratitude.
In October, I paid my respect to the president of BAUS at the time, Ven. Min Zhì, vice president Ven. Rén Jun, and the abbot of Temple of Enlightenment, Master Sheng Yen, vice abbot Ven. Rì Cháng and Dr. Cia Theng Shen (I called him Uncle Shen).
The following year in August, Uncle Shen asked me, “The area of United States is very big, if we want to let Dharma spread widely, it seems very difficult. Do you have any suggestions?” So I told him my experience in Taiwan: I used to help Mahayana Dharma Books Printing Association (大乘印經會) and Universal Gate Publishing House (普門文庫), which are located in Taipei, and distributed Dharma books to many places around Taiwan. I suggested that this way of propagation has “small cost and big effect”. He accepted my suggestion immediately, and entrusted me to be in charge of this project and to set it in motion. I didn’t realize that this job would last for 36 years. To me, I felt karma is really incredible; it deeply affected my entire life and I am extremely grateful for it!
Dharma books and financial resource:
In year 1978, September, BAUS offered one thousand dollars as the foundation to establish a Book Circulation Dept. and set this project in motion.
Since I was familiar with Brother Chóng Hui Lè from Mahayana Dharma Books Printing Association and some people from the Taipei Buddhist Bookstore, we weren’t in lack of Dharma books resources; therefore we managed everything in the most economic way. Although it was very tough at the pioneering stage, when I saw the letters requesting books increase, I deeply felt that I should keep doing it with all my best.
After our Book Circulation Dept. was established for three years, the vice president of BAUS at that time, Ven. Rén Jun acknowledged the Book Circulation Dept. had a good start on circulating a large amount of books in The United States, but the financial resources couldn’t keep up with the cost of printing books. He immediately sponsored some funding irregularly for 18 years, which kept the book circulating ongoing.
After the Book Circulation Dept. had been established for 8 years, we received The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation’s great support from Taiwan yearly, continuing until the present. They supply a lot of Chinese and English Dharma books and paintings of Buddhas.
About 14 years ago, we also received US $24,000 every year from Brother Tony Yeung of the American Gracious Glory Buddhism Foundation, who designated this fund to be used for printing English Dharma books. We continued to expand the variety and number of English books for 10 years, and sent the books to various county, state, and federal prisons all over the United States. This has created a very profound impact!
In addition, the Book Circulation Dept. also entrusted Torch of Wisdom Publisher, Kaohsiung Genuine Buddhist Youth, Fufong Books & Media Limited Company, Tainan Miào Xīn Temple, Dharma Cultivation Publishing House from Taiwan, Fǎ Cáng Temple from Australia, and several Dharma book circulation houses from Hong Kong, to print the books or buy Dharma books, to ship and distribute them to the USA for free.
The BAUS Book Circulation Dept. has been dedicated to distributing free Chinese, English, and Spanish Dharma books for more than 30 years. We also received support from many ethnic Chinese devotees; other than many small donations, we are particularly grateful to American brother Běn Dá Wú and Brother Jīn Hào Chén, who kindly let us use their company’s containers to ship our printed books to the USA without charging us for several years. This has helped us to save a tremendous expense.
The category of books distribution:
Language: Chinese, English, Spanish. There are about 200 kinds of different Dharma books in total.
Schools of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, Tibetan, The doctrine of liberation, The Bodhisattva-path, Buddhism of the Human Realm, we have all the books about these schools and more.
The audience for books distribution:
We distribute the books according to their languages and ethnicities; to general Americans, English speaking Buddhist organizations in the USA, people from other religions, and various county, state, and federal prisons all over the country. Recently, small numbers of soldiers from the American Army and Air force have started to request Dharma books as well.
Countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, India, Pakistan, Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Republic of Paraguay, China, and Hong Kong.
For almost 15 years we have sponsored the BAUS director, American brother Richard Baksa to take charge of the teaching materials for all the students in The Prison Buddhist Correspondence Course.
The scope of influence:
Since we begun to distribute a great amount of Dharma books, recording tapes, video tapes, and CD/MP3/DVD media in recent years, it has helped many people either directly or indirectly to establish book clubs in early years, and later to become devotees of Buddhist organizations all over the United States. We also helped some Westerners by establishing an English website for propagating Dharma purpose, which has gotten over one million clicks. The result of this book and media circulation has influenced innumerable people from various county, state, or federal prisons all over the United States to study Buddhism.
Thirty years ago, one ethnic Chinese had been sentenced to 25 years for selling drugs. After he went to prison, his father asked us to send him some Dharma books. We kept contact with him for several years. After he had been in prison for 3 years, he sent us a letter, saying, “I have received bliss in disguise. If I wasn’t in prison, I wouldn’t get the chance to learn Buddhism.
I wouldn’t know I need to repent and transform myself to be a good person, and I don’t know how many evil things I might have done without repentance.” About 7 years ago, an American boy sent us a grateful letter along with his third request for Dharma books, “I began to use drugs at age fifteen; I killed two men when I was seventeen, and I am twenty-three now. I have been sentenced to 40 years in jail. I didn’t know what to do with the rest of my life, but after I received the Dharma books from you as I requested, I finally found my direction. You have saved my life, and I would like to express my deepest gratitude!”
My endless gratitude:
As the ancients said,
“Dharma would not arise alone; it will be born out of cause.”
“Virtues are not alone, they always have neighbors.”
Indeed, from my 38 years of distributing Dharma books, I truly realized the deep meanings of these two sentences.
Because of Uncle Shen’s one question
“How to spread Dharma in the USA?”
the question that conveyed deep positive energy (right cause), it unexpectedly stirred the indefinite right karma of common consensus. It influenced many good virtuous friends and devotees to cooperate in this great project (some offer donations, some volunteer to work), contributing our efforts to assist propagating Dharma in the Western world together.
I would like to take this wonderful chance on the 50th anniversary of the Buddhist Association of the United States, to everyone who has participated in circulating Dharma books, from the past until now, all the authors, readers, sponsors, helpers: I wish you all have good health, a prosperous life, bliss and wisdom, and wish you all will complete Buddhahood!