S. M. Wijayaratne Kurunegala Daily News Corr
The Buddha’s teaching is the greatest heritage that man has received from the past. The Buddha’s message of non-violence and peace, of love and compassion, of tolerance and understanding, of truth and wisdom, of respect and regard for all life, of freedom from selfishness, hatred and violence delivered over 2500 years ago, stands good for today and will stand forever as the truth.
IT is an eternal message. We are in a world torn by strife. The Fully-Awakened One taught that we must develop the ‘bodhi’ heart of wisdom, a heart of love, a heart of understanding, to overcome the prevailing vices which have plagued man since the beginning of time. “Overcome anger by non-anger, overcome hatred by love. We practice the advice given by the Most Compassionate One.
We are responsible for our destiny. We have to cleanse our hearts, scrutinize our own natures and determine to practice the teachings not only in the letter but, more importantly, in the spirit.
We should never forget that we are very fortunate to be born in this era of time when the sacred teachings of the Fully-Awakened One are existing in the world. Buddhists who are really in need of seeing the Buddha can do so even today.
How can it be possible? The Buddha says “Those who properly practice my noble teachings will definitely see me.” That means, we should realize and practice His teachings whole heartedly to achieve the real bliss of life that He promised us to gain during this life itself. Buddha also says “Buddhas are only guides,” they became perfect in wisdom and realized Nibbana through proper cultivation of virtues for a period of millions of years.
A person has to tread the path of purification diligently with self-confidence until he becomes successful in his search of true happiness. In the Anguttara Nikaya, the Blessed One has said as follows:
“The appearance of three persons, oh! Monks, is rare in the world.” “Who are they?”
(1) The appearance of a Thathagatha an Arahant who is a fully Awakened one is rare in the world.
(2) A person who could expound the Teachings and Discipline taught by the Thathagatha is rare in the world.
(3) A person who is grateful and thankful is rare in this world.”
Thus, we see how highly Buddha regarded Gratitude, as grateful people are very rare in the world.
The dog, which is regarded as man’s friend, it has been stated, has a sense of gratitude which most human beings do not have.
The first lesson the Supremely Awakened Buddha taught mankind is Gratitude. Soon after his Awaken-ness, for the cool and benign shade of the sacred Bo-tree at < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Gaya, under which He realized the Truth He was so grateful that for one whole week. He feasted His eyes on the Bo-tree without batting an eyelid.
After the attainment of Awaken-ness, the first thought that came to his mind was to give the benefit of his attainment to his erstwhile teachers - Alara Kalama and Uddakarama Putta, but on seeing through his Divine Eye that they had passed away, He thought of the five companions who had attended on Him and served Him during the six years of self-mortification.
Finding that they were at Isipathana, he proceeded on foot and preached His first sermon to those five and established one of them - Kondanna - in the first stage of sainthood.
His gratitude to his parents was so profound that He preached the Doctrine to his father and it is recorded that he proceeded to Thusitha Heaven to preach Dhamma to His mother, who had passed away as Queen Maha Maya seven days after His birth.
Another striking instance of Gratitude that we see in the Buddhist texts is that of Maha Arahant Sariputta, who, on hearing two lines of a stanza from Arahant Assaji saw the Truth and became a Sovan. Ven. Sariputta was so grateful to his Teacher, Assaji, that it was a daily practice for him to enquire where Ven. Assaji was and worship the latter, and lie down to sleep with his head in that direction.
There is a Jataka story illustrating the practice of gratitude by the Bosath is “Mathu Poshaka Jatakaya” according to which the Bosath who was born as an elephant supported and looked after his mother who was totally blind and this was a Jataka story that the Blessed One related to commend the action of a monk who has been using his alms to support his indigent parents.
The Blessed One is reported to have said, “Monks, one could never repay two persons, I declare,” “Which two?” - “Mother and Father.”
In the same discourse, the Fully Awakened One has set out four ways of discharging this heavy debt in the following words.
But, he, O Monks, who encourages his unbelieving parents, settles and establishes them in faith; who encourages his immoral parents, settles and establishes them in morality; who encourages his stingy parents, settles and establishes them in liberality; who encourages his ignorant parents, settles and establishes them in wisdom - such an one, O, Monks, does enough for his parents he repays and more than repays them for what they have done.
