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THE MODERNIZATION OF BUDDHISM IN TAIWAN: A CASE STUDY OF TZU CHI AND FO GUANG SHAN BY RAFAELA CALATCHI A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of John Newman Sarasota, Florida May 2012
ii Table of Contents Abstract iii Introduction : An Introduction to Buddhist Modernism in the East 1 Chapter I : The Historical Background of Buddhism in Taiwa n 10 Chapter II : The Buddhist Compassion Tzu Chi Foundation 16 Chapter III: Fo Gaung Shan 30 Analysis and Conclusions 44 Works Cited 51
iii THE MODERNIZATION OF BUDDHISM IN TAIWAN: A CASE STUDY OF TZU CHI AND FO GUANG SHAN Rafaela Calatchi New College of Florida, 2012 ABSTRACT This thesis seeks to understand and analyze the Taiwanese Buddhist organizations Tzu Chi and Fo Guang Shan in the greater attempt to study the modernization of Buddhism in Taiwan. This thesis begins with some thought on religious modernity in general, then proceeds to a brief historical survey of Buddhism in Taiwan. This is followed by two chapters, each devoted to one of the Buddhist organizations in this case study. The organizations philosophies and co ncrete actions are measured against values and criteria offered by religious modernist theorists. Subsequently, the analysis shows us that, while both having modernist leanings, Tzu Chi appears to be the most advanced in terms of religious modernism, not only in Taiwan, but in perhaps most of Asia. We conclude by relating the study of this the s is to religious modernist trends within Asia. John Newman Humanities
Calatchi 1 AN INTRODUCTION TO BUDDHIST MODERNISM IN THE EAST In its broadest usage modernism may be defined as the transformation from a traditional, rural, agrarian society to a secular, urban, industrial society (Modernization). In using the term modern in its many forms, I seek to highlight a difference between the old and the new, the traditional versus the updated. The beginning of modernism in a society is closely tied t o industrialism This implies that industrial ism involves more than the economic and technological facets of society. Industrialism according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, is a way of life that incorporates deep economic, social, political, and cultura l changes (Modernization) The resulting modernism comprises a type of secularization that challenges religious establishments philosophies and practices, and substitut es them with reason and science. This development could first be detected in Christiandominated Europe toward s the end of the seventeen th century After affecting Christian dominated Europe, the secularizing/modernizing aspects of industrialism were subsequentl y exported to the nonEuropean world. The modernization of world religions is a phenomenon that has become widespread as individuals and societies reconsider original and perhaps outdated practices, beliefs, and values, and compare them to modern trends in thought, whether religious or not. These are the prevalent characteristics of modernity occurring within religion. The questioning of old practices tends to lead to the refinement of a religions belief system and values. This thesis will consider the theories of modernism by Bruce Lawrence, Joseph Kitagawa, and others, to determine how modernist two Buddhist organizations Tzu Chi and Fo Guang Shan are in present day Taiwan.
Calatchi 2 It is important to define terms that will be significant in this thesis, such as religion, modernism, and modernity. Albert Eustace Haydon, head of the Department of Comparative Religion at the University of Chicago offers these criteria for a religion: A religion always involves three things: an accepted interpretatio n of the environing universe and of man's relation to it; an ideal of the good life to be attained here and hereafter; and a socially recognized technique for realizing it (3). These are the dominant aspects of a religion that, under modernization, are af fected. Throughout history, Buddhism, as with other world religions, has been faced with the need to preserve traditional ideals and manners of pr actice and the need to adjust to shifting social and cultural conditions. Num erous developments in Buddhism f or example, the integrat ion of esoteric rituals and rising forms of devotionalism and lay movements are reflective of the social and cultural changes that affect religious structures (Heine 4). In Modernism as a World Wide Movement, Dr. Haydon discusses modernism as an endeavor to free the growing future from the dying past, an attempt to adjust old values to a new era of larger knowledge and more complex activity (1). As far back as one hundred years ago, religions of the world have become aware of th is iss ue between religion of the past and how to maintain religion in a different environmental context. Challenged by evolutionary science and the industrialism that has perhaps forever annihilated the simple, secluded life, l eaders of world religions a re struggling to remain relevant among the new elements of intellectual insight (Haydon 2) But survival of a religion today could mean, at best, to maintain a religious spirit and ideal within a civilization whose foundations are that of modern science T his is the goal of Buddhist
Calatchi 3 organizations in Taiwan whose social projects are backed by their modern interpretations of Buddhist values. Modernity, as described in The Encyclopedia of Buddhism, involves a conscious move to distance oneself from a past w here ignorance or naivet dominated (Buswell, Jr. 544). This refers to the often organic conception of the cosmos and of society, causality, and the notion that everything in reality resonates with everything else, as found in Buddhism. Modernity begin s to come forth when individuals and populations begin to question previously accepted ideals A movement towards modernity in Buddhism involves the rejection of a symbolic view of reality and rejection of the notion of transcendence. Modernity also invo lves changes in other aspects of Buddhist life such as ritual practice. Buddhist modernist traditions often consist of a deliberate de emphasis of the ritual and metaphysical elements of the religion, as these are seen as incompatible with modernity. Mod ernity mistrusts and even condemns ritual practice, particularly the large expenditures involved in ritual practice. Renunciation of worldly matters, devotional practices, ceremonies, and the invocation of bodhisattvas are also perceived as culturally cont ingent, therefore dispensable, sometimes inconvenient or impracticable. Modernity strives to shift religious practice to this world rather than the more spiritual realms (Buswell, Jr. 545). Movements towards religious modernism are also suspicious of trans cendence, a dominant characteristic of traditional Buddhist belief. According to Hutchinson, when modernism finally became a common term in religious discussions in the early part of the twentieth century, it tended to mean three things: first, it entailed the conscious and intentional adaptation of religious ideas to the
Calatchi 4 modern culture. Second, that God is inherent in human cultural development and thus revealed through it T hird, that human society is moving towards the realization, although it may n ever be attain ed of the reality of the Kingdom of God or, in Buddhist terms, the Pure Land. An example of Buddhist modernist thought i s Humanistic Buddhism a tr adition present in Taiwan. Humanistic Buddhism is a movement that began in China with Venera ble Master Taixu and Buddhist monk Yinshun. Yinshun was the mentor Cheng Yen, the founder of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi foundation. Humanistic Buddhism is also followed by Buddhist monk Hsing Yun, who founded Fo Guang Shan. Both of these organi zations will be discus sed in this thesis as case studies of Buddhist modernism in Taiwan. A modern Buddhist philosophy practiced mostly by Mahayana Buddhists, Humanistic Buddhism is a movement to incorporate spiritual practice into all aspects of daily life. Humanistic Buddhism claims to include all Buddhist teachings from the time of Gautama Buddha to the present. The goal of Humanistic Buddhists is to live the bodhisattva way: to be an energetic, enlightened and endearing person who strives to help all s entient beings liberate themselves. Humanistic Buddhism focuses on issues of the present world rather than on how to leave this world behind. Humanistic Buddhists emphasize care for the living, rather than the dead; benefiting others rather than benefiting oneself; and universal cultivation rather than the cultivation of oneself. This should be regarded as a reinterpretation rather than a rejection of other older forms of Buddhism
Calatchi 5 Venerable Master Taixu ( Great Emptiness ), who lived from 1890 to 1947, wa s a Buddhist Modernist, activist, and thinker who advocated the reform and renewal of Chinese Buddhism. Taixu believed that, given a constantly changing world, Chinese Buddhism must change. If not, clinging to its form that was shaped by past realties and experiences, Buddhism would render itself irrelevant. It became important that monastic and lay communities reorganize and reorient themselves for the radical demands of the bodhisattva path in the modern world. Taixu emphasized engagement rather than with drawal from the matters of the socio political world. Highlighting the moral demands of bodhisattvahood, he distinguished compassionate social service as a means to experiencing complete enlightenment (Pittman 59 60). Until his death, Taixu worked to reviv e Buddhism in China. However, the economic and political turmoil that plagued China allowed for few of his projects to be successful. One of Taixus main goals was to reorganize the Sangha, an essential step to bringing about a Pure Land in this world. Pur e Land Buddhism, which had long existed in China, was focused on rebirth into a Pure Land, outside of this earthly realm. Taixus modernist thinking allowed him to envision a Pure Land on Earth, something possible to create here and now, rather than some p lace to be reborn into. Taixu believed that the way to end suffering in this world is to strive to bring the Pure Land into it. Taixus Buddhism called for actions to improve and accumulate merit in this world, as opposed to a focus on ritual and funerary rites. He sought to fashion a new comprehensive culture focused on the cultivation of the self through Mahayana Buddhist principles, and also on implementing positive change in the world. He had three goals: to establish a Sangha which would spread Buddhi sm; to motivate lay members to act in the
