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Fo Guang Shan

Fo Guang Shan

Overview
Fo Guang Shan is an international Chinese Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 Buddhist monastic order based in the Republic of China (Taiwan)
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

, and one of the largest Buddhist organizations. The headquarters of Fo Guang Shan, located in Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung is a city located in southwestern Taiwan, facing the Taiwan Strait on the west. Kaohsiung, officially named Kaohsiung City, is divided into thirty-eight districts. The city is one of five special municipalities of the Republic of China...

, is the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. The organization itself is also one of the largest charity organizations in Taiwan. The order also calls itself the International Buddhist Progress Society.

Founded in 1967 by Venerable Master Hsing Yun
Hsing Yun
Hsing Yun is a well-known Buddhist monk, as well as an important figure in modern reformation of Mahayana Buddhism in Taiwan and China. Hsing Yun is the founder of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order and the affiliated Buddha's Light International Association, one of the largest international...

, the order promotes Humanistic Buddhism
Humanistic Buddhism
Humanistic Buddhism is a modern Buddhist philosophy practiced mostly by Mahayana Buddhists. It is the integration of people's spiritual practice into all aspects of their daily lives...

, a modern Chinese Buddhist thought developed through the 20th Century and made popular by this and other modern Chinese Buddhist orders.
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Encyclopedia
Fo Guang Shan is an international Chinese Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 Buddhist monastic order based in the Republic of China (Taiwan)
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

, and one of the largest Buddhist organizations. The headquarters of Fo Guang Shan, located in Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung is a city located in southwestern Taiwan, facing the Taiwan Strait on the west. Kaohsiung, officially named Kaohsiung City, is divided into thirty-eight districts. The city is one of five special municipalities of the Republic of China...

, is the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. The organization itself is also one of the largest charity organizations in Taiwan. The order also calls itself the International Buddhist Progress Society.

Founded in 1967 by Venerable Master Hsing Yun
Hsing Yun
Hsing Yun is a well-known Buddhist monk, as well as an important figure in modern reformation of Mahayana Buddhism in Taiwan and China. Hsing Yun is the founder of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order and the affiliated Buddha's Light International Association, one of the largest international...

, the order promotes Humanistic Buddhism
Humanistic Buddhism
Humanistic Buddhism is a modern Buddhist philosophy practiced mostly by Mahayana Buddhists. It is the integration of people's spiritual practice into all aspects of their daily lives...

, a modern Chinese Buddhist thought developed through the 20th Century and made popular by this and other modern Chinese Buddhist orders. Humanistic Buddhism aims to make Buddhism relevant in the world and in people's lives and hearts. While Hsing Yun
Hsing Yun
Hsing Yun is a well-known Buddhist monk, as well as an important figure in modern reformation of Mahayana Buddhism in Taiwan and China. Hsing Yun is the founder of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order and the affiliated Buddha's Light International Association, one of the largest international...

 is a Dharma heir in the Linji
Linji
Línjì Yìxuán was the founder of the Linji school of Chán Buddhism during Tang Dynasty China. Linji was born into a family named Xing in Caozhou , which he left at a young age to study Buddhism in many places....

 Chan  school, his stated position within Fo Guang Shan is that it is an "amalgam of all Eight Schools of Chinese Buddhism" , including but not limited to Chan. In this sense, it is a monastic order, and not a doctrinal school of thought per se. This is the case for much of Chinese Buddhism, as the lineage of the founder or Abbot does not necessarily dictate the thought or practices of members of the monastery.

History



In 1967, Hsing Yun purchased more than 30 hectares in Dashu
Dashu
The traditional East Asian calendars divide a year into 24 solar terms . Dàshǔ or Taisho is the 12th solar term. It begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 120° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 135°. It more often refers in particular to the day when the Sun is exactly at...

 Township, Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung is a city located in southwestern Taiwan, facing the Taiwan Strait on the west. Kaohsiung, officially named Kaohsiung City, is divided into thirty-eight districts. The city is one of five special municipalities of the Republic of China...

 County as the site for the construction of a monastery. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on 16 May 1967.

Fo Guang Shan embarked on many construction projects, including university buildings, shrines, and a cemetery. In 1975, Fo Guang Shan's 36-metre tall statue of Amitabha Buddha was consecrated. In 1981, 15 years after its establishment, the Great Hero Hall was built. During these times, many other Fo Guang Shan temples outside the order's mother monastery were also built.

Temple closing


In May 1997, Hsing Yun announced that he would close the mountain gate of Fo Guang Shan to the general public. His reason in closing the monastery was to give monastics the cloistered atmosphere they need for their Buddhist practice. In practice, many Chinese monasteries have also closed their mountain gates to give a cloistered atmosphere to the temple residents.

Also in the last year 1996, there was a scandal that Hsi Lai Temple
Hsi Lai Temple
Fo Guang Shan Hsi Lai Temple is a traditional Chinese Buddhist mountain monastery in the United States. It is located on the foothill region of Hacienda Heights, California, USA, a suburb of Los Angeles County...