In another context, the Blessed One says one’s parents are Brahma meaning that they are worthy of worship as they have the noble qualities of loving-kindness, compassion and altruistic joy and equanimity towards their children.
Parents are the early teachers of children, as they impart to their children the first rudiments of right thinking and right living. They teach them what is right and what is wrong.
Thus, they are the early teachers of young children.
From what has been stated above, it is very obvious that respect and gratitude to one’s parents and teachers are integral parts of the sublime Buddha, Dhamma.
It is sad to state that the noble quality of gratitude is very rare indeed. There is so much gambling on horse-racing and lotteries, alcoholism, drug addiction and the resulting escalating rate of grave crime that there is no time for people to inculcate in the minds of their children this ennobling quality. In order to reverse this dangerous trend, a duty lies on both parents and teachers to instill into the minds of the young generation, the virtue of gratitude as an essential part of this discipline or Sila.
A Buddhist Approach to
Today, Business Administration is one of the hot
subjects in college curricula around the world. In
this area, however, Buddhism has its own unique
management theory and practice, which has evolved
over a long period of time. As early as Sakyamuni
Buddha’s time, the sangha community has had a
well-developed administration system. Over time,
the system endured numerous changes and evolved
sophisticated methods of management and leadership.
In the Avatamsaka Sutta, commenting on the “Three
Refuges,” Buddha said: “Taking refuge in the Sangha
means one should make the Sangha a well-administered
and harmonious community for all sentient beings.”
From this comment, it can be seen that Buddhist sangha
communities were organizations that excelled in managerial
I. Management: Buddha’s Approach
After the Buddha was awakened, he taught the
Dhamma at Deer Park to his former attendants. The
five bhikkhus became the first sangha community. In
time the community grew into a congregation that
included the seven groups of disciples, i.e., the
bhikkhus, the bhikkhunis, the siksamanas, the samaneras,
the samanerikas, the upasakas, and the upasikas. From these
groups, about 1,250 monastics were usually at the Buddha’s
side. How did the Buddha manage such a huge group of people?
A. Equality under the Dhamma
The Buddha teaches that all sentient beings have
Buddha nature and that all humans are inherently
equal. In effect, his teaching dismantled the societal
caste system prevalent in India at that time. He taught
that all things arise from causes and conditions and
were not created by gods or God. True deliverance
depends on the Four Noble Truths and the Three
Dhamma Silas. The Buddha frequently made the following
comments: “I myself am just a member of the
sangha” and “I do not govern, the Dhamma governs.”
The Buddha never considered himself the “leader,”
rather he let the truth govern. The sangha community
was ruled by the members’ respect for moral conduct.
Upon admission, each member had to give up his or
her previous social status, wealth, fame, and other
privileges. All external classifications and differentiations
were disregarded. Members differed only in their stages of
internal cultivation. The operation of the sangha community
was based on mutual respect and love, and sometimes on the
order of seniority. Thus, the bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, and the
others each had their own rules. When disputes arose, the
“Seven Reconciliation Rules” made by the Buddha were
followed to settle the conflict.
B. Decentralized leadership
The Buddha, as the head of the sangha community,
led by his teaching and by establishing the precepts
for the group. He selected knowledgeable and
virtuous bhikkhus and bhikkhunis to be the “instructing”
monastics to teach the Dhamma and precepts. Among
them, he further selected the elders to counsel, to
advise, and to monitor the progress of the monastics
under their supervision.
C. Shared support and responsibility
When the initial sangha of the five bhikkhus was
formed immediately after his awaken-ness, the
Buddha established the “Four Principles of Living” to
guide them toward virtuous living: “Eat only food
from alms, wear only cast-off clothing, live only
under trees, and take only discarded medicine.”
