Fo Guang Shan monastery
Today, my personal assistant and good friend, Liaison Pastor Loh Seng Piow showed me a few pictures of Fo Guang Shan monastery in Taiwan. I have heard about this monastery before, but these pictures beautifully highlights the sheer scale of the monastery and what if offers.
In 1976, Master Hsing Yun founded Fo Guang Shan, the largest temple in Taiwan. The temple sits on 30 hectares (74 acres) of land in Ta Shu township, Kaohsiung county in Taiwan. 30 hectares… that’s the size of 50 international football fields!
Take a look at these beautiful pictures below… I have also added a 12-part video which goes through the overview of the temple complex, from the temple’s carpark, main entrance to their main prayer hall.
I truly rejoice that Fo Guang Shan is still thriving today, and continues to spread the Dharma… may their beautiful work continue to grow.
Many in the West and even East do not know of the sheer size, benefit and active curriculum these Monasteries have because it is all in Chinese language. It is very encouraging for many to know there are modern, large, functioning Monasteries in Taiwan where Dharma is very strong. Where people can get a full dharma education with degree. I do encourage many to visit this vast and beautiful Monastery. May it last 10,000 years! I rejoice so much in this place.
- Vulture’s Peak
- Mountain Gate
- Fo Guang Senior Citizen Home
- Tsung Lin University
- Pure Land Cave
- Pilgrims Lodge
- Great Compassion Shrine
- Gate of Padmagarbha
- Main Shrine
- Sutra Calligraphy Hall
- Fo Guang Yuan Cultural Exhibition Hall
- Mediation Hall
- Museum of Fo Guang Shan History
- Bamboo Garden Lodge
- Great Wisdom Shrine
- Great Buddha Land
- Great Vow Shrine
(Extracted from source: https://www.fgs.org.tw/en/)
About Fo Guang Shan
Venerable Master Hsing Yun founded Fo Guang Shan in 1967. The once bamboo forest of Kaohsiung county now lies the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. It houses more than two dozen temples, two Buddhist colleges (one for men and one for women), 4 community colleges, many primary and secondary schools, kindergartens, meditation rooms, a Japanese-style calligraphy hall, gardens and a recycling center. There is currently 400 monks and nuns who live on the hills. Presently, Fo Guang Shan has over 200 branch temples throughout the world carrying out the goals of propagating Humanistic Buddhism and establishing a Pure Land on earth.
The objectives of Fo Guang Shan are to promote the principles of Humanistic Buddhism and to foster peace and harmony among all peoples of the world. The founder, Venerable Master Hsing Yun, has guided this effort by providing educational opportunities, sponsoring cultural events, engaging in community service, and by extensively writing and teaching about the Buddhist path of wisdom and compassion. Venerable Master Hsing Yun emphasizes not needing to “go some place else” to find enlightenment (paradise), for we can realize our true nature right here and now, within this precious human birth and this world. When we actualize altruism,joyfulness,and universality, we are practicing the fundamental concepts of Humanistic Buddhism. When we give faith, hope, joy, and service, we are helping all beings, as well as ourselves.
For nearly half a century, Venerable Master Hsing Yun, founder of Fo Guang Shan, has devoted his efforts in transforming this world, through the practice of Humanistic Buddhism. He reminds us that to transform our world, we must be actively engaged in it. “Community transcends the individual,” he says, “and in doing so, fulfills the individual in the most complete way possible.” Wherever he goes, he encourages people to unite both the local and global communities into a world of complete equality, joyfulness, and perfect peace.
The goal and its aims are to promote Humanistic Buddhism around the world by the four founding principles:
- To propagate Buddhist teachings through cultural activities.
- To nurture talents through education.
- To benefit societies through charitable programs.
- To purify human hearts and minds through Buddhist practices.
Social & Medical Programs
Based on the Buddha’s teaching of loving kindness and His desire to rid the world of suffering, the Fo Guang Shan Compassion Foundation assists the poor, the sick and the homeless by providing free medical care at the main monastery and by dispatching mobile clinics to remote villages. It distributes clothing and food supplies to the rural poor through the annual relief campaign. It encourages the release of captured living creatures, and advocates organ donation. The Compassion Foundation has facilities to take care of anything from birth and old age to sickness and death. The Tatzu Children’s Home was set up for the needy and orphaned children from Taiwan and other countries. The nurturing of constructive thinking ,self-esteem, and positive appreciation plays an important role in the daily upbringing of these children. The Fo Guang Shan Retirement Home was established to provide a peaceful and quiet environment for retired devotees while the Lan Yang Senior Citizens Home has given shelter to more than 820 chronically ill and destitute seniors over the age of 70 for the past 30 years.
The educational programs of Fo Guang Shan include four Buddhist colleges, two universities in Taiwan and one in the United States. The Chinese Buddhist research institute is further subdivided into four separate departments; a college each for men and woman ,an international and an English Buddhist studies department. Tuition fees and lodging are provided by Fo Guang Shan, free of charge. Besides the many colleges and universities, Fo Guang Shan also operates a high school in Taipei, which provides a regular curriculum for high school students, as well as nursery schools, kindergartens and Sunday schools for children. There is approximately 180 lecturers and they offer a wide variety of courses such as art, instructions, architecture, social sciences, Chinese literature, philosophy, technology, Language, Economic, Bachelors in culture and history of Philosophy, Meditation, and Calligraphy.
Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Practice
Based on a sense of gratitude towards the Buddha, the country, the parents, and all living beings, resident monastics and many lay devotees at Fo Guang Shan get up at 5:30am daily to conduct and participate in the morning services of chanting and prostration. In addition, one-day, three-day or seven-day retreats are held frequently at meditation centres affiliated with Fo Guang Shan for both monastics and laity.
Throughout the year there are regular, scheduled and special ceremonies that include, but not limited to, services involving Amitabha, Bhaisajya-guru, Shakyamuni Buddha’s Birthday, Great Compassion Chanting, and the Peaceful Lantern Festival. The programs of Sutra recitation and lectures associated with these various ceremonies assist the attendants in their diligent practice of Buddhism, the cultivation of self-imposed attitude, the establishment of roots of benevolence and the generation of wisdom. Also there are often organized pilgrimages to Fo Guang Shan from all over the world. During these visits devotees will receive Dharma lectures and classes in Buddhism in the hope of achieving an inner spiritual transformation.
The Fo Guang Shan Mottoes
Offer others faith.
Offer others joy.
Offer others hope.
Offer others convenience.
In order to glorify the Dharma, Master Hsing Yun purchases more than 30 hectares in Ta Shu Township, Kaohsiung County as the site for the construction of a monastery. During the groundbreaking ceremony at Fo Guang Shan on May 16, Master Hsing Yun establishes the following objectives for the monastery: spread the Dharma through culture; cultivate human talents through education; benefit society through philanthropy; and purify the mind through cultivation. Construction of dormitories for Eastern Buddhist College begins.
|July 1967||Master Hsing Yun takes over responsibility for the Lan Yang Institute for the Poor, previously run by an Ilan Christian organization. He takes into his care more than 100 destitute senior citizens. Plans are immediately made for the construction of Ching-she Retirement Home and Great Mercy Children’s Home.|
|October 1967||Shou Shan Buddhist College moves to Fo Guang Shan, changing its name to Eastern Buddhist College. At the college’s first graduation ceremony 20 students graduate, among them are Venerables Tzu Chia, Tzu Yi, Hsin Ju, and Yi Yen.|
|December 1968||The dormitories for Eastern Buddhist college are completed.|
|March 1969||Venerables Tzu Hui, Tzu Chia, and Tzu Yi go to Japan to pursue advanced degrees, becoming the first Fo Guang Shan disciples to study abroad. Since then, Fo Guang Shan monastics have attended colleges and universities in Japan, Korea, India, America, England, France, and Brazil.|
|December 1970||Opening ceremony takes place for Great Mercy Children’s Home, established by Master Hsing Yun and Hsu Huai-sheng, manager of Chiao-Tung Bank. Under the directorship of Venerables Tzu Jung, Tzu Chia, Tzu Yi, Yi Chieh, Yi Lai, and others, the home has given shelter to orphans from around the world, and has been in the forefront of improving orphanage management and education.|
|April 1971||The Great Compassion Shrine is built and the image of Kuan Yin is consecrated, marking the completion of the mountain’s first temple. Treasure Bridge, the Kuan Yin Release Pond, Dragon Pavilion, and Hsiang Guang Pavilion are all completed. The Maitreya Buddha image is also consecrated at the same time. About 100,000 people participate in the ceremonies. On this occasion, the Five-Precepts and Bodhisattva Precepts for lay people are administered on the mountain for the first time.|
|May 1972||Prime Minister Li Guang-yaw of Singapore and his wife visit Fo Guang Shan.|
|September 1973||Founding of Fo Guang Shan Tsung-lin University, the country’s first Buddhist university. Later, the name is changed to Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Research Institute.|
|March 1975||Venerable Tzu Hui becomes the publisher of Awakening the World, the Fo Guang Shan periodical for devotees founded in 1957. Beginning in 1995, the magazine is issued monthly rather than every ten days. More than 400,000 copies are printed for each issue.
