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A Constructively Engaged Buddhism

30 March 2009

If you ask a Chinese Buddhist who are the most eminent Zen masters today, Monk Xingyun (星云大师) is most likely to be one of the first names that come to mind. With followers from all walks of lives, Xingyun he himself is a dedicated follower of Mahayana's Engaged Buddhism (人间佛教), which believes we can only be totally freed from the illusive traps created by our own perceptions when helping others to free themselves from their deceptive confinements, since the manifestation of the illusions is collectively generated and firmly held on by every sentient beings in the world that we share.

A Jiangdu native in China's Jiangsu Province, where the Second World Buddhist Forum is being held, Xingyun ordained as a Buddhist novice at the tender age of 12 in the historical Monastery of Dwelling Clouds Hill (栖霞山寺) in Nanjing, and later became the 48th inheritor of the Linji Zen Sect (临济宗) and the founder of the monastic order Buddha Light Hill (佛光山), which has gained a world wide presence with the biggest Buddhist temples established in America, Australia and Africa.

As a devotee of the Engaged Buddhism, over the decades, Master Xingyun has advocated Buddha's message of coexistence, harmony and ultimate enlightenment through developing cultural responsiveness, promoting basic education, participating in charity works, and facilitating group practice of the Dharma cultivation (以文化弘扬佛法,以教育培养人才,以慈善福利社会,以共修净化人心). So far, his Buddha Light Order has opened 9 art galleries, 26 libraries and publishing houses, 12 bookstores, 50 high and primary schools, and a tertiary education institute (南天大学) in Australia, as well as numerous nurseries, hospitals and nursing homes for the weak and the poor.

It is due to his persistent efforts along with other seven Chinese masters, that the First World Buddhist Forum eventually came into being in 2005 in the lake city Hangzhou, and the Second Forum is being held right now in Xingyun's home province, Jiangsu, attended by more than 1,700 leading Buddhist monks and scholars from about 50 countries.

One of the celebrated activities on the very first day of the forum is of A Thousand Monks Having Meal, a long-held traditional ceremony in Chinese Buddhism, which demonstrates how to cultivate enlightenment through daily lives.


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A Soul Meeting
on the Soul Mountain

A journey from a boy to a Buddha

Wuxi (无锡), situated by the Tai Lake (太湖) between Suzhou and Shanghai, is renowned for its exquisite natural beauty, well developed economy, highly sophisticated culture and rich Buddhist heritages, including a 88m high Buddha statue - the biggest bronze Buddha statue in China - that looms tall on the illustrious Soul Mountain, where the Second World Buddhist Forum is being held.

The entrance to the Dharma Palace Monastery on Soul Mountain that hosted the soul meeting, the Second World Buddhist Forum.

A little novice chants quietly while sucking his finger during the meal: "Who is eating the meal, who is eating the meal, who is eating the meal ...."

Coincide with the Buddhist Forum, a Buddhist Arts Exhibition has been held in Wuxi during 20 March to 20 April 2009. The image above is one of the items displayed on the exhibition.

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