Calatchi 6 world as a bodhisattva would, thus enlightening themselves; and to raise the ideologies of Mahayana Buddhism to a prominent position in world culture Taixu saw the need for radical change within Chin ese Buddhism. T his entailed institutional reshaping with new model monasteries, benevolent organizations, and educational undertakings. The general population would require higher levels of education, and all able bodied monastics would have to engage in productive physi cal labor so that the monasteries could be self supportive, and not have to engage in the commercialism that had come to shape funerary rites. Taixu regarded monasteries and temples as places of study and mediation, rather than as ce nters for esoteric rites. He envisioned the establishment of a national monastery that would feature an enormous library and a museum of Buddhist art and artifacts that would be open for research. There would be additional institutes for Buddhist studies that would be affiliated with this monastery. Taixu hoped that this would become an exemplary standard in the future. In the years following 1920, Taixu continued to ref ine his ideal for the Buddhist S angha in China. This included no t only the organization of the S angha, but also the overall size and function of monastics. The question of how many monastics were in fact needed to propagate Buddhism in China led to Taixu recommending an extreme reduction in the size of the monastic community This was so that a modest number of professional monks would carry out good works for the bene fit of society as a whole (such as operating schools, orphanages, and hospitals) under the direction of a small cadre of highly educated scholar monks who were experts in Buddhist doctrine, and comple mented by an almost equally small number of elderly monks who specialized in spiritual cultivation through meditation and chanting (Pittman 95 96). The greater majority of monks, who
Calatchi 7 Taixu did not consider to be monks at all, should thus occupy themselve s with manual labor to support the propagation of the religion. Between 1915 and 1947, Taixu formed seven more versions of h is ideal reorganization of the S angha. None of them were ever executed, not only due to the turmoil and instability that was happeni ng in China at the time, but also because Taixus measures were so unrealistic and extensive that it may have been difficult to consider him seriously (Pittman 96). Another reformer during this time was Yin Shun (19062005), who first came to Taiwan in 19 52. He helped bring forth the ideal of Humanistic Buddhism, the type of Buddhism followed by Fo Guang Shan. In contrast to Taixu, Yin Shun avoided politics as much as possible. Yin Shun was a proponent of a return to appropriate religious practice and charity activity on the part of lay Buddhists. He did not allow monastics to engage in actions that would corrupt good thoughts and deeds. This can be seen reflected in Tzu Chis matching position on political involvement. Both Taixu and Yinshun considered In dian Mahayana thought to be the height of Buddhism. This Buddhism involves itself with a rigid critique of reality and the need for concrete works of compassion. However, they believed that once Buddhism entered China it experienced corruption, becoming to o focused on the worship of buddhas and bodhisattvas, who became misconstrued as godlike savior figures rather than as models of perfected humanity to be emulated (Heine 132). On Taiwan, Yin Shun came to influence Cheng Yen, who would become one of Taiw ans greatest Buddhist reformers and modernizers. Cheng Yen, like almost every other Buddhist modernist, found the dependency and commercialization of funeral rites to be excessive, a feature of the traditional Buddhism found in China (Clart 205). In
Calatchi 8 1966, s he founded the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi foundation, whose motto is instructing the rich and saving the poor. Tzu Chi foundation as a nonprofit, nongovernmental humanitarian organization is involved in missions of charity, education, medicin e, and culture, as well as international relief, bone marrow donation, environmental protection, and community volunteers In the eyes of Cheng Yen, performing charitable activities reforms the lives of the individuals so engaged, in line with the principl es of Buddhism. For her, and hopefully for others, Tzu Chi is more than a charitable organization: it is a lifestyle, an aspiring ideal, and a reformist program that transcends the limitations of politics (Clart 179). Similarly important in Taiwan is Hsin g Yun, born in 1927. Hsing Yun is a Chinese Buddhist monk who founded the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order in 1967, one of the largest international Buddhist organizations in Taiwan and in the Buddhist world. Hsing Yun is also known for his affiliation with Hu manistic Buddhism. Fo Guang Shan seeks to spread Buddhism with books, teachings, and rituals. In size, influence, and fame, Fo Guang Shan can be compared to Tzu Chi. However they are less competitors and more occupiers of different social niches (Madsen 5 1). In contrast to Tzu Chi, Fo Guang Shan does not simply hope to spread the ideal of all encompassing compassion. Fo Guang Shan also seeks to actually spread Buddhism with some ritualistic practice. This will be discussed in more detail in the following chapters. In present day Taiwan, Buddhists are rather modernist and secularized. While t hey do not pursue the traditional goals of Buddhism, such as attaining buddhahood, they instead focus on social, political, economic, and environmental activism to crea te a Pure Land on Earth. Th is thesis is a case study of two prominent Buddhist organizations, Tzu
Calatchi 9 Chi Foundation and Fo Guang Shan. This thesis argues that Tzu Chi and Fo Guang Shan exemplify religious modernism specifically Buddhist modernism by following modernizing trends and patterns that we see throughout Asia. Each organization will be individually considered in a chapter of their own. To give context to these case studies, we will begin with a short discussion of Taiwans history as it relates to Bud dhism
Calatchi 10 CHAPTER I : THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF BUDDHISM IN TAIWAN Buddhism originated in the Indian subcontinent about twenty five centuries ago. Buddhism features several major concepts: the Three Jewels (the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha), karma samsara, nirvana, the Four Noble Truths, and the Eightfold Path. The Buddha refers to the spiritual teacher, or someone who has attained enlightenment, whose teachings are the basis for Buddhism, the Dharma refers to the teachings and doctrine that B uddhists should follow, and the Sangha refers to the community of Buddhists. Karma literally means action, whether positive or negative, and is the driving force behind samsara, the cycle of birth and rebirth. Nirvana is the cessation of suffering. The Four Noble Truths are: life is suffering; this suffering has cause (craving for existence and sensual pleasures); this suffering can be suppressed or brought to an end; practice the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path is right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. The history of Buddhism in Taiwan begins with the arrival of the Chinese people, whose presence has been recorded on the i sland well before the Dutch trad ers migrated to Taiwan in 1624 (Jones 3). Monks on the island at this time maintained only minimal Buddhist practices and essentially performed only funeral and memorial services for the Chinese population. Other than that, Buddhism was stifled by the Dutch l aw prohibiting the practice of any religion other than Christianity, with penalties attached to idol worship (Jones 3).
Calatchi 11 The first large scale wave of Chinese immigrants began in 1661, following the downfall of the Ming dynasty in m ainland China. Zheng Che nggong, a Ming loyalist, decided to move his forces to Taiwan. Within a year he expelled the Dutch and put the entire island under his control. The vast majority o f people that followed him came from the Fujian and Guangdong provinces of China, and they br ought their religions, predominantly Buddhism. The immigrants who had left their families and familiar surroundings attempted to recreate as much of their old life as possible on Taiwan (Jones 4). Temples in Taiwan tended to be founded on land donated by government officials, or built with funds they provided (Jones 6). Thus the earliest temples flourished in the then capital city of Tainan, in southern Taiwan. Today there are more than two hundred temples in this city. Elsewhere in Taiwan, privately built temples were often found by individuals who were not always educated in their religious tradition. Immigrants from Fujian or Guangdong provinces brought images to Taiwan and temporarily housed them until they could build a proper temple. In the ensuing ye ars, people forgot which deities the images represented and began to worship them with other rituals. For example, one immigrant group brought an image of Tianshang Shengmu, a Taoist divinity, and worshiped her as Guanyin, a Buddhist figure. In another cas e, they would take Guanyin and worship her with Taoist rituals, sacrificing pigs and slaughtering chickens before her image, and so she completely lost her original Buddhist significance (Jones 7). This was a time when Taiwan was a land of rain and miasm as, and the soil was undependable and inconsistent, plague was rampant, and natural disa sters followed upon one another; the common people were not interested in learning meditation or arguing
Calatchi 12 the finer points of doctrine. Instead, they built temples fo r other purposes: divine protection, mutual aid, and local territorial community building. The first fully ordained monk to have come over to Taiwan from the mainland was Venerable Canche, from Fujian province. He came at the request of a military staff of fice r, and he and his disciples were the only legitimate monks in Taiwan according to the Gazetteer (Jones 9). In the years following 1895, after China ceded Taiwan to Japan at the end of the Sino Japanese War, the Japanese sent in troops to put down rebe llious groups on the island. The troops came with their own chaplains to administer to their spiritual needs, as well as to those of the future Japanese civilians that would come to Taiwan. In this way, Japanese Buddhism entered Taiwan. The Japanese govern ment proceeded along different lines in its treatment of Buddhism as opposed to the other religions. Buddhism was treated differently because it represented a shared Sino Japanese heritage that, while differing in very significant ways, still provided some common ground (Clart 20). During the Japanese Occupation, which lasted fifty years (18951945), the Japanese did not attempt to suppress Buddhism very much, initially. In the larger scope of history, the Japanese did not control Taiwan nearly long enough to have a lasting effect on Buddhism, despite later efforts to Japanize the population a government policy instituted in 1937 to turn the Chinese population of Taiwan into imperial or ethnic Japanese citizens. It was not until the Nationalist governmen t of China came to rule Taiwan that any political occupier of the island truly attempted to regulate and control religion. The Buddhist Association of the Republic of China (BAROC) was established, working closely with the Nationalist government to monitor Buddhist activity on Taiwan.