Buddha’s Light Scholarly Journal publishes its first issue. It eventually becomes a leading periodical for the scholarly research of Buddhism.
|May 1975||Construction begins on the Fu Shan Temple in Changhua. This is the first branch temple opened by Fo Guang Shan. Its first abbot is Venerable Hsin Ping.|
|October 1975||Master Hsing Yun gives a lecture on Buddhism in the National Arts Hall. This is the first time that a lecture on Buddhism is given in the halls of government.|
|November 1975||The Great Buddha is consecrated on the Eastern slope of Fo Guang Shan. At 120 feet high, it is the tallest Buddha statue in Southeast Asia.|
|June 1976||The founding of the Fo Guang Health Clinic at Shou Shan Temple in Kaohsiung. After moving to Fo Guang Shan, where it is renamed the Fo Guang Medical Clinic, medical services will be provided for Fo Guang Shan and the local community.|
|July 1976||Master Hsing Yun heads a delegation of Chinese Buddhists to visit the United States. There, he participates in the U.S. bicentennial festivities.
Founding of Pu Men High School. Venerable Tzu Hui is its first principal.
|January 1977||The “Concert of Buddhist Chanting” takes place at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei. This is the first time that Buddhist music is performed in a national hall.|
|August 1977||Master Hsing Yun receives an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Oriental Studies (Los Angeles, U.S.A.). He establishes the first overseas Fo Guang Shan branch – Hsi Lai Temple, located in the suburbs of Los Angeles.|
|November 1977||Master Hsing Yun establishes the Fo Guang Shan Committee for the Editing and Publishing of the Buddhist Tripitaka. This committee is gradually editing and annotating the Buddhist canon so that it can effectively meet the needs of both specialists and the general public.
First Triple Platform Ordination is held. This is regarded throughout Taiwan as the model for monastic ordination.
|August 1979||Over 3000 children participate in the first children’s summer camp. There will also be annual winter camps for youth and summer camps for mothers and teachers.|
|October 1979||Founding of Universal Gate magazine.|
|April 1980||Master Hsing Yun composes Ode to the Triple Gem and The Song of Fo Guang Shan. Professor Wu Chu-che of a technical school in Taipei writes the melody. The Master’s refined lyrics, together with Professor Wu’s beautiful melody, express the spirit and wisdom of the Buddhist tradition.|
|May 1980||Upon establishing the Research Institute of Indian Studies, the Chinese Cultural University asks Master Hsing Yun to serve as the institute’s president. This is the first Buddhist research institute to receive accreditation from the government.|
|February 1981||The Pure Land Cave is opened at Fo Guang Shan. Visitors to the cave enjoy scenes of the Western Pure Land as described in the Amitabha Sutra.|
|December 1981||Completion of Great Hero Hall coincides with Fo Guang Shan’s 15-year anniversary.|
|October 1982||Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nobel-laureate in literature, visits Fo Guang Shan.|
|November 1982||Fo Guang Shan, in cooperation with organizations from Japan and Korea, sponsors “The Fifth International Buddhist Scholars Conference.” Several dozen scholars from Japan and Korea participate.|
|January 1983||Opening ceremony of the Museum of Buddhist Culture takes place. This museum specializes in preserving and exhibiting Buddhist art from around the world.|
|September 1983||Under the direction of Venerable Tzu Yi, Fo Guang Shan’s Buddhist Tripitaka Editorial Committee publishes its first work, the “Agamas.” In 1987 the “Historical Timeline of Buddhism is published.”|
|November 1983||Longevity Hall and Ksitigarbha Hall are completed. Fo Guang Shan is committed to serving people throughout their lives: through sickness, old age, and from birth to death.|
|July 1984||Following the Master’s idea of “extending medical care to remote areas, and having the wealthy attend to the medical care of the poor,” the Fo Guang medical team is formed. A medical van is purchased from Japan, allowing for mobile health care.|
|July 1985||The World Buddhist Youth Conference originally founded in Bangkok, for the first time holds their conference at Fo Guang Shan. Master Hsing Yun presides.|
|September 1985||In accordance with Fo Guang Shan regulations, Master Hsing Yun retires, passing the abbotship on to Venerable Hsin Ping. By emphasizing “respectful adherence to Buddhist regulations, the continual transmission of learning from master to disciple, the management of affairs according to the rules, and the establishment of leadership,” Master Hsing Yun reaffirms the democratic nature of Fo Guang Shan.|
|December 1986||The World Sutric and Tantric Buddhist Conference takes place at Fo Guang Shan. The theme of the conference is “The Integration of Sutric and Tantric Buddhism and the Development of World Culture.” More than 300 scholars from around the world participate, as do four Tantric Dharma masters.|
|March 1987||In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the opening of Fo Guang Shan, a month-long, 600 kilometer “Taiwan Pilgrimage” is organized. The objective of the pilgrimage is to “give witness to the country’s prosperity, Buddhism’s magnificence, the people’s uprightness, and the devotees’ faith.”|
|May 1987||Master Hsing Yun and Chao Pu-chu, President of the Chinese Buddhist Association of mainland China, meet one another in Bangkok for the first time.|
|July 1987||Master Hsing Yun and 1200 others celebrate their sixtieth birthdays together.|
|August 1987||Venerable Yi Hua, who had received a master’s degree in comparative religion at the Indian International University, becomes the abbess of the Chinese Buddhist Temple, Sarnath, India.|
|March 1988||Master Hsing Yun leads a delegation to spread the Dharma and provide medical care in northern Thailand. While there, he establishes the Fo Guang Shan Association to Aid Northern Thailand.|
|June 1988||The Fo Guang Shan Cultural and Educational Foundation holds its first alms-round fund raising event. Under the leadership of Venerable Tzu Hui the foundation actively promotes Buddhist culture and education.|
|July 1988||The Fo Guang Shan audio-visual center is established. This center produces movies, videos, and cassettes so that the propagation of the Dharma need not rely entirely on the written word.|
|September 1988||Large-scale Dharma functions entitled, “Revival of the Buddha’s Time” is held at Chiang Kai Shek Stadium in Kaohsiung. Master Hsing Yun delivers to a total of 120,000 devotees his message on giving people faith, joy, hope, and convenience.|
|October 1988||After ten years of diligent work, the Fo Guang Encyclopedia is published.|
|November 1988||The 16th World Fellowship of Buddhists is held at Hsi Lai Temple in the United States. This is the first time that the fellowship has held a conference in the Western hemisphere. It also provides the first opportunity for Buddhist organizations from Taiwan and mainland China to participate in the same conference.