Further, the monastics were warned to shun eight
groups of impure possessions that were considered to
be hindrances to their practice: houses and gardens,
plantations, grain storage, servants and slaves, pets
and animals, money and jewels, blankets and utensils,
and beds decorated with ivory and gold. As the size of the
sangha community increased, and in response to the problems
caused by the rainy season and constant requests from their
benefactors, the rules were modified to allow receipt of
donated clothes, food, houses, and gardens. But regardless of
the summer retreat during the rainy season, and
throughout ordinary daily life during the rest of the year, a
communal form of living was maintained. The communal rule
required that except for each monastic’s own clothing and bowls,
all other supplies, tools, bedding, houses, and gardens were
community goods, not to be individually possessed. Repair and
maintenance of equipment and tools were distributed among the
members. In each of the sangha residences, an elder was elected
to lead the daily operation, teach the Dhamma, maintain the code
of conduct, and channel any speech and information delivered by
the Buddha. Although the lifestyle changed somewhat over time,
all sangha communities still followed the basic principle of an alms
system, as well as sharing support and responsibilities.
D. Mutual respect and harmony
Guided by the Dhamma, the sangha community
practices the “Six Points of Reverent Harmony” in
communal living. They are: (1) doctrinal unity in
views and explanations to ensure common views and
understanding, (2) moral unity in upholding the precepts
to achieve equality for all under the rules, (3)
economic unity in community of goods to affect fair
distribution of economic interests, (4) mental unity in
belief to provide mutual support in spiritual cultivation,
(5) oral unity in speech to nurture compassion and love,
(6) bodily unity in behavior to assure nonviolence and
E. Communication and interaction
The Buddha periodically convened all members
of the sangha community on the eighth and fourteenth
or fifteenth of each month to recite the precepts. Such
gatherings provided an excellent opportunity for interaction
among the members and a way of fostering
shared values for productive and harmonious living.
F. Democratic governing
The “Kamma Assembly” system was the highest
authority governing monastic life. The goal of the
system was to promote a democratic way of life. The
Kamma Assembly Meetings were regularly convened
on the fifteenth of each month. At these meetings,
members of the Assembly reviewed any violations of
the precepts that occurred during the month, determined
the appropriate discipline for the offender, and
decided how it would be carried out. There were two
types of kamma cases: (1) cases involving disputes and
violations, and (2) cases not involving disputes and
violations. The former dealt with disputes and disagreements
among monastics or violations of precepts
in which right or wrong had to be determined.
The latter dealt with the appropriateness of the
monastics’ daily behavior and their proper guidance,
or the admission of a new member into the Sangha
community. The Kamma Assembly provided a formal
and rigorous mechanism to promote fellowship,
harmony, and mutual support of the sangha community.
It enabled the community to become an ideal
moral society where the four all-embracing virtues of
giving, affectionate speech, beneficial deeds, and
teamwork were always practiced.
II. Management According to Buddhist Suttas
In the twelve divisions of the Buddhist Tipitaka,
discussions related to management are everywhere.
Examples from two familiar sutras are illustrated
A. Management Perspective from the Amitabha
In the Amitabha Sutta, the Western Pure Land of
Ultimate Bliss built by the Amitabha Buddha is an
exemplary model of management excellence. In the
Western Pure Land, there are seven levels of parapets
and balustrades, seven layers of curtains and networks
of precious stones, seven rows of spice trees,
seven story pavilions decorated with seven jewels,
and eight lakes filled with pure water. The air vibrates
with celestial harmonies. The streets are paved
with gold, silver, lapis lazuli, and crystal. The trees
and flowers exude delicate fragrances and spices. All
these numerous decorations and adornments make it
the most beautiful land. In this wonderful land, there
are no traffic accidents; all traffic moves smoothly.
There are no quarrels or bickering; everyone is
well-behaved. There is no private ownership; there is
no need, given the perfect economic system. There
are no crimes or victims; everyone is absolutely safe
and tries to live in peace and help each other.
The Amitabha Buddha is not only an expert in
ecological management, but also an expert in human
resources management. He guides the spiritual
development of sentient beings, teaching them to recite
his name with mindfulness. Everyone in this pure
land is guaranteed to never retreat from practice. In
this land of ultimate bliss, everyone is respectful,
compassionate, peaceful, and joyful.
B. Management Perspective from the Lotus
Sutta (Avalokitesvara’s Universal Gateway
Avalokitesvara is a remarkable expert in management.