Calatchi 13 Soon after 1960, some of Taixu's ideas about a modern reform of Buddhist ideals mentioned in the introductioncame to be accepted in Taiwan. Taixu, in observing the Buddhism of his day, thought that its major problem was the excessive focus on conducting funerals and placating spirits. Thus he coined the term rensheng fojiao ( Buddhism of Human Life ) in order to emphasize a Buddhism more directly engaged with the affairs of the living rather than the dead. Taixu believed that Buddhists had to focus more on their current life than on later lives because progress on the Buddhist path occurs most effectively during life, rather than after death. Taixu believed that the S angha needed to be reformed and purged of superstitious practices. He hoped that Buddhists would become more involved in social welfare activities. He believed that focus on spirits and the dead degraded Buddhism. Yinshun, however, hoped to go further than Taixu in secularizing Buddhism. He termed his Buddhism as renjian fojiao ( Buddhism in the Human Realm ). Yinshun believed that the degradation of Buddhism had its roots in early Indian Buddhism, a time when Buddhism was becoming progressively more theistic. Since Taixu did not condemn the trend in worshipping de ities but nevertheless did not approve of the obsession with spirits of the dead, Yinshun believed that Taixu remained loyal to the traditional, outmoded Chinese conception of Buddhism. The period of pluralization in Taiwan marks a clear shift in how re ligion would be handled in Taiwan. Often dated at just before or just after 1970, pluralization refers to the development of other Buddhist organizations and groups outside of the Buddhist Association of the Republic of China (BAROC), which had been the only approved and government sanctioned Buddhist organization in Taiwan and claimed to represent all
Calatchi 14 Buddhists in the Republic of China (ROC). It is noteworthy that Fo Guang Shan does not necessarily present diverging ideals from the BAROC, but merely offe rs an alternative path to realization of these ideals. Tzu Chi articulates a new vision of Buddhist life and practice that has been explicitly adapted for Taiwan's current social and religious needs (Jones 179). When Tzu Chi and Fo Guang Shan took root, it was clear that the BAROC's monopoly on religious affairs in Taiwan was broken. Tzu Chi and Fo Guang Shan are institutional manifestations of pluralization in Taiwan. Two main governmental decisions truly solidified pluralization in Taiwan, although not until the late 1980s. The first was the lifting of martial law ( which had exist ed for over fifty years) in Taiwan in 1987, and the second was the passage of the Law on the Organization of Civil Groups in 1989. These governmental decisions changed the political landscape in which Buddhism operated. While martial law was in place in Taiwan, it suppressed many civil rights. However, martial law worked to the advantage of the BAROC. The BAROC maintained an unparalleled role as the official liaison between the B uddhist world and the Republic of China (ROC) government of Taiwan. The lifting of martial law consequently damaged the BAROC s position as liaison and allowed for Buddhist temples, lecture halls, and individuals to work with the government directly. The 1989 Revised Law on the Organization of Civic Groups allowed for other groups to form, further competing with the BAROC's traditional purpose (Jones 182). Before the passing of this bill, ROC law did not allow for more than one organization to fill any part of society. Therefore, before the 1989 Revised Law on the Organization of Civic Groups was passed, no other organization could legally compete with the BAROC (Jones 183).
Calatchi 15 An additional contributing factor to the rise of Buddhism and its organizations in T aiwan would be Taiwan s economic boom of the 1980s and 1990s, which allowed a wider range of devotees to regularly offer liberal contributions to build facilities and to support monastics From this point, the impressive growth and expansion of Tzu Chi and Fo Guang Shan took off. This could not have been possible without the dissolution of the BAROCs monopoly on religious practice in Taiwan. Despite the size of these organizations, it is important to know that Tzu Chi and Fo Guang Shan are not representati ve of Buddhism in Taiwan as a whole. In contemporary Taiwan, the masses still engage in ritualistic Buddhism, Buddhaand bodhisattva worship, and extravagant funeral and burial rites. With this brief overview of the history of Buddhism in Taiwan in mind, we are now ready to examine the organizations that are the main focus of this thesis.
Calatchi 16 CHAPTER II : THE BUDDHIST COMPASSION RELIEF TZU CHI FOUNDATION The Buddhist Tzu Chi (Ciji) Foundation in Taiwan is an international nonprofit, nongovernmental hum anitarian and lay Buddhist organization that exists under the monastic leadership of Dharma Master Cheng Yen. Founded in 1966 in the Hualien ar ea of Taiwan, Tzu Chis mission i s to relieve the suffering of beings within this world; Tzu Chi means compass ionate relief or compassionate charity. Having begun only with the modest monetary donations of thirty women, Tzu Chi now approaches its mission from many different fronts, and engages in charitable medicine, charitable education, and environmental protection. Tzu Chi also provides international disaster relief and has a bone marrow donation program. Currently, Tzu Chi has expanded to five continents of the world, its chapters and offices located in abut fifty countries. Tzu Chi has provided aid to ov er sixty nine nations (Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation). The Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation is the largest Taiwanese Buddhist Association in Taiwan (Laliberte 86). Tzu Chi volunteers strive to cultivate sincerity, integrity, f aith, and honesty within themselves while practicing kindness, compassion, joy, and selflessness to wards others and humanity at large through concrete actions. Tzu Chi's missions include eight causes: c harity, m edicine, e ducation, h umanity, b one m arrow d on ation, e nvironmental protection, community volunteerism, and i nternational r elief. These eight causes are jointly referred to as Tzu Chi's Eight Footprints, as a way of paralleling these missions to the Eightfold
Calatchi 17 Path in Buddhism. Following the Eightfold P ath in Buddhism (r ight view, r ight i ntention, r ight s peech, r ight a ction, r ight l ivelihood, r ight e ffort, r ight m indfulness, and r ight c oncentration) leads to the cessation of suffering and self awakening. Tzu Chi's Eight Footprints will be discussed in mo re detail later in this chapter. While survey data has indicated that actual membership is rather fluid, it has been noted that Tzu Chi tends to attract individuals in modern managerial and service professions fractions of Taiwan's middle class (Madsen 7) Most of Tzu Chi's financial resources come in the form of modest private donations. The small group of resident nuns of the main shrine hall, however, do not accept donations for their own care. They continue to support themselves through selling handicr afts, since Tzu Chi first began and continuing on to the present time (Clart 206). To discuss Tzu Chis religious hierarchy, Richard Madsen's Democracy's Dharma will be enlisted for his explanation of power structures within Buddhist organizations. He exp lains that the dilution of hierarchy occurs with the modernization of Buddhist religion: In their formal structure they remain authoritarian, not democratic. The dharma master in the Buddhist organizations is a supreme leader whose decisions are final. ...But if rituals led by Buddhist monks or nuns ...are no longer as important as the good intentions in a well cultivated heart, t hen laypeople can be just as important as ordained masters. All of the organizati ons studied here have created dynamic associatio ns of lay followers that have rapi dly expanded and are carrying out much of the public work of the organization. One s ecret of the success of these lay
Calatchi 18 associations is that their members are encouraged to take initiative. Even though formal hierarchy remai ns, its power is dilute d by, as well as disseminated through, the active initiatives of the lay associations. (Madsen 6) Above, Madsen explains how modernity in Buddhism has come to play a role in the hierarchical structure between masters and lay people. While the dharma master retains some power as a leader, lay people have risen up in importance. With the devaluation of ritual that comes with Buddhist modernity, dharma masters begin to lose superior status over lay people. The modernization of Buddhism emphasizes the cultivation of oneself over the practice of ritual. Since all followers, volunteers, and dharma masters alike are encouraged to practice acts of self cultivation, these individuals do not find themselves outranking anyone more than the othe r. Additionally, they are all assigned the important task of active compassion and other public work for the organization. In Religion in Modern Taiwan: Innovation and Tradition in a Changing Society, Philip Clart describes the organizational structure of Tzu Chi as functioning similarly to that of a family; the center is Cheng Yen herself (Clart 208). Underneath Cheng Yen in the organizational structure are three vicepresidents who are all lay people. Each is assigned to one of the three divisions of Tzu Chi's activities to carry out some duties: either medical care, education, or cultural work. Below the three vice presidents is the Committee, a group that presently consists of about four thousand members scattered throughout all the Tzu Chi branches i n the world. It is the Committee which forms the
Calatchi 19 nucleus of the association. Today, the Committee is still about seventy five percent female (Clart 211). In terms of political involvement, Cheng Yen does not encourage Buddhists to participate. In fact, Ch eng Yen discourages involvement in politics such that Tzu Chis charter does not allow volunteers to partake in politics (Clart 175). Cheng Yen believes that individual efforts to alleviate fellow living beings of their sufferings represents a more effici ent method by which to gain self cultivating merit, rather than calling for political reform. Cheng Yen offers her point of view on the matter, citing the doctrine of impermanence: since all is momentary and temporary, lobbying for social and political cha nge as a transient and therefore wasteful activity is absent of any worth (Clart 179). She believes that Tzu Chi members should focus on the practice of Buddhism (the modernized version that Tzu Chi follows) and providing relief to other beings. Despite he r personal opinions, Cheng Yen has worked well with the Guomingdang politicians to benefit Tzu Chi in terms of its growth and organization. Tzu Chi does not depend on the Guomingdang or Republic of China government for funding, but is dependent on governme nt permission from relevant ministries for construction projects, certification of professionals for staffing its hospitals and school, as well as other bureaucratic necessities. The Taiwanese central and local governments are appreciative of Tzu Chi's w ork. One Taiwanese politician commented that Tzu Chi does more social work than the government itself. In Hualien County, where Tzu Chi was founded, the authorities also praised Tzu Chi for the hospital built there. By building that hospital Tzu Chi Foundation has since compensated for the inadequate government service provided in that region,