Construction of Hsi Lai Temple in the United States is completed on November 26th. The News media hail it as the largest Buddhist monastery in America. Venerable Tzu Chuang serves as the temple’s first abbess. Three hundred monastics from 16 different countries participate in the Triple Platform Ceremony held at the temple.
|December 1988||Master Hsing-Yun is invited by the California Legislature to perform purifying services to start the session. This is the first time that a Buddhist master has performed such a service in America. The master will eventually conduct such services in New York and Chicago.|
|January 1989||Senator Al Gore of the United States visits Fo Guang Shan.|
|July 1989||His Holiness the Dalai Lama visits Hsi Lai Temple. This marks a new chapter in the bringing together of esoteric and exoteric Buddhism.|
|August 1989||Approximately 8000 people register for Fo Guang Shan’s first Short-term Renunciation Retreat; over 1000 are accepted. This is the first time in Chinese history that a short-term ordination is offered for lay people.|
|February 1990||The Fo Guang Shan Religious Affairs Committee begins its second session. Venerables Hsin Ping, Tzu Chuang, Tzu Hui, Tzu Jung, Tzu Chia, Tzu Yi, Hsin Ting, Yi Heng, and Yi Kung are elected to serve. The process of election follows the rules established in the Fo Guang Shan Constitution.|
|May 1990||Fo Guang Shan choir performs a three-day concert in the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, called “Concert to Spread the Dharma through Buddhist Chanting.”|
|July 1990||Hsi Lai Temple successfully applies to have Hsi Lai University accredited as a religious university. This is one of the first Buddhist institutions of higher education established in the West.
Mr. Arkell, Alderman of Wollongong, Australia donated 26 acres to Fo Guang Shan. Plans were immediately made to construct Nan Tien Temple.
|November 1990||The Fo Guang Shan Cultural and Educational Foundation holds a “Worldwide Buddhist Examination.” More than 200,000 people on the continents of Asia, North Americans, and Australia participate in the test.|
|December 1990||Fo Guang Shan sponsors the “International Buddhist Academic Symposium.” Professors’ Akira Hirakawa of Japan and Lewis Lancaster of the United States give the plenary addresses. More than 40 scholars and professors from Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, mainland China, Canada, and the United States present papers.|
|February 1991||A meeting is called on February 3rd at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall in Taipei to establish the Buddha’s Light International Association, R.O.C. Master Hsing Yun is named as president, Venerable Tzu Jung as secretary. President Li Teng-hui sends a telegram of congratulations. Minister of the Interior Hao Pai-tsun, Minister of National Defense Chen Lu-an, former Ministers of the Interior Hsu Shui-te, Chiu Chian-huang and Wu Po-hsiung as well as Hsiao Tien-tsan and Chung Jung-chi all attend. Master Hsing Yun encourages all in attendance with the BLIA motto: “May kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity pervade the entire universe. May all people and heavenly beings benefit from our blessings and friendship. May our ethical practice of Chan and Pure Land help us achieve universal tolerance. May we undertake the great Mahayana vows in humility and gratitude.” There are 326 sub-chapters established in Taiwan.|
|March 1991||A Triple Platform Ordination Ceremony is held at Fo Guang Shan over a three-month period. More than 500 novices from all over the world participate. This ordination is the longest and most rigorous in Chinese history.
Dr. Hennir Senekal of South Africa visits Fo Guang Shan to request that a temple be established in Johannesburg. This is the first step toward the founding of Nan Hua Temple. Venerable Hui Li oversees the temple’s construction.
|July 1991||Construction of the Devotees Hall is completed. The facilities include an auditorium, dining hall, offices, meditation hall, and seminar rooms. It provides devotees with a place to relax, meditate, watch videos, hold meetings, eat, and learn more about the Dharma.|
|December 1991||The Academy of Social Sciences of mainland China sponsors a special three-month exhibit on “Science and Technology in Ancient Tun Huang” at Fo Guang Shan. The exhibit runs for three months in the Cultural Exhibition Hall. The exhibit attracted 500,000 people to come to the mountain’s Cultural Exhibition Hall to view the artifacts. The show promotes cultural and religious interaction between mainland China and Taiwan.|
|January 1992||The Fo Guang Shan Chuan-Teng Monastic College is established. This is a college for training the monks and nuns of Fo Guang Shan.|
|February 1992||President Li Teng-hui and Provincial Governor Sung Chu-yu, the General-Secretary of the Central Committee of the KMT visit Fo Guang Shan to worship at the Great Hero Hall.|
|April 1992||BLIA chapters established in Paris and London.|
|May 1992||The First General Conference of the BLIA is held at the Performance Center of Los Angeles. The theme of the conference is “Joy and Harmony.” More than 4000 attend. Master Hsing Yun is selected to be the conference chairperson. Mr. Chiang Kuo-liang, mayor of Monterey, CA proclaims May 16th as “International Buddha’s Light Day.”|
|September 1992||The mayors of Austin and Houston, Texas (USA), honor Master Hsing Yun as a Friendship Ambassador. Fo Guang Temple of London, England was established.|
|October 1992||Fo Guang Shan hosts the 18th World Congress of the World Fellowship of Buddhists. The opening ceremony is held at Sun Yat-sen Hall on Yangming Mountain in Taipei. Master Hsing Yun gives the plenary address on the conference’s theme: “Development through Harmony and Cooperation.” The Master is honored as an honorary life president of the WFB.
Chung Tian Temple in Brisbane, Australia is completed. Preliminary planning and construction has been under the guidance of Venerable Yung Chuan. After the temple is opened, Venerable Yi Lai serves as abbess.
BLIA, Switzerland Chapter is established.
|February 1993||Fo Guang Shan holds its first reunion for monastics and their family members.
In order to promote communication and cooperation worldwide between Buddhist organizations, the IBPS holds the first “International Monastic Seminar.” Bhiksus and devotees from five continents and 16 countries participate.
Fo Guang Shan sponsors the Second World Conference of the BLIA. The opening ceremony takes place at the Chiang-Kai Shek Stadium in Taoyuan.
Some 30,000 people attend the conference whose theme is “Integration and Co-Existence.” After the closing ceremony, Mr. Lu, Spain’s government representative to Taiwan, and five lay people of African descent from South Africa all take the Three Refuges under Master Hsing Yun.
|October 1993||The Education Department grants Fo Guang Shan permission to establish Fo Guang University. Venerable Tzu Hui takes responsibility for its planning and construction. Mr. Kung Peng-cheng is named as university president. A site for the campus is found in Ilan county.
BLIA establishes a system of lay teachers and preachers.
Fo Guang Shan establishes formal relations with the Dharmakaya Foundation of Thailand. This provides a major step forward in facilitating communication between Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism.
|April 1994||The Meditation Hall and Meditation College are formally established, with Venerables Hsin Ting as hall supervisor and Hui Jih acting as the assistant hall supervisor.|
|August 1994||Fo Guang Shan provides massive relief for victims of flooding in Taiwan, donating NT$10,000,000 to the Kaohsiung County government.|
|September 1994||The Third International Conference of BLIA is held in Vancouver, Canada. Its theme is “Integration and Co-Existence.”
The second annual International Monastic Seminar, sponsored by IBPS was held in Vancouver, Canada.
Fo Guang Shan Srimala Buddhist College admits its first class of students. Twenty young women travel around the world to conduct Buddhist studies.
|October 1994||Master Hsing Yun tonsures ten monastics of African descent at Nan Hua Temple. This is the first time in African history that native Africans are ordained. It is an important milestone in the development of Buddhism on the continent.|
|December 1994||The Fo Guang Shan Tripitaka board publishes the 51-volume edition of the Chan Canon. Venerables Yung Ming, Yung Chin, and dozens of others have taken part in the editing. The following year, the Fo Guang Shan Cultural and Educational Foundation will donate one thousand full sets of the Chan Canon to universities, libraries, monasteries, and scholars.|
|January 1995||“Handing Down the Light,” the biography of Master Hsing Yun by Fu Chi-ying is published by the World Cultural Publishing Co. It immediately becomes a best seller, making Miss Fu the most popular female author in Taiwan.|
|March 1995||The Fo Guang Shan Educational and Cultural Foundation establishes the Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery in Taipei. This is the first art gallery in Taiwan specializing in Buddhist works. Such art galleries are also established at Hsi Lai Temple (USA), Nan Tien and Chung Tien Temples (Australia), the Paris Branch Temple (France), Tung Chan Temple (Malaysia), and the branch temples in Tainan and Ping Tung (Taiwan).
The auditorium in Tathagata Hall is completed. An estimated 300,000 pilgrims come to Fo Guang Shan during the Chinese New Year, many of whom fill the new hall during its opening festivities.
|April 1995||On April 7, Venerable Hsin Ping, the second abbot of Fo Guang Shan passes away. The Religious Affairs Committee selects Venerable Hsin Ting as his successor.
