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The Wisdom of Ancient Diet by Venerable Man Deng
What is the wisdom of the ancient diet? Venerable Man Deng presented in English the natural, nourishing and healthy characters of vegetarian diet at the South Plainfield Public Library on 6/10. She demonstrated a few easy to prepare drink, salad and rice dishes. 63 attendees showed up regardless of the rain.

Venerable Man Deng first introduced the diet of Buddhist monastics. Be it in the India when Buddha was around, Tibetan monastics, Japanese monastics, Theravada monastics, or Master Hui Neng of Zhan school, because of the environmental limitation, not all could be vegetarian. The vegetarian diet of Chinese monastics started with Emperor Liang. He considered vegetarian diets could cultivate compassion. There are five herbs considered not suitable for vegetarian diets because they will degrade chi in us.

Our health is not solely dependent on our diet. It also relies on our wisdom. For instance, we should choose the food of the season. We should pay attention to the cooking method and more importantly to our own condition. The practice of Buddhism starts with our body. Whether we are on vegetarian or vegan diet, the alignment of a healthy eating habit and a sound mind would boost the harmony in our lives.

Venerable Man Deng demonstrated the preparation of two drinks. The attendees also tasted rice with Chinese pickles and green papaya salad. Everyone enjoyed the dishes quite a bit. Eileen and Karen said they believe the health benefit of vegetarian diet. Though they are not ready to turn vegetarian just yet, they are willing to try. Irene was attracted by the subject of the Wisdom of Ancient Diet to the lecture. She would like to start with one vegetarian meal at a time. Don Finkel said he became vegetarian because of the care for animals.

President Yiwen Chiang of Buddha¡¦s Light International Association NJ chapter invited the participants to join and endorse Vege Plan A promoted by BLIA World Headquarters for the Earth Day of UN NGO. The QR code of Vege Plan A can be scanned by smartphones.

The Wisdom of Ancient Diet keeps the nutrients and flavors of vegetarian food. It breaks the misconception of vegetarian diet being bland. The care of health and earth closed the lecture with compassion.

Mother¡¦s Day Celebration
May is a month of appreciation. After the Buddha¡¦s Birthday Celebration, the following Sunday was Mother¡¦s Day. At NJBCC, Venerable Chueh Chan led the attendees chanting sutra and prayers for blessing. After the Dharma service, the Venerable played four videos to remind all no matter how hectic life can be, we need to set time aside for our families.

The Venerable prepared carnations for the attendees to offer to their mothers. Lu Gao Rong presented one to his mother, Wang Qin Fen. Gao Qin along with her family came to the service. She did the same to her elderly parents who just came from China. She herself got a carnation from her daughter, Angelina. The participation in the Dharma service and the celebration of Mother¡¦s Day across three generations was a warm and touching moment.

The Venerable then invited the youngsters to offer flowers to the mothers at the service and wished them a happy Mother¡¦s Day. All participant at the service shared a memorable Mother¡¦s Day.

Buddha¡¦s Birthday Celebration
New Jersey Buddhist Culture Center celebrated Buddha¡¦s birthday on 5/6 with Bathing the Buddha ceremony. 168 participants attended this event. The Dharma service started with offerings of flowers, lights, ointment, and fruits presented by volunteers dressed in traditional Indian outfits, Fo Guang qipao and suits. Abbess Ru Yang and Venerable Chueh Chan led the service of chanting the sutra and citing the prayer of Master Venerable Hsing Yun.

In the speech of Abbess Ru Yang, she explained the origin and significance of the tradition of Bathing the Buddha. She also reminded all to assure the connection with the Buddha. With the three ladles of water for bathing the Buddha, we should pledge that we speak the good words, do good deeds, and think good thoughts. Through the ceremony, our own mind will be cleansed so that the Buddha nature and wisdom within ourselves would become more clear and prominent. This would be the true meaning of bathing the Buddha. She also encouraged all that by practicing the three goodness with the intention to connect with the Buddha, our life will be more harmonious and affirmative.

The Mr. and Mrs. Peng from Pennsylvania partook in the offering ceremony along with their two daughters. This experience would be a special memory of their family. Many first-time attendees said they felt honored and blesse to be part of the event. In addition, Buddha¡¦s Light International Association held a yard sale. The proceed will be donated to charity. There were also vegetarian dishes for sale. The participants enjoyed a delicious vegetarian lunch after the Dharma service and headed home with joy.

Spring Food Pantry Donation
To apply the founding principle of ¡§to Benefit Societies through Charitable Programs¡¨, members of Buddha¡¦s Light International Association New Jersey Chapter donated close to 200 food and household items to South Plainfield Food Pantry. The donation was accepted by Director of Social Services, Ms. Heather Barry.

BLIA President Yiwen Chiang said BLIA NJ Chapter will donate twice to the Food Pantry every year. She hoped the donation will support the local families that need help. Ms. Barry noticed that less than a year after she became of the Director of Social Services, the families need help have increased. She thanks all parties involved in the community including BLIA NJ Chapter for lending a helping hand.

The donation included cereals, peanut butter, jellies, spaghetti, canned vegetables, rice, crackers, laundry detergent, dish detergent, and a variety of toiletries. To maximize the effectiveness of the donation, Ms. Chiang will acquire the list of items needed from the Food Pantry one month ahead and shop for them while they are on sale.

It is worth noting that BLIA NJ Chapter will donate the proceed from the Spring Yard Sales scheduled on 5/6 to the charity fund.

Community Cleaning in South Plainfield

While Earth Day is celebrated in April, residents and organizations of South Plainfield, New Jersey always take a Saturday in this month to clean up the community together. In response to Environmental and Spiritual Preservation, Buddha¡¦s Light International Association, NJ Chapter has not missed an opportunity like this for years. In the morning of April 21, BLIA member Tayu Chang, Lenny Ho, Chuzhi Yin, Yaqi Li, and Jason Chen joined the force of Sprint Cleaning. Twin brothers of the Jiang family and elementary schooler Marvin Zhu also attended the event.

This year BLIA was tasked to clean up Walnut Street Park where a little brook passes through. The volunteers picked up bottles, cans, plastic bag and other refuse. The litters were sorted into either recycling bags or garbage bags. After three hours of laborious work, BLIA members were happy to see the park returned to its pristine state. In this annual event, participants include boy scouts, high school clubs, business associations, charity organizations, religious organizations, and local residents. Everyone worked together to tidy up the public area, streets, and parks. The trash was arranged by categories and collected in front of the borough office for the Recycling department to process.

Mayor Matthew Anesh, Council President Robert Bengivenga, and Councilwoman Christine Faustini, Councilman Jon Dean, and Councilman Joseph Wolak all joined this event. They also invited the volunteers to the Borough Office to enjoy pizza and sandwiches sponsored by local businesses. This allowed everyone involved to have an opportunity for socializing.

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