He manages people by relieving their suffering,
bestowing upon them virtues and wisdom, and
satisfying all of their needs. He transforms himself
into thirty-two different identities to facilitate his
edification of people. The Universal Gateway Chapter
states that “Depending on which identity is most
conducive to the liberation of a sentient being,
Avalokitesvara will transform himself into that image
to elucidate the Dhamma.” With his great compassion,
he relieves people from suffering and brings them joy.
A modern manager has to be equipped with Avalokitesvara’s
power of accommodating people’s needs.
He or she has to establish effective measures to solve
problems in modern organizations. One can learn an
enormous amount from Avalokitesvara’s dedication
to “responding to whoever is desperate and wherever
there’s danger” and “forever liberating sentient beings
from the sea of suffering.”
III. Management in the Chinese Monastery
In Chinese, the phrase “Conglin” (forest of trees)
refers to a monastery where monastics live. It has the
connotation of a place where weeds do not grow and
the trees are upright due to the presence of specific
rules and measures. Buddhism strongly emphasizes a
congenial relationship between an individual and the
group. Thus, communal rules such as the “Six Points
of Reverent Harmony” and the “Rules of Ethics”,
instituted by Chan Master Baizhang, existed. The
management of a Chinese monastery relies on principles
such as self-commitment, self-monitoring, and
self-discipline. The goal is to create a congruous
sangha community so that the Dhamma can dwell in
this world permanently. The Chinese monastery thus
placed its management emphasis on shared responsibility
and a harmonious group relationship. The
system may be summarized in the following four
A. Governing by Virtue
In the monastery, all property is commonly
owned. There are rules for hosting visiting monastics
from the ten directions. In a public monastery that is
open to all, the abbot is chosen externally from renowned
elders of the ten directions. In a private
monastery that is not open to the public, the abbot is
selected from internal elders who have distinguished
themselves in virtue and knowledge.
B. Equality in Labor
Chinese Chan monasteries rely heavily on collective
farming. The principle of equal labor is
strictly followed. Everyone, regardless of rank or
seniority, has to participate in fieldwork. The Chan
Master Baizhang set a perfect example when he insisted:
“If I did not work today, I will not eat today.”
C. Shared Responsibility
Led by the abbot, a monastery usually divides the
responsibilities and tasks among members. Everyone
has duties, with each supporting the other. The personnel
assignments are categorized into dichotomies
of “administrator” versus “manual or operational”
and internal service versus external service. The
leader’s sole goal is to serve the sangha community
by maintaining the harmonious order of the monastery.
The Regulation for Chan Monastery says, “The
monastery exists for its members. To edify members,
the elder is elected. To mentor members, the head
monk is designated. To uphold members, a director is
chosen. The job of a kammadana is to maintain accord
among members by distributing duties fairly. The job
of a cook is to take care of the food for members. A
general affairs administrator is installed to plan the
operation for all members. A treasurer is assigned to
handle financial matters. A clerk writes and maintains
the records for members. A librarian keeps the
Tipitaka safe for members. The receptionist welcomes
guests of the members. An attendant is a
messenger for members. An attendant watches over
clothes and bowls for members. A medicine specialist
prepares medicine for members. A bathing room host
provides bathing services to members. The wood
collector gathers wood before the approach of winter.
The fire tender makes sure that, before meditation
and breakfast, there is adequate wood and charcoal
for the burners. Alms seekers gather offerings from
the street for members. The foremen of gardens,
mills, and farms produce food for members. Maintenance
workers clean the facilities for members.
Housekeepers serve members.” Well-defined job
positions and a complete division of labor are important
factors driving the success and growth of an
D. Code of Communal Living
In addition to the Buddhist precepts, Chinese
monasteries have developed a set of rules governing
the daily operation of monastery life. For example,
Master Daoan during the Eastern Jin Dynasty established
the following three sets of rules for his followers:
(1) The rules for walking meditation, sitting
meditation, sutta recitation, and Dhamma talks, (2)
The rules for practice, dining, and daily routines, and
(3) The rules for task assignment, renewal of vows,
and repentance. The Rules of Ethics enacted by Chan
Master Baizhang during the Tang Dynasty and other
rules such as those in the Regulation for Chan Monastery
are documented evidence of monastic discipline.
