His visions at the age of 80:
Peace Happiness Prosperity May the compassionate light of Buddha illuminate the world
Foreword 1－Global Connection－Charles H.C. Kao
Foreword 2－An Epitome of Master Hsing Yun’s Life－Li-sing Wang
Part One － Buddha’s Kindness and Family Bonds
Part Two － Crossing the Ocean to Hand Down the Dharma
Part Three － Pioneer and Innovator
Part Four － Traveling Like Cloud and Water
Part Five － A Heart Big Enough for the Entire Universe
Part Six － Buddha in the Human World
Index 1: Chronology
Venerable Master Hsing Yun was born in 1927, inside a blue-brick house in Jiangdu County situated ten kilometers away from Yangzhou. As a three-year-old boy, he dragged a jar of candies onto the yard and yelled out to neighboring children to come and eat. At the age of five or six, he swept the yard and collected cow’s excrement for money to help support the family. When he was ten, he swam across torrential rivers to purchase daily supplies, and at the age of twelve, he went to Nanjing with his mother in search of his father, leaving his home forever.
Situated at the mouth of the Yangtze River, Yangzhou was his gate into the world, just like that of Venerable Master Jian Zhen, a Tang dynasty Yangzhou native who traveled eastwards to Japan on six attempts and was bestowed the title “Grand Master Handing Down the Light” by the Japanese Emperor.
In 742 A.D., Master Jian Zhen accepted the Japanese’s request and went to Japan to confer the Buddhist precepts. “ ’Tis for the grand mission of Dharma, I will not spare even my life!” Such a fearless declaration supported him through five failures and an illness that blinded him forever. After twelve year’s of endeavor, he finally succeeded in traveling to the East, spread the Buddhist precepts to Japan and became the founding patriarch of Japanese Buddhism’s Ritsu (Vinaya) Sect. He also brought into Japan the Chinese architecture, sculpture, medicine, literature, hand crafts, food and printing techniques, which later greatly influenced the Japanese culture.
Twelve hundred years later, Master Hsing Yun also set foot in Japan on a quest for Dharma propagation. In 1993, Fo Guang Shan Tokyo Branch was completed, and what Master sprinkled onto this land was more than just drops of blessed water, but also his great expectations in those who were at the inauguration ceremony, “Twelve hundred years ago, there came Master Jian Zhen, and from today onwards, may you all become him!”
In 2003, Da Ming Temple of Yangzhou, China initiated a Celebration of the 1250th Anniversary of Master Jian Zhen’s Journey to the East, and Buddhist leaders were invited to this grand event. Being the only representative from Taiwan, Master Hsing Yun gave an address at the ceremony, which was translated into Japanese by Venerable Tzu Hui and English by Venerable Miao Guang. Yeh Xiaowen, Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs was extremely impressed with Fo Guang Shan’s rich resource of language talents, and made an immediate pledge for the to-be-constructed Jian Zhen College to also focus on the nurturing of multi-lingual talents, because both Master Jian Zhen and Master Hsing Yun were Yangzhou natives whom, despite being born in different eras, all stepped onto the world stage.
Sponsored by Master Hsing Yun, the Jian Zhen Library aims to integrate education and research functions. With its completion estimated at early 2007, the project is under the supervision of native New Zealander Venerable Hui Feng, a former attendant of Venerable Master.
Yangzhou, a place that gave birth to two eminent masters, and a land blessed by abundance and humanities will now be blessed by Master Hsing Yun, who showed his gratitude towards his homeland with Jian Zhen Library.
2003: Da Ming Temple celebrated the 1250th Anniversary of Master Jian Zhen’s Journey to the East, where Buddhist leaders from the Two-coasts and Three-regions, and Japan were invited. Amongst the guests, Master Hsing Yun was the only representative from Taiwan who delivered an unique and heart-warming address, “Blessed be our teacher Sakyamuni Buddha. Blessed be Venerable Master Jian Zhen. Blessed be all elder Masters. My maternity grandmother was the one who inspired my renunciation, therefore the silhouettes of old ladies in Yangzhou always remind me of her, and the sight of men and women would remind me of my parents, while the youth makes me think of my classmates…..this is the feeling of homecoming.”
October 1982: Nobel Prize for Literature Winner Laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn visits Fo Guang Shan. Venerable Master praises him for his writings that stimulates deep thoughts as well as his moral courage that has shook the world.
After the Tiananmen Square Massacre Incident on June 4,1989, Democratic activists such as Qian Jia-ju and Ge Yang took shelter at Hsi Lai Temple. Irregardless of worries of political issues, Master treated them as regular citizens who are in need of help, “I am only trying to help my fellow countrymen and doing something for humanity.” As a result, Qian Jia-ju took refuge in him and became a Buddhist.
Qian said, “As a Marxist-Leninist and total materialist, why have I decided to take refuge in the Triple Gem at such an old age? It is because Master promotes this-worldly Buddhism, not other-worldly. He established Fo Guang Shan and introduced four objectives to build a Humanistic pureland and to bring hope and happiness to this world. These correspond very much with my own life principles.”