Calatchi 20 while simultaneously providing jobs (Clart 175). Despite being especially active in the realm of health care, Cheng Yen and Tzu Chi Foundation do not attempt to pa rticipate in government designed health policies; members of the organization are never asked to assess, evaluate, or criticize government policy, nor do they take the initiative and do so anyway (Clart 175). Moreover, Tzu Chi has never connected with ot her civic and charity groups to lobby the government for betterment in social welfare associations (Clart 175). Despit e politicians' attempts to exploi t the mobilization potential of Tzu Chi, Tzu Chi continues to refrain from intermingling with politics. The foundation also tends to remain aloof from other Buddhist organizations in Taiwan. They do, however, occasionally cooperate for relief work (Laliberte 97). One instance took place on June 18, 2008, when the American Red Cross and the Tzu Chi Foundation signed an agreement at the Tzu Chi Humanities Center in Taipei. The two organizations agreed to combine their respective strengths and cooperate in disaster relief operations, emergency preparedn ess and response and other cooperation actions in the Unite d States (Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation). To be able to reflect on how the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation is a modern Buddhist organization, it is important to understand some key elements from its beginning. For this, one must consider what dissatisfied Cheng Yen about Buddhism, how she thought Buddhism should be practiced differently, and how Tzu Chi carried out the physical enactment of these new ideals. Most importantly, we will discuss how this is representative of modernized Buddhism. The introduction of monotheism in Asia and religious competition from Christianity, as the dominant global religious structure, was a noteworthy factor that
Calatchi 21 played a role in the modernization of Buddhism (Heine 5). This is related to a li fe changing event involving three Roman Catholic nuns who, in their attempts to convert Cheng Yen, spurred her to begin her charity The nuns brought Cheng Yen s attention to the Christian groups in Taiwan who engaged in assorted types of social welfare wo rk. They told her that Buddhism appeared to do nothing that benefited society (Clart 203). Cheng Yen, thinking about the poor populations of Eastern Taiwan, realized that the nuns were correct and knew that she could not let this continue. Cheng Yen was dissatisfied with Buddhism in other respects, such as the overemphasis on funeral rites and rituals for the dead, and the lack of compassion for others. She found aspects of traditional Chinese Buddhism that placed excessive dependence on funeral rites and alms to be distasteful (Clart 205). The nuns of Tzu Chi do not perform funerals or hold dharma meetings (Clart 206). Cheng Yen is of the firm belief that suffering in this world is caused by material deprivation and spiritual poverty. In her eyes, la ck of compassion for others is the source of many worldly problems. She and Tzu Chi continually stress the need to cultivate oneself: To save the world, we must begin by transforming human hearts (Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation Malaysia). Tzu Chi s mission of charity is important because it represents the compassionate ideals that modern Buddhism values. According to Tzu Chi's global website, missions of charity bring out the good in those participating. When the rich help the poor, they feel the hap piness that comes with giving and find the true meaning of life, which can be interpreted as aiding in the relief of the suffering of others. The poor are encouraged to help those less fortunate than themselves, and thus they can also experience the good of
Calatchi 22 giving, and minimize their own feelings of perceived helplessness and despair. As individuals become involved, the cycle of giving extends to more and more people who in turn are also willing to help others, simultaneously bettering themselves as they continue self cultivation The second of Tzu Chi s missions is that of medicine. Cheng Yen describes illness to be the most painful of the four sufferings of life and finds it problematic that families are pushed into poverty after receiving treatment for illnesses. In response, she founded the Tzu Chi Free Clinic for the Poor in 1972, which marked the beginning of Tzu Chis mission of medicine. In 1986, the Hualien Tzu Chi General Hospital opened, with its stated values of respecting life (a Buddhist idea l) and being patient centered. Tzu Chi continued to augment its medical system, opening additional hospitals in several Taiwan cities, including the capitol, Taipei. The medical staff is augmented by large teams of volunteers who seek to perfect the 'Four Entireties' of patient care: the entire treatment process, the patients entire body, the patients entire family, and the entire medical team (Buddhist Compassion Tzu Chi Foundation). The overarching goal of Tzu Chi's hospitals is to ensure proper care of the body, mind, and soul of the patient The mission of education is the third mission to be covered. Tzu Chi has established many schools, including the Tzu Chi Nursing College, in 1989, established to help cultivate compassionate medical professionals of the future. Another major education project that Tzu Chi undertook takes place in the Hualien area of Taiwan. Cheng Yen sought to provide educational and employment opportunities for the aboriginal girls of the area. In July 2000, an education program was established that runs a full, wellrounded curriculum from kindergarten to graduate studies. The theme of the
Calatchi 23 education mission, as with all of Tzu Chi's missions, is to offer a place where kindness, compassion, joy, and selfless giving are in action a nd to encourage members to continue these practices. The mission of culture entails the cultivation of oneself, which includes the practice of moral behavior and respect for Mother Nature. The mission of culture calls for one to meet or exceed his inheren t integrity and to practice respect towards others. The mission for international relief might be Tzu Chi s most prominent mission. International relief pertains to caring for the people suffering in the global village. The international relief program ca lls to the mind the role of the bodhisattva, who, motivated by great compassion, attains enlightenment for the sake of minimizing the sufferings of all sentient beings. Tzu Chi volunteers approach disaster relief unlike most; they deliver cash aid and emer gency relief supplies directly into the hands of disaster survivors. Given a disaster, Tzu Chi is at the ready to provide relief to people no matter their nationality, ethnicity, socio economic status nor religion. Flood victims receiving food in Banglad esh in 1991 constituted the first of Tzu Chi's international relief efforts Tzu Chi's international relief provides emergency materials such as food, clothing and medical materials. Tzu Chi volunteers will also rebuild houses and schools, set up water su pply systems, and offer free clinics. Although the aid projects vary according the situational need, the value of respecting life remains constant in this mission as well. It was in 1991 that Tzu Chi was faced with its first relief effort beyond Taiwan's borders. In response to destructive floods in the People's Republic of China, Tzu Chi raised money within Taiwan and dispatched a team of volunteers to deliver relief supplies
Calatchi 24 to mainland China. Volunteers paid their own way to go on the relief mission and delivered the goods in person. Since then, Tzu Chi volunteers have delivered food, clothing, and medicine and have built emergency housing in disaster sites around the world. These disaster si t e s include: the aftermath of the Los Angeles, USA, riots of 19 92; the de struction of the World Trade Center in 2001; the southern California wildfires of 2003; and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (Madsen 36). They have sent humanitarian aid to North Korea, Rwanda, Kosovo, Chechnya, and, after U.S. Invasions, Afghanistan an d Iraq, delivering medical supplies to hospitals that had been looted (Madsen 36). Needless to say, Tzu Chis international relief projects are geographically far reaching. The bone marrow donation program asks for a physical contribution from volunteers. Cheng Yen is especially sympathetic towards those with blood diseases, a sentiment that has carried over from the experiences that lead her to establish Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation. Once it was confirm ed that bone marrow transfers w ould not harm the donor while simultaneously saving another's life, Cheng Yen initiated the Tzu Chi Marrow Donor Registry, in 1993. In 2002, this was renamed The Buddhist Tzu Chi Bone Marrow Stem Cell Centre, as it came to include ongoing stem cell research, gene therapy, and the establishment of an umbilical cord blood repository. One of the values of the mission of environmental protection dates back to pre modern Buddhism: vegetarianism, or at least, the discouragement of consuming animal flesh. Cheng Yen al so advocates a simple lifestyle with a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and minimalto no meat consumption. Tzu Chi's mission of environmental protection
Calatchi 25 also includes protecting the earth and reducing carbon footprints so that the global warming crisis might be decelerated. Having examined the Eight Footprints, it is now important to relate the physical actions back to the modernis t ideals. The modernist values identified by Bruce Lawrence and Joseph Kitagawa, two scholars of Asian Religions, will be used to interpret the actions of Tzu Chi. Additionally, generalized modernist expectations of a religion will also be discussed and measured against the acti vities and philosophy of Tzu Chi. This analysis will clarify Tzu Chi s standing as a modern Buddhis t organization. I plan to enlist Bruce Lawrences definitions for this topic. Bruce Lawrence seeks to distinguish between the terms modernity and modernism. In modernity, there is an increase in the following : bureaucratization, rationalism, technical capacities, and global exchanges that were previously unfathomable in the pre modern era (Heine 127) Modernism, for Lawrence, is the search for individual autonomy. This is driven by a set of socially encoded values that emphasize change over continu ity, quantity over quality, efficient production, power, and profit over sympathy for traditional values or vocations (both public and private); modernism values quantifiable results over less tangible improvements in quality (Heine 127). Examples of qua ntifiable results versus improvements in quality are pragmatism versus truth and efficiency versus aesthetics. The mere existence of Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation is a symbol of modernity. Religion in Taiwan had not been truly organized be fore the Buddhist Association of the Republic of China (BAROC), which existed in Taiwan in conjunction with the Guomingdang government that came from the mainland. At that time, no other religious organizations were allowed to exist. Once martial law was l ifted
Calatchi 26 and the Civic Organizations L aw was passed, other organizations were allowed to legally develop. Tzu Chi Foundation was one of the major Buddhist organizations to emerge from this period of pluralization. Compared to the unorganized religious gatheri ngs that existed on Taiwan before the BAROC, Tzu Chi seems relatively bureaucratic. An increase in rationalism is complimented by a decrease in ritual and faith. The value of ritual and faith are especially deemphasized by Tzu Chi. Cheng Yen was very diss atisfied by the focus on funeral rites that she encountered. At Tzu Chi, the nuns do not perform any burial rites, buddha and bodhisattva worship are nonexistent and faith in Amitahba buddha or in the Pure Land are not relevant to the philosophy the found ation follows. This coincides with the modernist tendencies of the organization. Tzu Chi instead urges rationalism on its followers: cultivate a pure mind and build a pure land on this earth. Tzu Chi's practices and philosophies exclude ritual and faith. The increase in technical capacities that Lawrence expects in modernity can be found in the hospitals that Tzu Chi has established, as well as at their bone marrow donation centers, where they also conduct stem cell research. Technological capacities also play a role in global exchanges. Without the technology of airplanes or the media, Tzu Chi would not be as effective at distributing international relief. Even a project as selfless and worthy as international relief would be difficult to accomplish withou t the aid of the technology of the modern era. Tzu Chi is modern in its global exchanges. Tzu Chi also fits Lawrence's criteria for modernism. It can be argued that Tzu Ch i is on a search for autonomy : Tzu Chi successfully functions without giving itsel f over to politics, or being more than minimally subject to the government's bureaucracies, or accepting foreign donations; Tzu Chi works as much as it can to remain independent.
