Venerable Master Hsing Yun is a Chinese Buddhist monk, author, philanthropist, and founder of the Fo Guang Shan monastic order, which has branches throughout Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. Ordained at the age of twelve in Jiangsu Province, China, Hsing Yun has promoted what he calls “Humanistic Buddhism” for over seventy years — Buddhism that meets the needs of people and is integrated into all aspects of daily life.
Venerable Master Hsing Yun was born in 1927 in Jiangdu, Jiangsu Province, China. Having grown up in a poor household with both parents working, Master Hsing Yun never received formal education and was left in the care of his maternal grandmother who was a devout Buddhist. When the Sino-Japanese War broke out, his father left on a business trip but never returned. Master Hsing Yun accompanied his mother in the search for his missing father and during their travels met a Buddhist monk who invited him to join the Qixia Monastery. After joining the monastery, he became a disciple of the eminent Master Zhi Kai in Qixia Temple, Nanjing, whose ancestral temple was Dajue Temple in Yixing, Jiangsu. In 1947, Master Hsing Yun graduated from Jiaoshan Buddhist College, completing his Buddhist education in the Ch’an and Vinaya, doctrinal, traditions. Later, he became the principal of Baita Elementary School, editor-in-chief of Raging Billows Monthly, and abbot of Huazand Temple in Nanjing.
In 1949, Venerable Master Hsing Yun arrived in Taiwan and began to nurture the burgeoning Buddhist culture on the island. Early in his monastic career; he promoted Buddhism through the written words. He became the dean of the Taiwan Buddhist Seminar as well as the editor-in-chief of Human Life Magazine. In 1953, he became the guiding teacher for the Buddhist Chanting Association of Yilan and subsequently established the Buddhist Cultural Service Center in Taipei, in 1957. In 1964, he founded the Shou Shan Temple and Shou Shan Buddhist College in Kaohsiung and in 1967, he founded the Fo Guang Shan (Buddha’s Light Mountain) Buddhist Order. He dedicated his efforts to propagate Humanistic Buddhism, using his four founding principles:
To propagate Buddhist teachings through culture,
To foster talents through education,
To benefit society through charity, and
To purify human hearts and minds through Buddhist practices
Additionally, he integrated tradition and modernity in establishing the rules and regulations which were drafted and published into the , bringing Buddhism into a new era of modernization.
Venerable Master Hsing Yun has authored more than one hundred books on how to bring happiness, peace, compassion and wisdom into daily life. These works include: “For All Living Beings”, “Humanistic Buddhism: A Blueprint for Life”, and “Chan Heart, Chan Art”. He also edited and published the Fo Guang Encyclopedia, the most authoritative Buddhist reference work in the Chinese language. His books have been translated into English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Japanese, and more than 20 other languages. His contributions have ranged from sponsoring Buddhist music and art to creating Buddhist programming for radio, stage and television.
Having been a monastic for over seventy years, Venerable Master Hsing Yun has successively established over three hundred temples around the world. Hsi Lai Temple in the United States, Nan Tien Temple in Australia, Nan Hua Temple in South Africa, and Zulai Temple in Brazil are the largest Buddhist Temple in their respective countries. He also founded sixteen Buddhist Colleges, twenty-four art galleries, libraries, several publishing companies, bookstores, fifty Cloud and Water Mobile Libraries, fifty Chinese schools, as well as Chih-Kuang Commercial and Industrial Vocational High School, Pu-Men Senior High School, Jiun Tou Elementary and Junior High School, Junyi School for Innovative Learning, and several kindergartens.
Other education institutes were also established in the United States, Taiwan, Australia, and the Philippines, such as Hsi Lai University (now the University of the West), Fo Guang University, Nanhua University, Nan Tien Institute, and Guang Ming College. In 2006, the University of the West became the first university established by a Chinese organization to be accredited by WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges).
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