Because Master Hsing Yun is experiencing an irregular heartbeat, he undergoes heart surgery on April 25 in Taipei. Dr. Chang Yen performs the surgery.
|June 1995||Under the supervision of the Education Department, more than 800,000 students at 2000 elementary and middle schools and 300,000 adults participate in the Fo Guang Shan World Buddhist Examination. For the first time, a cartoon version of the exam is available for children. More than 1,000,000 people worldwide take part in the test, which has been translated into ten languages.|
|July 1995||The opening ceremony of the first “Pro Dialogo: Buddhist-Christian Colloquium” is held in Tathagata Hall at Fo Guang Shan. Venerable Hsin Ting presides and Cardinal Arinze addresses the more than 2000 people in attendance. The four-day conference draws Catholic and Buddhist representatives from around the world, including the United States, Japan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Italy, and Spain.|
|September 1995||The ten-volume Buddhist text, compiled by Master Hsing Yun, is published and distributed free of charge to devotees, monastics, lay preachers, and benefactors. It serves as a resource for both self-cultivation and spreading the Dharma.|
|October 1995||Venerables Yi Jung and Man Chien then supervise the process, which reaches completion in 1995. The Prime Minster of Australia and other high officials offer congratulations. Nan Tien is judged to be largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere. The Fourth International Conference of BLIA is held there, with the theme, “Respect and Tolerance.”
The Third International Monastic Seminar sponsored by IBPS is held in Sidney, Australia.
|April 1996||In celebration of the Buddha’s Birthday BLIA, R.O.C organizes two Bathing the Buddha Dharma functions, one in the Chiang Kai-Shek Stadium of Taoyuan, the other at the Sun Yat-sen stadium in Kaohsiung. A total of 60,000 people participate.
BLIA, Malaysia chapter and the Malaysia Buddhist Association jointly sponsor a large-scale Triple Refuge Ceremony and Lamp Offering and Prayer Dharma function at the Salaam Stadium, Port Kelang. Master Hsing Yun is invited to lecture on “Humane Essays on Humanistic Buddhism.” Some 80,000 people attend the event, making it the largest Buddhist gathering in Malaysian history.
Vice President Al Gore, USA attends a banquet at Hsi Lai Temple.
|May 1996||A series of special events commemorate Fo Guang Shan’s Thirtieth Anniversary. A benefactors conference is held, as well as the opening of a special exhibit at the Fo Guang Shan Cultural Exhibition Hall. At the same time, a memorial celebrating the history of Fo Guang Shan and an inscription wall that includes the calligraphy of 100 famous artists and Buddhist monastics is unveiled. President Li Teng-hui donates a plaque on which is inscribed “Transmitting the Light Throughout the World.” More than 5000 people participate in the ceremonies.|
|August 1996||The Fifth International Conference of the BLIA is held at the International Center of Le Paris de Congres on August 3. Messages of congratulations are received from President Li Deng-hui of the R.O.C, President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore of the United States and President Jacque Chirac of France. Master Hsing-Yun presides over the conference and gives the keynote speech, entitled “Equality and Peace.” Over 4000 representatives from 63 branches and from more than 100 countries and cities participate.
The groundbreaking ceremony is hosted for a Fo Guang Shan temple in Holland, this country’s first Chinese Buddhist Temple.
|September 1996||The Fo Guang Religious Affairs Committee publishes a trial CD version of the “Fo Guang Buddhist Encyclopedia.”
The premiere of Fo Guang Shan Commemorative Video is presided over by Master Hsing Yun, Chiu Shun-chin, the manager of Chung-Yang Movie Company, and director Wang Tung.
Master Hsing-Yun presides over the tonsure and “Vow to be a celibate lay disciple” ceremony for 142 disciples, including Shih Kuo-liang, the highest-ranking artist in mainland China. Master also writes about the attitude of “Joyful Renunciation.”
|October 1996||As part of Fo Guang Shan’s 30-year Anniversary Celebration, BLIA and FGS Religious Affairs Committee, sponsor “The First International Conference of Outstanding Buddhist Women.” More than 500 women from 15 countries participate in the four-day event.|
|January 1997||Hsi-Lai Temple and BLIA host a “1997 Dharma Function for World Peace.” The more than 2000 people who participate in the prayer service – including Buddhist, Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, and Muslim representatives – exemplify the spirit of “Equality through universal respect, and peace through universal well-being.|
|February 1997||Master Hsing-Yun and Pope John Paul II meet at the Vatican for inter-faith dialogue and to pray for world peace.|
|March 1997||On the Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s first Dharma propagation tour in the R.O.C, the first stop is to visit Fo Guang Shan. In the Main Shrine Hall, Fo Guang Shan Abbot Venerable Hsin Ting, the Dalai Lama, and 5000 monastics recite sutras in Chinese and Tibetan. Venerable Hsin Ting presents a set of the Chan Canon to the Dalai Lama and invites him to address the public.|
|May 1997||Fo Guang Shan Religious Affairs Committee hosts the Closing Ceremony of Fo Guang Shan Headquarters and Ascending Rites for the Third Fo Guang Shan Abbot, Venerable Hsin Ting.|
|January 1998||Handing over the presidency of BLIA, ROC to the newly elected president Mr. Wu Po-hsiung.|
|February 1998||The first time to hold the International Triple Platform Ordination for monks and nuns and the Three Refuge and Five Precepts Ceremony for lay people in Bodhgaya.|
|April 1998||Master Hsing Yun and a group of delegates went to Thailand to bring the Buddha’s Tooth Relic to Taiwan.|
|June 1998||The first graduation ceremony was held at Hsi Lai University.|
|June 1999||During the purifying and groundbreaking ceremony for the temple in Houston, Texas, USA, the mayor of the city proclaimed the 20th of June as “Venerable Master Hsing Yun Day.”|
|August 1999||Republic of China President Lee Teng-hui came to Fo Guang Shan on the day before Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s 73rd birthday to announce that the Buddha’s Birthday would be a national holiday in Taiwan and would be celebrated on April 8th. He also presented the national flag to the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Music Choir that was leaving for their European performance.|
|September 1999||Master Hsing Yun led the group of Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Music Choir to begin their European tour of Buddhist music to a number of European cities. During the tour a massive earthquake hit Taiwan and Master Hsing Yun not only lead the group in a ritual ceremony to bless the deceased but also called for all Fo Guang people to set up earthquake centers to do relief work.|
|March 2000||International Full Ordination held at Fo Guang Shan for 53 days.|
|April 2000||The first issue of the daily newspaper the “Merit Times” was published on April 1st.|
Fo Guang Shan Monastery Temple Grounds
Five Hundred Arhats Garden (Vulture Peak)
Behind the Non-Duality Gate are five hundred white jade arhat statues. Each sculpture appears lifelike with different features and expressions. This is Fo Guang Shan’s Vulture Peak. There are two rows of bodhi trees whose branches and leaves seem to dance and their trunks tower into the sky. The flowers and trees contrast each other in such an interesting way.
On March 7th 1970, the mountain gate was built along with the Avalokitesvara Pond, Serenity Pavilion and Precious Bridge. Fo Guang Shan emulates the Buddha’s spirit of equality in “Cultivating loving-kindness without conditions and ground compassion in oneness.” Following the virtuous examples of the ancient in being kind and loving to all animals, a thirty-six thousand square feet Avalokitesvara Pond was constructed. At dusk, when the sun shines over the Avalokitesvara statue, it is like the great compassionate and efficacious Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva who liberates the suffering from distress, has arrived to save the endless sentient beings in the water. In this beautiful scene, one can tell the hardships in building the pond back then.
The construction of the Avalokitesvara Pond was done n the hot summer. Although the torrent rains repeatedly washed away the construction, Venerable Master Hsing Yun and his disciples risked themselves to save the pond. They used cotton beddings to cover the ground and worked undauntingly with Fo Guang Shan’s Dharma protectors Chen Wang-shi, Fan Hsiao-yue, and Dong Rong-fang to stop the flooding water. Finally, the soil and water was conserved and the construction could be completed.
