The City of Dharma Realm (CDR) is located in Sacramento, the capital of California, USA. Founded in 1992 by Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, CDR is part of Dharma Realm Buddhist Association. With an area around 17 acres, its primary focus is training of Buddhist nuns and promoting education. When the Venerable Master dwelled in the world, he personally led the fourfold disciples in the discussion of a blueprint for the construction of the Jeweled Hall. He also clearly pointed out the important aspects. Now that the cause-and-condition is ready, the first phase of construction will start soon. We sincerely invite all the good and devoted ones from the ten directions to participate in this grand endeavor! Now, we respectfully return to the Venerable Master's recorded dharma talk to stimulate our mind, nourish our vigor, and resolve our practice according to his teaching!
"This is a major event in Sacramento, i.e. to promote Buddhism and benefit all living beings. If you can establish this Wayplace and as a result people attain Buddhahood, your merit will be great! There is a saying: Forge ahead in benevolence; courageously do what is righteous. This kind of opportunity is rare and difficult to encounter. Hence, you should accept the task courageously and do not retreat! I do not know if you have accepted with courage. If not, quickly do so. Everyone takes part in establishing Buddhism and rectifying human behavior and the moral standard in this world. Do not shrug your responsibility. Whoever has the ability needs to come forward and carry out this endeavor."
Venerable Master said, "In Buddhism and other religions, there are large meeting places available, but not in Sacramento. We want to build a large-scale meeting place here in Sacramento for everyone to use. It will not be limited to Buddhists. Those of other religions or groups can use of this place as long as they respect and follow the rules and regulations, i.e. no smoking, no alcoholic drinks, no illegal substance abuse. As long as they can abide by the rules, they can come here and use the facility. We must be magnanimous, not just for Buddhism but also for all in this world. Therefore, what we are going to build is an activity center for Buddhism and other religions as well.
Venerable Master also said, "From the Buddhist view, we should maintain personal wholesomeness and also care for the wellbeing of the entire world. All of us have planted this affinity millions of eons ago. We should mutually encourage and support each other, and not discriminate against anyone. I do not discriminate within Buddhism or in any other religion, e.g. Catholicism, Christianity, Judaism, etc. I want to be especially kind to them. This is my idea. I want to do my best to cooperate with others, to respect everyone and not antagonize any one. This way, eventually people will not oppose me either. These are my thoughts."
He also said, "I have no religious attachment to any religion; otherwise, that would be an example of too strong of an attachment. However, I believe in true principles. I hold a certain true principle for each religion. Buddhism is not a religion but a teaching for humanity, an education of the mind/heart of all beings. It is for everyone. You can say it is non-religion or a way of life. When you insist on a religion, there is attachment. Having an attachment is a contradiction to this religion, which is equivalent to not being a true believer of this religion. It is my opinion that you should not be fixated in your belief."
He also said, "Whatever we do should be for the benefit of everyone, not ourselves. We should build an activity center that everyone can use, e.g. to hold meetings, conduct symposiums to brainstorm on what could be done to benefit the nation. Therefore, we must build an activity center as soon as possible. At present, the space is not enough. We hope to build a lecture hall with a capacity of 10,000 people."
(Note: Activity center refers to the Jeweled Hall of Great Heroes.)
III. Architectural Design
Venerable Master's instruction: The architectural design of what we are going to build should match that of the present time, but it should also have a religious motif. It is best to follow the structure of a Chinese pagoda, to create a pagoda-style Buddha Hall. This will be a novel pagoda, the first of its kind in this world. Whatever we do should be a trailblazer, presenting a new and fresh look to everyone.
2. Exterior Appearance
The hall will be three-story high, measuring at 90 feet in height. The roof will be octagonal to cover all directions. Anyone viewing the structure from any direction externally will see each side as the facade (front). This will conform to the architectural design of the city planning, and fuse elegantly with the features within CDR, exhibiting a distinguished grandeur. It can become a magnificent landmark. The Venerable Master said, "Make the ground floor the parking lot, the first floor the Dining Hall, the second floor the auditorium, and the third floor the Buddha Hall. Outside the Buddha Hall will be a terrace circumventing around this octagonal architecture. This will look awe-inspiring and majestic. Each story can have a terrace extending from all sides. The terrace can be an extension of 16 feet or 18 feet provided there is sufficient structural support from the story below." Venerable Master also instructed that the structure should be facing the south.
IV. Buddha Image
The Jeweled Hall will enshrine worship for the Buddhas of the Five Divisions, namely: 1. Vairocana Buddha (Central Division), 2. Medicine Master Buddha (Eastern Division), 3. Amitabha Buddha (Western Division), 4. Amoghasiddhi (Northern Division),¡@5.Ratnasambhava (Southern Division). Inside the hall, the walls will have the small Buddha images hand crafted by Venerable Master.
V. Construction Progress
In gratitude for the sincere support of the faithful ones of the ten directions, we plan to announce a progress report at each stage of the construction.