Calatchi 27 Emphasis on change over continuity is apparent in the progress that the organ ization makes not only in its welfare and medicine and educatio n programs, but also in its search for a more modern Buddhism. By examining how Tzu Chi presents itself to the public and media, particularly on its website, their value of quantity over qualit y can be found in listings of how many disaster zones have been aided, how many education centers have been built, how many global branches have been opened. The value of efficient production can be applied to the construction of schools and hospitals that Tzu Chi has had built. Power works hand in hand with the search for individual autonomy; by remaining as independent as possible from government control, political involvement, or foreign financial donations, Tzu Chi remains powerful as it continues to re main untouched. As stated earlier, politicians have been unsuccessful in utilizing Tzu Chi's mobilization power for their own lobbying. Finally, Tzu Chi most certainly profits from the traditional values that it might still enlist from pre modern Buddhism. Instead of being merely sympathetic to the older values, Tzu Chi harnesses and uses them to back their projects. To ease suffering, the cultivation of one s mind to a purer form, to help others, to avoid eating flesh these are all values that predate modernism, yet Tzu Chi keeps them relevant to support their projects. For Joseph Kitagawa, there are three hall marks of modern religion: (1) a search for the meaning of human life in it of itself, as a quest more urgent than the search for ultimate and univer sal truths; (2) the tendency to emphasize this worldly soteriology (salvation, however conceived) is to be looked for and found in this world, and not in an escape to a better realm; and (3) the emphasis of freedom over order natural and social
Calatchi 28 orders are not divinely mandated, and orders are improvable through human efforts undertaken in freedom (Heine 127). To address Kitagawa's first marker of modern religion, consider the theme that recurs in all of Tzu Chi's charity work: give to others to ease suffer ing. To Tzu Chi, this is the meaning of life: By helping the poor, the rich get to feel the happiness of giving and find the true meaning of life (Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation). The mission of giving to others with a well cultivated hear t takes precedence over any other of Tzu Chi's projects. In fact, Tzu Chi is not overly concerned with the search for ultimate or universal truths such as enlightenment. That was an occupation of pre modern Buddhism. The very modern form of Buddhism that Tzu Chi bases its philosophy on fits Kitagawa's second characteristic of modern religion exactly. Tzu Chi teaches that self cultivation is salvation. By relieving the suffering of other beings in the world, a pure land can be created on earth, or earth can be transformed into a pure land. This is a modernized way of thinking about Pure Land Buddhism. Traditional Pure Land Buddhism believes that by faithfully chanting Amitabha Buddhas name, one may be reborn into the Pure Land (another realm). The Budd hism that Tzu Chi's philosophy is modeled after, however, teaches that by cultivating oneself, one can create a Pure Land on Earth. As for Kitagawa's third identifying feature in modern religion, this modernized form of Buddhism, devaluing ritual and emphasizi ng cultivating of oneself as discussed earlier in the chapter, has brought about more of an equilibrium between dharma masters and lay people, in terms of rank and level of knowledge (or enlightenment). Additionally,
Calatchi 29 in the more secular sphere, there is mi nimal hierarchy within the administration of Tzu Chi. Moreover, all volunteers are encouraged to practice self cultivation and all are taught to take equal initiative in their acts of compassion and public work for the organization. Tzu Chi and its Eight Footprints have affected Taiwanese society. Aside from all the tangible good that Tzu Chi's programs have achieved, their most important contribution is an intangible one: civic virtue. Civic virtue, according to Western theorists, entails those habits of the heart that embody a disciplined sense of responsibility for the public good (Madsen 46). However, Tzu Chi members and volunteers do not refer to civic virtue. Instead, their goal is self cultivation: cultivating the heart to properly care for one's family and to have universal compassion and love (Madsen 46). It is with love and compassion that the cause of suffering can be eased. Each of the Eight Footprints is a quest to relieve the sufferings of beings in this world. Choosing to better the lives of others and better this planet, rather than focus on rituals that increase the chances of a good rebirth, is a sign of modernization in religion. Taiwan is a host to a very secularized and modern group of Buddhists. They do not follow even the most tra ditional and simultaneously least tainted aim of Buddhism: attaining buddhahood. Instead, Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation focuses solely on social, political, and environmental activism. As such, building a Pure Land on Earth is no longer abo ut building a geographical location of bliss, but rather about purifying the self and purifying the world. Tzu Chi's goal is to purify the world of suffering and corruption so that a Pure Land may exist on Earth.
Calatchi 30 CHAPTER III: FO GUANG SHAN Fo Guang Shan is a Buddhist monastery located in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Founded by Venerable Master Hsin Yun in 1967, Fo Guang Shan, which translates to Buddhas Light Mountain, promotes Humanistic Buddhism, a modern Chinese Buddhist style of thought developed through th e 20th century by Venerable Master Taixu, and made popular by Fo Guang Shan, Tzu Chi, and other modern Chinese Buddhist orders. Humanistic Buddhism aims to make Buddhism relevant to this worldly living beings. Fo Guang Shan is a massive monastery and temp le complex located in southern Taiwan. The order also incorporates a lay organization called the Buddhas Light International Association (BLIA). Alternately called the Buddhist Progress Society, Fo Guang Shan seeks to promote Humanistic Buddhism with its Four Great Objectives: (1) to propagate Buddhist doctrine through cultural activities, (2) to train Dharma propagators through education, (3) to benefit society through social, educational, and health programs, and (4) to purify human minds through Buddhis t practice. To achieve these aims, Fo Guang Shan publishes Buddhist literature; holds scholarly conferences; opens and operates schools, colleges, orphanages, as well as senior citizen homes; administers free medical clinics and emergency relief programs; sponsors religious television programs; and organizes pilgrimages to important Buddhist sites around the world (Pittman 273). To spread Buddhist doctrine within culture, Hsing Yun founded Buddhas Light Publishing which features not only quality translatio ns of classical Buddhist texts, but also works by contemporary Buddhist teachers and scholars, including Hsing Yun
Calatchi 31 himself. In addition, Fo Guang Shan publishes a daily newspaper, the Merit Times, which covers the news of the day, local politics, internati onal news, financial news, etc. The aim of Buddhas Light Publishing is to provide Buddhist writing that is open, community oriented, and applicable to daily life (Buddhas Light Publishing). Fo Guang Shan tends to view the products of their publishing house as a contribution to culture and society (Schak). Fo Guang Shan also adds to culture through their numerous museums that house Buddhist art and artifacts. The second Great Objective involves the training of dharma propagators through education. Fo Guan g Shans educational programs can be divided into three main domains: monastic education, special education, and devotee education. In his book, The Buddhas Light Philosophy, Hsing Yun details the schools that constitute each program: monastic educat ion c an be pursued at any of sixteen Buddhist colleges around the world; special education is offered through five kindergartens, one elementary school, two secondary schools, four colleges, the Srimala Buddhist College, community education programs, and Fo Gua ng Youth centers; devotee education includes devotee seminars, volunteer seminars, and bodhisattva precepts retreats, as well as the world Buddhist examination (147). Fo Guang Shan believes its teachings of religiously inspired morality are a positive cont ribution to society. In fact, such an education should form more moral and well adjusted attitudes to life in all its permutati ons and living which facilitates the cultivation that contributes to making this earth a Pure Land (Schak). Active in philanthropy, Fo Guang Shan seeks to benefit society through social, educational, and health programs. For this, Fo Guang Shan has its Charity Council, in charge of all charity related work. The Charity Council oversees the Fo Guang Clinic, the
Calatchi 32 Winter Relief Campa ign, which makes donations to the poor in the leadup to the Chinese New Year, the Emergency Relief Association, which helps those with urgent problems, the Fellowship Service Group, the Guanyin Life Protection Association, the Organ Donor Bank, the Social Service Center, Da Tzu Childrens Home, Lanyang Ren Ai Senior Citizens Home, Fo Guang Senior C itizens Home, Wan Shou Cemetery ( which provides, free of cost, places where the bones of the lone poor can be housed) and Senior Citizen Apartments. These instit utions were all created to serve and care for not only the devotees, but for the publics long term life needs (Yun 145). Fo Guang Shan runs hospitals and clinics, which include mobile clinics and medical teams designed chiefly to aid the poor and the r emote areas. It also runs a prison program intended to help drug addicts accept Buddhism and renounce drugs. Fo Guang Shan also does relief work outside of Taiwan, for example, recently distributing relief goods to refugees in the Philippines and the Unite d States, the latter in co operation with Mormons and Methodists (Schak). To highlight the charitable medical programs that Fo Guang Shan operates, consider the Fo Guang Shan Compassion Foundation and the Cloud and Water Mobile Clinic. The Fo Guang Shan Compassion Foundation is comprised of welfare programs for the elderly, the young, and the handicapped. There are medical subsidies for the poor, free medical services and care for low income families, emergency assistance, medical assistance for monastic s, funeral assistance for the poor, management and development of volunteer work, and support for organ transplant (Yun 145). The Cloud and Water Mobile Clinic, using branch temples as bases, was established to deliver needed medical care to