Master feels very related to Master Taixu’s 50th Birthday wish, “My life is like a single drop of water from the ocean, nevertheless, may I take away even the slightest suffering from beings with this single drop. May nations and families have their wishes fulfilled, and that all acts of killing be ceased. May there also be joy and happiness amongst all, and the Buddha’s light shine universally.” Therefore he recites it on his every birthday and even dedicated his life into realizing this grand ideal, which has consequently broadened his life’s horizons.
Master’s greatest hope is to seek world peace, contribute to Buddhism in China and build a world free of evil, lies or terror: “While freedom and democracy may be extremely valuable, peace, happiness and prosperity are even more important.”
Zhao Pu-chu once wrote a couplet for Venerable Master, praising him as “One who has wealth of the whole world, and is worthy of being a noble teacher for humans and heavenly beings,” to which Master truly feels undeserving, because he feels that his true possession is a heart that constantly acknowledges the existence of all living beings.
An extract of Zhao Pu-chu’s poem “Reminiscence of Jiangnan” for Venerable Master during his spring visit in Nanjing, 1994.
After many years, Another parting is only reluctant.As we search for the ancient monastery from this pavilion in the misty rain,We make majestic vows to experience many more kalpas,To witness the clouds of Dharma permeate all three thousand realms.
As we meet again at Jinglin,Rains of flowers fill the Qinhuai River embankment.Going ashore needs no distinguishment between the self and others,We may as well become enlightened in the here and now,And become companions ardently expecting to meet again.
Foreword 1 –Global Connection
The life of Master Hsing Yun reformed the Buddhist religion, bettered people’s hearts, and changed the world.
One of the greatest inspirations of my life for the past twenty years is Venerable Master Hsing Yun.
I am not a Buddhist, nor do I understand the profound Buddhist theory, but the inspirations from Humanistic Buddhism as propagated by him reached my heart surprisingly effortlessly. When it comes to education, I could be a teacher my whole life and only nurture a very limited number of students. Master on the other hand, has established University of the West in America, and Nan Hua University and Fo Guang University in Taiwan, which are nurturing thousands of university graduates and postgraduates each year.
It was Global View Monthly Magazine that gave me the opportunity to meet Master. It was March 1989, Master had just returned from a visit to mainland China and came to deliver a talk we had invited him to do. That was when I first felt Master’s charm.
As Taipei was experiencing a phenomenon where listeners were harder to attract than the already hard-to-find speakers, I was astonished to see a hall for two thousand packed with people. After an introduction made nervously by me, Master began his ninety minute talk. This was perhaps the first public talk in forty years that involved details of a trip to China, and it was indeed a new page of history written by Master Hsing Yun.
After that, Master promised to be Global View’s columnist, writer and biography protagonist. Not only have his articles and literary works received wide recognition, his biography – Handing Down the Light: The Biography of Venerable Master Hsing Yun (Chuan deng: Xing Yun dashi zhuan) written by Fu Zhiying and book Humanistic Buddhism in the Hsing Yun Model also became bestsellers in and outside of Taiwan. What maked me even excited was the requests made by visiting scholars from China for copies of Master’s books.
Throughout the different stages of our acquaintance with each other, I have had the opportunity to ask Master many questions. The contents of our discussions consisted of very little religious issues, but more of education, culture, social and life-related matters. A worry that we share is the cul-de-sac cross-strait situation, as well as the politicization of Taiwan.
The more time Master spends propagating Humanistic Buddhism abroad, the more he resembles a global citizen. If we look at this world from his angle and view, the following four sentences said by him would make the best resonance with the world:
The greatest problem of life is selfishness.
The greatest sadness of life is ignorance.
The greatest courage of life is the ability to admit one’s faults.
The greatest asset of life is dignity.
Aren’t people’s selfishness, refusal to admit one’s faults and indignity exactly the causes of continued chaos in today’s Taiwan?
In March this year, I accompanied Master to Yuelu Academy in Chang Sha, China and listened to a talk he had given. This thousand-year-old learning institute greeted the eminent Master from Fo Guang Shan. In time of the spring rainy season, hundreds of listeners gathered in the courtyard, shielding themselves from the rain with rain coats, and listened attentively to Master. This was in fact an extremely touching scene, the Dharma was passed down amidst the gentle sprinkle of rain, and wisdom bounced between each question and answer.
In the fifteen minute conclusion, which Zhu Hanmin, the academy president asked me to deliver, I said to the audience,
“A boy from Yangzhou became a Buddhist monk at the age of twelve and arrived in Taiwan at twenty-three. Despite not understanding the Taiwanese dialect and being constantly ridiculed, he maintained a clear vision and put his mind into accomplishing it. After fifty years of painstaking effort, he found an unbounded world of Humanistic Buddhism.”
With the worldwide development of Buddha’s Light International Association and opening up of China, Master Hsing Yun is faced with increased work for Humanistic Buddhism and a much longer journey to travel.