In the pond is a small island named Peace and Love Island. The island commemorates a lay female Buddhist known as “Aigu” (loving aunt). She later renounced and became a bhiksuni with the Dharma name Wei He (fine harmony). The island was thus named because of her compassion and enthusiastic support in the construction of the pond. Before she passed away, she donated all her properties for the construction of the pond.
Fo Guang Senior Citizens Home
To enhance the traditional spirit of filial piety, improve harmony in family ethics and to let the elders live a peaceful and happy life, Venerable Master Hsing Yun established the Fo Guang Senior Citizens Home. It is a retirement home that provides care for the elderly. Neighbours with Pu Men High School, it is located on a hill of the west mountain of Fo Guang Shan, where the scenery is beautiful. Construction began in October 1974. There are three apartment buildings each with two stories – Wisdom and Purity Building, Clear Mind Building, and Knowledge and the Way Building. On October 1st, 1976, the home was inaugurated. Currently, a few of the residents are monastics; while the majority are lay Buddhists who have taken refuge in the Triple Gem including retired government workers, professors, officers, lawyers, and businessmen. They all have wonderful families. However, they used their own savings to stay at the senior citizens home to seek a different life in “renunciation” and cultivation. Naturally, the elderly have many illnesses. Hence, with the spirit of compassion and the love of a Bodhisattva, the staff patiently look after the elderly. When there is a small illness, they are sent to the Fo Guang Shan Clinic. If it is serious, then they are sent by ambulance to a hospital. Hence, every elderly living in the senior citizens home are well cared for, so that their family can be at ease and not worry of bringing trouble at home.
Tsung Lin University
Since the establishment of Shou Shan Buddhist College in 1965 in the city of Kaohsiung, the number of students who enrolled continuously increased. In October 1967, Tsung Lin University was thus founded in where Fo Guang Shan Monastery is located today. Shou Shan Buddhist College was then renamed Eastern Buddhist College.
To accommodate the needs of the time and of the students, a three-tier system was established in 1989. The first tier is the Chinese Buddhist Research Institute, aimed at fostering teachers and researchers of Buddhism. The second tier is Fo Guang Shan Tsung Lin University. Accepting college level students, it aims at fostering talents for cultural, educational, charitable, and Dharma propagation programs. The third tier is Eastern Buddhist College. Accepting junior high to high school students, it aims at cultivating moral qualities in teenagers and introducing them to Buddhism.
Over the years, Fo Guang Shan Tsung Lin University has developed a well-rounded Buddhist education that has a parallel emphasis of Buddhist teachings and practices. Also there are a line-up of excellent teachers, abundant library resources, an international exchange program, scholarships, and job offers, all while experiencing a traditional monastic life in a monastery. Hence, many local and worldwide youths have come to study at the university, including countries from the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, South Africa, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, and many other countries.
Domestic and overseas Buddhist colleges have also been established in Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, Australia, and South Africa. These Buddhist colleges continue to nurture Dharma teachers with true religious faith and to realize Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s ideal of letting the Buddha’s light shine universally, and the Dharma stream flow across the five continents.
Pure Land Cave
The Fo Shan Pure Land Cave was created by Venerable Master Hsing Yun for the purpose of teaching Humanistic Buddhism for the purification of people’s hearts and minds. Construction began on the 5100 square meters caves on the slopes to both sides of the Non-duality Gate in November 1972, and after eight years of work, it was completed on February 5th 1981. Based upon the content of the Amitabha Sutra and Sutra of the Visualization of the Buddha of Infinite Life, it uses the styles of cave architecture at Yungang, Longmen and Dunhuang, combined with Buddhist art and sculpture, to manifest the scenes of the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. It is complete both in his artistic and educational value.
During the outset of construction, people asked Venerable Master: “Why don’t you construct scenes from the eighteen hells, and frighten people so that they will not dare to do evil deeds?” Venerable Master replied: “I want to build the excellence and beauty of the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss to make people want to go this pure and perfect place. Isn’t that a more positive thing to do?” This was to turn most people’s negative feelings of fear into bright and positive concepts.
Within the Cave are the great Bodhisattvas of the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss, as well as the great Arhats, the Buddha’s ten great disciples and others, each figure carved in a most lifelike fashion. In the central passageway one can see descriptions of how the depth of one’s meditation practice, vows and merits, will lead a practitioner to rebirth in different stages within the Buddha’s Pure Land. In addition are the three saints of the Pure Land, heavenly maidens playing music, lotus ponds with multicolored lotus flowers, the seven rows of trees, “water of eight virtues features of the Pure Land. After remaining here for some time, one will certainly have the personal feeling of being within the Buddha’s realm, and one’s mind will ascend to a higher and purer state.
The Pilgrims Lodge is Fo Guang Shan’s guest accommodation, which was completed and open for use on March 16th, 1974. Its external design is a blend of Chinese and Indian styles, and the interior is replete with modern faculties to give people convenience and joy. It caters for the dining and accommodation needs of devotees.
Divided into an upper and lower level, the lower floor contains not only dining areas for one thousand guests, but also two meeting rooms, that may be used by organizations for meetings or conventions. The upper floor has 50 suites, divided into separate wings named Wisdom, Light, Bodhi, Love & Compassion, and so forth. There are also larger shared rooms, which can house 500 guests.
There is a verse, “The steam’s sound is the Buddha’s long, broad tongue, the mountains are nothing but his pure body”, as well as descriptions in the Amitabha Sutra of how the majestic buildings and architecture in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, and the water, birds, flowers and grass all teach the Dharma. At the Pilgrims Lodge, the daily life from eating and dressing, to walking and standing, also teach the Dharma to visiting devotees. We hope that everyone may stay and eat here with a happy heart. But apart from that, we hope they can also get spiritual satiation from meditation and the taste of the Dharma!
Great Compassion Shrine
Construction of the Great Compassion shrine commenced on December 15th, 1968. It covers an area of 800 square meters and is 20 meters in height. Within the shrine stands a six-meter high image of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (Guan Yin) in white, who gazes upon all living beings with eyes of love and compassion.
The Thousand-hand-thousand-eye Great Compassion Heart Dharani Sutra states that Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva has already attained Buddhahood countless eons ago, and is known as Saddharmaprabasa Tathagata, the Buddha of True Dharma Light. Because of deep mercy and compassion for the living beings of the Saha world, Avalokitesvara made vows to overcome the sufferings and pain of all living beings, and thus manifests countless transformation bodies to heed the cries of this world and liberate all. Thus she is known as the great compassionate one.
The four walls of the Great Compassion shrine are replete with many smaller images of Avalokitesvara in the style of the Dunhuang Caves. It is Taiwan’s first shrine to be built in the “palace hall” style. Outside the shrine are the coupled verses:
Filling the Saha world, The countless transformation bodies of the thousand hands, thousand eyes one. Traveling through every nation, Liberating Limitless living beings, with great kindness and great compassion.
It describes the loving and merciful spirit of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, who responds to every cry, and never abandons a single life. The outer walkway on four sides depicts twelve deeds of Avalokitesvara as recorded in the Universal Gate Chapter of the Lotus sutra. The beauty and splendor let one feel as though they were truly within a Buddha Land.
While under construction, in front of the shrine was the dormitory of Tsung Lin University, and the eastern wing was built up from rock and earth to a height of some 30 feet. At the time, construction materials were poor and difficult to access, especially when typhoons struck. However, Venerable Master Hsing Yun and all the disciples of Fo Guang Shan were fearless and never gave up. In April 1971, Fo Guang Shan’s first shrine hall was finally completed.
Gate of Padmagarbha
If one ascends the stairs at the Pilgrim’s Lodge, directly before the Main Shrine, one will reach a four columned gate called the Gate of Padmagarbha – the Entrance into the Profound. The Entrance into the Profound indicates complete and unobstructed knowledge of the nature of the universe, from which he may enter into the Flower Treasury Universe of the Avatamsaka Sutra.