These well-defined codes of conduct were
instrumental in the development of sangha organizations.
IV. Management: Fo Guang Shan’s Approach
Several times, I have been asked the following
question: “Fo Guang Shan has hundreds of temples
and affiliated organizations all over the world. How
do you lead and manage an organization of this size?”
My response is always the same: “Of course, there are
many ways to do it.” The following are four fundamental
A. No fixed association between devotees
(followers) and monastics
None of the Fo Guang Shan devotees are permanently
attached to any individual monastic. All
the followers and disciples belong to Buddhism and
the Order. They are only distinguished by the time of
entry into the Order, such as 1st generation, 2nd generation,
3rd generation and so forth. Because the
devotees do not follow a particular monastic, there
will be no rivalry or conflicts between them.
B. No private ownership of money or funds
No one in Fo Guang Shan is allowed to own
property or accumulate savings. All the money goes
to the Order. Although the members do not possess
money, it does not mean that funds are not available
for their support. The Order usually takes care of
their food, clothing, travel, medicine, study abroad
experiences, and visitations, including gifts for their
parents on their home visits after shaving their heads
(to formally become monastic practitioners). At Fo
Guang Shan, all the money belongs to the Order, not
individuals, but everyone enjoys comfortable support
under an excellent cooperative system.
C. Mandatory rotation of jobs and positions
Following the principle that “fresh water comes
only from flowing water; a rolling stone gathers no
moss,” Fo Guang Shan rotates its members’ jobs and
positions. No one “owns” any branch temple, worship
place, or affiliated enterprise. This year, one
may be the abbot or abbess of a particular temple.
Next year, he or she may be reassigned to another
temple. There are many benefits from job rotation.
Among them are opportunities for learning and
growth, for interaction and networking, and for
gaining additional experience.
D. Promotion and performance evaluation
A member of the Fo Guang Shan Order starts
with the title of “Purifier,” progressing through
“Bachelor,” to “Practitioner,” to “Instructor.” Advancement
depends solely on each individual’s effort
and performance in scholarship, Dhamma practice,
and service to the organization. Because of this orderly
system, Fo Guang Shan has enjoyed a smooth
and successful growth over the years.
In addition, members of the Order are trained and
assigned to positions after their career orientations
are evaluated and assessed. For example, members
are classified into the following groups according to
a. Abbot/Director: this person should have a
clear understanding of the principles of the
Order, loyalty, resolve, initiative, and commitment.
Such a person should be able to
deal with both superior and subordinate in a
knowledgeable, virtuous, confident, and presentable
manner. He or she should master
sutta recitation, ceremonial rites, and elucidation
of the Dhamma.
b. Public Relations: this person should be
poised and calm with a pleasant appearance.
He or she should be familiar with social
customs and etiquette. This person should be
sociable, empathetic, active, and positive,
and should also understand the mission and
vision of the Order very well.
c. Educator/Scholar: this person appreciates
humanity and is not aggressive in pursuit of
fame or wealth. This person should be
logical, philosophical, and persuasive. He or
she should think critically, understand the
educational mission and style of the abbot
and the needs of students, and should not be
involved in conflicts of interest and or political
debates. He or she should be skilled in
literature review, research and analysis,
teaching, advising, and should seek to be
published in professional journals.
d. Planner: this person should be insightful,
innovative, familiar with data analysis, and
able to keep confidences and remain in the
background. He or she should know how to
integrate Buddhism into ordinary knowledge
and be adept in written communication and
in providing staff support.
e. Other talents such as legal expert, accounting
expert, and administrative expert.
Shared vision and values are of utmost importance
for an organization. The formation of shared
vision and values requires a great deal of communication
and coordination within the organization.
Productive meetings are essential to establish a convergence
of ideas and opinions. For this reason, Fo
Guang Shan takes meetings very seriously. It frequently
holds meetings to shape consensus and a
Human resources management is another challenging
aspect in management science. Traditionally,
it receives great attention in Buddhism. I would like
to offer some principles regarding Humanistic Buddhism
and its application to human resources management:
a. Consider and care for the organization as a
b. Divide responsibilities with well-defined job
c. Know the importance of coordination.
d. Plan the details with best intentions.
e. Execute with full effort and determination.
f. Report frequently and timely to inform one’s
g. Take responsibilities and be accountable for
h. Evaluate performance and follow up.