In recent years, Master has been invited to China on several occasions, and his love for mainland China has sown the seeds of friendship all around. It is only a matter of time that Master makes contribution to the cross-strait relations and begin to purifying society and human minds.
At this moment, if his birth place requires his assistance in establishing a harmonized society, I believe he will be more than happy to give it his best effort.”
As we celebrate Master Hsing Yun’s 80th birthday and Fo Guang Shan’s 40th Anniversary, we have published the 80 Years of Master Hsing Yun in addition to Yun-shui-ri-yue (The Biography of Master Hsing Yun) to pay our tributes to him. From these two hundred or more extremely precious pictures, a summary of Master Hsing Yun’s life is presented to readers, one that is as elegant as the clouds, as crystal-clear as water, as radiant as the sun, and as perfect as the moon.
Charles H.C. Kao
Foreword 2 –An Epitome of Master Hsing Yun’s Life
Before September 1988, we were amongst those who have never encountered Buddhism in Taiwan, let alone getting to know any Masters. The time for such an opportunity came when Global View Monthly Magazine journalist Fu Zhi-ying traveled to Kaohsiung to interview Venerable Master Hsing Yun.
From as far as eighteen years ago, Fu Zhi-ying was already writing about how Master Hsing Yun created many ‘firsts’ for Buddhism in Taiwan. For example, he established the first Buddhist school, the first to compile books on Buddhism in modern language, the first Buddhist monk to propagate Buddhism on radio and television, and the first movie about Buddhism was adapted from his novel The Biography of Sakyamuni Buddha. Furthermore, he was the first to organize Dharma lectures and Buddhist concerts, Buddhist camps for college students, children and women, and Short-Term Monastic Retreats for members of society.
For the past eighteen years, I have had many opportunities to ask Master questions, through which I learnt about how he crossed the ocean to Taiwan and established the Fo Guang Shan Order. Such a grand vow, big heart, and big momentum were all for the accomplishment of his vision in “humanizing Buddhism, and making Buddhism more life-related.” When asked why he travels around the world on such a hectic schedule? He replied, “All of this rushing about is not for myself but for those in need. As long as it is good for Buddhism, I will go.”
He took one step at a time in accomplishing his ideals, and Fo Guang Shan is now recognized as the Buddhist organization with the largest monastic community, largest lay devotees’ community, highest level of internationalization and most complete system of management, and also one that places the greatest focus on educational and cultural undertakings.
Following his vows, he took one step at a time in “Letting the Buddha’s light shine on the three thousand realms, and the stream of Dharma to flow across the Five Continents.”
His idea of “Humanistic Buddhism” is indeed a breakthrough of traditional concepts, thinking modes and methods, and also a grand project that leaps over old territories, old temple styles and conventional followers. For example:
‧He established sixteen Buddhist colleges and fostered more than twelve hundred monastics, just like the twelve hundred bhiksus of Buddha’s time. It is also known to be the Buddhist order with the highest quality and global prospects in the world.
‧Fo Guang Shan has more than two hundred branch temples (74 in Taiwan, 116 across the globe) and two million devotees worldwide.
‧He established four universities in America and Taiwan, two High Schools, two Junior High Schools, four Kindergartens, and eight Community Universities in Taiwan. There are also more than fifty Chinese Schools outside of Taiwan.
‧He re-edited the Buddhist Canon and compiled the Buddhist sutras in modern language.
‧He established a publishing house, libraries, radio stations, Beautiful Life Television, Merit Times Daily News, nine Fo Guang Yuan Art Galleries and many more.
‧He has brought Buddhism to every corner of society through the use of Buddhist chanting, art, calligraphy, the Sounds of the Human World Music Competition.
Fifty-seven years ago, a monk born in Yangzhou with no formal education or even a formal diploma came to Lei Yin Temple in Ilan, Taiwan. Fifty-seven years later (March, 2006), he gave a lecture in front of students at Yuelu Academy in Chang Sha, China. What he has long hoped for is to bring compassion, joy and harmony of Dharma to the people of the land that nurtured his buddha’s heart and great vows.
In time of Fo Guang Shan’s 40th Anniversary and Master Hsing Yun’s 80th Birthday, we have compiled The 80 Years of Venerable Master Hsing as a tribute to him. This book contains pictures that illustrate 40 years of Master’s footsteps and endeavors.
We are grateful to receive approval from Venerable Master, and for assigning Venerable Ru Chang from Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery, Venerables Man Yi, Miao Kuang and Miao Sin from Master’s Secretary Office, and Venerable Miao Guang to assist in the making and translation of this book. Venerable Master has also personally selected some very rare pictures for this photographic biography.
From these pictures, we can see that none of these traces were made deliberately. Master has dedicated his whole life to the practices of “Giving others hope, giving others joy, giving others confidence and giving others convenience.” These are the proof of his constant dedication to helping those in need throughout the different stages of his life. Furthermore, as historical images from many decades, these are also the threads that link up Venerable Master’s life stories, which are extremely rare and precious.
The 80 Years of Master Hsing Yun presents an epitome of his life. Readers shall be able to experience the compassion and vow of this extraordinary and wise man.
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