The Padmagarbha of Flower Treasury universe is a world of unlimited potential and unlimited light. Here, the great is not necessarily great, and the small is not necessarily small; the pure is not necessarily pure, and the impure is not necessarily impure; the existent does not necessarily exist, and the non-existent does not necessarily not exist; the sage and common person are equal, the Buddha and living beings are equal; oneself and others are the same, mind and matter are the same. The living beings who live in this world have realized that there is no duality between oneself and others, friend and foe are one, and thus they have no contentions with others or afflictions, due to understanding this principle of harmony. Everyone uses there limitless compassion and endless vows to mutually accept, respect and benefit one another, which leads to illumination and unhindered unity, the Flower Treasury Pure Land.
From the Gate of Padmagarbha to the Main Shrine, one finds the broad courtyard paved with many square concrete slabs, four hundred and sixty-four in total. Upon them are 27840 lines, engraved with a steel ruler by the disciples of the Founder Venerable Master Hsing Yun. Each of the slabs is surrounded on four sides by grass, giving the overall impression of green fields. This is a metaphor, explaining how on the path to Buddhahood, one must sow the field of merit to nurture and cultivate ones spiritual life. It is hence named the Way to Buddhahood.
From the Main Gate to the Arhat Garden, entering the Gate of Padmagarbha and crossing the Way to Buddhahood into the Main Shrine, the path is an analogy for the process of spiritual cultivation from the stage of a common person to that of a Buddha.
Fo Guang Shan’s Main Shrine was personally designed by the Founder Venerable Master Hsing Yun. The foundation stone was sourced from India, in a location where the Buddha himself taught the Dharma, the stone of the Diamond Throne. The intention was to “continue the Buddha’s teaching of Dharma, and begin a new standard”.
Above the frame for the magnificent main door, are the four Chinese characters of ‘Da Siong Bao Dian’, or ‘Great Hero Jeweled Shrine’. To the sides are the twin verses of the Founder Venerable Master Hsing Yun: ‘The indestructible diamond Throne from Tusita to the Saba world, and the two Dharma Kings to left and right.’
The wide and peaceful Main Shrine covers 3570 square meters, and is 30 meters in height. Enshrined within are three Buddha images, each of which is 7.8 meters high, the calm and dignified figures gaze down with kindness on those within. In the center is Shakyamuni Buddha of this the saha world, to the left is Bhaisajaguru Buddha (Medicine Buddha) of the Eastern Lapiz Lazuli world, and to the right is Amitabha Buddha (Buddha of Infinite Light) from the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. The interior four walls are filled with Dunhuang style stone niches enshrining 14800 smaller images of Shakyamuni Buddha. There are no columns within the Shrine to hinder peoples viewing, and it can thus house one thousand people for morning and evening chanting or Buddhist religious services. In November 1977, the Fo Guang Shan Triple Platform Ordination ceremony was held here, which became known as the most majestic and model precept ordination ceremony in Taiwan.
Before the Buddhas are the worlds two tallest Light Jewel Pagodas, each nine meters in height in seventy-two layers, and containing 7200 Buddha images. They represent the light of the Buddha Dharma radiating universally upon humanity and the universe, the light of wisdom, which can break through the darkness of ignorance and bring hope and peace to the world. To the left and right are the largest Buddhist bell and drum in all of Taiwan. The bell is from pure beaten copper, and weighs 3.8 metric ton, which took two years and two castings to complete.
Sutra Calligraphy Hall
The Sutra Calligraphy Hall was specially built in 1994 by the founder of Fo Guang Shan, Venerable Master Hsing Yun, in order to let devotees increase their wisdom, for the purpose of cultivating character and mind.
The Sutra Calligraphy Hall with its classical Chinese architecture can hold up to seventy people. It is located to the left of the Main Shrine in the West Pure Land Building. The windows on the right of the Sutra Calligraphy Hall look out upon the Way to Buddhahood, and outside the windows to the left is an historical bamboo forest park. The lower floor is a hall used to invite precept instructors, teach and pass on the precepts, and listen to Dharma teachings.
As the sutras state: “Of all offerings, the offering of the Dharma is supreme.” One can purify the mind and develop character from the practice of calligraphy, letting one’s body and mind become righteous and true. This tradition is a creation and strong feature of Chinese Buddhism. The Sutras also state: “From transcribing the Sutras one is able to accomplish great goals.” When transcribing the Sutras, one writes each stroke, each letter, each word and each sentence with a heart of utmost sincerity. With full commitment of body and mind, and total concentration, one enters into a state of single mindedness.
The Sutra Calligraphy Hall is open to the public daily, and apart from devotees who come and transcribe the Sutras, it is also open for schools and other organizations to come and arrange activities. It is certainly a center for both spiritual cultivation and education.
Fo Guang Yuan Cultural Exhibition Hall
Fo Guang Yuan Cultural Exhibition Hall is situated directly behind the Main Shrine. Going past the wall plaques depicting famous Buddhist practitioners, one can see the graceful traditional Chinese calligraphy and pictures depicting classical Buddhist verses, scenes of compassionate acts, images of great Buddhist Patriarchs, and other Buddhist artwork carved on lustrous, black granite.
Fo Guang Yuan cultural Exhibition Hall was established in December 1991, and first held the Dunhuang caves exhibition, which lasted for three months, after which a cultural exchange was started between Taiwan and Mainland China. The name Fo Guang shan Cultural Exhibition Hall was first chosen in October 1992, and then the name Fo Guang Yuan Cultural Exhibition Hall was officially adopted on May 5th 1996.
Containing exhibitions from both the spheres of Buddhism and the arts, the items on display are not restricted to religion, origin, ethnic group or nationality. Its emphasis is on art as education, by using the beauty of the visual arts and sculpture to raise people’s spiritual and aesthetic values. The Hall covers about 2000 square meters. It houses mainly modern works that are on display for two to three months for educational purposes.
Designed within the gallery is a Waterdrop teahouse, the name of which is taken from the saying: “A drop of gratitude is repaid with a gushing fountain.” Venerable Master Hsing Yun hopes to encourage all those who visit Fo Guang Shan to cherish and be grateful for both other people and things within our lives. We also hope that all our visitors can have a comfortable and friendly place to sit down, have a cup of tea, and contemplate the beauty of art and literature.
The Fo Guang Shan Cultivation Centers was Founder Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s contribution to the great numbers of devotees, a permanent location for meditation retreats, Amitabha recitation retreats, and Sutra transcription. They are centers to develop the virtue and raise the spiritual level of both monastic and lay practitioners, in order to benefit society and purify people’s hearts. And the Meditation Hall is one of such centers.
The Meditation Hall is situated behind Fo Guang Shan’s Main Shrine, on the third floor of the Tathagata Building. After five years of design and three years of construction, it was finally completed in 1993. The Meditation Hall measures 27 meters in length and 17 meters in width, and has a total capacity for over 400 practitioners.
Divided into an inner and an outer meditation hall, the center of the outer meditation hall features a Buddha niche with an image of Sakyamui Buddha, copies of the Chan Canon, and an image of the Chan Patriarch Linji, which represent the blessings of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, the Triple Gem within the Meditation Hall. The west and east wings of the outer meditation hall hold seats designated for the Abbot and Master of the Hall, which are known in the Chan School as the niche of purity. Situated on the four sides of the hall are seats for the meditators, with the center of the hall left as a large open space for walking meditation sessions. The bell board beside the door, the meditation staff on the table, as well as the wooden fish, gong and small bell, are all used as signals during meditation, indicating to the practitioners the time to practice, to rest, and other actions within the hall.
The inner meditation hall contains long alcoves, wherein practitioners eat, sleep, and sit in their meditation practice. This hall truly has he real style and flavor, the rigor and seclusion, of the Chan sect of old!
In order to spread the practice of meditation, and mental and spiritual health, the Cultivation Center has designed a complete system of meditation retreats. All these are in order to draw in all manner of people from society to come and experience Buddhist meditation, to achieve the aim of purifying both body and mind.
Museum of Fo Guang Shan History
The Museum of Fo Guang Shan History is located on the second floor of the Tathagata Hall, and was established on May 16th 1997, in time for the 30th Anniversary of Fo Guang Shan.
The first thing that fills one’s sight on walking into the museum is a bird’s eye view map of Fo Guang Shan. From this one can see the five peaks of Fo Guang Shan, which is described in the verse: “One mountain with five peaks is rare to see, two colleges and the sevenfold assembly is rare to behold”. This also represents the spirit of compassion, wisdom, vows and practice as shown by the Avalokitesvara, Manjusri, Ksitigarbha and Samantabhadra Bodhisattvas.
