The Buddha Mind Monastery (BMM) is the first monastery of the Chan School in Oklahoma. Knowing that a lot of Chinese people are very sincere to Buddhism, Ms. Tinny Chang, the Director of OCCF, especially invited the following; Mr. Michael Bell, the Curator of General Collections of Oklahoma Museum of History (GCOMH), Mr. Rodger Harris, the Oral Historian of Research Division of GCOMH, and Ms. Susan De Quevedo, the Assistant Curator of GCOMH, to visit the Buddha Mind Monastery.
In order to support the Chinese Exhibition and let people have a chance to understand the history, culture, and art in Buddhism, Ven. Jian Tai, Abbess of BMM, provided a New Year Blessing scroll “Xiu Shan Ji Fu”, meaning “To practice good deeds and cultivate merits” by the Grand Master Wei-chueh of Chung Tai Chan Monastery, to their guests. Ven. Jian Tai also donated her old collections: one hundred and eight phoenix-eye chanting beads, a hand bell and a wooden fish to the Oklahoma History Center.
Phoenix-eye bead trees grow in India; every bead has an eye like a phoenix-eye. Beads are very hard and after chanting for a long time, the beads will become shinny and their color will turn darker. “We used to connect one hundred and eight beads together, which means to cut off one hundred and eight vexations and attain one hundred and eight Samadhi” said Ven. Jian Tai.
The hand bell is a percussion instrument used at a Buddhist monastery. It is made of copper and its shape is like a bowl, with a diameter of seven centimeters. The copper bowl is put on top of a 35 centimeter long wooden stem. People use a long copper stick to strike the bell.
There are two fish images in the wooden fish. We all know that fish don’t have eyelids and their eyes are open during sleep. This phenomenon is used to encourage Buddhists to practice diligently. Sometimes people carved a wooden fish with a dragon shape to show that normal people can turn into sages and saints.
Good results rely on wonderful causes and conditions. Through great planning and long term preparation, the exhibition was opened on Sep 21, 2007. Ms. Tinny Chang invited the Shifus and the lay people of BMM to join the opening ceremony. Ven. Jian Tai was also invited to cut the red ribbon. In order to celebrate this Chinese exhibition, the Dharma Support Association of BMM sent a basket of fresh flowers to OHC. Mr. Michael Bell, the Curator of GCOMH, represented the OHC and received the flowers.
There were more than three hundred people who joined the opening ceremony. Every one had high expectations for this exhibition.
There where many samples of Chinese clothing, food, festivals, literature and spirituality in the exhibition. The calligraphy “Xiu Shan Ji Fu” of Grand Master Wei-chueh attracted everyone’s attention. The photos of the Buddha Mind Monastery, and its Grand Opening Purification and Consecration Ceremony showed that Buddhism is propagating prosperously in Oklahoma. All the donation offerings displayed in the cabinets where a wonderful site to behold, proof of the great support by the local communities.
Though there are few Chinese people living in Oklahoma, their diligence and hard work has been affecting Oklahoma communities greatly. In 2004, the Shifus of the Buddha Mind Monastery started to propagate Buddhism and introduce meditation and Chinese culture to local people. For the first time, people who love Chinese history and art have a great opportunity to get to know the Buddha Mind Monastery and enjoy the art that is in Buddhism. We truly appreciate the efforts and time spent by the Oklahoma History Center’s, Ms. Tinny Chang and many volunteers. As a result of the effort and time spent by many people, the Chinese Exhibition is a shinning addition to Oklahoma’s history and proves that the Chinese people are contributing to the culture of this state.