1. Why "Dharma"?
Some may think of the word "Dharma" as meaning "The Buddha's Teaching" (as in "The Triple Gem" of Buddha, Dharma, Sangha). And it's true that I (James) have studied the BuddhaDharma closely, and often speak in those terms. But "Dharma" has many meanings, including "Duty," "Phenomenon," "Truth," "Religion," and "Wisdom." Here, let's take it to mean "Wisdom" or "Spiritual Truth."
2. Why "Friends"?
This is not a formal group of any kind. A "friend" is one who shares the Path and encourages others on the way. That's what we do. There is no "guru," no dogma, no worship. Just friends encouraging each others' personal development.
3. Is this group "religious"?
No. But we are "spiritual," in the sense that we encourage each other to grow in ways beyond the physical. For us, spirituality includes literature, art, music, appreciation of nature, and even everyday matters like work and family. "Religion" could be a part of all this, but Dharma Friends will not sponsor or engage in any religious activities that violate the laws of the PRC, including unregistered worship activities. We will, however, be happy to share news of legitimate religious opportunities that take place in duly registered entities like Meilin Church or Hongfa Temple.
4. What will "Dharma Friends" do?
We will have five main kinds of activities. The following list is suggestive, not exhaustive.
--Vegetarian Dining and Picnics
--Uplifting Entertainment (movies, stage performances, concerts)
--Yoga or Tai Chi (Taiji) classes
--Parties (holidays, KTV, etc.)
--Site Visits (temples, historical sites)
--Nature Activities (beach, woods, mountain)
--Charity Events (like the A LIVE
--Service Opportunities (also like A LIVE)
--Shopping for spiritual goods (books and DVDs, incense, veg and Indian foods)
--Veg restaurants, yoga and tai chi (taiji) classes, activities
To get it all rolling, we will start a weekly (for now) veg dining and discussion group. See "Events" for more.