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Origin of the BLIA-YAD

During 22nd to 24th March 1996, BLIA World Headquarters and Hsi Lai Temple
jointly organized the First American & Canadian Buddhist youth Camp at Hsi Lai Temple in California, USA. About 100 participants from 23 universities of Canada (Vancouver and Edmonton) and USA (Texas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Arizona and California) attended. Coincidentally, Grand Master Hsing Yun was on his Dharma promotion tour in the United States at the time, and as

Grand Master Hsing Yun has always highly valued and cherished the youth, he
agreed to the invitation from the organizers to give a speech for the
participants.

During the speech, Grand Master Hsing Yun pointed out that to understand a
nation's future, we look at the youth of the nation; similarly, to know the
future of Buddhism, we can look at the efforts of Buddhist youth. He then
mentioned many of the world's famous leaders of past and present, who had been
very dedicated in their youth and went through many difficulties in order to
succeed in their career. Further, Grand Master Hsing Yun pointed out that,
during the history of Buddhism, Sakyamuni Buddha and Grand Master Xuen Zan from China devoted their youth to Buddhism, and only by their going through many hardships and overcoming many obstacles do we have today's accomplishments. Therefore, youth are Buddhism's future hope.

Grand Master Hsing Yun's words inspired the participants to contribute to the promotion of Dharma. They sincerely requested Grand Master Hsing Yun to form a Buddhist youth group to allow more youths to work together to promote Buddhism. This proposal immediately received Grand Master Hsing Yun's
support, and was approved with immense applause at the "BLIA First Meeting of
the Second Board of Directors" held in Malaysia on April 23rd of the same year.
Hence an internationally based youth group affiliated with BLIA was born.

The First International Buddhist Youth Conference, organized by BLIA and co-organized by BLIA-YAD and BLIA R.O.C, was held at Fo Guang Shan from January 1st to January 3rd of 1997. The conference gathered together over six hundred Buddhist youths from 95 different areas across the five continents. At the time, there had been a number of incidents relating to religion in Taiwan that caused many people in the society to misunderstand Buddhism. The conference's main focus was to allow the youth, through Buddhism, to develop a righteous view of life, to practice Dharma in daily life, to care for society and promote national and world peace. For this reason, during the opening ceremony, Grand Master Hsing Yun said to the participants that today's youths have to have responsibility, gratitude, kinship, and compassion. He specifically emphasized that the one who is gratefulness, is the richest. This pointed out a clear direction for this
conference.

Objectives

After three days of Dharma talks, discussions and interactions under the
guidance of the Venerables of Fo Guang Shan, the participants formalized the
objectives of the BLIA YAD:

  • To establish our direction through Humanistic Buddhism
  • To foster leadership skills by forming youth groups
  • To broaden our life experience through activities
  • To deepen our faith in Buddhism through education
  • To enrich our values by contributing to society


At the same time participants also raised following points regarding the future
development of the BLIA-YAD:

  • To organize a yearly conference, to expand our horizons and enrich our life experience
  • To actively promote YAD subdivisions, encouraging youth to learn Buddhism and to spread the Dharma
  • To reinforce Committee training, developing quality leadership skills and
    improving the nature of activities
  • To build a communication network, sharing achievements and learning and growing together

With the outstanding performances, knowledge and enthusiasm of Buddha's Light
youths, plus the inauguration of 23 YAD subdivisions during the opening
ceremony, Grand Master Hsing Yun was deeply touched and said, "The formation of YAD subdivisions around the world is like spreading Bodhi seeds. Do not
underestimate a seed, one day it will grow. Do not underestimate even little
causes and conditions, when they ripen, the whole universe will quiver. The
future of Buddhist youth is boundless." He continued, "Although BLIA-YAD is a
small step for BLIA, it is a great leap for human kind.