, branch in the United States, have done $100,000 illegal campaign contributions through Maria Hsia
Maria Hsia
Maria Hsia was convicted of laundering donations to the Democratic National Committee by the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple during the 1996 U.S. presidential election. She was sentenced to 90 days home detention, probation, a fine, and community service....

 who had been a long time fund raiser for Al Gore
Al Gore
Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. served as the 45th Vice President of the United States , under President Bill Clinton. He was the Democratic Party's nominee for President in the 2000 U.S. presidential election....

. After this scandal was disclosed, some nuns and the temple's abbess who have participated for these illegal acts have destroyed evidence and fled to Fo Guang Shan.

So there is a doubt that the real purpose of the "temple closing" was to conceal these scandal and disturb investigation by authorities of Taiwan and United States.

At the end of 2000, President Chen Shui-bian
Chen Shui-bian
Chen Shui-bian is a former Taiwanese politician who was the 10th and 11th-term President of the Republic of China from 2000 to 2008. Chen, whose Democratic Progressive Party has traditionally been supportive of Taiwan independence, ended more than fifty years of Kuomintang rule in Taiwan...

 of the Republic of China and government officials from Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung is a city located in southwestern Taiwan, facing the Taiwan Strait on the west. Kaohsiung, officially named Kaohsiung City, is divided into thirty-eight districts. The city is one of five special municipalities of the Republic of China...

 visited Fo Guang Shan bringing with them the wish from their constituents that Fo Guang Shan re-open its mountain gate.

After due consideration, Fo Guang Shan decided to re-open the monastery to some extent, thereby providing the public a place to practice Pure Land Buddhism.

Buddha Memorial Center



In 1998, Hsing Yun held the Bodhgaya International Full Ordination in India. This drew the attention of Kunga Dorje Rinpoche
Rinpoche
Rinpoche or Rinboqê is an honorific used in Tibetan Buddhism. It literally means "precious one," and is used to address or describe Tibetan lamas and other high-ranking or respected teachers. This honor is generally bestowed on reincarnated lamas, or Tulkus, by default...

, a Tibetan lama
Lama
Lama is a title for a Tibetan teacher of the Dharma. The name is similar to the Sanskrit term guru .Historically, the term was used for venerated spiritual masters or heads of monasteries...

 who had been protecting the last remaining Buddha's tooth relic
Relic
In religion, a relic is a part of the body of a saint or a venerated person, or else another type of ancient religious object, carefully preserved for purposes of veneration or as a tangible memorial...

 since the destruction of Namgyal Monastery
Namgyal Monastery
Namgyal Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery associated with the Dalai Lamas. Founded in 1575 by the Third Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso, Namgyal Monastery was historically housed within the Potala Palace...

 in Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 during the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

. The relic itself has been authenticated by several Tibetan rinpoches who had advised Kunga Dorje Rinpoche to build a stupa, but he was unable to do so due to old age. They reached the consensus to donate the tooth relic to Hsing Yun, believing he had the means to build a stupa
Stupa
A stupa is a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of Buddha, used by Buddhists as a place of worship....

 so the public could pay their respects and make offerings to the Buddha's tooth relic. The relic was officially escorted to Taiwan on April 8, 1998.

Building plans for the Buddha Memorial Center started immediately in 1998 with support from the government. The site is situated immediately behind the main temple and covers more than 100 hectares. The complex faces east and is built along a central axial line. There is the Welcoming Hall, the eight Chinese-styled pagodas that stand for the Noble Eightfold Path, Photo Terrace, Bodhi Square, Memorial Hall, four stupas that symbolize the Four Noble Truths, and the Fo Guang Buddha. The opening date has been set for 20 December 2011.

Activities



Temples and organizations have been established in 173 countries throughout the world, and now encompasses more than 3,500 monastics. The organisation emphasizes education and service, maintaining universities, Buddhist colleges, libraries, publishing houses, translation centres, Buddhist art galleries, teahouses, and mobile medical clinics. It has also established a children's room, retirement home, high school and television station.

Social and medical programs


The social and medical programs of Fo Guang Shan include a free medical clinic with mobile units that serve remote villages, an annual winter relief program organized to distribute warm clothing and food supplies to the needy, a children's and seniors' home, wildlife conservation areas to protect living creatures, and a cemetery for the care of the deceased.

Educational programs


The educational programs of Fo Guang Shan include four Buddhist colleges, three regular colleges, and various community colleges. The Fo Guang University
Fo Guang University
Fo Guang University is located in Jiaoxi Township, Yilan County, Taiwan. It was founded by the Mahayana Buddhist Fo Guang Shan monastic order in 2000 and as such represents the culmination of education efforts of the order that started in 1963 with establishing Chinese Buddhist Research Institute...

 was established in 2000. It focuses mainly on the humanities and social sciences. The Chinese Buddhist research institute is subdivided into four separate departments; a women's and men's college, and an international and English Buddhist studies department. Tuition fees and lodging are provided by Fo Guang Shan, free of charge.