Calatchi 33 remote areas. Today there are more than twenty vehicles that serve as mobile clinics, and more than a thousand people benefit each day from this free medical care (Yun 146). With such a large association running so many programs, it is important that Fo Guang Shan rem ain organized. As a large, complex organization involving hundreds of clergy, Fo Guang Shan divides the clergy into grades and ranks based on seniority, personal cultivation, job skills, scholastic achievement, contributions and attitudes (Jones 192). Ther e is a board of directors that holds an annual evaluation meeting. Eligibility for certain occupations within Fo Guang Shan is dependent upon attaining a certain rank. For example, the Senior Monastics Department has supervisory authority over all activiti es within Fo Guang Shan. Only clergy of grade three or higher may vote in the elections to this department. This, however, is not exclusive to either Fo Guang Shan or contemporary times. Great public monasteries in the past have also divided resident clerg y into ranks, which determined the jobs they could legitimately volunteer for as well as their order of precedence in seating and processions (Jones 193). The senior monks in those times would meet twice per year to suggest clerics for promotion (Jones 1 93). Despite the monastic nature of Fo Guang Shan Hsing Yun has sought ways to reach out to the laity and involve them more deeply in Buddhist life, sometimes blurring the distinction between the clerical and lay realms. Hsing Yun established the Buddha L ight International Association (BLIA) in 1992 as a lay organization to spread Buddhism and to execute Fo Guang Shans social goals. Spread across at least four continents, Fo Guang Shan possesses a large network of over two hundred branch monasteries. Th e creation of the BLIA also has the function of allowing monastics to focus on their religious and administrative responsibilities. The BLIA, while existing under the
Calatchi 34 over arching leadership of Fo Guang Shan, is a self governing organization, and has over one million members throughout Asia and around the world (Madsen 51). Fo Guang Shan integrates laypeople in operations that help run the organization on a daily basis. For example, job positions such as secretaries, janitors, hosts, and gift shop clerks ma y be held by lay people. Moreover, Fo Guang Shan houses an order of lay female celibates at its monastery in Taiwan. While other temples also have these spaces where lay people may interact with higher levels of religiosity, Fo Guang Shan has one program t hat appears to be unique: the Short term Novitiate Program. This program allows lay persons to live monastically for a precise period of time without having to commit to remaining in the S angha for life, the usual expectation of Chinese Buddhism (Jones 197 ). Financially, Fo Guang Shan tends to receive its funding from supporters who contribute for special purposes. Often, wealthy business people will donate large sums of money to achieve good karma. There are other wealthy entrepreneurs who have undoubted ly contributed money to display piety and gains status within their communities. And a great deal of money comes in response to services rendered. Contributions are expected for weddings, funerals, and retreats (Madsen 71 72). In this way, Fo Guang Shan a llows money to be specifically exchanged for religious s ervices Fo Guang Shan, having already been well established by the 1980s, benefitted greatly from the ending of martial law on Taiwan: membership increased and the influence of the organization beca me more recognized. At its temple complex near Kaohsiung, the monastery now houses over one thousand monks and nuns. In addition to branch temples scattered throughout Taiwan, Fo Guang Shan has raised temples
Calatchi 35 throughout East Asia, as well as the Hsi Lai Te mple near Los Angeles the largest Buddhist temple in the United States. To maintain visibility, the founder of Fo Guang Shan, Hsing Yun, travels often to extend his message and build his organization; tens of thousands of people fill stadiums and auditori ums from Taiwan to Singapore to hear his dharma talks. These proceedings tend to be staged impressively, with multimedia light and sound effects. In the course of having such extensively publicized religious events, Fo Guang Shan has shaped a standard for public ritual in Taiwan. When a public religious response seems fitting for a national tragedy or a national triumph, Hsing Yun or other monks from Fo Guang Shan are prepared with some type of dharma function. In response to public alarm, anxiety and dism ay when the United States severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979, Fo Guang Shan held a great chanting ceremony. When there was a major airline crash at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Fo Guang Shan carried out another large ceremony in Taip ei. Another was held several days after the 1999 earthquake, the second deadliest in Taiwans history. Although, like Tzu Chi, Fo Guang Shan delivered food, clothing, and medicine to earthquake victims, its video on its response to the earthquake disaster begins not with its provisions of material relief, but with its provision of free funeral services for the dead (Madsen 56). This is an interesting distinction between the behavior of Tzu Chi and that of Fo Guang Shan. Moreover, Fo Guang Shans prioritiz ing their free funeral services over their material relief denotes a difference in the values that they keep, in comparison to those of Tzu Chi. Another variation is that Fo Guang Shan encourages participation in politics. In fact, Fo Guang Shan does not h ave any rules forbidding its members from becoming
Calatchi 36 involved in politics, whereas Tzu has a strict rule that forbids its members fro m political involvement (Madsen 68). Indeed, Hsing Yun has a different outlook on the subject of political involvement: Taking responsibility naturally means participation in political affairs. ...One should participate in politics without seeking a political office (Pittman 275). This allows one to be objective, relevant, and have a wise perspective. Taixu reflected that whil e Buddhists should not fanatically seek to achieve practical or political power in order to achieve goals, they should be concerned about national issues. Hsing Yun found that Buddhism and politics are closely related, especially in the this worldly Buddhi sm that he and Fo Guang Shan are a part of (Pittman 275). The Buddhism of Fo Guang Shan aims at this worldly goals rather than at goals in other worlds or future lives. In elaborating upon this topic, Hsing Yun employs the Mahayana Buddhist doctrine of th e Two Truths, the worldly and the absolute. The first of these refers to truth as traditionally perceived by average awareness, the second to the comprehension that all of these usual perceptions have no absolute root or permanence. Instead, they are built from the ever changing causes and conditions of the mind and the world it regards. Since the time of the Buddha, understanding of the second truth comes only with enlightenment, and thus it has received more prominence as an object of philosophical reasoning and meditation. On the other hand, Hsing Yun hopes to revalue conventional truth so that he may allow Fo Guang Buddhist to act effectively and compassionately within this world. Hsing Yun openly rejects negative evaluations of this world. He says: Und eniably, the main cause of the decline of Buddhism today is its excessive concern with attaining supramundane liberation and its failure to reach out to the people. Consequently, people mistakenly believe that Buddhism is negative and
Calatchi 37 pessimistic and do not know that the spirit of Mahayana Buddhism is to serve society (Jones 194). To counteract this Hsing Yun advises his monks and nuns to be active in society, and to follow training in service occupations such as medicine and teaching. Liberation from t he cycle of samsara (birth and rebirth) may be regarded as a long term goal to be accomplished gradually through study and practice; the immediate goal is to develop the virtues of compassion and morality. The emphasis on the conventional world over the tr anscendent world reflects the precedence of the present over any future lives. This is a direct effort to reorient Chinese Buddhism. During Hsing Yuns early years as a monk, Chinese Buddhist monks and nuns main occupation was performing funeral rites for the dead. Perhaps some monks and nuns became somewhat dissolute because the time devoted to taking care of the dead stunted their religious cultivation. Early reformers such as Taixu Yinguang, and Yinshun decried this practice as a major cause of Bud dhism's decline into mere commercialism and its poor image before the public. Consequently, under the banner of Buddhism for Human Life or Buddhism in the Human Realm, they called for a new orientation towards the teaching and transformation of living human beings rather than dead ones. Hsing Yun, who quotes both Taixu and Yinguang in support of his vision of Buddhism, echoes them here as well. Funerals, when performed correctly and in the correct spirit, can be of benefit to both the deceased and their survivors. However, a greater portion of a Fo Guang Buddhist s time and energy must go into improving the life of the living, both in terms of their present material needs and their spiritual edification.
