Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association Chicago Chapter (DDMBA-Chicago) was established in 1993. We are a local affiliate chapter of Dharma Drum Mountain (DDM) Taiwan, and are a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization in the United States.
At DDMBA-Chicago, we teach and promote the understanding and practice of Chan Buddhism, cultivating wisdom and compassion, and the freedom and ease of body and mind through Chan practice. The vision behind our efforts is that of “Uplifting the Character of Humanity and Building a Pure Land on Earth” as promoted by our late teacher and Founder of DDM, Chan Master Sheng Yen. Our localized mission is to create a vibrant and sustainable community by encouraging spiritual growth and promoting happiness. To achieve the vision and mission, we offer various practice and caring programs, including group meditation programs, chanting, book study, social activities, and more. Through fluent English and Chinese language skills, we help to bring benefits to both English- and Chinese-speakers, in their individual lives and throughout the society, through an understanding of Buddhism as a living philosophy.
DDMBA-Chicago’s Founding and Growth:
DDMBA-Chicago was founded in Northbrook, Illinois, a suburb outside of the city of Chicago. In the beginning, about ten Chinese immigrant families would meet once a month to study Buddha Dharma. The meetings were held at alternate members’ homes, most frequently at the home of DDMBA-Chicago’s Founder and first Chapter President, Ms. Iris Wang. Occasionally, the group would rent a larger facility for a day, to hold a Beginners’ Meditation Class. Once a month, a Chinese newsletter would be published – this monthly publication has continued to-date. Over time, more people began to express an interest in joining our group, and we began to realize holding meetings in someone’s home was no longer ideal. Furthermore, we wished to expand the spreading of Chan Buddhism teachings to the mainstream American community, in order to benefit them as well – a key vision behind our teacher, Master Sheng Yen’s travel to the West.
Master Sheng Yen visited Chicago, giving a public lecture that attracted about 600 attendees. Through that event, a lot more people came to learn of DDMBA-Chicago. We were much encouraged by the great reception of the public, and felt that it was time to have a formal meeting place in order to more effectively offer programs to benefit the greater public.
Under the leadership of our second Chapter President, Ms. Isabel Huang, we began renting our current location at Mount Prospect. At a total of 2,000 square feet, our Chan Hall occupies about 800 square feet within the space. Many volunteers spent countless days in renovating the inside of the space. The result was a place where we could finally offer, in a more systemic way, regular programs as well as special events led by visiting Venerables and senior teachers, such as 3-day or 5-day meditation retreats, Dharma Ceremonies, public lectures, and more. Through the use of additional promotional channels, such as our website, social media, added English newsletters, etc., we began to reach new audience and better connect with existing members, both English-speakers and Chinese-speakers alike.
Dedication and contributions by numerous donors and volunteers over the years have allowed us to grow. In particular, for some special events, we were beginning to experience the limitation of our current small space, sometimes having to turn people away because of that. At the same time, we felt that the causes and conditions for DDMBA-Chicago to firmly plant our roots in the Midwest region had ripened. Therefore, in 2014, we made the great vow to purchase a better place of our own, our long-term home here, to allow us to share the joy and benefits of Chan Buddhism with more people. Our goal is to complete this purchase within 3-5 years, by raising $1.5 million funding. (If you wish to support this great vow, please go to: http://www.ddmchicago.org/newhomefund