The organisation also operates Pu-Men High School
Pu-Men High School
Pu-Men High School is a private Buddhist high school located in Dashu District, Kaohsiung City...

 in Taipei, Jiun Tou Elementary and Junior High School, Humanities Primary and Junior High School, which provides regular curriculum for students. Fo Guang Shan also has nursery schools, kindergartens, and Sunday schools for children.

Religious Affairs Committee


In 1972, Hsing Yun established a nine member council, known as the Fo Guang Shan Religious Affairs Committee. These nine members govern the monastery and the order. The members are elected prior to the resignation, death, or the ending of a term of an abbot. Once elected by members of Fo Guang Shan, the votes are openly counted. The nine members then nominate their next abbot. Eight members of the council are ordained monastics, and one is a layperson.

Abbots


Unlike a traditional Buddhist monastery abbot, where the incumbent selects his successor, Fo Guang Shan directly elects an abbot to head the Order and its worldwide temples.

The abbot of Fo Guang Shan is the overall head of the order, the supreme abbot of all Fo Guang Shan temples, and is the chairperson of the RAC, serving a term of six years, with one reappointment by popular vote and under exceptional circumstances, a second reappointment by two thirds of the popular vote. The abbot is elected by all members of Fo Guang Shan through public vote. The abbot-elect then begins to use their "inner name", in place of his/her own dharma name
Dharma name
A Dharma name is a new name acquired during a Buddhist initiation ritual in Mahayana Buddhism and monk ordination in Theravada Buddhism. The name is traditionally given by a Buddhist monastic, but is also given to newly ordained monks, nuns and laity....

, with the first character being Hsin ("心" , xin, or heart). In fact, all monastics of Fo Guang Shan have such a name, and several Elders also use theirs publicly. At the beginning of the year, the abbot-elect is inaugurated as the new director of Fo Guang Shan through a dharma transmission
Dharma transmission
Dharma transmission refers to "the manner in which the teaching, or Dharma, is passed from a Zen master to their disciple and heir...

 ceremony, receiving the robe and bowl.

Hsing Yun is the only abbot to have served as such for more than two terms, and was not elected by the RAC. In the case of Venerable Hsin Ping (who was originally Venerable Zhizong), he was also not officially elected, as he was Hsing Yun's designated heir apparent. After Hsin Ping died, the vice director of Fo Guang Shan, Hsin Ting (originally Venerable Zhidu), was immediately elevated to serve the remaining years of Hsin Ping's term. Abbots have been elected according to FGS's constitution since then.

As with Hsing Yun, former abbots do not leave the order when they retire. They continue to make Dharma talks throughout the world and become head teachers of the order in their later years.

Dharma propagation


Dharma programs of Fo Guang Shan include lectures given in prisons and factories; programs on television and radio, large-scale public lectures in Taiwan and overseas, and the five precepts initiation given twice a year at the monastery.

All branches of Fo Guang Shan organize pilgrimages to bring devotees to the monastery from different parts of Taiwan and overseas. Once pilgrims arrive, they are free to make use of all of the different activities that are open to the general public.

Objectives

  • To propagate Buddhist teachings through cultural activities
  • To foster talent through education
  • To benefit society through charitable programs
  • To purify human hearts and minds through Buddhist practice

Official motto



The Four Verses of Fo Guang Shan and BLIA

  • May palms in every world be joined in kindness, compassion, joy and generosity.
  • May all beings find security in friendship, peace and loving care.
  • May calm and mindful practice give rise to deep patience and equanimity.
  • May we give rise to spacious hearts and humble thoughts of gratitude.

BLIA guidelines

  • Offer others confidence
  • Offer others joy
  • Offer others hope
  • Offer others convenience

Abbots and directors

  • Venerable Master Hsing Yun
    Hsing Yun
    Hsing Yun is a well-known Buddhist monk, as well as an important figure in modern reformation of Mahayana Buddhism in Taiwan and China. Hsing Yun is the founder of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order and the affiliated Buddha's Light International Association, one of the largest international...

     (1967–1985)
  • Most Venerable Hsin Ping
    Hsin Ping
    Hsin Ping was the fourth and fifth abbot of Fo Guang Shan and the dharma heir to Hsing Yun, founder of Fo Guang Shan. Hsin Ping was the forty-ninth lineage-holder of the Linji Ch'an school through Hsing Yun....

     (1985–1995)
  • Most Venerable Hsin Ting
    Hsin Ting
    Hsin Ting is a Buddhist monk from Taiwan who served as the sixth abbot and director of Fo Guang Shan from 1997 to 2005. He served as acting abbot for three years after the sudden death of his predecessor, the Venerable Hsin Ping, in 1995...

     (1995–2005)
  • Most Venerable Hsin Pei
    Hsin Pei
    Hsin Pei is the seventh and current abbot and director of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order. The youngest abbot ever elected to the order, Hsin Pei was elected by the members of Fo Guang Shan worldwide in 2004 and succeeded retiring abbot Hsin Ting in 2005...

    (2005-)

External links