Calatchi 38 Conversely, Fo Guang Shan has built a sevenstor y funerary complex that could accommodate more than fifty thousand niches for urns two thousan d of these are reserved for needy people, free of charge. In addition to serving as a final resting place for the deceased, this facility also functions as a hosp ice for the terminally ill, and as a place of spiritual solace for their families (Manchester Fo Guang Shan). This does not seem to mesh with the ideal of distancing this Buddhism, a more modernized version, from the Buddhism of the past, which placed much importance on funeral rites and the burial of the dead. In his reforms, Hsing Yun also approaches the topic of clergy privately accepting disciples. Hsing Yun, in founding Fo Guang Shan, hoped to create a public monastery for Chinese Buddhism around the world. A public monastery serves as a center of monastic ordination for the S angha as a whole. In the past, to keep the ordination system impartial, resident clergy were not permitted to privately accept disciples (Jones 195). Likewise, Hsing Yun does not allow clergy at Fo Guang Shan to do the same. To better understand the background philosophy of Fo Guang Shan, the H umanistic Buddhism that Hsing Yun advocates will be examined. Hsing Yuns H umanistic Buddhism is characterized by five central themes: all i nclusive happiness, confident optimism, compassionate service, cooperative mission, and consistent standards. First, in regards to the theme of happiness, Hsing Yun has noticed that people often misguidedly imagine that Buddhism requires them to relinquish material goods and to suffer so that they may progress spiritually. Conversely, Hsing Yun claims that Buddhism is about seeking happiness. All the blessings of life in this world can be enjoyed, and even bodhisattvas do not distance themselves from them ( Pittman 273).
Calatchi 39 Rather than deny such blessings, bodhisattvas transform them. For instance, money is not inherently evil. According to Hsing Yun, money is basically neutral. It only becomes tainted when used incorrectly. Mahayana belief is that the more mon ey one has, the better it is. The higher the position one attains, the better it is. As long as it does not make one greedy, and as long as it is beneficial for the spreading of Buddhism, money and position are very useful (Madsen 70). Although some Budd hists reject Hsing Yuns position, stating that his view represents a gospel of wealth that is incompatible with Buddhisms core teachings, Hsing Yun defends his views as both canonical and real world. In an attempt to correct the view that Buddhism denies wealth, Hsing Yun attempts to draw attention to the fact that money nourishes practice and is necessary to spread the dharma for the benefit of all living beings. To Hsing Yun, when wealth comes in a proper way, the more the better. He believes that Buddh ists should not be resistant towards wealth. Devaluing wealth is not actually wisdom, and while possessing wealth is a pleasure, being able to utilize wealth for the benefit of others is truly enjoying wealth (Madsen 70). In regards to the second theme, H sing Yun states that with diligent practice, it will not be difficult to reach the stage of perfect equanimity: We Buddhists, if we are really concerned about the destiny of human kind, should practice what the Buddha taught. Then our world will not only become a heaven, it will also turn into a Pure Land or a Lotus World. IndeedWhere is the Pure Land for a Chan practitioner? It is in performing lowly tasks. It is in the love for salvation of others. It is also
Calatchi 40 the transformation of ones surroundings. Si mply stated, the Pure Land is within us and is not found outside our minds. (Pittman 274) This is why organizations such as Fo Guang Shan are proponents of cultivating oneself because this alone will make a Pure Land on Earth. Third, H umanistic Buddhism means compassionate service to the world. Mahayana Buddhism does not require seclusion or isolation from others. Rather, it calls for beings to come closer together and experience a oneness. Buddhism imparts that because we are one with all other sentien t beings, their needs thus become our needs. Reacting to every condition with wisdom and compassion, bodhisattvas involve themselves with the problems in this world. Hsing Yun asks how one might benefit others, how might one bring happiness to others? He a ffirms that the establishment of orphanages, senior citizens homes, schools, hospitals, Buddhist museums, libraries, cultural centers, celebration parties, Sunday schools, language classes and other social projects, such as performing marriage ceremonies and funeral rites are all beneficial to the general public. He asks, If we do not take the responsibility, who will? (Pittman 2745). Fourth, central to H umanistic Buddhism is ecumenical cooperation in a global mission. This is obvious in Fo Guang Shan s welfare projects. Fifth, with regard to standardization, Hsing Yun has moved to accomplish what the Chinese Buddhist Association in the Republic of China (BAROC) had not been able to do: organizing and regulating the practice of Buddhism on Taiwan. The B AROC had no authority to strictly enforce comprehensive regulations of Buddhist practice. It could suspend membership
Calatchi 41 but has no power to discipline, through laicization, monks and nuns who are guilty of serious misconduct. In an attempt to improve upon this, Hsing Yun has sought to provide a clearer basis for unity through greater uniformity. For example, procedures for determining monastic ranks and responsibilities have been set forth and monastic clothing has been standardized to reflect ones status (P ittman 276 7). As one might imagine, many of Hsing Yuns reform proposals have generated controversy in an increasingly pluralistic S angha. Hsing Yuns religious are a reflection of Taixus. This earth is the Pure Land, it is the task of its inhabitants to purify it, and this will be accomplished through practicing Buddhism. The Sangha needs to be well trained in order to educate people properly and lead them in religious tasks. The laity needs to purify their minds through participation in religious activi ties and to assist society though social service. Hsing Yun, often regarded as a charismatic figure and a prolific writer, is central to the growth of Fo Guang Shan. Hsing Yun simplified Buddhism to make it accessible and relevant in contemporary times. M arketing Buddhism to the masses with grandiose public ceremonies has led to critics claiming that Hsing Yun is vulgarizing Buddhism. Hsing Yun has also been criticized because Fo Guang Shan is perceived as too focused on commercialism, expanding its member ship base, and building large temples Todays Buddhism values responsibly earned wealth defends Hsing Yun (Yun 14). For H umanistic Buddhism, there is an emphasis on compassion both feeling and acting. The Pure Land is on this earth; beings need only t o cultivate themselves. Consciousness and behavior is not as important at the intent behind actions. Having the
Calatchi 42 laity improve society with their work in it is a legitimate way to for them to purify their minds and hearts, which will lead them to enlightenm ent. Fo Guang Shan certainly practices a form of modern Buddhism, but how modern? A key characteristic of religious modernization is the transfer of orientation from external to internal authority, in addition to the related reorientation from institution al to privatized religion, known as detraditionalization. Linda Woodheard and Paul Heelas call this a shift from an authoritative realm which exists over and above the individual or whatever the individual might aspire to, to the authority of the first ha nd spiritually informed experience of the self (McMahan 43 44). In strongly traditional Buddhism authority is embedded in a transcendent and authoritative figure of the past that offers sure guidance in the present. In strongly detraditionalized religion, authority is envisioned as originating from an individuals own exploration and experience; the self itself, or some aspect of subjectivity, is considered sacred, and the internal realm develops into the locus of authority. There also tends to be a shi ft from transcendence to immanence, from negative to positive evaluations of human nature, and from concern for the future (including future lives) to concern with experiencing fully here and now. Hsing Yuns positive outlook on humanity and this world as well as the essential views of H umanistic Buddhism purifying this world align with these characteristics of religious modernity. Detraditionalization embodies the modernist tendency to elevate reason, experience, and intuition over tradition to assert the freedom to reject, adopt, or interpret traditional beliefs and practices on the basis of individual evaluation. Religion becomes individualized, privatized, and a matter of choice with this emphasis on individual
Calatchi 43 choice can also emerge the consumerization of religion, as it may become a commodity to satisfy the self (McMahan 43). Fo Guang Shan is not merely about revitalizing and reinterpreting traditional Buddhist ritual practices. It is also about publicizing those practices in ways that will educate an d motivate people around the modern world. Fo Guang Shan believes that to do this, they must stage rituals with color coordinated robesprecisely arranged positions of the chanters, [and an] almost choreographed procession in order to express spiritual m eaning through modern media (Madsen 54). For Fo Guang Shan, rituals are its public work, meant to spread knowledge of the dharma around the world (Madsen 55).