In addition, it is essential that between the superior
and the subordinate there should be honest
communication, mutual respect, active participation,
self-motivation and evaluation with sincerity, frankness,
and frequent consultation and coordination.
I also believe that a modern manager or leader
should act in the following manner:
a. Keep smiles on the face, praises on the mouth,
questions in the heart, and anger inside the
b. Avoid hasty and harsh reactions, choose
words carefully; criticism accomplishes
nothing, doubt leads to disloyalty.
c. Treat others leniently, monitor one’s self–
strictly, give credit to others, take responsibility
when something is wrong.
d. Put aside any personal gain or loss and go
forward; do not be frustrated or obstinate.
e. Understand the big picture, make peace with
everyone, let communication flow freely up
and down, and strive for agreement.
f. Serve others, keep your word, look forward
and plan, understand self and others.
g. Adjust and adapt, be considerate of others,
take advantage of any opportunity, and make
the most of your life.
h. Be humorous, listen attentively, study carefully,
and pay respect to other’s opinions with a kind response.
A leader also needs to know how to develop,
cultivate, and nurture a competent staff. He or she
should be able to recruit, train, and empower talented
employees. A common mistake committed by a superior
is criticizing a subordinate without offering
any guidance. In addition, a leader or senior executive
should frequently engage in self-assessment and
ask subordinates for input in decision making.
“Harmony between the general and his staff” is a
stabilizing force for an organization.
What kind of administrative system should be?
adopted by modern monasteries? My answers are:
“The traditional monastery system should be integrated
with modern society.” “The temple should be
self-sufficient economically and self-supporting financially.”
“Operation of enterprises compatible
with Buddhism should be permitted.”
“The administrative core of a temple should interact closely
With the surrounding community.” “Effective management
of human resources requires division of labor in
a cooperative environment.
” Furthermore, “The management should try to reach ten
directions and encompass past, present, and future in making
“Give people faith, joy, hope, and skillful
“A manager should compromise sometimes
in order to make progress, and accomplish goals even
with very little support.”
“Gain nothing but remain joyful, put yourself into others’ shoes.”
“Rank the abbot’s and the enterprise’s priority first, your own
“Consider others first, self second; Buddhism first, self second.”
“Respect others with sincerity, relate to others with humility;
live modestly but give generously; labor willingly to make others
“Encourage frequently, donate generously,
and speak affectionately.”
All the above are necessary concepts and philosophies a
modern manager must have to run a smooth and successful
How does one master Buddhist management?
I believe that before one can lead, one should be led
The administrative system of Buddhist monasteries
has evolved over a long period of time, with
some unique variations exhibited in different time
periods. The sangha system originally established by
the Buddha followed the principle of “respecting the
elders while empowering the multitude.” It gave
authority to the “Kamma Assembly,” which has a role
similar to a parliament in a democratic society. The
Chinese monastery administrative system emphasizes
personnel management and division of labor to
maximize the productivity of human resources. Both
represent excellent models of management practice.
In our search for a new management science, we
should enhance both systems by adapting them to the
needs of our modern society.
Modern management focuses on organizational
interaction and coordination. Strong group dynamics
synchronize the steps of upper management and operational
employees, ensuring the formation of consensus
and shared values necessary to achieve the
organizational mission and goals. Buddhism has
emphasized group dynamics, as evidenced in the
creation of “the Six Points of Reverent Harmony,”
“the Code of Communal Living,” and “the Baizhang’s
Monastic Regulations.” Buddhist management
relies on principles such as self-discipline,
self-motivation, self-monitoring, and repentance.
The management philosophy of the Fo Guang Shan
Order is to give people faith, joy, hope, and skillful
Venerable Master Hsing Yun
Founder of the Fo Guang Shan (Buddha’s Light
Mountain) Buddhist Order and the Buddha’s Light
International Association, Venerable Master Hsing
Yun has dedicated his life to teaching Humanistic
Buddhism, which seeks to realize spiritual cultivation
in everyday living.