Inside one can see the history of Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s over fifty years of propagating the Dharma. During the forty years of Fo Guang Shan, he has used the Four Objectives of: “propagating buddhism through culture, fostering talent through education, benefiting society through charitable programs, purifying human minds through buddhist practice” The museum is thus divided into sections of literary publications, educational activities, charitable works, the Dharma mission of the Founder Venerable Master, Buddha Light International Association, and the Dharma lineage of the Fo Guang Shan order. It includes historical photographs, memorial artifacts, and many displays showing the contributions of Fo Guang Shan to society, the nation, and world Buddhism.
For example, the gold medal winning Fo Guang Buddhist Dictionary, the new annotated Fo Guang Buddhist Dictionary, international academic conferences, the world Buddhist examination, many journals and periodicals including Awakening the World, Pumen Academic Journal and Merit Times, and the over one hundred translations of Venerable Master’s writings from the International Translation Center.
In the display dedicated to Buddhism and creativity, one can see many history making innovations used by Venerable Master during his time of propagating the Dharma. For example, the first Buddhist LP, fine class publication of Buddhist books, and taking traditional Buddhist chanting onto the international stage.
There are Venerable Master’s manuscripts, pictures and calligraphy. A chart showing the layout of the organization of Fo Guang Shan and structure of the Buddha Light International association (BLIA) clearly indicates the equal cooperation between the monastic and lay bodies in the teaching of Buddhism. One can also see Venerable Master’s international spirit in his exchanges and friendship with other religions.
In summary, the Museum of Fo Guang Shan History clearly shows the process of Buddhism as it moved from India to China to Fo Guang Shan, and Venerable Masters ideal of Humanistic Buddhism to create a Pure Land for humanity. We hope that the aim of “the Buddha’s light shines upon the world, the Dharma waters flow across the land” may come true.
Bamboo Garden Lodge
Originally the location of Fo Guang Shan was a thick, wild, jungle covered mountain overgrown with bamboo named Mazhu Yuan Zai. After founding Fo Guang Shan, Venerable Master Hsing Yun organized devotee seminars to educate devotee supporters, and built a multipurpose building which was given the old name of the mountain itself, Mazhu Yuan, or Bamboo Garden.
Construction began in late 1983 on the site, which was initially in a ravine, the bottom of which could not be seen! However, after over 5000 truck loads of sand and rock for landfill, and it opened for use in February 1985.
It covers 8300 square meters and is five floors in height. The first floor holds the Jetavana Meeting Hall, guest rooms, reception area, and a Dining Hall that can hold 1000 people. The second to fifth floors are accommodation suites for devotees, including Western and Japanese style suites, the Dynasty suite, as well as the Double Bliss and Three Harmonies meeting rooms. On the fifth floor, the Dharma Wheel Conference Room is a large hall of international standards, with a capacity of 160. The 1985 International Buddhist Youth Conference, the 1986 Esoteric & Exoteric Buddhism Forum, the 1995 International catholic Buddhist Exchange Convention, and the 2003 Northern & Southern Buddhist Discussion Forum, were all held in the Dharma Wheel Conference Room.
The Bamboo Garden Lodge’s most important function is to provide education and classes for devotees, as well as receiving guests to Fo Guang Shan, providing them with comfortable and relaxing accommodation facilities. Even until today, the “Devotees Seminar” (信眾講習會) sign still remains above the door.
Great Wisdom Shrine
The Great Wisdom Shrine is located on the east ridge of Fo Guang Shan, situated within the men’s quarters next to the Great Buddha Land. Construction commenced in 1974, and was completed in November 1975.
Within the shrine itself is an image of the Dharma Prince himself Manjushri Bodhisattva of Great Wisdom, who holds aloft the sword of wisdom and rides upon a golden lion. The sword represents the wisdom that cuts through ignorance, and the lion symbolizes the powerful energy of the lion’s roar, the teaching of the Dharma. It is in this shrine that the students of the Men’s College conduct their morning and evening chanting, to increase in themselves the Prajna wisdom of Manjushri Bodhisattva.
Beneath the Great Wisdom Shrine is the Zongyang Memorial Hall, in commemoration of Venerable Master Zongyang from the first year in the formation of the Republic of China. Venerable Master Zongyang is a 44th generation Patriarch of the Linji Chan Sect. When the hall was opened, Venerable Master Hsing Yun stated: “He was a true hero who displayed all the Buddha’s vows in liberating the world. As a young man, I learnt his valor and love of the nation.” We hope that all fellow practitioners who pay respects here, can also, like the Venerable Master Zongyang, practice the spirit of the great Bodhisattva path to liberate living beings through vows of compassion and kindness.
Great Buddha Land
The Great Buddha is located on the eastern side of Fo Guang Shan next to the Great Wisdom Shrine. The Great Buddha is 36 meters in height, and is the highest standing Buddha in Southeast Asia. Situated in a high and prominent position, the compassionate face of the Buddha can be seen from many kilometers away. The body is golden in color and faces Mount Dawu looking along the Gaoping River.
When the Great Buddha Land was officially opened in 1975, Venerable Master Hsing Yun recited a Dharma verse:
With sand and rock from Gaoping, and spring water from the West, With the efforts of all Taiwan, we have built the highest Great Buddha.
It is surrounded by 480 smaller images of the receiving Buddha. The right hand is raised up, giving forth light, like a light house, as a guide to the living beings ,in this dark world. The left hand is lowered in a gesture of receiving, like a kind mother, receiving living beings and leading them to the Pure Land.
Beneath the Great Buddha’s lotus stand is the Thousand Buddha Land, wherein verses of repentance are inscribed on the walls, along with images of the thirty five jade Buddhas of the Vinaya, the five Dhayani Buddhas, Amitayus Buddha (the Buddha of Infinite Life), Four Armed Avalokitesvara, White Tara, Green Tara, flying and dancing celestial beings, and Vajra Dharma protectors, all depicted in the most lifelike spirit of the Buddhist Dunhuang Caves. There are also images in the style of the Longmen Grotto of Vairocana Buddha, Manjushri and Samantabhadra, as well as Mahakasyapa and Ananda. This is a real union of the Northern and Southern traditions, the esoteric and exoteric. In the center is a large mirror which reflects all, making one feel as though in the Padmagarbha universe. Beneath the base of Mount Sumeru in the center is the “Dharma Words of the Great Buddha”, which is an opportunity to let devotees grow in wisdom.
While walking in the Great Buddha Land, one can watch the sunrise and sunset in this tranquil setting. Looking out over the Gaoping River towards the mist covered mountains, one feels as though one were in a classical Chinese landscape painting. When clear, it is truly inspiring, a hairs breadth from living in a Pure Land, where the difference between ignorance and enlightenment lies only in a realization of the present moment.
Great Vow Shrine
From the Fo Guang Shan Pilgrims’ Path, through the Main Gate following the stone outcrop, one makes one’s way to the Great Vow Shrine. Within the center of the shrine is an image of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva of Great Vows. In addition are 750 medium sized bodhisattva statues and 1500 smaller figures. Outside the shrine one can see standing statues of the kind and gentle Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, giving forth rays of the light of love and compassion. These graceful and dignified images attract countless devotees.
Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, holding a monk’s staff in his right hand and a wish fulfilling pearl in his left, rides upon a unicorn named chanting. His name means ‘earth treasury’, as he is “stable and un-moving like the great earth, meditating with depth and seclusion like a secret treasury”. He made great vows that “as long as the hells are not empty, I will not become a Buddha; only when all living beings are saved, will I myself attain enlightenment”. He was instructed by the Buddha that during the interim period between Sakyamuni and Maitreya Buddha, he should protect and liberate all beings from the ocean of suffering, and vow to become a Buddha.