Calatchi 44 ANALYSIS AND CONCLUS IONS The new religious phenomenon in Taiwan has been the rise of these H umanistic Buddhist groups. The founding of Tzu Chi and Fo Guang Shan at the time of pluralization allowed for the unhindered potential of great success. Tzu Chi and Fo Guang Shan share many similarities and some fundamental differences. Both Tzu Chi and Fo Guang Shan believe in the ideal of a Pure Land on Earth and strive to create it with their charitable projects and world disaster relief programs. Tzu Chi puts most of its efforts into philanthropic work, in a mission to spread the humanitarian Great L ove. Fo Guang Shan provides a wide range of social services, particularly towards orphans, prisoners, and the elderly. Both organizations have contributed considerably to Taiwans social welfare infrastructure, at times, providing more aid much more swift ly than Taiwans local or federal governments have been able to do. Tzu Chi an d Fo Guang Shan also share interesting differences. Any volunteer is considered to be a part of the membership of Tzu Chi; members pay regular dues to the organization. Tzu Chi s membership is also distinguished by its predominantly female membership, among both the monastics and the laity. Fo Guang Shan receives much of its contributions in the form of large grants from wealthy patrons who simultaneously look for religious favor in exchange for their financial aid, a perhaps impure practice. Tzu Chi does not allow its members to engage in politics, Fo Guang Shan however, does not limit its members thus. Tzu Chi is of the belief that political
Calatchi 45 involvement is corrupting and will t herefore defile the purity of intentions and actions. Fo Guang Shan does not share such a sentiment, believing that political participation should be encouraged, although political office should not be sought after. Tzu Chi absolutely does not perform fun eral or burial rites, and they do not engage in rituals. Fo Guang Shan however, has held massive funerals for the deceased in the wake of natural disasters, and engages in elaborate rituals that are often recorded and televised. In this respect, Fo Guang S han still maintains some ties with the older traditions of Chinese Buddhism. While both of these organizations strive for the same goal of attaining a Pure Land on Earth, their approaches are different. Tzu Chi attempts to spread the ideal of a humanitari an Great Love, a concept that grew from the Buddhist value of compassion. Tzu Chi seeks to accomplish this by helping the poor and those in need. Fo Guang Shan, however, strives to promote Chinese cultural activities, not only with their press that publ ishes books, journals, and instructive audio and visual materials about Buddhism, but also by publicizing any ritualistic event they partake in, such as the large scale funeral rites they perform as well as ritualistic ceremonies in response to events or c rises. It woul d seem that, as analyzed in C hapters II and III, Tzu Chi seems to be more advanced along the path of modernized Buddhism than Fo Guang Shan. Using the definitions of modernist values of Bruce Lawrence and Joseph Kitagawa, we interpreted the doings of Tzu Chi as modernist. The de emphasis of ritual, worship, and faith that Tzu Chi partakes in is reflective of its modernist ideals. The goal of purifying the mind and thus building a pure land on earth are indicative of prioritizing this world ov er external realms, another characteristic of modernism in religion. Along
Calatchi 46 with fulfilling the other criteria of being an autonomous, if slightly bureaucratic, entity; using rationalism over faith; the use of technology by religious bodies; search ing for t he meaning of human life rather than for ultimate and universal truths; and emphasizing this worldly soteriology among others, Tzu Chi adequately fulfills the definition of a modernized religion. We found, however, that Fo Guang Shan is not as modern as T zu Chi. In particular, their mass ritualistic ceremonies that are televised are meant to spread a different facet of Buddhism, not modern by the designations we enlisted. Because definitions for modern religion have already been extensively compared to bot h the stated missions and actual work of these organizations in previous chapters, it rests only to highlight the differences and make some conclusions. At the beginning of this thesis general definitions and criter ia for modernism in religion were provided, with the intention to delve further into the intricacies of modernism and Buddhism by doing a case study of two prominent Buddhist organizations in Taiwan. To give some historical context and to demonstrate the change that took place to allow for the r ise of these organizations, some history on Taiwan was provided. Finally, in chapters II and III, the details of each organization were considered: their founders, their missions, how these missions were executed, as well as how these organizations interact with society. In the final part of each chapter, each aspect of both Tzu Chi and Fo Guang Shan was compared to the theories of modernization as offered by leading figures in (sometimes Asian) religious studies. It became evident that while Tzu Chi satisf ied the criteria that would make it a religiously modern organization, Fo Guang Shan still maintained practices that could not qualify as modernist in any sense. Funeral
Calatchi 47 rites, rituals, and ceremonies are all features of traditional Chinese Buddhism. Fo Gu ang Shan not only continues to engage in these practices, but moreover broadcasts them to the media with an extravagance that might be found unmodernist. One cannot predict how long Fo Guang Shan will hold onto these traditional practices, but so long as it does, Fo Guang Shans path to modernity is limited In terms of the direction that these organizations may take in the future, we must consider two factors First, the membership of charitable organizations can be related to the rise and fall of the economy : people have the means to be more chari table when they have more money and when the economy decelerates, so too do donations, as evidenced in the late 1980s and early 1990s in Taiwan (Chandler 177). The second factor in considering the future develo pments of these organizations is the question of how far the modernization of religion can go while still maintaining religiosity. Tzu Chi, for example, is already quite modernized. What does further modernization of religion entail? Will it eventually ent ail the complete dissolution of any religiosity ? Since compassion i s not a strictly Buddhist value ( i.e. one may be compa ssionate without being Buddhist) would Tzu Chi modernize to the point where they become secular while maintaining the ethic of compass ion, thus striking Buddhism from their philosophy? Fo G uang Shan, on the other hand, might resist further modernization since it relies on traditional ritualistic ceremonies not only as part of its image but also as a method to market and spread Buddhism. Based on the information and the evidence presented in this thesis, I conclude that Buddhism in Taiwan as put forth by Tzu Chi and Fo Guang Shan is representative of a
Calatchi 48 more modernist approach to religion t hat is expanding in contemporary times. In Asia as a whole, it appears that Buddhism is following similar trends in modernism. We will briefly discuss modernist trends in Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, Japan, and China. In Southeast Asia, a region of many different countries, it is difficult to put forth generalizations regarding contemporary forms of Buddhist modernity. W e find that the modernist tendencies occur in ways specific to the historical and cultural contexts of particular countries and regions, since there exists a myriad of local cultural diver sity that has mixed and inf luenced the Buddhism there (Sch ober 10). For most populations in Southeast Asia, modern practices, institutions, and worldviews advanced during the times of European colonization. Portuguese, Dutch, French, British, and Japanese colonial governments in the region introduced cultural changes that endured and ultimately contributed to a crisis of religious authority and profoundly reshaped modern Buddhist practices and institutions (Sch ober 11). Several developments radically tran sformed Buddhism in Southeast Asia towards a more modern form. This entailed the gradual decline of monastic authority and the simultaneous rise of lay authority, as well as the rise in popularity of meditational practice, which was previously the spiritua l privilege of monks (Sch ober 15). In Sri Lanka, the efforts to reform and modernize Buddhism originated from both l ocal and western sources. The long and intense history of colonialism in Sri Lanka resulted in the development of a modernistic type of Bud dhism there before other Asian countries. Buddhism in Sri Lanka was influenced by encounters with Protestant Christian missionaries in the nineteenth century. This new form of Buddhism sought position with the lay people and did not call for dependence on monks or traditional rituals. Rather, this
Calatchi 49 modernized form of Buddhism sought to internalize and universalize the teachings of the Buddha. This was first seen among the middle class urban Buddhists in the Colombo area who had better access to British education and who also had greater awareness of the discourses of scientific rationalism and Protestant Christianity (Berkwitz 34). The outcome of this was to encourage many Sinhala Buddhists to embrace the ethical values of Victorian era Protestantism. They al so placed importance on the so called rationalism of the Buddhas canonical teachings, and dismissed the ritualistic features of traditional Buddhism. Modern Sri Lankan Buddhism continues to place importance on self effort over faith and refutes the presen ce of a creator God. However, they do retain some rituals while encouraging meditation and moral restraint among the lay people (Berkwitz 34). Historically Buddhists in Japan have predominantly engaged in the religion via rituals rather than canonical te xts (Chilson 55). This persists even up to the modern day. Buddhism is represented in Japan as being concerned with funerals, memorial rites and ritual prayers for this worldly benefits. Reformers have sought to highlight the rationalism in Buddhism, while also stating that more devotion needed to be given to individual religious awakening and to making the denominational organization less authoritarian. Reformers also stressed the importance of engaging the laity in social welfare activities for the sick, the poor, the elderly, orphans, prisoners, and the disabled (Chilson 55). This newer development in Buddhism stems not only from valuing compassion but also from the need to prove to politicians and authority figures that Buddhism is relevant and useful in a this worldly society. Finally, in China, we encounter the prerequisite to what we find in Taiwan. In Taiwan, we have examined the modernized form of Pure Land Buddhism, the result of
Calatchi 50 Venerable Master Taixu and his followers reforms. In China, however, Pure Land Buddhism remains the prevalent form of Buddhism. Despite Taixus call to cast off the obsession with death and the afterlife, Buddhists in China remain nevertheless fixated on these items. Additionally, in mainland China the people have experien ced a lifetime of struggle, conflict, and uncertainty, due to political instability, changes in government, and societal upheaval (Fisher 80). In this context, Pure Land Buddhism, which features a benevolent Buddha that will accept followers into a bliss ful afterlife, fulfills the needs of those in mainland China. Overall, it appears that Buddhism in the regions we have discussed are or are moving towards a more modern form of Buddhism, entailing the decline of monastic authority that coi ncides with the rise of the lay; rationalism; some minimization of traditional rituals ; and especially in Sri Lanka, the concept of self effort over faith. Despite reformers efforts, Japan and China still maintain ritualistic practice characteristic of more traditional B uddhism, and Chinese Buddhists remain pre occupied with funeral rites and rebirth in another realm. While Buddhist modernism appears to be delayed in some regions of Asia, Tzu Chi stands as a Buddhist organization that has progressed beyond others in the p ath towards Buddhist modernism.
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