Venerable Master Hsing Yun is the founder of Fo Guang Shan monastery.
Venerable Master Hsing Yun was born in Chiangtu, Chiangsu province, China, in 1927. Tonsured under Venerable Master Chih Kai at the age of twelve, he became a novice monk at Chi-hsia Shan, a mountain monastery in Nanjing, China.
After arriving in Taiwan in the spring of 1949, the Venerable Master became the chief editor of The Life, Awakening The World, Buddhism Today, and a host of other publications. In 1952, while staying at the Lei-yin Temple of Ilan, he initiated chanting groups, student societies, youth clubs, children’s weekend schools, and various Dharma teams that eventually laid the foundation for his future endeavour in Buddhist propagation.
Founding of Fo Guang Shan and spread of the Dharma
In 1957, the Venerable Master established a Buddhist cultural centre that became today’s Fo Guang Cultural Enterprise Co. Ltd. Through this centre, a variety of Buddhist books were published and training tools such as audio and visual aids produced.
Subsequently, the founding of Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order in 1967 actualises the Venerable Master’s vision of Humanistic Buddhism via education, cultural activities, charity and religious practices that “propagate the Dharma, foster talent, provide relief aid, and cultivate morality in people.”
Since then, over one hundred and fifty branch temples have been established worldwide. Among them are the Hsi Lai Temple, the Nan Tien Temple and the Nan Hua Temple, the biggest temples ever built in North America, Australia, and Africa, respectively. Also established were art galleries, libraries, publishing houses, bookstores, a free medical clinic, a Buddhist research institute, two high schools (Chih-kuang and Pu-men High Schools), the Hsi Lai University in the United States, as well as the Fo Guang University and the Nan Hua University in Taiwan. In 1970, 1975, and 1987 respectively, The Great Kindness Nursery, Fo Guang Vihara and The Loving Kindness and Compassion Foundation were founded to accommodate the orphaned and the aged, and to provide support for emergency relief.
The Fo Guang Journal was inaugurated in 1976. The Fo Guang Tripitaka Editorial Committee was formed in the following year to edit the Fo Guang Tripitaka and Fo Guang Dictionary of Buddhist Terms. In 1997, The Vernacular of the Treasure Selection of Edition Chinese Buddhist Sutras was published. In the same year, modern communication methods were employed to propagate Buddhism, and the CD ROM of Fo Guang Dictionary of Buddhist Terms was released, followed by the launch of Fo Guang Satellite TV Channel and the Fo Guang Shan website. Year 2000 saw the first issue of the newspaper Merit Times, and in 2001, the twenty-year-old monthly Universal Gate Magazine was upgraded to the bimonthly Universal Gate Journal. At the same time, the Dharmapitaka Collection was published, which contains Chinese research theses of Buddhist scholars in the past hundred years. Over a hundred volumes of The Anthology of Chinese Buddhist Academic Studies was compiled and the Collected Commentaries on Chinese Buddhist Culture was also published.
The Venerable Master is a prolific author and some of his works include The Biography of Sakyamuni Buddha, The Ten Great Disciples, Hsing Yun’s Chan Talks, A series of Studies on Buddhism, Collected Lectures of Hsing Yun, Fo Guang Buddhist Textbooks, Words of Reminiscence on the Past, Fo Guang Innovation Verses, Humble Table, Wise Fare, Talks on the Plateform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. These works are being distributed worldwide and translated into over ten languages, including English, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, Korean, Thai and Singhalese.
*Please see our separate page for a list of publications.
The teaching of the Venerable Master is far-reaching; with over a thousand Sangha disciples and a million lay followers from all parts of the world. Venerable Master Hsing Yun has spent his whole life promoting Humanistic Buddhism, advocating the idea of a ‘global person’, with special emphasis on joyousness and harmony, oneness of nature and co-existence, respect and tolerance, equality and peace.
Activities and awards
The Venerable Master became the President of the Buddha’s Light International Association, founded on 3rd February 1991. Its subsidiary associations are now well established in many countries over the five continents. This is the manifestation of the Venerable Master’s ideal of ‘illuminating three thousand realms with the light of the Buddha and overflowingthe five continents with the stream of Dharma.’
Over the years, the Venerable Master has been recognised with numerous awards. Apart from the numerous prizes bestowed on him by the government of Taiwan to extol his achievements, international recognition is also confirmed through conferment of the Honorary Doctorate Degree in 1978 by Eastern University in the United States of America, the first ever to be given to a Chinese from Taiwan. Similar honours include the Buddha Gem Prize awarded in 1995 by the Indian Buddhist Congress.
In 1997, the Venerable Master met with Pope John Paul II of the Catholic Church and Dalai Lama of Tibet to exchange their views on the common objective of procuring world peace. In May of the same year, he was lauded with medals from the Internal Affairs Department and Diplomatic Service of the Republic of China, which once again confirmed his contributions to Buddhism and the national community. In February 1998, the Venerable Master went to Bodhgaya in India to preside over the Three Platform Ordination as well as several other ordinations of the Five Precepts and Bodhisattva Precepts, and to reinstate the Theravada bhikshuni precepts that have gone out of practice for over a thousand years. On the Buddha’s birthday in the same year, the Venerable Master brought back from India the relic tooth of the Buddha to be enshrined in Taiwan, an event which was welcomed and exalted by the whole nation. He also endeavoured to lobby for the Buddha’s birthday to become an official holiday, and this was finally approved by President Lee Deng Hui on 30th August 1999. On 7th December 2000, the Venerable Master was awarded the Most Outstanding Contribution to Buddhism Prize by Premier Nai Chung of Thailand at the 21st Buddhist Fellowship Conference.In October 2001, he arrived at Ground Zero of the 9-11 terrorist attack to pray for the victims. In December of the same year, he was invited to give a talk on “The Future Directions of Our Endeavours” at the Office of the President of the Republic of China. In 2002, he had escorted the Buddha’s finger relic from Xian Famen Temple to Taiwan for 37 days.
In the development of the institutionalisation, humanisation and internationalisation of Buddhism, the Venerable Master truly deserves immense credit!