Master Hsing Yun is the 48th Patriarch of the Linji
Chan School. Born in Jiangsu Province, China in
1927, he was tonsured under Venerable Master Zhikai
at the age of twelve and became a novice monk at
Qixia Vinaya College. He was fully ordained in 1941
following years of strict monastic training. When he
left Jiaoshan Buddhist College at the age of twenty,
he had studied for almost ten years in a monastery.
Due to the civil war in China, Master Hsing Yun
moved to Taiwan in 1949 where he undertook the
revitalization of Chinese Mahayana Buddhism. He
began fulfilling his vow to promote the Dhamma by
starting chanting groups, student and youth groups,
and other civic-minded organizations with Leiyin
Temple in Ilan as his base. Since the founding of Fo
Guang Shan monastery in Kaohsiung in 1967, more
than two hundred temples have been established
worldwide. Hsi Lai Temple, the symbolic torch of
the Dhamma spreading to the West, was built in 1988
near Los Angeles.
Master Hsing Yun has been guiding Buddhism on
a course of modernization by integrating Buddhist
values into education, cultural activities, charity, and
religious practices. To achieve these ends, he travels
all over the world, giving lectures and actively engaging
in religious dialogue. The Fo Guang Shan
organization also oversees sixteen Buddhist colleges
and four universities, one of which is the University
of the West in Rosemead, California.
Over the past fifty years, Master Hsing Yun has
written many books teaching Humanistic Buddhism
and defining its practice. Whether providing insight
into Buddhist suttas, human nature, or inter-religious
exchange, he stresses the need for respect, compassion,
and tolerance among all beings in order to alleviate
suffering in this world. His works have been
translated into English, French, German, Indonesian,
Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Sinhalese,
Spanish, Swedish, Thai, and Vietnamese.
Buddha’s Light Publishing
F.G.S. Int’l Translation Center
For as long as Venerable Master Hsing Yun has
been a Buddhist monk, he has had a firm belief that
books and other means of transmitting the Buddha’s
teachings can unite us spiritually, help us practice
Buddhism at a higher altitude, and continuously
challenge our views on how we define and live our
In 1996, the Fo Guang Shan International
Translation Center was established with this goal in
mind. This marked the beginning of a series of publications
translated into various languages from the
Master’s original writings in Chinese. Presently,
several translation centers have been set up worldwide.
Centers that coordinate translation or publication
projects are located in Los Angeles, USA;
Montreal, Canada; Sydney, Australia; Berlin, Germany;
France; Sweden; Argentina; Brazil; South
Africa; Japan; Korea; and Thailand.
In 2001, Buddha’s Light Publishing was established
to publish Buddhist books translated by Fo
Guang Shan International Translation Center as well
as other important Buddhist works. Buddha’s Light
Publishing is committed to building bridges between
East and West, Buddhist communities, and cultures.
All proceeds from our book sales support Buddhist
The staff of the Fo Guang Shan International
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Keys to Living Well
Dhamma Words 1
Written by: Venerable Master Hsing Yun
Publisher: Buddha’s Light Publishing
244 pages, 5.5 x 8.5, paperback
Tending Life’s Garden
Between Ignorance and Enlightenment 6
Written by: Venerable Master Hsing Yun
Publisher: Buddha’s Light Publishing
210 pages, 5.5 x 8.5, paperback
A Blueprint for Life
Written by: Venerable Master Hsing Yun
Publisher: Buddha’s Light Publishing
128 pages, 5.5 x 8.5, paperback
Sutta of the Medicine Buddha
with an Introduction, Comments and Prayers
Written by: Venerable Master Hsing Yun
Publisher: Buddha’s Light Publishing
186 pages, 5.5 x 8.5, hardcover
Cloud and Water
An Interpretation of Chan Poems
Written by: Venerable Master Hsing Yun
Publisher: Buddha’s Light Publishing
80 pages, 5.5 x 8.5, paperback
DEVOTION IN BUDDHISM
The devout Buddhists life is one in which they devote themselves to the teaching and the Teacher. Apart from the teachings they also follow certain traditional and devotional practices, which may or may not be consistent with the teaching. Yet it is their way of expression of love, respect, regard and gratitude to the All Compassionate Teacher-The Buddha without whom they would not have found the solace and the Noble eight-fold path-The way out of suffering.