A good luck bell has been positioned within the shrine, where devotees can strike the bell and pray for good fortune. According to the Sutras, when those in the hells hear the bell, they are freed from pain and find happiness. When other living beings hear the bell, their worries decrease and their wisdom grows. When the shrine was completed on November 27th 1983, Venerable Master Hsing Yun stated: “With the first strike of the bell, the devotees are given good fortune. With the next strike, living beings in the hells feel respite from pain. With the next strike, living beings in the hells feel respite from pain. With the third strike of the bell, everyone in the world attain peace.” This is the great compassion and great vows of Bodhisattvas for the sake of all living beings.
Great Practice Shrine
Fo Guang Shan is built upon five mountain peaks that form the shape of a lotus flower. Situated on Emei peak, the highest in Fo Guang Shan, is the Great Practice Shrine, which looks out across the other peaks below.
Although construction on the Great Practice Shrine was completed in 1985, it was officially opened in 1987. Venerable Master Hsing Yun specially named it the Qixia Chan Garden, in memory of his own monastic lineage from Qixia Temple, with the verse: “From Qixia Monastery, a new lamp for Taiwan, that the Buddha’s light may eternally shine, and the Dharma waters forever flow.”
Samantabhadra Bodhisattva is one of the four great Bodhisattvas, and is one of Sakyamuni Buddha’s attendants along with Manjusri. Manjushri representing wisdom appears to the left riding a lion, and Samantabhadra as practice is to the right upon a white elephant. Samantabhadra’s virtue manifests his pure magnanimity everywhere, and as such his name means universal virtue.
This Bodhisattva rides on a six-tusked white elephant. The six tusks signify the six perfections, and the white elephant represents gentleness, cooperation and great strength in traditional Indian Buddhist thought. This is a metaphor that Samantabhadra Bodhisattva uses the great strength of loving-kindness to practice and put the six perfections into action. While on the stage of cultivation, he made ten great vows, which are a role model for the practice of the Bodhisattva Path. In Mahayana Buddhism, Samantabhadra symbolizes action and vows.
The interior of the shrine houses 892 holy images. The winding path leads one up to the mist covered heights, where one can view from afar the vistas of Fo Guang Shan as far as the eye can see, and enjoy its revitalizing effect on the spirit.
Abbots and directors:
Venerable Master Hsing Yun (1967–1985)
Most Venerable Hsin Ping (1985–1995)
Most Venerable Hsin Ting (1995–2005)
Most Venerable Hsin Pei (2005-2013)
Most Venerable Hsin Bao (elect)
Opening hours: 8.30 am to 5.30 pm
Contact: (07) 6561921 ext 6211
Drive on your own:
No. 1 National Highway (國道一號): Qishan Interchange (旗山交流道) -> No. 186 County Road (186縣道) -> Linkou (嶺口) -> No. 31 Provincial Highway (台21線) -> Linkou Bridge (嶺口橋) -> Fo Guang Shan Monastery (佛光山)
1. Take Kaohsiung Bus (高雄客運) bound for Qishan (旗山), Meinong (美濃), Jiaxian (甲仙), or Liugui (六龜) to Fo Guang Shan Monastery (佛光山).
2. Take Fo Guang Shan Monastery shuttle bus from Fo Guang Shan Taipei Vihara (佛光山台北道場) or Pumen Temple (普門寺) to Fo Guang Shan Monastery (佛光山). Please contact Fo Guang Shan Monastery in advance for shuttle service hours.
Board a HSR train (bullet train) at Taipei Main Station to Zuoying Station in Kaohsiung (terminal station).
Pictures of Fo Guang Shan
The beautiful walkway taken from the entrance towards their main temple…
Day time – the view from the temple complex towards the entrance.
At the main entrance of Fo Guang Shan.
This building is called the Buddha Memorial Center. The architecture is a nice mix of Egyptian, Indian, Japanese and Chinese.
At night, the memorial center beautifully lights up the surrounding stupas and the large Buddha statue.
The Buddha statue is big enough to be in view for all in the surrounding land…
An aerial view of the temple complex.
The whole aerial view of Fo Guang Shan monastery… look at the size and how well-planned the temple complex is! A lot of care was put into the layout…
This is a simplified map of Fu Guang Shan monastery.
The Non-Duality Gate in Fu Guong Shan temple that leads to the main prayer hall.
The large compound at the Non-Duality Gate is the area where frequent performances is held.
After the Non-Duality Gate, visitors will come to the Vultures Peak. If you see closely, you will see many beautifully carved sculptures of Arhats along the passageway… it is also known as the 500 Arhats Garden.
Statues of Arhats can be found throughout the landscape.
Wow… so many Arhat stone figures in the garden…
Look at how well-maintained they are…
At the end of Vulture’s Peak is the Pilgrim Lodge. This is where visitors can stay during their visit to Fo Guang Shan. Besides here, there is another visitor’s quarters called the Bamboo Garden Lodge which can accommodate thousands of visitors at one time.
Visitors needs to climb a flight of stairs to reach the Padmagarbha Gate.
This wide area is called The Way to Buddhahood. Everyday, this place will be packed with visitors, coming up to the Main Shrine to make offerings and prayers.
The main altar in their prayer hall. Three large Buddha statues for people to pay homage to, (left to right) Amitabha Buddha, Buddha Shakyamuni and Medicine Buddha.
Look at their main prayer hall! What a beautiful and different design.
Electrical lights illuminating the Buddha statues…
Thousands of Buddha statues in the prayer hall…
Passing the Main Shrine is the Fo Guang Shan Art Gallery where the temple showcases images of different types of Buddhism.
Behind the Main Shrine is the Tathagata Building.
In the Tathagata Building, on the 4th floor is the Buddha Tooth Relic Shrine. Visitors can join in the briefing that is held in this hall anytime they wish.
On the 3rd floor, there is the Meditation Hall. It is also used to house volunteers in certain times of the year.
Next to the Tathagata Building is the Jade Buddha Hall.
On the 7th floor of the Jade Buddha Hall is the Amitabha Chanting Hall.
Breakfast and lunch is served in the Cloud Dwelling Building within the Jade Buddha Hall, which can accommodate at least 2,000 people at one go.
There’s meal etiquette that one needs to observe while having a meal in Fo Guang Shan… this is to practice one’s mindfulness.
The Lumbini Garden, a very peaceful space for people to relax and stroll around.
Cute stone Buddhas are seen dotted around the gardens.
The Exhibition Area of the Buddha Memorial Center. Here, they have a large Thai designed Buddha at the entrance.
The Buddha Museum is a very large complex… it take 15 minutes to walk to the other end or more than 1 hour if you visit every single exhibition.
One of the unique room within the complex is the room with mirrors which depicts the vast and infinite Buddhas and Boddhisattvas.
The Dragon Pavilion is a place where visitors can sit and rest to have some drinks. Fo Guang Shan have an abundant of resting areas with drinks for their guests.
Thousands of Buddhas line the wall at the base of the Great Buddha.
In the Pure Land Cave, Buddha Amitabha embraces all who enters the exhibition area.
The 10 great Arhat disciples of the Buddha in the Pure Land Cave.
A rainbow bridge.
In the Great Compassion Shrine there is a morning prayer session.
Many light offerings in the Great Compassion Shrine.
The Fo Guang Shan Cultural and Educational Promotion Center. There are many seats and tables for visitors to sit and read books or watch the shows on air.
Kuan Yin standing gracefully in the middle of a lake…
Beautiful landscaping such as this water feature are great compliments to Fo Guang Shan.
Kuan Yin is very well loved in Taiwan… there are many Kuan Yin statues in Fo Guang Shan…
Very detailed architecture… I like how the place still looks so beautiful after so many years. It shows how well the caretakers maintain sangha property…
What a beautiful fish pond… the fishes must be very happy in this environment. I would love for Dorje to have such a nice pond like this to swim and play in…
Boddhisattvas lined up along the walk way, blessing all who walks pass…
Beautiful details… Boddhisattvas displaying different mudras…
The great Buddha statue (40 m height) is surrounded by 480 smaller Buddha statues. The right hand is raised to symbolize guidance while the left hand is lowered as a gesture of receiving.
Holders of the Dharma…
Beautiful Kuan Yin in gold… sitting in the middle of a pond.
Photography credits: Vincent (http://vincenttraveljournal.blogspot.com/2010/03/fo-guang-shan-sights-1702-2002.html)
Videos of Fo Guang Shan
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