Let’s Break New Grounds in Buddhist Studies
【人間社記者 Zhou Jun Xiong and Li Sheng Feng Kaohsiung報導】 2017-11-14
  • 圖說:Dr Kiyotaka Kimura is a dear friend of Venerable Master Hsing Yun (second from right). 人間社記者Zhuang Mei Zhao攝

  • 圖說:Dr Yong Hai Lai, has joined Venerable Master Hsing Yun, in promoting Humanistic Buddhism throughout the last 10 years. 人間社記者Su Shao Yang攝

  • 圖說:Venerable Master Hsing Yun presents his One-Stroke Calligraphy of the word “Buddha” to Dr. Lewis Lancaster, Emeritus Professor of the Department of East Asian Languages at the University of California, Berkeley. 人間社記者Zhuang Mei Zhao攝

  • 圖說:coming from 16 different countries: Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Bulgaria, UK, USA, Philippines, Australia, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand and India. Venerable Master Hsing attends the opening ceremony. 人間社記者Hui Yan攝

The 2017 Fo Guang Shan University Presidents Forum began on November 3rd at the Fo Guang Shan Monastery in Kaoshiung. There were representors from 16 countries and territories, and more than 40 principals from well-known universities in addition to scholars. During the opening ceremony, Venerable Master Hsing Yun, the founder of the Fo Guang Shan University Consortium, conveyed his gratitude to all participants who have been working tirelessly in the field of education and Buddhism.

This year’s forum was held from November 3rd to 8th. Along with other participants, representatives from Chiayi’s Nan Hua University and Yilan’s Fo Guang University discussed topics such as the management of universities, international exchange, spiritual education and the future initiatives of universities. The goal for doing so is part of an initiative to improve the standards of schools, as well as the collaborations and communications among Buddhist universities.

At the opening ceremony, which was held on the 6th floor of Cloud Dwelling Building at Fo Guang Shan Monastery, founder Venerable Master Hsing Yun welcomed and thanked all the presidents and scholars for their attendance in an opening speech. He told them how during his 90 years of life, he had built more than 300 temples across the globe, including China. Many of these temples are equipped with the space and facilities to host events that could accommodate tens of thousands of people. He encouraged them to make full use of those facilities.

Venerable Master Hsing Yun presented his one stroke calligraphy of the word “Buddha” to Tokyo University’s honorary professor Dr Kiyotaka Kimura, Dr Yong Hai Lai, professor in Nanjing University's Department of Philosophy and director of its Buddhism and Religious Studies Center as well as Dr Lewis Lancaster, Emeritus Professor of the Department of East Asian Languages at the University of California, Berkeley to commemorate their long lasting friendship in the past 10 years.

According to Fo Guang Shan Monastery’s head Abbot, Most Venerable Hsin Bao, cultivation is a form of spiritual practice, just like education. Education can change a person’s behaviour and thoughts. A person can start from knowing nothing, to being fully equipped with knowledge. It’s like being enlightened, which brings about a transformation of one’s conduct and places them on the path of continuous improvement. He expressed his hopes that the participants would gain knowledge from the President’s Forum through collaborations and communications, thus contributing to the field of education.

President of Fo Guang Shan University Consortium, Yang Chao Hsiang, is looking forward to future meaningful exchanges of information between schools, including brainstorming ideas for improvement. He stressed that the forum is not just about discussing ideas, but more importantly, it’s about building friendships and propagating the Buddha’s teachings. In addition, it’s about bringing a moral education into classrooms, internationalizing institutes of higher learning and finding ways to contribute positive changes to students’ thinking, with the hopes of creating a new future in the field of education.

Renowned Japanese scholar Dr. Kiyotaka Kimura is well known for his research in Humanistic Buddhism. In particular, he looks at how the Avatamsaka sutra is expressed in times of societal and political unrest and how a strong faith in Buddhism has the ability to calm one’s mind and purify one’s heart. Everyone has high expectations and hopes for Dr. Kiyotaka Kimura’s research, and he believes that the Forum’s participants will contribute many good suggestions and sound methods through their wisdom.

Dr. Lewis Lancaster is a strong supporter of the digitalization of Buddhist texts and is dedicated to the support of scholarship through technology. He claims it is the responsibility of principals and professors to continue the tradition of Buddhist studies. He wishes that educators will continue to think of more ideas to improve Buddhist studies. He has high praise for Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s efforts in propagating Humanistic Buddhism to every corner of the world and is proud to be his friend. Dr. Lancaster also spoke about the connections between anthropology and Buddha’s teachings, such as how humans learn from each other through communication, such as through listening and understanding. All these contribute to mutual respect that even extends beyond time and space.

Participants were eager to share their ideas and strategies to integrate Buddhism into school curriculum, with the aim of taking them back to their home countries where they would implement the plans to put them into action.

Out of appreciation for the scholars’ support of the Forum, Most Venerable Hsin Bao presented Dr. Kiyotaka Kimura, Dr. Lewis Lancaster and Renmin University of China’s Buddhism and Religions Studies Research Centre President, Dr. Zhang Feng Lei, certificates of engagement from Fo Guang Shan University Consortium.

The Forum’s first topic of discussion was “Management of University”. It was moderated by Yang Chao Hsiang with participants Dr. Kiyotaka Kimura, Chancellor Lee Chack Fan from Chu Hai College of Higher Education and Uiduk University’s President Uk Heon Hong. After the discussion, they had a tour of the Fo Guang Shan Sutra Repository. On the second day, there were two other discussions: “University International Exchange” and “Religions and the Development of University”.

It is interesting to note that one of the participants, Uiduk University’s President Uk Heon Hong, who started teaching at the University in 1996, was so deeply touched by the Buddha’s compassion, along with his emphasis on education, that he became a Buddhist himself. Just like the Buddha, he aspires to be a good teacher. This inspiring attitude has influenced how he is managing the University. Another notable participant was Professor Lee Chack Fan. He was elected as the Academician of the Engineering Institute of Canada, the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Science and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, in addition to being an internationally renowned expert in geotechnical engineering. He is also actively involved in promoting Buddhism in his capacity as the President of FGS Buddhist College in Hong Kong during the last 10 years.

(Translated by Sock Gee Siew)