In the earliest period in the avsence of images of Buddha or Bodhisattvas, reverence was paid mainly to relics, ie stupas, Bodhi trees, footprints of Buddha and other sacred symbols. These were constantly represented in the sculptures against a background of beautifully carved figures of men or animals. The commencement of the second period of Buddhist religious art in India is associated with the district of Gandhara in the far north of Indian subcontinent. The characteristic feature of this phase of Buddhism is that the figure of Buddha came to occupy the cells. Gandhara created the conventional type of Buddha, which soon spread from this part to other parts of Asia.
Buddha in the Anguttara Nikaya says, ” When a noble disciple contemplates upon the Awakened One, at that time his mind is not enrapped in lust nor in hatred, nor in delusion. At such a time his mind is rightly directed, it has got rid of lust, is aloof from it, and is free from it. Lust is here name of the five sense desires. By cultivating this contemplation, many beings become purified”.
Furthur the Vissuddhimagga says ” If by practicing this devotional meditation one endeavours to live as it were in the Master’s presence, will feel ashamed to do or speak or think anything unworthy, one will shrink back from evil; and as a positive reaction one will feel inspired to high endeavour, in emulation of the Master’s great example”.
The devotees during the days when Buddha was alive went to meet Him and pay their respect. But in the absence of the Buddha, the devotees who used to bring flowers lay them at the entrance of the fragrant chamber of Buddha and departed. The chief lay devotee Anathapindaka came to hear of it and requested Venerable Ananda to inquire of the Buddha whether there was a possibility of finding a place where devotees might pay obeisance to the Buddha when He was on His teaching tours.
So Venerable Ananda approached the Buddha and asked: “Is it proper, Blessed One, to construct a cetiya (stupa) while you are alive?” The Buddha replied “No, an object of reverence appertaining to body is proper to errect only after the passing away of Buddha. An object of reverence reminiscent of the Buddha has no physical basis; it is purely mental. But the great Bodhi tree, used by the Buddha, whether He is alive or dead, is an object of reverence.” Then Venerable Ananda said, “Blessed One, when you go on your teaching tours, the monastery of Jetavana is without refuge, and people find no place of reverence. So may i bring a seed of Bodhi tree under which you got Awaken-ness and plant it at the enterance to Jetavana?” Buddha replied “Very well, Ananda plant it. It will then be as if I constantly abide in Jetevana.” This tree, which sprang up, came to be known as Ananda Bodhi tree.
It is keeping with the practical wisdom and organising genius of the Buddha, that while during his life time he discouraged any form of idol worship, nevertheless realized that in order to provide the laity with some object and symbol of veneration some concession had to be made to the simple faith of the devout and earnest. Hence he permitted to pay respect and regard to the Bodhi tree as a symbol of his awaken-ness.
Finaly before His passing away in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta He addressed Ananda saying, “there are four places the sight of which should arouse emotion in the faithful”. Which are they? “Here the Tathagata was born” (Lumbini) is the first. “Here the Tathagata attained Supreme Awaken-ness” (Bodhgaya) is the second. “Here the Tathagata set in motion the wheel of Dhamma” (Saranath) is the third. “Here the Tathagata attained the Nibbana without remainder” (Kusinara) is the fourth. And Ananda, the faithful monks and nuns, male and female lay-followers will visit those places. Anyone who dies while making the pilgrimage to these shrines with a devout heart will, at the breaking-up of body after death, will be born in heavenly world.”
Thus there came to be establishment after the Buddha’s passing away, the traditional places of reverent worship to which hundreds of millions of human beings to this day pay their homage, adoration and gratitude to that exalted being who showed to so many the way out of the darkness, misery and despair of earthly existance.
Vandaami cetiyam sabbam – I venerate all relic stupas
Sabbathanesu patitthitam – Wherever they are established
Saririka dhaatu Mahaabodhim – Bodily relics, Great Bodhi tree
Buddharupam sakalamsadaa – Images of Buddha always